Fireman Sam

Based in the Old Fire Station right next to Tottenham Town Hall, #ChickenTown has apparently been open for business for almost 2 years! The concept (taken from their website) states “because we’re a social enterprise: we serve up our affordable, healthy and tasty food not for a profit, but for the benefit of the local community.”

We like to support our own so with this in mind the @ManDemVFood decided to check it out and show some community spirit.

SWEET TOOTH: I was the first to arrive at @chickent0wn (ha ha in your face #PepperMan) and the place was rather dull and completely empty. Not sure if that’s a good or bad sign for a Thursday evening. I was seated by the waitress Kyra, who was polite and welcoming, offering me a drink straight away and brought over a jug of water and some glasses and menus for the table… she seemed on the ball. Most of the #ManDem arrived shortly after, except #TheManager who was quite late, unusual for him.

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Once he arrived we ordered the starters straightaway… wings of course! At chicken town there were two types, BBQ wings and Korean style, we had both. Each was tasty, but the Korean stood out for me as the flavour was more intense, plus I could manage them as they weren’t hot as their description suggested but had a little kick, more like what a generous addition of black pepper tastes like.

For my main I opted for the pieces (you get the leg + breast part of the chicken with a choice of crumb) rather than a burger and chose the “Fancy Pants”, which is a rosemary salt and lemon crumb flavour. This came with 2 sides for £10, so I added sweet potato wedges and onion rings. The presentation left a lot to be desired but hopefully that wasn’t reflected in the taste. The chicken had a good flavour coating but the meat itself, although succulent, was flavourless. The sweet potato wedges were basically a bowl of mashed sweet potato pieces with their skin on, no solid form or shape to them at all.  The onion rings also had a nice flavour coating but were too greasy so I only ate one. I was deeply disgruntled with my meal. I am undecided whether I should give them another try or just add them to the “at least I tried it” pile.

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THE MANAGER: I arrived late, but hey ho! I’m the manager! I wish, got a cussing because the mandem were hungry, as Bob Marley said ….. “a hungry man is an angry man”

We all looked at the menu and regardless of where we go we order wings, whether they are hot wings or bingo wings. We seem to be turning into chicken wing experts!

Wings arrived and looked promising, not well presented I may add, but maybe it was a no thrills ting, and it was all about the taste like the wings we had at #Boomburger. I dived in, and first thing was the wings weren’t hot, as in freshly fried, baked, cooked (however they prepare them), but I can’t say they lacked in taste. I will say that the Korean wings were awesome, mentioned to #CheeseLover that these wings were on par with those that we had at #clutch! Man shot me down quick (but they are imo).

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I went on to order a side of Macaroni cheese, cheesy jalapeño chips, and an SAS (smokey and spicy chicken burger with coleslaw, lime mayo and a slice of cheddar). Sigh! was I disappointed, the chips and the burger again were not fresh to the point that they were not hot, possibly below Luke warm, I mean how can chips not be hot when they come straight out of the kitchen? It’s not like the restaurant was full and the place was bustling with people and vibes! The macaroni cheese was OK, I can’t say more than that, very cheesy and yes it was hot, but no wow factor, nothing that makes me want to tell you “Go NOW and taste this dish from Chicken Town”, it was just ok. Would I have it again? Yeah, if Nando’s wasn’t close.

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On to the SAS Burger, for me anything that is named after the Special Air Service should be dangerous, spicy hot like a #whitemencantjerk chicken wing, or the taste profile should be soooooo intense due to secret ingredients that my mind is blown away! But no, it was just a chicken sandwich, the bun was burnt, and as stated before the chicken in the burger was warm, not hot. It was supposed to be smokey and spicy, tasted neither, SAS more like Dad’s Army if you ask me!

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PEPPER MAN: I was going to order the SAS chicken burger, but when I heard The Manager order it, I swiftly changed my mind, kept it basic and chose the classic burger. This comes filled with coleslaw and a slice of cheese. As you already know, chicken and cheese doesn’t make sense to me so i made sure they didn’t include it in my burger. As soon as my burger came I was surprised of how basic it really was. It reminded me of one of those 1 minute microwave burgers. It was a fat piece of chicken (the thigh) but the circumference was small. I took a bite and it was nothing special. If I’m being totally honest I would have preferred a fillet burger from #KFC. A couple more bites and the burger was done. Very disappointing. I didn’t order fries so that was my meal done. They’re just lucky their Korean wings are banging otherwise I would have been fuming.

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CHEESE LOVER: Chicken Town… it was so poor I don’t want to write about it! I have had better burgers from a disposable BBQ! Probably the worst burger I’ve ever had! I’m never going back! They should sack the chefs, close down the restaurant and let the firemen back in to make better use of the building!

“Manager intervention”

He refused to comment further on the food and the restaurant, and stands by the idea that it should be turned back into a fire station, however for the insubordination he will face a formal investigation!

OVERALL: The Man Dem love the idea of the concept of Chicken Town, especially the Junior Special options, where they use the profits for the main meals to enable them to provide meals for the young people in the area at a price similar to the more ‘traditional’ chicken shops in the area from as little as £2 for a more healthy version of what these young people love. Great idea!

However, we feel they need to work on the taste of the food as if it stays as it is, they may not last long in this battle for the young people’s custom. Granted we attended in the evening which is outside the timespan that the Junior Special is offered so we have no idea how busy it gets during that time on a daily basis, but considering it was a Thursday evening it didn’t get much busier as the night went on, which isn’t a good sign. We hope, for the young people, the community and the sake of the business that the empty place in the evening isn’t a mimic of it’s daily custom.

