Review of Splendid Kitchen, The Christmas Burger
What they say:
7oz beef, chestnut and bacon pattie topped with sticky sprouts, flaked ham, three cheese mix and shoe string potatoes in a pumpkin and sage bun served with naked fries.
I hate Christmas. People buying crap so that other people can pretend they like it, but can’t through it away in case it offends. It goes on too long, starts way too early, this year beginning even before bloody Halloween.
And in the burger world, establishments have decided it means a Christmas special burger, and other establishments who might not actually want to do one, have to do one in order to satisfy the market.
And there is a market for Christmas burgers, clearly. That’s where the downsides end. The upsides mean of course that there’s an abundance of burger specials kicking around, letting chefs showcase their talents.
|From the menu…|
It’s only mid-November, and I’m here at Splendid Kitchen to eat their Christmas Burger, which just launched. For those of you who haven’t been (what the hell is wrong with you?), Splendid is splendid and the only reason I haven’t eaten more burgers here is because their chicken is bloody amazing.
It’s probably my favourite place in Manchester, certainly in the top five, and a warm welcome is always assured. An added bonus today is that there are no car keys in my pocket so I can also enjoy the delights of Splendid’s drinks menu.
That drinks menu was cast aside however, when I spotted a Pilsener on the specials board. Today, apparently, is international Pils day so I’m having a lovely example from local brewery Brightside.
Anyway, the burger. It takes Splendid’s house blend of beef all pattied up with chestnut and bacon in the mix, and tops it with sprouts, ham, cheese and tatties.
|Christmas a la Splendid…|
But it is a lot more than that. The sprouts aren’t the boiled-to-buggery crap of 1970s canteens, they’re shredded, fried and caramelised into “sticky sprouts”. Splendid does things right. The ham is flaked and the cheese is a three-cheese mix, which sort of harks to American Christmas three-bird roasts.
Even the bun has been christmased-up. It’s a pumpkin and sage affair with a lovely colour and specks of sage throughout. All of this has my taste buds in overdrive. To be honest, Splendid could take the Christmas label off this and I’d happily eat it in the summer.
Splendid’s owner Mike explained that the cheese mix involves two cheddars and mozzarella – in other words proper cheeses – and the patty looks pink due to the bacon in it.
|Two-tone cheese and sprouts stand out…|
It arrived looking suitably marvellous. Quite slim, but tall, and with two items sticking out the top, as is the trend with Christmas burgers. These two items are a stuffing ball and a pig in a blanket. You’ll see from the pictures, that mine had two stuffing balls. This was quickly rectified with the effervescent Bronagh bringing out a little sausage on a big plate, which cracked me up. It’s always fun at Splendid.
The height of the build came largely from the patty, which seemed a bit thicker than the usual house standard, something I put down to the extra volume from the chestnut and bacon.
|Plenty of glorious ham…|
The sprouts in here were faintly noticeable in taste, more so in sight, their dark green toned adding a distinct restiveness to the aesthetics. This dark green picked out and complemented the similar shade in the spots of sage throughout the bun.
That bun had a slightly orangey colour to it, which was presumably the pumpkin, and towards the end that did come through – you can taste its distinct flavour on the roof of your mouth ever so gently.
The beef used at Splendid is good, very good. See previous reviews. The bacon in it does sap a bit of that beef’s natural juiciness away, giving you an entirely different experience to eating the bacon and beef separately. That difference though, is pretty much the whole point of Christmas burgers.
|A stuffing ball for scale…|
The two-tone cheese looked great all the way round and had been melted properly. Melting cheese isn’t difficult but a lot of places don’t bother.
The whole stack sat on a bed of garlic mayo, which along with the cheese, contracted the moisture-sapping qualities of the bacon, balancing it all out nicely. The garlic itself was subtle. In fact the whole thing was subtle. This was not a big bloated dirty burger with a whole Christmas dinner in a bun. It was a carefully crafted example of elegance and restraint, with plenty of ingredients each hitting subtle, but different notes.
|Inside The Christmas Burger…|
But the star of the show, in my opinion, was the ham. Flames of Splendid’s Christmas 1kg bone-in ham, which is somewhat of an institution in Manchester. It’s on the Christmas menu separately, and the burger borrows bits of that very same ham and duly steals the show that’s going on between these two pieces of pumpkin brioche.
It’s so nice in fact, that one of my favourite parts of this experience was when a piece of ham fell out onto my plate and I could get it with my fork and pretty much melt it onto my tongue.
Splendid has probably released the first burger of the ever-expanding festive season and has set an incredibly high bar for others to follow.
As for me, I’m going back to November for a while longer. Humbug!
|A medley of textures and colours here…|