Review of Almost Famous Hank Marvin Burger
What they say:
Double Famous Cheeseburger, Crispy Smoked Bacon, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Grilled Halloumi, Crunchy fresh slaw, Bacon Bacon Mayo, Piri Piri BBQ (Extra Cheeky).
Almost Famous needs no introduction. It’s very much the benchmark for burgers in this country as far as I’m concerned. Or in any country, for that matter.
I’m here for the latest special, Hank Marvin (Hertfordshire rhyming slang I assume). It takes all my willpower not to spend my entire reviewing time solely at AF, working my way through all the regular menu items and the specials, to the detriment of all other places. Yes, it really is that good.
Even before I read the ingredients or looked at a photo, I knew it was going to be eye-candy. They all are. Glistening, sloppy, gooey and tasty. Then I looked at a photo on their Twitter feed and sure enough it was all these things. At this point I still didn’t know what was in it, but I knew the chances of disliking it were slimmer than Putin, Sturgeon and Kim Jong-Un suddenly being kind to their neighbours.
All the burgers here are good (except perhaps the one with the egg – personal preferences), so let’s have a look at Hank Marvin (for every burger sold, AF will donate £1 to Action Against Hunger).
It’s a bacon double cheeseburger, the base of most of Famous’ burgers, with added chicken and slaw, grilled halloumi, bacon mayo and piri piri BBQ sauce. So clearly it’s going to be meaty, cheesy and saucy. What’s not to like?
A lot of ingredients in here, par for the course at Famous. The likely standouts are the halloumi and the slaw. Slaw is such an underrated burger topping (although for balance there are some people who don’t like it, but they are just wrong – not looking at anyone in particular). I can also say with reasonable accuracy, that I’ve never had halloumi before.
Bacon tongues hanging out seem to be quite an AF trademark and this was no exception. The thing looked amazing with extremely liberal application of sauce in a fairly thin diameter. Big but manageable. That’s the thing with Famous burgers – I’m pretty sure they’ve gradually shrunk in girth – they give the impression of being massive but they aren’t really, and are perfectly manageable without leaving your stomach bursting at the seams.
My first bite was a small piece of chicken that had cheekily escaped. It was covered in that BBQ sauce and I popped it into my mouth. Wow, the zingy piri piri made its heat immediately pertinent. Not very mild, this heat was going to be quite a defining feature.
I could see the rest of the chicken, the two patties, the slaw and all the sauce, but not the halloumi – must be hidden under the Niagara-esque gloop.
The halloumi, when I did find it, was flat and clearly grilled. A cheese patty, if you like. Quite mild and easily overwhelmed by the stronger flavours going on in here. Its main job seems to be texture, but it also worked well with the slaw as a creamy counter-balance to the more robust onslaught of salty bacon and heaty piri piri. It was pretty much perfect.
I have to caveat that a bit – there was a small problem – the beef was cooked through. Not all that long ago, medium-rare was the house style at AF and I didn’t know it had changed. Even our favourite burger stars have succumbed to this well-done nonsense that’s being peddled at the moment.
The waitress described it as “cooked through but juicy” which is probably fair. Besides, the sheer volume of toppings here help to make it a small problem instead of a big one. I asked if I could have had it medium-rare if I’d asked and the waitress seemed to think so but wasn’t sure. I’d have thought with AF’s management and the supplier being renowned butcher Frost of Chorlton, the right paperwork could easily be in place to satisfy the FSA requirements. I certainly hope so and will test it out next time.
Hank Marvin, despite that, was an excellent burger but I was wrong about the standout ingredients. It wasn’t the halloumi and slaw, it was the piri piri. It gave just the right level of heat and the combination of flavours in this were great – each time I picked up the visibly steaming bun and contents, I couldn’t help but smile.
Almost Famous is a happy place and this special is very special.