SCORE: 1 out of 6 mandems

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Lucky Dip

This is becoming a regular ting… another trip for the #ManDem south of the river, #Brixton again! This time the destination is @dipflippo – a burger joint with a difference, a burger joint where they dip your burger in gravy!! Wait… what? They do what now?!? Yep, you read correctly… let us explain.

There are 3 main options…

1. Dip & Flip burger is a burger that has a topping of meat (beef or lamb) dipped in gravy with gravy served on the side for extra dipping.

2. Dip burger is a roll with the meat (roast chicken, roast beef or slow roast lamb) dipped in gravy with option to double dip it, which means you can dip the roll in gravy too!

3. Flip burgers are your normal every day burgers with gravy served on the side.

Ok, sounds interesting… let’s do this!!

**Sidenote: We decided to skip starters as we didn’t have the full team out on this occasion and they only had wings which only came in one flavour choice, which the waitress described as very spicy and #PepperMan wasn’t up for the challenge today!

PEPPER MAN: I ordered the dip and flip lamb burger. I chose the lamb because I thought I would have something different rather than the usual beef as it’s not like me to take risks with my food very often. 👀
I also pushed the boat out and had the milkshake of the month, which was chocolate & banana crumble. The crumble part was digestive biscuit mixed in with the shake. It was actually really nice, so nice I finished it in one gulp! The consistency was perfect. Not too thick or too runny.

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Although the restaurant wasn’t that busy, there were quite a few people dining whilst we visited. There was only one waitress covering the whole restaurant but amazingly my burger came in record time… It was so quick! I definitely weren’t complaining I was just surprised at the speed. It was hot all the way through and the cheese was dripping all over the lamb dipped in gravy sandwiched between a luke warm
brioche bun. I took a big bite and it was a total mess. There was gravy and melted cheese everywhere but WOW! We have another contender for best burger! Seriously, it was heavenly. The meat was tender and moist from the gravy. I wasn’t too keen on dipping my burger in a gravy. I couldn’t work out the link. The meat in gravy made sense but not the whole burger. Anyway I gave it a try and I can honestly say, I won’t be doing that again. It was disappointing and almost spoiled my experience of eating this fine tasting burger. It literally just makes the whole burger soggy. It was foul. Sorry. Stick to the basics. There’s obviously a reason why no one else does this.

Life is NOT better when dipped in gravy.

THE VEGAN 🙄: I got the potato Rosti Burger with a fried egg and squeezy cheesy fries. I was a bit hesitant about getting this burger. The fried egg had me scratching my brow like… Uhhmmm, how is this gonna work? But the mandem don’t get shook easily so on that note… I’m going in! When it arrived, it was presented well. The brioche was lightly toasted (just how i like it) but I was watching the egg as if it was watching me.. 👀.. man was #cautious dread! But I thought, I am not letting this egg deter me. Soooooooo… The first bite was a BIG one, just to get the flavours moving around the mouth so I can gage the full extent of this weird combination. Well! As I was chomping on the medley of rosti, fried egg, gherkins and ketchup I had an outburst (I even surprised myself!) ‘this burger is actually nice!’ …aannddd it was tasty! The rosti did come across a bit dry but the gherkins compensated for that so it was not that bad…. Yes, I can definitively say “The burger was nice dread!”

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The squeezy cheesy fries were well seasoned and topped with a mixture of cheeses. However, I must say after a while I found the cheese too much, in fact it became overbearing, almost all cheese and no fries. Not so much cheese is needed in my opinion, it should compliment the fries not drown them. But all round it was a good eat. Yo #SweetTooth what was your meal saying?

SWEET TOOTH: So I decided to go for the “Dip” which isn’t actually a burger, but more of a sub as it were. On the menu described as “Our daily roast meats served in a freshly baked bread roll with cabbage slaw and pickles along with your choice of sauce and dipping preference.” #decisionsdecisions

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Out of a choice of roast chicken, roast beef topside or slow roast lamb, the chicken wasn’t available so for me the only choice was the lamb #favouritemeat n all that, the beef had no chance! In fact, who am I kidding, even if the chicken was available it still would have lost to the might of meat that is lamb!! Of the 3 sauce options (mint, horseradish cream or garlic lemon mayo) I chose the mint… like who doesn’t choose mint sauce with lamb anyway?!? Anything else would have been a sin!! I also decided to have it ‘dipped’ – where just the meat is dipped, rather than ‘double dipped’ – where they dip the meat AND the roll!! Yeah, I can’t get my head round it either! I ain’t risking it, i’ll leave them tings to man like #PepperMan 👀 I ordered my standard sweet potato fries for my side (if they’re on the menu I’m ordering them) n a special order strawberry & banana milkshake. Special shout out to our waitress Andrelina(?) for the hookup. The milkshake had good flavour although it could have been thicker for my preference.

