Solita Monte Cristo

Review of Solita Monte Cristo


What they say:

French toasted bun, 6 ounce patty, emmental cheese, ham, béarnaise sauce.

Price: £12.95.

Calories: Unknown.

Solita seems to be going through a phase of bringing back old specials and it’s a very welcome process. There are plenty to choose from out of its three year back catalogue.

This time round it’s the Monte Cristo which I didn’t have originally, so this is a new one for me. Apparently due on Tuesday, then Thursday and actually appeared on Wednesday. Solita isn’t quite ready to be a slick corporate chain just yet!

This Monte Cristo isn’t directly a homage to Dumas’ classic tale of revenge, but rather a burgerisation of a classic American sandwich, which is basically the same thing minus the beef patty.

Solita Monte Cristo
On top of Monte Cristo…

The defining features are the ham and béarnaise sauce, and the French toasted bread – in this case the burger bun is French toasted. To all that is added emmental cheese and Solita’s house patty – a 6oz blend from the Inka oven.

Now, béarnaise sauce is a FABULOUS burger topping – it really ought to be used more often, as it gives wonderful texture and gloop. But that combined with very liberal amounts of emmental lead to a very photogenic burger, at least in the promo shots that Franco tweets.

Solita Monte Cristo
Two thick French toasts and lots of ham…

At Solita, menus double as placemats so aren’t whipped away like most places. I find myself staring at it even though I can pretty much rattle off all the burgers without looking.

The bacon-wrapped dough balls caught my eye and were duly ordered (in hindsight a mistake as they interfered with my ability to finish the heavy duty burger, and although nice, they weren’t a patch on the Mac balls or the cheeseburger spring rolls).

This might well be my last visit to Solita’s original NQ joint before the refurb so I enjoyed taking it all in one last time, looking forward to new adventures.

So, the Monte Cristo. Ham, béarnaise and French toast are all pretty unique in the world of burgers, so this should be pretty good.

Solita Monte Cristo
Béarnaise barely contained…

When it arrived I realised instantly it was a cutlery job. The French toast “bun” was far too soft and slippery to pick the whole thing up and the girth of this beast made it difficult too.

First impressions, besides awe at the size of it, were that it was quite mild. Emmental isn’t a strong flavour, the ham used here isn’t of the strong smoky variety and the béarnaise, although delicious and distinctive, wasn’t strong. This was a bit less about taste and more about texture.

Another thing I realised later after seeing further promo tweets from Franco was that it’s supposed to have icing sugar lightly scattered on top. Mine didn’t, although I’m sure that would’ve added even more to the look rather than the taste.

The French toast, with its rich crispy coating and stodgy interior, was thick and quite fascinating. The béarnaise was everywhere, a gooey drippy tasty mess with an ever-so slight sourness lingering on the tongue. Honestly, this is a brilliant, brilliant sauce to be put on burgers.

Solita Monte Cristo
Solita’s newest old special…

This cheese disappeared somewhat into the sauce. Emmental is nice enough on its own, a pleasant nutty flavour, but here it just isn’t strong enough to stand out. The mild ham was also relatively masked by both the sauce and the outstanding patty. Occasionally, depending on the constitution of the mouthful, I did get the hammy taste, and there was certainly plenty of it.

And the beef itself never fails to deliver here. Cooked medium, you get that sticky feeling between the teeth that the best blends of beef have. Really enjoyable.

Solita Monte Cristo
Lifting the very heavy lid…

I loved the addition of the béarnaise sauce, as I’m sure you can gather, but it was noticeably mild. I’m certainly no expert, but I wonder if it might benefit from having its peppercorn content beefed up, or indeed being swapped for a similar hollandaise that’s heavy on the lemon.

I have never had an American Monte Cristo sandwich but I don’t think it comes with béarnaise, so there’s scope for fiddling around with the burger tribute.

I also felt that the ham and French toast didn’t push out enough of their own taste to make me want to attack this heavy burger again.

I’m sure glad I had it – there’s no doubting its uniqueness and it is absolutely in-keeping with Solita’s fun innovative streak, but I do wonder if this is a burger built for Instagram first and foremost.

It does look utterly amazing.

Solita Monte Cristo
Inside the Monte Cristo lies heavenly Inka treats…

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