Review of Almost Famous Christmas 2015 Burgers
What they say:
Price: Son of a Nutcracker £15.00, Butter Blood Baubles and Booze £10.00.
While most places do a Christmas burger, Almost Famous, these famous non-conformers, are doing two – the Son of a Nutcracker, and the Butter Blood Baubles and Booze.
Almost Famous isn’t a place that does things by halves, so neither should I. It was therefore an easy decision to have both. This was also an interesting visit in terms of the core of the burger – the patty – (the third this year) as it marked a return to the previous meat supplier after a brief hiatus due to, well, reasons. The intervening patty coincided with the amazing new menu and was described as much juicier etc, while this new “exclusive” patty from Frost Butchers is also described as juicier still. How much juicier can a beef patty get before it becomes juice? Let’s find out.
|Promo pic for the Xmas Baubles…|
BUTTER BLOOD BAUBLES & BOOZE
The first and slightly less ridiculous-looking burger of the two. While both have stuff sticking out the top, this one “only” has a candy cane, which I seem to remember being a component of last year’s Christmas burger, or the one before.
The titular ingredients in the alliteration-heavy name here are:
Butter (brandy butter peppercorn mayo)
Blood (bacon and cranberry jam, presumably)
Baubles (steak mince, chorizo, pork stuffing balls)
Booze (sugar spiced JD BBQ sauce)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that massive list of ingredients is your lot, but it isn’t. There’s also smoked cheese, pulled pork, not one but two of these super-juicy patties and of course the bun.
Told you, Almost Famous doesn’t do “ordinary”, and may I remind you that this is still the more subdued of the festive pair.
It’s a double cheeseburger with substantial trimmings, and as well as the triple-ingredient balls, I suspect the substantial amount of sauce, mayo and melty cheese on this are going to conspire to making this as messy to eat as AF burgers usually are.
|The Baubles burger in real life…|
Sure enough when the red basket was deposited on my table, my emotions went from wow, to mmmm, to “what do I do now”. There are many ways to eat an Almost Famous burger but none of them involve keeping your hands clean, and all of them involve using the kitchen paper on the table.
So, checking nobody was watching too carefully, I grabbed it and took a big bite as best I could. Mess everywhere, as expected, but maybe not quite as much mess – I’ll come back to that.
Before I continue, I must return to the patty, because although I mentioned the return to the previous supplier, it appears that is due to happen this week but not today, not at Great Northern anyway. So these patties that I’m eating today are amongst the last batch of the interim supplier. Confused? Well, it’s all juicy! This however is the one I had and loved on the Johnny Drama burger. Next time (and there will be a next time) it’ll be all change again.
Back to the contents of the red basket and one stuffing ball had fallen out, the candy cane in the top was missing, replaced with a wooden skewer. But it doesn’t really matter – I grabbed the ball first and shoved it down my throat. Delicious.
|Messy & delicious…|
I checked about the missing cane and it was explained the delivery hadn’t come yet today. As I said, no matter – just the vagaries of restaurants and their suppliers.
It was also explained, as always at AF, that the beef is cooked medium, and is pink and was that OK. Of course it’s OK!
In my burger though, no pink. Two wonderful tasty patties but not quite within the realms of “medium”.
On top of those two fab patties sat lashings of pulled pork, which was really delicious and very generous. Probably the defining feature of this burger, which may divide opinion.
Amongst that pulled pork sat the strings of crispy leeks and onions which were also nice, reminiscent to the eye of shoestring fries and the like.
Further up in the attic of this burger, in the promo pics sat the bacon and cranberry jam and the mayo. I’m not convinced the mayo was there – I couldn’t see it and I couldn’t taste it.
What I could taste though was the jam – not quite as sweet as I thought it might have been, but that might have something to do with the BBQ element of the pulled pork. At any rate it was good, applied perhaps more sparingly than AF’s normal style.
|Prominent pulled pork…|
The bun was the standard brioche as opposed to the pretzel buns they use on a couple of the new-ish menu items.
The stuffing balls, the jam and the crispy onions and leeks added a significant degree of festivity to the palate and let’s be honest – the candy cane is there mainly for show.
It probably could’ve been a bit better if it had included the Mayo and been cooked medium but neither was a disaster. As it was it was basically an augmented BBQ cheeseburger and as such, damn tasty.