The food arrived in record time n it looked relatively standard in appearance when it came. I tried the sweet potato fries first… wait a minute… What is this? They are AMAZING!! I’m confused… they are just sweet potato fries… why is this my reaction? #calmdownbruv Well these are not just any sweet potato fries… these are the best I’ve tasted in all the #MDVF visits BY FAR!! They were the colour that good sweet potato fries should be, (you know that ‘golden orange’ lol) and had that light crisp n crunch on the outside and were slightly fluffy on the inside but that’s not even the best bit! The best bit, the bit that lifted them from Premiership to World Cup level was the delicate sprinkling of salt n some other herb that I wanna say is rosemary but I can’t be sure. I was so mesmerised by the taste I forgot to ask our waitress what it was. All I know is, if you go there, get them. #thatisall

Now, for the #Dip. Oozing an overload of meat n gravy dripping down the side of the bottom half of the bun it looked a hot mess! But don’t let looks deceive you cos a hot mess it was not! The top of the bun seemed hard to touch but when you bit into it “Oh man!” it was perfect! It was just how you want a bun/roll to be (if it’s not brioche) the light crisp, flaky crust then complete soft n light bread underneath. It complimented the succulent n tender lamb perfectly. The lamb was doused in the mint sauce which had a nice ratio of mint flavour to gravy/sauce consistency and made the meat simply juicy. The mint flavour wasn’t overbearing so provided a nice compliment of flavour and as I continued to devour this tasty dish discovering the pickle and cabbage slaw as I bit further and further into it just made for a plethora of flavours that was intense to say the least. I did dip the roll into the accompanying gravy for one bite but surprisingly that lessened the pleasure as it made the roll taste more of the gravy than anything else. I would definitely recommend this dish to anyone but don’t dip #justeat

SERVICE: The service was not outstanding but (as mentioned earlier) for the waitress to be covering the whole restaurant and the service still to be a fairly high standard is commendable. Our waitress was very polite and bubbly. Marks for her knowledge of the menu and guidance on how the dip concept works. Had certain man #baffed
The restaurant was simple and neat with not too much going on in the decor department. The atmosphere was moderate but maybe that’s because of the time we attended. Location suggests weekends would be busy.

OVERALL: The concept of Dip and Flip may be confusing at first and it will need an explanation for some, The Vegan 🙄 was struggling! But the food was well put together and some of their experiments seems to work. The dishes we had were flavourful and we would definitely recommend them if you were to visit #dipandflip. The restaurant is a good destination for any casual meet up whether a date, friendly catch up or for a group occasion. If you’re in the area or wanna try this concept of gravy with your burger, why not pass through and take a dip!

SCORE: 4 out of 6 mandems

http://www.dipandflip.co.uk/brixton

Boom Shake The Room

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Still excited from the #NottingHillCarnival vibes the mandem wanted one more taste of their Caribbean heritage and @boomburger seemed just the place! Located in the heart of the carnival route it is calling out to be visited and what better time than now in the bask of Carnival week.

As soon as you step inside you can clearly see this is more of a take away place rather than a dine in restaurant. They literally only have 2 booths in there that can seat about 7-8 each. They don’t take reservations so you have to just turn up and hope you can get a seat or failing that just take it away. They do have outside seating for about 15-20 people but who wants to be sitting outside in this confused English weather.

Luckily for us, both inside booths were available for us to utilise so we were able to eat in. The music was so loud though, we couldn’t hear each other speak. Clearly another sign that this isn’t for dining.

Anyway on to the food…

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STARTERS: After the #hotwingchallenge evening we did with @whitemencantjerk some of the Man Dem have a lust for the heat of a well done chicken wing!

Both our mains and starters all arrived at the same time, and as much as we wanted to tuck straight into our burgers, we started slowly on the wings. We ordered two types, Jerk Wings, they called them sticky wings, and Boom wings.

We all tasted the Boom wings first… they were dry and crispy, perfectly fried chicken, piping hot, made from a quality grade of chicken. The first bite could only be described as dipping your full body in a bath that was set to just the temperature you like it and as you enter you make that “Ahhhhhhhh” sound. The wings were actually “boom”!!

The other type was the sticky wings, we were expecting these to blow off our heads, but no, these wings were the same as the Boom Wings but with a Jerk sauce covering them, the sauce was perfect, if you’re not one for very spicy food these are for you, but in saying that if you like a little kick and love the jerk flavour these are also for you, we’d actually visit Boom Burger just for the wings, that’s how good they are in our view.

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SWEET TOOTH: The ironic thing for me is that I passed @boomburger on Carnival Monday and thought to myself “aahh this is where it is… I must come n visit soon” so imagine how immediately enthused I was about finally visiting there as I’ve heard nothing but good things about the place. I arrived at this Reggae Shack looking place 30 mins late (bloody #TfL 😤) and had to stop n check I wasn’t in sunny #Jamaica as it reminded me of many a roadside eatery out there. #Dancehall playing in the background n a jovial greeting from the man dem already inside. Two two fist bump n a couple of nods later The Manager said, “Boy you better order quick, man dem have ordered already star!”

A quick peruse of the menu and I knew I wanted the Stamp & Go (aka saltfish fritters) for starters but unfortunately they had run out of the fritters #KMT #vex and the rest of the #mandem had already ordered both sets of wings to share so that was that!

For my mains I ordered the Jerk Boom (a burger highlighted as ‘popular’ on the menu) with plantain fries… wait, what… Wha ya mean plantain fries?! Do you mean actual fries made of plantain or do you mean plantain chips… man needs to know! Actually, who cares I’m ordering them same way… will see what they are when they arrive init!

