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Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Fine Burger Co. (REVISITED on 4th and 9th December 2010)
Sometimes I get a "thank you" e-mail from restaurants I review (which is nice), and occasionally a restaurateur will get in touch saying he/she has noted some of my "dislikes". It was with some surprise though that I heard recently from the Fine Burger Co. following my review (here).
Sam Steele, the marketing director and wife of one of the company's two founders, invited me to meet her and Austin Latimer (head chef and co-founder) at their Islington branch. Sam, a former BBC employee, quit her job to join Fine Burger Co.'s top management team and assist the company to address some of the quality issues which they acknowledged had been a problem at the time of my earlier review.
It was with some apprehension that I accepted this invitation but I really should not have worried - Sam and Austin were highly professional, friendly and interested in hearing my feedback. We had lunch together, and unsurprisingly the burgers, chips and onions rings were excellent. The meat was delicious and had been perfectly cooked. The bread supplier had been replaced and the improvement was significant. But then what was the likelihood that I would be getting a bad burger sitting with two of the company's owners/top managers?
Dr G and I decided we had to return anonymously to find out more. On the 9th December 2010, we arrived at the restaurant just before 10pm. Long after peak time, the restaurant wasn't busy, and I half expected things to be past their best. I was pleased to see that the waiter in charge was not the one I had seen there previously with Sam and Austin, so our cover was not blown. The French waiter who helped us on the evening (Lucas) was brilliant - attentive, very friendly and unobtrusive.
I ordered a "Beef Sizzler" @ £7.80 (smoked bacon, aged cheddar, tomato relish and mayo) while Dr G went for "Beef Guacamole and Bacon" @ £7.95 (coriander and mayo).
The burgers were again very good - excellent, tasty meat cooked medium rare as we had ordered. The sandwiches were not overfilled by other ingredients and the focus was entirely on the quality of the meat. The bun had the perfect texture and was strong enough to hold the sandwich together without being chewy or hard.
To accompany our burgers, we also ordered portions of "hand-cut chips" @ £3, "tempura onion rings" @ £3 and "fried baby squid" @ £4.95. The chips and squid were both good although I felt that the onions rings were a tad greasy.
We had a bottle of Spanish Tempranillo at £17 (surprisingly the most expensive bottle on the menu). It was a lovely wine at this price point, with red berry fruit flavours, and a hint of vanilla from the oak ageing.
A very interesting addition to the restaurant since our last visit is their new interactive touch screens by Touch UK Limited. These are great - not only can we see pictures of the dishes but we can also order through these screens. Most importantly, diners can play various games including food and drinks trivia, and play against other tables if desired, much fun.
Much to my surprise I find myself recommending the Fine Burger Co. following my two recent visits. I would be very interested to hear your experiences with this restaurant in the coming months.
Cost: the Fine Burger Co. is affiliated with the Taste Card which gives members 50% off their food bill. Our bill on this occasion was £34 after this discount including a bottle of wine. Excellent value for the improved quality of their burgers.
Likes: much improved patty and buns, great burgers, chips and a very good Tempranillo at £17 only. The FBC participates at a number of events throughout the year including Glanstonbury, Big Chill, Royal Ascot, among others.
Dislikes: the onions rings were adequate but a little greasy in my opinion. Having lettuce under the patty would also help prevent the lower half of the bun getting soggy.
Verdict: greatly improved burgers, very friendly service, excellent value. Recommended.