So yes, it appears I have become a burger hypocrite. Ever since I mentioned that I was slowly becoming bored of the whole London burger trend, what do I go and do? Stuff my face with burgers. Actually, a lot of burgers. Burgers from Lucky Chip, burgers from MEATmarket, and most recently, the almost perfect slider from the MEATLiquor stall at the annual and very excellent Soho Food Feast.
The natural progression of this conversation takes me towards my topic of this post, the uncrowned but highly acclaimed king of London burgers, Fred Smith at the Admiral Codrington. Having met him by chance a few weeks earlier (at yet another burger related event (see, I'm a MASSIVE burger hypocrite), I promised that I would make the trip into the deepest darkest South West London and sample one of his fabled burgers.
The Ad Cod (less of a mouthful than the Admiral Codrington) is located just off the end of a rather exclusive Kensington street. As I walked from the station, I was surrounded by supercars, suits and slinky women. The actual pub held the same atmosphere, unsurprising as the people on the street need to eat and drink, with plenty of outdoor space for the warm Summer nights. I'm not going to deny it, the dining area was pretty cool as it had a reclining roof letting the lucky few on one side of the room to bask in the evening sun. Sadly our group of six were squeezed into a tight banquette in the sweltering corner of the room.
After all this preamble, I really just wanted to get on with it and get stuck into the food. A rather generous plate of burrata and tomatoes with basil was pleasant and fresh but was a mere distraction for my stomach prior to the main event. I had anticipated and dreamt what this burger was going to taste like, but sadly the burger I had was a little off the mark. The cheese had not melted properly and had curled up, probably from being sat around or being left under a heatlamp. The patty was decent enough although lacked depth of flavour and was underseasoned and undersauced (although nicely cooked for me). I didn't even realised there was bacon in the burger until it was finished. I liked the brioche bun a lot, but met criticism from a few of my dining partners as it was too sweet.
Sadly Fred was not in the house when we visited, which may have explained some of the shortfalls we experienced. Finishing off with some ice cream, we slowly digested the mound of meat in our stomachs and chatted about our meal. The burgers were definitely not bad, just pleasant, whilst the chips were actually rather good. The thing is, the whole experience was just sadly lacking (probably not helped by the heat of our alcove by the time we were done).
I know I have talked about the big old "hypemonster" on a few occasions, and in this case, felt like I had been chewed up and spat out. £15 sits firmly in the gourmet burger territory, and other examples at Goodman and Hawksmoor were for me more enjoyable. However, I was reassured that the burgers are indeed normally legendary (by a member of my group who had been before) and am surprisingly finding myself inclined to make the journey to South West London again to see if she was right. There is always the debate that the food should always be consistent with or without the main man at the helm, but next time I'm not taking any chances. If the burger genius isn't in, nor am I.
The Admiral Codrington - 17 Mossop Street, London SW3 2LY
Wonderful food blog! Love your blog :)
Your feedback is consistent with what I'd heard from others, that Fred has to be there for the burger to be worth it. I'd like to try it, but having to follow Fred's shifts feels a bit much.
As much as I enjoy burgers, I'm looking forward to the hype moving on to proper fried chicken. Maybe that'll tempt a few proper attempts at it!
No, I think your experience is the norm. I went after reading the hype and thought it was extremely poor, as did my dining companion. £15!? £5 would be closer to the mark.
Fred was in the kitchen that day too...
@ Tim - Thanks!
@ Wen - The whole fried chicken thing is definitely gaining momentum. Check out Wishbone Brixton, opening in the very new future.
@ Anon - That sounds disappointing. I really want to try a comparison, and having met Fred, he is extremely passionate about what he does. Always be sure to ask if he has any specials on, they are normally the most special I hear.
I think I'm the most untrendy type of person ever. Never caught on to the burger/fried chicken hype, not even the macaroon hype when it was going strong (is it still trendy now. I hate macaroons). anyway, my friend;s a bit of a burger freak, he wants to say he agrees with your feedback.
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