Review of Almost Famous – The One Fiddy Burger
What they say:
Juicy double cheeseburger with American cheese, waffle fries, JD BBQ pulled pork, Brooklyn beer battered onion ring, slaw, famous sauce.
I’m back at the funnest eatery in Manchester, the U.K., the world. It’s Almost Famous, folks. Sit down, feet up and prepare to feel hungry.
You know the bit at the start of Star Wars (or better still, Spaceballs) where the camera pans, seemingly endlessly, along the spaceship. Well this is the burger equivalent. Almost Famous brakes for nobody.
Granted, you don’t go to Famous for grown-up refinement, and they’ve certainly delighted us with big burgers before (and in that vein, one would imagine that Mr Mullholland and co already have the the likely-to-be-humongous Christmas special in development…. Shhhhh, not telling…) But this one, certainly from the promo shots, looks very tall indeed and unlike some big burgers from both Famous and its competitors, this actually has all the contents inside.
The Admiral isn’t a huge fan of things sticking out the top on a spike. Imagine you bought the latest Ruth Rendell book and chapters 13 and 21 were stapled to the outside. Same thing.
Well, this burger is ostensibly here to celebrate 150 years of Jack Daniels whiskey, hence the name “One Fiddy” – just say “one hundred and fifty” in a mumbly American accent without enunciating and you’ve more or less got it.
However, for some reason, Famous has decided to sell it only on Fridays in September (Jack Friday, apparently). Clearly the JD BBQ sauce is the key ingredient here, and it would seem there’s lots of it. Also present are pulled pork, onion rings and slaw, all of which have appeared on other Famous main menu and special items before.
All of that belt-busting delight is built on and around the excellent Frost double patty that serves as the core of all Famous burgers. Sadly not cooked medium anymore, but that’s just another casualty of 2016.
So, before it arrives what is to be expected? Well, the usual mess involved in eating a Famous burger, with the added challenge of fitting this in my mouth somehow. (There is a knack to it, with these tower burgers, I’ll have you know.)
Plus, I’m expecting a very sweet hit – not necessarily overly boozy per se but clearly the sauce needs to stand out in this themed burger. Meat – with pulled pork and two beef patties, you’d reasonably expect there to be a noticeably red meat theme prancing on the palate.
Onion rings clearly add a lot to the height but don’t always add much to the taste. I’m expecting them to be rather muted here too, but you never know. Andy finally, that purply sale that AF uses. I seem to remember it standing out in other burgers but whether it will cut through the BBQ sauce here, we shall see.
So, diving right in. Yes, it is tall, as much as or even more so than expected. There was the standard wooden skewer that all Famous burgers have. I tell you what, I’d be might impressed if someone could develop a burger that didn’t require that – a tall burger that stood on its own two proverbial feet.
The other thing I noticed right away. Far whiter and a lot less purple than the promo shots. Why? No idea. But the proof of the pudding is always in the…. yep you got it – the good part.
In the first couple of bites, the booze did come through ever so slightly. Not everyone at the table (four people- we all ordered the same thing – I have great friends!) agreed, but as someone who dislikes whisky AND whiskey, I can spot it when it’s in something. As I said, it was ever so slight, so it certainly didn’t spoil the burger, but did give it a little je ne sais quoi.
There was great lubrication on here, which was a well developed part – with all the meat it could’ve been dry but wasn’t. It really doesn’t take a lot of thought but makes a world of difference. I’ve had plenty dry burgers in my time and it’s glorious coming to Famous for something sloppy.
As expected, the onion rings were the silent partner. They had a LOT of batter which itself added crunch to the bites, but the onion within didn’t provide its flavour to the tongue. Whether that was due to the overwhelming proportion of batter, or the sweetness of the sauce, I don’t know.
As for that sweetness, it was provided by the pulled pork mixing with the BBQ sauce in a delightful manner. It was noted around the table that pulled pork is very “2014” (just as vol-au-vents are very “1980” but when it’s used right, without too much of a song and dance, it does work in 2016. Beards, after all, are also “so 2014” but you still see them, so there’s a bit of life in pulled pork yet. The pulled pork though, again probably because of the sauce, didn’t really show strongly up taste-wise, although its texture was noticeable.
As for the build, the excitement was all in the top half. The sauce, the onion rings, the cheese. My burger did have cheese between the two patties but one of the others at the table did not, making the bottom half less interesting than the top.
I say less interesting, rather than actually dull, because the bottom half was ruled by those great Frost patties, which have a terrific texture (even when cooked longer as they are now) with fatty stickiness on the teeth (that’s a good thing, in case you’re wondering). These patties seemed a little thicker than the normal Famous size. I’ll have to see at my next visit (and yes of course there will be a next visit) whether that’s a new size throughout, or if it’s just for this burger).
It’s all about the beef though. For all the wondrous magical toppings going on at Famous, I’ve said it before, it’s the beef that counts most. Get that wrong, and it doesn’t matter much what you put on top.
The cheese was necessary for the lubrication and worked, while the sauce was definitely the main act, providing sweet stickiness all the way through.
It’s probably not the most outstanding innovative Famous special ever, but I’ve yet to have a bad experience here. As always, it’s huge fun, well priced and damn tasty, and you will go back to reality with a smile on your face.
As it’s available on Fridays in September, at the time of writing, you have two more chances to get this. Don’t miss out.