The Big Burger Test, with Farmison
Burgers are a divisive subject, with many people swearing by the brioche bun, others with strong allegiances to gherkins (me) and some truly unhinged people believing that fried onions are a suitable accompaniment when they're evidently getting mixed up with hotdogs. And that's before we get on to the patty itself.
This summer, M&S made a big song and dance about having supposedly created the Best Ever Burger - and perhaps they have, it's a blend of British beef short rib, chuck and bone marrow after all - but ultimately, so much of a burger comes down to personal preference. So, when Farmison - an online butcher who do incredible slow-reared, grass-fed, ethically grown meat boxes (I have them, they're brilliant*) - asked me to try three varieties of their new heritage breed burgers, I said yes immediately and got the BBQ going. Here's how we got on...
1. Steak and Bone Marrow Burger, £10.95 for 4
If you ask me, adding bone marrow to most foods is only ever a good thing. Mash? Tick. Stews? Tick. On toast? Tick. Gravy? Yes please. So, a helping of gorgeously fatty, collagen-rich, wobbly, beefy umami in a steak burger is definitely a winner. And lots of people agree: Hawksmoor use it in their classic burger recipe, and chefs at Blacklock and Pitt Cue concur.
The Farmison Steak & Bone Marrow burger is incredibly moist, dripping with meat juices and has a deeply, rich savoury flavour from the combination of dry aged meat and the whack of marrow that comes through in spades. Happily it isn't remotely quashed by the taste of the bbq. We had it with homemade Big Mac sauce that I make most times we have burgers (ketchup, mayo, mustard and finely chopped onions mixed together), lots of mature cheddar and tomato slices. Plus some bbq'd asparagus and garlic butter on the side, which is a bit leftfield but delicious nonetheless. My only criticism is that the addition of herbs in the patty is overwhelming - particularly the oregano - and detracts slightly from the sheer beefy flavour.
Overall 4.5/5 would eat again.
2. Short Rib Blend Burger, £10.45 for 4
This one is a mix of short rib (Gordon Ramsay is a fan of this for burgers) and chuck steak and is probably what most really good burger places would use for their patties; Honest Burger do.
The dry aged meat mixed with the fatty short rib gives a more complex flavour profile so you're getting two kind of meaty flavour and texture in one, and the result is a very good, well made burger that will get you many a compliment at your next barbecue. The depth of umami savouriness that we saw in the Bone Marrow burger is not present, but in return you get that classic beef burger flavour that many people crave, and the levels of fat still mean you can get a nice char on the outside, with a blushing pink interior and very messy hands in the eating.
We had this burger served with a portobello mushroom and Swiss cheese because I've never quite forgotten when Burger King did the epic Mushroom Double Swiss special circa 1993, plus the usual sauce and a handful of spinach to counteract the chips.
A classically delicious burger, with bags of flavour and great meaty texture. Still too many herbs though. 3.5/5
3. Fillet Blend Steak Burger, £9.95 for 4
Now this burger is quite different to the other two; it's noticeably leaner and firmer thanks to the lower levels of fat. Farmison say it's made from three different muscles, all from grass fed beef, which once blended give a velvety texture.
And it does. In the cooking, the fat and meat juices aren't all over the pan like normal, but stay in the patty; once assembled into the burger bun it's not as 'wet' and messy as most good burgers; and in the eating, the texture is more dense with a firm, fine textured meat patty. You know what I'm going to say about the herbs, but otherwise this is a beauty of a gourmet burger and something a bit alternative to the 'dirty burger' type.
We ate ours with the classic melted cheddar, sliced tomato and gherkin combo plus the Big Mac sauce and some regrettable rocket because that's what was in the fridge (round or iceberg only in a burger please IMHO). On the side there was some massaged and marinated kale because it was a weekday and I'm not an animal, along with some blue cheese garlic mushrooms (not seen, but highly recommend). A shout out to the Aldi brioche bun too.
Overall a strong 3/5 and an immensely luxurious quality burger, but I just can't get enough of that mucky bone marrow one.
If you've had a better burger, let me know. I'm off to try those M&S ones for comparison.
*I pay for my regular Farmison meat boxes because they are fabulous, but these particular burgers were all gifted to me as part of their PR push.