The food arrived and to my surprise the chicken in the Jerk Boom was not a breast fillet/burger as expected it would be better described as pulled jerk chicken. #levels The meat was tender and succulent and seasoned VERY well. It was so full of flavour I had to pause and ask myself “Did i just die and go to #foodheaven or what?” then combined with the bed of fried plantain and rocket and topped off with the mango and paw paw sauce, it was like my taste buds were still chipping down the road in carnival holding the #sweetestwhine lol #amazing

The plantain fries were… #drumrollplease …actual fries! Think hand cut potato fries but made of plantain! I know it’s hard to comprehend but that’s exactly what they were. They were not too greasy, as you might expect when plantain is fried and had the crisp outside and soft inside you’d expect from a potato chip shop chip but of course slightly sweet, being that it was plantain. An innovative dish that I would easily have again.

In fact, writing this review I think I’m going back today!!

PEPPER MAN: Obviously I was there first as I’m always on time. The reggae music was blaring out at carnival decibel levels which kept me entertained until everyone else arrived. I came to boom burger a couple of months back and since then I’ve always wanted to come back. I managed to sneakily persuade the mandem to venture out of the manor to #NottingHill, well #PortobelloRoad to be exact and try it for themselves.

I know we covered the starters already but I have to mention the sticky wings were a little bit spicy but after man recently completed the #WMCJ hot wings challenge man can deal with that no problem. I think they were the boom wings with jerk/BBQ sauce. Weirdly enough I would still choose the boom wings over the sticky wings though. Not because of the spice but because you can taste the chicken flavour more in the boom wings. The sauce on the sticky wings takes away the succulent chicken flavour.

Bacon Boom Burger – absolutely delicious. I asked them to add plantain for the sweetness and…mate! It was amazing. I didn’t order chips (on a diet) and I was seriously considering buying another one. It was that good. The sweetness of the plantain, the salty flavour from the bacon and the creamy melted cheese over the medium cooked beef Pattie was truly delightful.

If boom burger was local to me I’m pretty sure I would forget the diet and be ordering every week!

CHEESE LOVER: Pepper Man looked at the menu and told me what I was ordering the ‘Cheesy Boom’. He was correct, although the ‘Mad Boom’ did catch my eye.

Presentation was nothing special, but let’s not judge a book by its cover! The Burger arrived in a healthy size, but not too big to pick up with my hands, which I prefer to cutting it in half.

This was probably the softest brioche bun ever! Soft that the first time I picked up the burger, the patty almost slipped out because my fingers just sunk into the bun without a firm grip. Very good start once I trained myself to hold the burger. Please can any other bun type be banned! #Brioche only.

So the ‘Cheesy Boom’ looked ok, the bun felt deluxe, but how did it taste? In one word #marvellous! On a par with some of my favourites over at @byronburger and @pattyandbun. Slightly messy like #Pattyandbun but manageable. Succulent with every bite, well seasoned bun, every bite was a delight.

The piece de resistance was the plantain strips, which gave the burger a tangy sweet after taste. The first time I had experienced plantain in this fashion was in the #legendary @dubplateskitchen Curry Goat Slider, which is still my first choice Caribbean influenced burger or slider.

The ‘Cheesy Boom’ comes close to the #Dubplateskitchen’s slider, I would return for more.

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THE MANAGER: For me carnival was still in the air, a lil back pain from whining a few females but hey, BOOM BURGER, let’s be honest nothing to look at from the outside but we had heard lots about this spot.

I was starving (as always) but was taken by two burgers on the menu, the Jerk Boom burger, and the Boom Cheese burger! I was in two minds to order both but I’m on a diet, and not the “see food” diet either. I was also interested in the wings, after the Hot Wing challenge we did with @whitemencantjerk I have a lust for the heat of a well done chicken wing! Talking of the starters the wings were that good to the point that in the portion I probably ate more than my fair share, (shhhhhh don’t tell them, bah I’m The Manager I don’t care!)

On to the Burger, I watch as they lightly toasted the burger bun and my immediate thought was “they’re not gonna be soft”, but how wrong I was, considering the food arrived at the same time and we started on the wings first, the burger bun was still soft, light and purposeful.

I have one rule when it comes to food that I rarely break, and that is no fruit in food, but the Jerk Boom consists of a bed of plantain plus a Mango and Paw Paw sauce! First bite…… remember what was said about a perfectly run bath that you slip into? It was that sensation for me, for a second or two with all the flavours in my mouth I found myself contemplating the universe, understanding the end of inception (he was awake) due to the fact that the taste combinations complimented each other perfectly thus unlocking a part of my brain that enabled me to see food (or that burger) in the same way Neo saw the matrix! Amazing!

The Jerk part of the burger was chicken, lightly jerked so not over bearing and it was almost chopped so I couldn’t say it was a whole cut of chicken which was in the burger, but it worked none the less. My one critique would be the fries, again perfectly fried BUT a little bit too much salt for my liking, hopefully the fries were a one-off and the chef was a lil heavy-handed with the salt.

 

SERVICE: The venue doesn’t really have a waitered service to speak of, more of a #Nandos type setup where you basically go up to the till to order and the food is brought to you at your table, and cleared for you when finished or you can takeaway if you wish. With that in mind the staff were not overbearing and still asked if we needed anything else.

Nothing like the generally stereotyped Caribbean establishment, service in Boom Burger was quick iyah! #roundofapplause The wings and the rest of the man dem’s orders arrived promptly, piping hot and at the same time with the last order arriving only a few minutes behind the rest even though it was ordered a good 10 minutes after the first set. The man dem hadn’t even finished the first set of wings by the time the last order came! To the guys @BoomBurger, the @mandemvfood commend you!

