Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: Smashburger, Bath

It is an opinion universally acknowledged, that any South African or Englishman, in possession of a good appetite, must be in want of a burger!  With this in mind, and myself certainly not disagreeing with this sentiment, decided this weekend to try out the new burger joint in town, Smashburger, down in the bustling Southgate area of the city. It was my fella’s birthday this weekend (well actually, it’s on Tuesday, but even when you’re in your thirties you shouldn’t turn down a cheeky 4 day birthday celebration!), and burgers are his absolute favourite food, so thought this a perfect little treat.

Did a little research on the brand before I rocked up- Smashburger is a really huge worldwide brand (America, South America, Canada and the Middle East), but has recently ventured into the UK, with 5 places here now- Milton Keynes, Bath, Brighton, Newcastle and Glasgow soon. The menu is varied with a very nice selection of different options- beef burgers, chicken burgers (breast fillet or crispy), salads and two types of veggie burgers- Portobello mushroom and Butternut squash and chickpea. I must admit, I do really like the fact they have two options there for the vegetarians- with my parents being vegetarian (I would fully recommend the place to them too), something they find annoying is in a lot of places they only have one menu option available to them- so to have that option of choice is great. Im assuming the mushroom burgers are vegan too so knowing the growing trend for animal-free eating, it’s good to see the restaurant has it’s finger on the foodie trend pulse.
The Bath restaurant itself has a very open feel to it- and very American Diner-esque, with bright red stools and benches, and booths available for bigger parties. You grab your table and then you go to the counter to order your food (a la Nando’s) , and once ordered instead of table numbers they give you a buzzy electronic thing so that the servers know where you are seated. I noticed the person in front of me was ordering a takeaway burger and so that’s cool that this is an option (especially in the Southgate area where theres lots of outside seating/ outside areas to eat, so im sure many people in this lovely weather get a takeout here and then eat in on the lawn-y bits of the main square).

I decided to order the Local Smash Stilton Stack Beef burger (which comes with chutney, rocket, “haystack onions”, smoked bacon and blue cheese) with the Smash fries (fries with a rosemary and garlic coating), and my boyfriend ordered the Buffalo Blue Cheese Beef Burger (with hot bbq sauce, blue cheese, lettuce and tomato) with plain fries. For drinks  I ordered a “hand spun” strawberry milkshake, and Brendan got a stella. Upon recommendation from our server we also ordered the deep fried pickles on the side to share.
Price-wise, it was very reasonable- its roughly about £7 for a burger, £3 for a side of chips, and £3/£4 each for the drinks you order (with an unlimited soft drink option available which I could see was very popular with children). I would recommend, however, that you double up on your burger- if I have any criticism of the meal here it would be that we thought the beef patty wasn’t the hugest of things (although toppings/burger fillings were generous), but considering its only like £1.50/£2ish to double your burger, I would go for that next time I eat here.

Our drinks came to us almost immediately- Brendan’s beer being served with a chilled tankard (which is a nice touch- I always think when I go abroad and they always serve drinks in frosty glasses that this is something that ought to catch on here), and my milkshake……OH MY GOD THIS MILKSHAKE!!! Served in a huge glass with whipped cream, and then if this wasn’t enough they give you a silver shaker with the excess shake on the side for you to top up. With no sense of exaggeration this is by far the nicest milkshake I have ever had in my entire life. It’s made with haagen daaz ice cream (the quality and thickness of which I really feel I could taste), and it was just heaven in a glass. I think I put on about two pounds just looking at it.
The burgers were really delicious- brioche buns soft, and the beef patties well cooked and tasted very good quality (I noticed written on the walls that they inly use 100% British beef so that’s good). The blue cheese we had on both of our burgers tasted very premium- sharp, tangy, and well complimented the flavours of the other fillings. The “Haystack onions”, which were like very thin onion rings, were lovely, and the chutney was really interesting- im guessing it’s apple based, in fact it tastes a lot like the chutneys I make at home (which is a compliment, because my chutneys are awesome, haha!). Everything was perfectly seasoned, as were my chips- the rosemary garlic coating working very well here. These battered deep fried pickles we had as a side dish were a revelation! We joked with our server (who I think by the looks of it was the manager) that these will go down well when they open the Glasgow store! Very salty of course, in a good way, but if you are as obsessed with gherkins/pickles as much as I am, you must make sure you try there- very different!

Overall we had a fantastic lunch, the restaurant was clean and had a great atmosphere to it, the staff were friendly, and with all the little bits around the meal (fantastic drinks, delicious sides), as well as a cracking burger, we left very full and very happy. I think we will be back here for lunch at some point, or perhaps even for a cheeky takeaway. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recipe: Macaroni Leeks!



Hey everyone! Gosh a while since my last post ey? Well I really feel like getting back into my recipes again- my last two jobs were so busy/stressful  I didn't have time for anything! Now is the time for a normal cheffy job, and time to do my creative cheffing back home and on here! We may be into Spring now, but it's still pretty cold ey?? Still in comfort-food land, hence my entry into the Leek Grower's Association's Competition being a bit of a winter warmer! Macaroni cheese, made with softened sweet leeks, mature cheddar, plenty of Dijon mustard, and topped with tender baby leeks and grated parmesan. If you cant get baby leeks (via growing them yourselves or via the shop!) you can use smaller "grown-up leeks", just halve them lengthways keeping the root intact prior to blanching, and follow the same recipe guidelines. http://www.british-leeks.co.uk/competition.php  #lovemyleeks

Macaroni Leeks! (serves 3-4)

4-6 baby leeks (or 2-3 small leeks, halved)
300g macaroni
2 leeks, finely chopped

60g butter
3 level tbsp plain flour
500ml semi-skimmed milk
4 generous teaspoons Dijon mustard
140g grated mature cheddar
Salt and white pepper to taste
45g finely grated parmesan

1) Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Blanch the baby leeks/ leeks for 1 minute, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions (about 12 minutes). For 8 of those minutes, add the finely chopped leeks to the same pan to boil.
2) Drain the mac and leeks and set aside. In the same pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, and gradually add the milk, making a classic white sauce. Add the mustard and cheddar, and cook for about 4/5 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is thickened/ glossy.
3)Preheat oven to 200C. Mix in the macaroni/leeks into the cheese sauce and season to taste. Pour this into a baking dish, and arrange the blanched baby leeks nicely over the top. Sprinkle grated Parmesan evenly, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
4) Remove from the oven and serve! (Nice on its own of course, if feeding a big group also nice with peas/ green salad/ garlic baguette).