Review of Hawksmoor Christmas Burger 2016
What they say:
Free-range turkey topped with a sausage patty made from The Ginger Pig Tamworth pork, along with crispy smoked bacon, sprout tops, spiced cranberry ketchup, a slice of Ogleshield cheese and turkey gravy to French Dip the whole thing in.
Right then, who’s been naughty? Who’s been nice? Something, something twice.
Well, clearly I’ve landed in the latter camp somehow, because I’m sitting here in Hawksmoor Manchester about to have this year’s Christmas Burger. Every year I begin like Ebeneezer Scrooge, bemoaning silly, contrived Christmas burgers and every year before very long I end up like Buddy Elf, giddily enjoying them to the point of obsession.
At Hawksmoor this thing is literally hot off the press, so much so that its description was still being written! As ever, BURGER LAD® brings you the good stuff first.
I’ve covered Hawksmoor before – not a cheap place by any stretch but still great value for its price-point. You always land on your feet here. Faultless service, exemplary meats – all round a fantastic place.
In this burger is a sausage patty provided by the Ginger Pig, a renowned supplier of top quality meats, and it is accompanied within the plain brioche by turkey, bacon, sprout tops, cheese and cranberry ketchup. A boat of turkey gravy is provided for dipping, an idea borrowed from the highly popular French Dip sandwich on the bar menu here.
Also borrowed from elsewhere on the menu is the Ogleshield cheese – near perfect in my view when it comes to burgers. This is a relatively new cheese, developed in the West Country from jersey cows, and resulting in a joyous British version of raclette. As perfect as this is semi-melted over meat, the prospect of turning it even more gooey by dipping into the gravy makes me want to stop the cavalry right here and now.
Hawksmoor’s FOH operation is as slick as it gets. Having arranged the visit in advance, everything was set up and we didn’t even need to order the burgers. Little touches that make for an experience head and shoulders above most other places. And as our burgers were the first coming out, apparently there was quite a gathering at the pass before they were collected and presented to the table.
At this stage I must say I thought it rather plain. It certainly didn’t deliver Christmas with shock and awe, rather with understated grace. And they’d chosen to offer something rather dry, with the separate gravy providing the main lubrication – very much a deliberate sense of festive fun whilst still within the Hawksmoor range of style.
I was eager to get stuck in, and raced through my photos. The gravy provided was very generous and piping hot – I knew this was going to be fun and tasty when I saw the large amount of Ogleshield just crying out to be dipped. Not in a “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” way but rather a “in the orangery with a Garibaldi and pot of Earl Grey” sense of dipping.
In taking the photos I discovered there were unlisted onions in there, and I also discovered that the cranberry ketchup (listed as on the side) formed a bed upon which the turkey sat. Perhaps variations from earlier versions in development, I am very glad both were included – I checked and they are both meant to be here, on the final version. The build was near-perfect if not necessarily as photogenic as some more elaborate Christmas specials.
I chose to drizzle a little of the gravy inside the crown and before long was tucking in. The turkey, oh wow the turkey. This is about as good as it gets. A decent chunk of big bird, expertly seasoned and floured and fried. Simple but very, very effective.
The seasoning and dressing in this whole burger were jaw-dropping. A mix of mustard, pepper and wine vinegar sent the taste buds on a taste flight that requires an Aled Jones soundtrack. Yes, that good. Really.
Put your snowman down and stop walking on air for a moment because there’s more. I haven’t even mentioned the bacon yet.
Yes, there’s bacon, and unsurprisingly it is amazing bacon. Along with the sausage patty, there’s just about as much saltiness in this as you’d want. Not too little, not too much. Sufficient, ideal, thoughtful.
The bacon was delicious, the sausage was delicious and the turkey was Santa-tastic. This burger really did not put a foot wrong. Greenery was provided in the form of sprout tops, a lovely festive alternative to lettuce or rocket – perhaps a little tough work for the teeth, but a delightful alternative.
The onions and the cranberry ketchup were the quieter of the ingredients. Discernible with some effort, depending on the composition of the mouthful, and equally as delicious when present.
The heel of the bun had a very hard job holding fast with the gravy dipping going on, but it succeeded. And although there are a lot of ingredients in here, it is still manageable by hand, which adds to the appeal.
Every single ingredient, both separately and together, worked so well that I finished this having decided it was genuinely one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a few!
The near-perfect build, the savoury saltiness, the background heat, the meaty flavours and range of textures, one expects this has undergone considerable development to result in such a tremendous creation. Visually understated yet magnificent from the moment it hits the tongue.
At the time of writing, several of Hawksmoor’s staff still hadn’t tried it. I do hope that is remedied forthwith, for ladies and gentlemen, children, reindeer and elves, what we have here is a winner.