OVERALL: The food in Boom Burger is just as the name suggests… #BOOM
Whether you’re a local to the area or live further out, there is no excuse for you to not go there! Even vegans and vegetarians can get a munch. #MDVF give their seal of approval so go grab a bite. You won’t regret it… trust the man dem on this one!

SCORE: the 5.5 out of 6 Man Dems

Wenger Out!

Pepper Man asked the lads who wanted to go to Harlem for a review of a new restaurant. Cheese Lover and The Manager immediately started packing their suitcases. MDVF has gone international, we have made it! But something was fishy when Pepper Man told us to meet him on Old Street instead of at Heathrow Airport. Maybe pre-drinks before heading off to the airport? So we followed Pepper Man into a place called @Redrooster, headed downstairs and took our seats.

We opened the menu and read “Harlem Meets Shoreditch”. But wait, is this what Pepper Man meant by going to Harlem? Cheese Lover and The Manager almost threw the menu in his head like a frisbee!

We all explored the menu and gulped at the prices. “If this is some bland chicken like we have experienced at other restaurants Pepper Man will be sacked on the spot!”, berated The Manager. The menu was a well thought out fusion of soul food and European dishes, very interesting and not too many options. The Man Dem were intrigued, counted down the days to pay day and got to ordering starters and mains with excitement. No dessert because #NottinghillCarnival is around the corner and Man Dem need to fit into our costumes!

Was ordering two courses going to be a costly mistake, should we have just played safe and ordered a main with water? You know like an Arsenal fan who pays the highest season ticket prices, expecting to win the #Premierleague, but at the end of yet another expensive season, ends up with just another FA Cup! Or would #Redrooster wow the Man Dem; like how Chelsea did last season, and steamroll over all of the competition to claim the top prize as the go to place for Soul Food and proper fried chicken in London?

FOOD:
For  starters we had chicken and waffles, which came with some interesting augments on the traditional dish; this is listed as a starter but the portion size was generous. The dish consisted of a boneless piece of what we think was chicken breast, complimented by waffles and a light drizzle of maple syrup.

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At first we thought the waffles were burnt, but on taste the waffle batter had obviously been seasoned, which led to the colour looking more brown than golden. The waffles were light and full of flavour, this easily could be a main dish!

Now the chicken! All we can say is proof is in the taste! But we know you all want more of a description than that! So, the chicken seemed to be of a high grade, meaning you could actually taste that it was chicken, the coating was amazing, fried to a crisp with a vast array of spices, which almost gave the chicken even more flavour. The chicken was most definitely fresh, none of this pre-cooking in water crap that some other establishments try to pull off (check out some of our previous reviews of fried chicken restaurants). In our opinion the chicken and waffles are a reason to visit #RedRooster by themselves!

Pepper Man asked the waiter to recommend a dish (he loves taking risks!). The waiter suggested the “jerk pork & shrimp hot rice”. Just take a second to think about that…bet it makes your mouth salivate as you think about it and repeat the description in your head. Go on say it again “JERK PORK & SHRIMP HOT RICE” (Is your belly hungry now?). The rice has pineapple in it which is a great compliment to the pork flavour. The pork was a very small boneless rib which was slightly disappointing as it tasted so good, it just wasn’t enough to satisfy Pepper Man’s greed. However, it was sweet, juicy and fell apart in your mouth, so tender! The shrimp was huge and delicious and comes in two pieces. It was cooked to perfection.

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Cheese Lover: I went for the THE LENOX SMASH BURGER, double beef, onion jam, cheddar (of course), chili aioli. Wait ‘chili’? I am not a chili fan but the waiter stated it is not overpowering so I agreed to let it stay.

For £17 this burger best be better than @pattyandbun (my current favourite burger)!

On arrival the burger looked sexy; the onion jam was tantalizingly dripping down the burger, giving me the eye, seducing me in for the first bite.

I went for first base and took a small bite. The combination of flavours just worked. This was one of the tastiest burgers I have come across. I will have to start experimenting with chili sauce now when I next go to #Mangal (Arcola Street branch).

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This was almost the perfect first date; the only let down was the bun. If the bun was brioche I would have ended my relationship with #pattyandbun and proposed to The Lenox Smash Burger on the spot. @marcuscooks could have conducted the ceremony whilst I made my vows. “I, Cheese Lover, take you, The Lenox Smash Burger, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer (I will definitely be poorer lol), in sickness and health, until death do us part.”

The Manager: I’m not gonna lie I was in a chicken mood after the chicken and waffles, I was thinking to myself maybe the “Fried Yard Bird” was the one for me? However, some of the condiments that accompany the dish were new to me; also beans with chicken! What nonsense was this, but I thought let’s throw caution to the wind and dive into it like a two footed tackle from Eric Cantona when Man United played Crystal Palace!

There is always this expectation that no restaurant in the UK could ever match the level of Fried chicken that is produced from the South, not London, America, no not that far down the world map! I mean Atlanta, Tennessee and them places. In this instance I can safely dispel that myth. The dish arrived fresh, piping hot, with a compliment of sauces and beans, which is where I started.