However, better was yet to come…
SON OF A NUTCRACKER
When I first saw the promos for this, “The Towering Inferno” sprung to mind. Sticking out the top is a pig in a blanket (becoming somewhat de rigeur for Christmas burgers) and a substantial sausage roll with a whole roll-call of ingredients by itself – we’ll come to that later.
Now, I’m not actually a huge fan of burger ingredients sticking out the top. I’d rather they weren’t there, or on the side, or better still reconfigured to fit inside the burger. But firstly, it’s Christmas and Christmas burgers seem to be defined these days by excess, and secondly it’s Almost Famous, ’nuff said.
The inferno part of the tower in the pics seems to come from the chicken gravy which does actually come separately, so you can pour all over your burger to make it even messier.
In terms of ingredients, it isn’t a massive departure from its stablemate to begin with, bringing over the bacon cranberry jam, the JD BBQ sauce and the brandy butter peppercorn sauce (as well as the beef patty, the cheese and the bun obviously).
|Reality matches promo with this one…|
But there the similarities end. There’s one, not two beef patties, with the rhythm guitar being played by a sausage stuffing patty (a BBQ spiced one, which sounds interesting and very meaty).
But there’s also a third degree of meatiness in the form of buttermilk fried turkey, which also gives this burger its significant height. The final addition here is what looks like lashings of creamy slaw, which I must admit make my mouth water uncontrollably.
If the other one was difficult to eat, this one is impossible. Impossibly, anyway, to get a full mouthful from top to bottom, so it requires the diagonal shuffle, a nibble here, a nibble there. Slaw and sauce and all sorts falling out before my lips could even make contact.
The sausage roll, one of the two items that take the term “topping” rather too literally, is just about as jam-packed with ingredients as the burger proper. It’s sausage stuffing and chorizo, with more of that bacon cranberry jam, more cheese, and more BBQ spices all inside puff pastry. It’s also not exactly small – you can see how it compares to the pig in a blanket, which is hardly Lilliputian itself.
As for the pig in a blanket, well it’s a sausage wrapped in bacon. Pretty nice, but hardly as interesting as everything else going on in here.
Where do I start? Daunting and messy even before I do any dipping and pouring with the gravy. It’s definitely the larger of the two specials, and it arrived with a table candle which made my pictures a bit less dark than they were for the Baubles.
|Lots of gravy to go with it…|
I took the pig off the top first and dipped it in the gravy. Delicious. The sausage was exactly what you’d expect, while the gravy was divine. Many people will feel inclined to pour it all over the burger as per the promo pics, but not I…. Well not right away anyway.
I got the sausage roll next – with noticeable chorizo in the mix. Again, head first into the gravy and again delicious. But enough of the accessories, there’s a burger to be had.
With my aforementioned diagonal eating style in play, I got the sausage patty on the bottom first, followed by the beef with the turkey being somewhat masked to begin with by the slaw, although that did change as I went on. At this point I also capitulated with the gravy and threw some on, in amongst the slaw.
Now, we must talk briefly about the slaw because it is never going to be a mainstream favourite burger topping but it is, however, quite a favourite of mine, either on or beside the burger. As long as it is good slaw though, and not too dry. This most definitely fits the bill.
The combination of ingredients, although substantial and varied (so much so that there’s no way I could rattle them off without checking the list), worked well. The distinct savouriness of the sausage patty gradually gave way to the turkey over time and it was fantastic. As much as I liked the sausage, I preferred the turkey. Fantastic, with the characteristic stickiness between the teeth and a jolly good crumb on it.
|A magnificent burger…|
This burger did have the brandy butter peppercorn mayo (say THAT ten times quickly with a mouthful of brandy butter peppercorn mayo) – a rather delicious little addition to a couple of particular mouthfuls but lost a bit amongst all the other flavours battling for the attention of my taste buds, not least the bacon and cranberry jam and TRIPLE meat.
If I liked the Butter Blood Baubles and Booze (shortened to “Xmas Baubles” on receipts) then I really loved the Son of a Nutcracker. Even without the stuff on top, this is a great burger with a wicked sense of fun, excess and sheer taste.
And finally, if this is the Son, God knows what next year will be like if they release Big Daddy Nutcracker…..