Review of Honest Burgers Chimichurri Special
What they say:
Beef, manchego cheese, Brindisa chorizo, Honest chimichurri and chipotle mayo.
Purely by coincidence, I caught up with Honest Burgers founder Philip Eeles on the exact same day as we met in 2016 (when I ate the Rib Man Special and we had a taste test with meat cooked three different ways).
With regards to the special, this is one that Honest has done before, and proved extremely popular. This time round it comes with a slight change, which we will come to in a moment.
The special isn’t the only thing that’s changed under the hood. Obviously since the last time I visited, Honest has added a few more branches, but has also changed meat supplier.
For business reasons, they’ve switched from the Ginger Pig to Turner & George. However, as Philip pointed out to me, you might not immediately notice.
It’s the same blend, and the same fat ratio, and ultimately the same outstanding beef flavour at the core of Honest’s compact menu.
Just as before, Philip was very obviously proud of his product. And this was not a marketing face – this was the face of someone who has made and served his product from a tent in Brixton. The history is palpable.
These days of course, Philip and Tom tend to be a bit dryer, and that pride extends to the staff they now employ. I was shown videos of the new-ish prep kitchen in Surrey (a far larger set-up than the previous one where Tom would put together the specials) and amongst the clips I saw Honest’s potato King, Piotr.
Whilst it may be Tom, Philip and Dorian who appear in interviews, features and reviews, it is also folks like Piotr that ensure Honest keeps providing that high standard of product and service. In this case, the Rosemary Fries.
Honest’s fries have always been somewhat of a benchmark in the burger world. They are triple-cooked and rosemary-seasoned, which is rather more complex than it sounds. That tent in Brixton was very basic.
Nowadays, the expansion and investment which Honest has, has allowed them to buy something that sounds like it might belong in a Marvel movie – a blast chiller.
These things, apparently, are incredibly expensive, but what they do is allow the fries to go from hot to cold in the shortest time possible, a key element in the best triple cooking methods. Therefore, the Honest fries that you get free with your burger are now better than ever.
About the burger though… Well, firstly Honest remains one of the few places where you can get a beef patty cooked medium. This of course shows that, with the right suppliers and the right administration, it is possible, despite newer, stricter rules. It does make one wonder a bit about the myriad places that don’t do it.
Anyway, as I said we’ve had this one before. Previously it came with jalapeños and now it comes with chipotle mayo – a small change to the flavour at approximately the same heat level.
Apart from that, and despite the chimichurri name, it’s actually the Brindisa chorizo that stands out strongest.
This stuff is absolutely delicious, thick cut and a perfect texture midway between soft and firm. As much as I love the beef here, on this particular burger the chorizo wins the meat award.
Past the chorizo and through a layer of cheese, we have that beef. In my case, cooked medium-rare to perfection (don’t believe me, just take a look at the cross-section). This was obviously a lot less firm than the chorizo and was melt-in-the-mouth brilliant.
Underneath the beef sits the greenery but chimichurri is a far more complex ingredient that leaves or boring old lettuce.
Honest’s chimichurri is made daily by a fabulous young lady in the prep kitchen who keeps the recipe written on her hat! It is perfectly balanced without the wine vinegar or the chilli overwhelming anything.
Clearly plenty parsley in here and the garlic builds slowly, growing into a fantastic background to the rest of the flavours.
This is not a big burger, not by a long stretch. There’s no silly sauces squirting out right left and centre, nor is it unmanageable.
To be rather clichéd, it’s simply a good honest burger. And, like all the burgers here, it’s contained within a sensible, robust brioche bun that actually tastes fresh.
Whilst Honest has a solid branding and its marketing reach has grown with its expansion, it doesn’t do gimmicks. You know what you’re getting here and you get the same top quality time after time.
So, this is a returning special, something we might see periodically as demand dictates. In fact, Honest have uploaded all the previous specials to the website, so if there are any you’d like to see again, let them know.
The Dalston branch has its own Chilli special that can only be bought there. In fact, the branch has a tiny patio where they grow their own chillies for the recipe.
This idea of branch-specific specials is also a notion Honest is toying with, and it would work quite well with the local beers that each one stocks.
And what of the future? Well, it’s interesting, very interesting in fact.
In April, Honest will be dipping their toes outside the M25 for the first time, opening a branch in Cambridge, followed by Reading in the summer.
Brighton is also on the radar. There’s also an Honest meat truck in the pipeline, which harks back to the more rough and ready days of Brixton.
And beyond, yes by this time next year we could very well see a branch in Manchester, where established competitors might pretend not to be concerned, but privately ought to be.