In the UK we call them runner beans, boring huh? Not these, I might get this wrong but they seemed to be lightly boiled (blanched), then lightly pan fried in garlic and salt, meaning you were able to taste the greens, but it wasn’t eurrrgh like the boiled veg I used to get for school dinners at Stamford Hill Primary. The Garlic and Salt worked perfectly. Now to combo the beans with the chicken! WAIT! Let’s give the Bird some respect and deal with it separately first!

The pieces of chicken given were Leg and Thigh, both attached. Personally I would have preferred a breast piece of chicken, as they say Breast is best!

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Regardless you got two in the portion, as I cut into the chicken there was NO oil running out, always a good sign that the chicken would not be sloppy, and swimming in oil like other chicken outlets. The coating was almost bread crumb like, it seems the chef here had sided away from the traditional batter, which in some restaurants’ cases is an anti climax.

In previous spots we have been to there has been more batter than chicken!!! (We have another review talking about the poor method of cooking chicken coming soon!) The taste surprised me, the grade of chicken again was of a high standard and remained consistent with the starter, this I could tell via the taste and texture. The coating was crispy and held together well and tasted fantastic. So fantastic that you want to pretend you are eating alone, abandon the knife and fork, pick up the chicken and simply throw your hands to it? Well it was that level of fantastic!

Unfortunately due to my excitement I didn’t taste the chicken with some of the sides, most notably Chicken Shake, or the Hot Honey! I know I’ve failed you all! I will just have to go BACK and do it ALLLLLL again!

SERVICE:
The service was top notch, attentive, knowledgeable and patient. This felt more like an experience, not just a restaurant trying to turn over tables as quickly as possible. We soon forgot the menu prices as we absorbed ourselves into the ambiance with the thought provoking decor and an array of  fascinating pictures. Overall the experience was well worth the money.

To further enhance our experience, Red Rooster owner #marcuscooks sauntered over to our table for a chat. Marcus told us about his background, menu influences and why he decided to set up a restaurant in #Shoreditch. The Man Dem do love a back story. Somehow we then moved on to #football and the conversation suddenly got serious. Marcus is a massive #Arsenal fan and wants ‘#Wengerout’. Another two years to go lol!

OVERALL:
Just like how most people thought Arsenal would flop against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, we braced ourselves to be disappointed by Red Rooster based on past history visiting restaurants who also serve fried chicken. However, Arsenal ended up winners and blowing away Chelsea. Red Rooster most definitely blew away other similar restaurants we have reviewed with its service and food; and more than matched one of the MDVF all time favourite restaurants @Dirtyboneslondon. These two are a close call.

Man Dem V Food highly recommends a visit to Red Rooster. Eating or even just having drinking with a few nibbles upstairs is a must! There are also themed days such as ‘Sunday Gospel Brunch’. Red Rooster is suitable to impress on date or a catch up with friends.

SCORE:

6 Man Dems out of 6.

https://thecurtain.com/red-rooster

*Header picture courtesy of Trip Advisor

Pepper Man’s Revolution

During the weekly MDVF whatsapp group catch up, Absurd Bird was mentioned for the @ManDemVFood team to visit! Immediately in BOLD capital letters ‘The Manager’ said, “Long, we ain’t going!”, the rest of the team were shocked at his swift and abrupt response. We all asked “Why?”, but as he was ‘typing…’ ‘Pepper Man’ quickly posted in an attempt to overthrow management… “It’s booked, and I’ve paid a deposit” (Which was a lie but sometimes needs must!) The rest of the #mandem were excited… well, except ‘The Vegan 🙄‘. All we’re getting from him are random angry emojis! The team were confused… “What’s wrong with you, talk up!” said ‘The Manager’. ‘The Vegan 🙄 ‘ responded: “It’s not fair! You man posting all these menus with pure meat on them and i’m here tryna do this Vegan ting… do you know how hard it is and you lot ain’t helping!” – If you ever saw the lol’s and teasing that ensued after that!!
Read on to find out if Absurd was worthy of Pepper Man’s rebellious act, or did he get thrown into the gallows. Is ‘The Vegan 🙄‘ still a Vegan or did he turn up and eat meat?

FOOD:
STARTER: The man dem decided to go for the #wings, which started a debated about what flavours to choose. After a quick consultation with our waitress we decided on “Wild Wing Flavour of the Month” aka BBQ Moonshine, Crispy Fried Buttermilk and Smoked Garlic Parmesan & Lemon (Sweet Tooth was wholeheartedly against this option but got out voted… he wasn’t happy!  😤).

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The wings came late, and at different intervals which was annoying.

The buttermilk wings arrived first. They were plain as white paper, no art, no creativity. Just fried in batter than actual seasoned chicken, it was like biting into a small pack of homepride flour! What does it take to add a little more seasoning to the flour before frying, or, low and behold seasoning the chicken before frying!!!!! They were basically wings dipped in buttermilk batter n fried crisp, no flavour, no seasoning, nothing PLAIN!… We’re still trying to work out if there was even a little salt & pepper on them!
To show you how plain they were, we were given a free extra portion of the buttermilk wings, due to the delays waiting for the other flavours and we didnt even finish them. Usually we are fighting over the last wing and end up playing ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’.

Finally the Smoked Garlic Parmesan & Lemon arrived. They were lightly fried, and then covered in the garlic and parmesan coatin. These wings had a strong cheese flavour, with a kick of sourness from the lemon. ‘Sweet Tooth’ screamed “Yuck! Who thought of this combination? I mean I’ve never agreed that cheese goes with chicken in the first place and this just heightens my belief. Chicken & cheese DOES NOT GO!”. Meanwhile the rest of the team disagreed “Nah man cheese goes with everything!” . General consensus was this batch of wings was passable, but didn’t leave us wanting more. The cheese was a little over bearing.

