Dirt Burger, Waggon And Horses

I can’t help myself, really. Faced with that long list of options (each one sounding worthy of its own entry) there was a sense of inevitability that I would choose the most outlandish burger, a concept that could easily have sailed east across the Atlantic from our American friends, a behemoth that would perhaps shave a year off my life if consumed. The Dirt Burger. A chuck steak patty, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and red onion. So far, so normal. A bun comprised of two toasted cheese sandwiches. Sorry, what was that?

It was a close-run thing though. There was the Truffle, tempting me with it’s addition of (you guessed it) black truffle to its patty. Or the Zombie Head Shot, given consideration merely because of its utterly ridiculous name, a moniker more at home on a trendy cocktail list than a food menu, but putting me off with its blue cheese and guacamole combo – neither of which I’m a fan of. But the Dirt Burger won out, the sheer novelty of two meals, breakfast and lunch, coming together in an unholy alliance under the burger banner.

For its breadth of scope, Waggon And Horses should be commended; offering no less than fifteen different burgers on its permanent menu and a further three specials, from which my companion for the day (the newly reinvigorated fiancé taking one for the team once again) chose her lunch – the Holy Guacamole. Comprised of chicken, halloumi, guacamole, salsa and salad, hers almost rivalled mine in sheer towering size.

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The Burger

Ah what a curious creature the Dirt Burger is, a sandwich of two halves so to speak; literally so, once I’d sawn it awkwardly in half for a cut-through shot. The first few mouthfuls are surprising but tasty – the toasties providing delicious melted cheese, the smoked bacon holding its own against a chunky and coarse patty that’s cooked well, and the raw red onion (my nemesis) not competing too aggressively to be the dominant flavour. The crunch of the toasted bread, boasting slightly too much char, is a not unwelcome texture to the experience, certainly providing a more durable receptacle to house the burger’s innards than several other buns I’ve had down the years that break apart as soon as you give them that first lustful glance. But as time wears on the Dirt Burger begins to become a bit of a chore. Those two layers of cheese that bookend the experience start to harden and congeal, and suddenly all the moisture of the burger gets sucked out. The patty, whilst undoubtedly of good quality, isn’t the most juicy, and with no detectable sauces hiding away under the salad, the Dirt Burger soon becomes the Dry Burger. I had to dunk the last four or five mouthfuls in my splodge of mayo reserved for my fries, so desperate was it for some moisture.

And afterwards, the remorse. The slow calculation of how many calories might have just been consumed. The post-burger belly beginning to cramp up immediately. The slowly-dawning dread that its actually a fair old walk back to the comforts of home. By no means a bad burger – this has plenty going for it, not least the sheer gluttony of it all – I won’t be eating it again. Although I’m certainly not put off in trying some of the other interesting looking sandwiches on the list.

The Fries

“Any spare centimetres in that overflowing gut of yours?” the Waggon And Horses asks? “We’ll see to that.”

Alongside my burger colossus on its tasteful wooden platter was a small white bowl positively overflowing with crisp golden fries. So much so that a rogue one sabotaged my artfully composed burger shot, and another had given up and launched itself off the side. Fantastic value at just £2.00 extra, the fries were tasty enough but almost immediately stone cold. Hard to begrudge this when they’re all sitting out in the open like that, far away from the warmth of their receptacle, but still – nobody really wants cold fries do they?

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The Venue

Waggon And Horses is a cosy little pub that sits on the corner of Jubilee Street and Church Street, where the staff are friendly and the whisky list is extensive. In the summer, the place positively heaves, buoyed by an enormous beer ‘garden’ (essentially an area staked out on the pavement outside) that attracts sun-seekers looking for liquid refreshment. Inside, you’ll find the usual items that denote classic English pubs up and down the land – fruit machines, brass light fittings, and old boys in flat caps whiling away a lazy lunch hour. The staff were suitably warm and friendly, like most places in this fair town, and all in all its a very decent little boozer.

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Summary

For sheer novelty factor, the Dirt Burger will be tough to beat. Whilst the Troll Pantry surprises and delights with exotic ingredients (take a bow, Jim Beam bourbon) the Dirt Burger goes for all-out calorific war, fusing two gutbusting meals into one, and channeling the spirit of American burger joints across the pond. But here’s the rub – it actually gets worse as a burger rather than better, mainly because of that lack of greasy, juicy goodness that keeps a burger satisfying to the end. Here’s a pro tip: if you do get one – and you still should, all things considered – split it with a friend, and wolf down those decadent toasties whilst the cheese is still all good and gooey. You, and your belly, will thank me for it.

Price: £7.50 (+ £2.00 for the fries)

Rating 3.5 out of 5

Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheese Burger, The Globe

The inaugural burger for the Brighton Burgers blog couldn’t have gone less smoothly. I had intended (along with my intrepid burger-ing companion, my fiancé) to make JB’s American Diner my first review. But it seems that a lot of other people hanker for a burger on a late Saturday afternoon too. Having been before, I knew it got busy, but this time it was heaving. They’d even removed the pool table since my last visit in order to cram in more tables. The waitress took my name and number, quoted a 30 minute wait, and ushered us out the door with a smile.

We decided to pass the time by drinking cocktails around the corner at Doctor Brighton’s. We managed two each, in just over an hour, before realising we weren’t getting a call. Chalking up a black mark for JB’s future entry on this blog, we instead headed for The Globe, a pub situated on Middle Street.

And there it was, standing out like sore thumb on the menu – the heavily American-influenced Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheese Burger. How could one not plump for that concoction – something you’d more likely find on Man Vs. Food than on the menu of a British public house. It came with chips included in the price, but we upgraded them to the Cheese Fries for an extra quid.

The Burger

The Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheese Burger is pretty aptly-named, as it turns out. A single patty, melted American cheese and crispy strips of bacon are lovingly sandwiched between two halves of a glistening Krispy Kreme doughnut. Initial impressions are underwhelming – the burger is almost comically small. Perhaps just a touch bigger than a slider. The patty is thin but dense, the bacon crispy indeed. But the overall dominant taste is that mouthful of sugar that bookends the ingredients – the other components of this ludicrous burger just don’t stand a chance, and the overriding feeling is one of eating a dense doughnut and not a burger.

The Fries

Luckily, The Globe make up for the size of the burger with a mountainous pile of fries, served in a plastic basket alongside the main event. Drenched in cheese sauce, mustard and mayo, these were heavy on the condiments but high in satisfaction, and formed the bulk of the meal. So great were the quantity, that they were impossible to finish. They could have done with more of the cheese sauce and less of the other condiments, but this is a minor nitpick; unlike the burger, I’d happily order these again.

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The Venue

Dimly lit but unique, The Globe is a decent boozer to while away an hour (or five, in this case) on the seafront on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The incessant chug of the paddles on the wall of the upper bar is the main talking point, but they also have a large basement bar with retro consoles set up for those impromptu sessions of Mario Kart. They also have a Basement Cinema night every week – free film, free popcorn and a ‘text your order’ service. The service was also very amiable during our visit, but no salt and pepper on the table is a cardinal sin in my eyes.

Summary

A memorable meal but not a particularly excellent one. The burger was unusual but needed a stronger patty, better bacon and much more girth. The fries were oversaturated with condiments but still enjoyable. The presentation – arranged on a tray lined with red-and-white-striped paper – was a nice touch that evoked memories of hamburger chains from across the Atlantic.

Price: £7.50 (+ £1 cheese fries upgrade)

Rating: 3 out of 5.