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The pick of the litter, sorry, we mean bunch and the saviour of our Absurd starter experience, were the BBQ Moonshine wings. Fried crispy wings smothered in the Absurd Moonshine sauce (basically the Absurd version of #JackDaniels BBQ sauce) and topped with sesame seeds. Not the most intense taste and not as good as @TGIFridays sauce but still a pleasant flavour. We actually got to taste the chicken and it’s quality. Definitely the best of the bunch.

MAINS:
THE VEGAN 🙄: As I am in the process of giving up meat, when we go out I usually get the veggie option (obviously) but I have been having withdrawal symptoms, and when I saw the menu my mouth started dribbling, memories of the good old meat days came flooding back into my taste buds. So I thought what the heck, “YOLO”… Absurd could be worth a cheat day.

For my mains I got a barbecue pulled chicken burger and since I hadn’t eaten chicken in a while I was excited, a little gassed even… like a kid who had been grounded for 2 months that was finally given the green light to play out.

First bite of the burger did not fulfill the excitement I felt. Instead I was deflated to an unenthused, I’m hungry and this will fill the gap feel 😐. No excitement, this is not how I remember the ‘good old meat days. I have personally made better chicken burgers and I’m not even a chef, I’m an electrician! 🙈. For me, #meatmission is still the No. 1 chicken burger around! Absurd was a waste of cheat day!

PEPPER MAN: This time I didn’t want to take any risks. I was hungry and I wanted something I knew I would like and would satisfy my growling stomach. I chose the crispy fried chicken burger which comes with fries. To wash it down I requested a rekorderlig (strawberry & lime obviously).

The food took slightly longer than I would have liked and when my main came I was praying that this was going to convince me that it was just the wings that were bad. I took my first bite and half of the contents of the burger fell out the other side. I put it all back together and gave it another try.

The burger was not amazing. I wouldn’t go as far as saying horrible or disgusting but definitely not something I would go back for. I would much prefer A #KFC chicken fillet burger. This burger didn’t have the finger licking flavours you would want from a burger. It was a dry, tasteless chicken breast and coleslaw in a bun. The chicken was very crunchy so maybe it was over fried (is that even a thing?) Overall, I wouldn’t go back to this place as nothing did it for me.

CHEESE LOVER: I haven’t had a slider since visiting @sliderbar_ldn at @streetfeastldn and @AbsurdBirdUK had a mixture of dirty buns and sliders. Both the same size but the dirty bun was those white soft Japanese Buns often associated to eating #DimSum. I was in a dilemma, the fillings that were attracting my attention were all dirty buns 🙈, but I have never had Japanese food before! This was the most difficult decision of my food blogging life! After much deliberation and a google of fillings I went for 3 dirty buns…

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1. Marinated grilled chicken dirty bun with honey mustard mayo and pickled Asian slaw. Loved it, and this Japanese bun has opened up my palate to trying out more Asian food other than pad Thai lol. The fillings complimented the chicken so well, could the other dirty buns match up?

2. Pulled Chicken dirty bun with shredded spring onion, cucumber and sesame seeds. The flavours didn’t have as much impact on me as number 1, but admittedly it was a hard act to follow.

3. Fried chicken dirty bun with sriracha mayo, picked cucumber and pickled onion. Now was number 3 going to leave me regretting not ordering 3 marinated chicken dirty buns (number 1) or would it come through and blow the competition away?

Well, let me just say this… I had no clue what ‘sriracha’ is, but I do now! I need to have this sauce on everything, I hope @costco stock it 🙏. This was the tastiest miniature burger I have ever tasted, the flavours had me drooling for more, wishing it was a full size burger. Definitely coming back for this!

THE MANAGER: For some reason I was excited about this one, even though I vowed never to return to an Absurd bird location due to the service I received from the Soho branch on a solo trip, but hey, the #mandemvfood talked me round, and we compromised after the overthrow attempt. Pepper Man your revolt has been noted, and will be sent to the gallows if Absurd wastes my time again.

For the main I had the Nashville Hot Chicken Burger, yeah I’m not Pepper Man but I like a likkle heat. To accompany the burger I had the Jalapeño Mac and Cheese, with a portion of sweet potato fries.

Sooooo, the burger, man o man, to say it was good would be an understatement, the chicken was well cooked / fried. I can’t say it was perfect, as perfect would be a burger cooked and served by Alicia Keys while she played the piano singing “fallin” to me, but it was good!

You could taste the chicken as well as the light seasoning that it had been cooked with, also the spicy elements of the garnish, not overly hot so if you expect to be blown away, that won’t happen. The down side to the burger was the fact that it did not (to my knowledge) have a brioche bun, and for me if you want to be in the Premier Burger League category, brioche bun is a must have, the same as salt and vinegar, rum and ting, chicken and jerk these things go hand in hand. My question is; “Whose idea was it NOT to have a brioche bun? Huh?” I’ll wait!

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The Mac n Cheese was pleasant, very flavoursome, however not the best I have tasted. That crown, at the moment, belongs to the guys over at @dirtybones, but let’s not digress, The Macaroni was a tad over cooked but that’s me being picky, it’s something I would have again but not in a hurry. As for the Sweet Potato fries, well again, not the best I’ve had. Sweet potato fries are one of those things in my eyes you can’t get wrong and one of those things that no matter how full I am I will finish them, with that, I didn’t finish these, why I hear you ask! I’m not sure… something was missing I guess maybe they weren’t hot enough, or crispy enough but they just weren’t up to the standard I am used to.

SWEET TOOTH: For my main, after much temptation from the Grilled Chicken n Chicken & Waffles, I finally decided on the 3 Dirty Buns or Sliders for £10.50 option. Sliders are basically mini burgers, made with mini brioche rolls in this case. Cheese Lover described Dirty Buns earlier

I chose the Fried Chicken Slider (with bacon jam and pimento cheese), Marinated Grilled Chicken Dirty Bun (with honey mustard mayo and pickled Asian slaw) and Fried Chicken Dirty Bun (with Sriracha mayo, pickled cucumber and pickled onion). Each had their own distinct taste and were delicious.

The Marinated Grilled Chicken Dirty Bun was a pleasant surprise as I’m not usually a fan of honey mustard mayo but this along with the Asian slaw complimented the delicately cooked grilled chicken perfectly then placed in a dirty bun rather than the mini brioche roll was definitely the right decision… genius!

The Fried Chicken Slider was a piece of fried chicken breast in batter with a jam that reminded me of a thick sweet chilli sauce and gave that same texture sensation when you tasted it but with a salty sweet taste instead. The combination of textures with the soft bun, crunch and tenderness of the chicken, salt / sweet of the jam n slight kick from the pimento cheese made for a party of flavours in my mouth… Excellent!

The Fried Chicken Dirty Bun was the same chicken as the slider version. Sriracha mayo for those that don’t know is Sriracha sauce (a chilli paste, vinegar and garlic sauce) mixed with mayo therefore taming the ‘heat’ and making for a deliciously flavoured dressing. Not being a fan of traditional mayo I was dubious but decided the Sriracha (even though I had no idea what it was at the time) would make it taste different so worth a try. What a gamble!! The slider was VERY nice. The combination of the chicken’s textures along with this great Sriracha sauce, the pickled cucumber and onion made for a delightful piquant mouthful with every bite… Amazing!

If I had to put them in order of favourite I would say, Fried Chicken Slider, Fried Chicken Dirty Bun then Marinated Grilled Chicken Dirty Bun. All 3 were delicious and I wish they were full sized burgers even though I know I couldn’t manage to eat them all if they were! Definitely try these if you visit.

DESSERT:
Being the sweet tooth of the group (it is in the name after all lol) Sweet Tooth craved dessert, especially because milkshakes were off the menu due to a faulty machine. However, with a little help from the waitress he persuaded the #ManDem to get involved in “The Dipsy”. Described on the menu as “The ultimate tear’ n share! Warm and fluffy brioche, baked-to-order and served with creme anglaise, caramel & chocolate dipping sauce” – sounds great, right… Like who could resist that?? Wrong! It was mediocre at best. Not really very sweet and the sauces were nothing special, although the caramel gets a special mention as it was the nicest of the 3 sauces. The dessert overall was a disappointment and didn’t fill the void of the lack of milkshake. The man dem weren’t best pleased with the extra expense.

SERVICE: Service in this establishment seemed very hit and miss. For example, we were seated almost immediately but then were given our starters at lengthy differing intervals. The waitress was pleasant, professional and knew her menu, but still got the odd thing wrong. She got the timing of the mac n cheese wrong, it came with the starters. This was replaced with a new batch with the mains with no hesitation which was outstanding service. According to the staff the service problems were down to them having a short notice party of 50 in the downstairs segment of the restaurant but we can’t help but wonder… Should that really affect service in the rest of the establishment? 🤔

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OVERALL: Absurd seems to be a bit like #marmite either you love it or you hate it. There are definitely some stand out items on the menu, but hard to say if they are potent enough to entice you to go back in a hurry. As nice as some of the dishes are, you can take or leave a visit. Not to be too harsh on them, maybe the service issue and the party of 50 played a part but it’s also a lot to do with the fact that not many dishes gave us that wow factor and were generally substandard. Not bad for a social evening out as a group, where alcohol and banter takes your attention away from the food, but be warned… you might have to wait a bit! 😳

SCORE: 3 out of 6 mandems

Turkish Tuesdays!!

 

One of those one away #MDVF impromptu linkups on a Tuesday evening… No plan so no reservation… Man Dem are hungry but what to eat?! The Manager says “Hold on Man Dem, it’s Tuesday… what else?!?”, “TURKISH!!” the rest of us reply in unison like a well rehearsed choir.

Pepper Man then decided to pipe up with “I’m down but Turkish restaurants to me are like McDonald’s!” You could virtually hear the rest of the man dem’s jaws hit the floor! “WHAAATTTTTT?!?!” the rest of us exclaimed simultaneously… “Hear me out before you start cussing. What I mean by that is, no matter where you are in the world, McDonald’s always tastes exactly the same. No particular branch stands out. That’s my feelings with Turkish restaurants, they all taste the same in North, South and East London. Does West London have Turkish restaurants? (Tell us about any Turkish restaurants in West) I like the food but I could never consider any to be the #bestturkishrestaurant in London. I’ve never been disappointed but the one in South did come close though lol.”

And this is how #TurkishTuesdays morphed into #MDVF being on the hunt to find London’s ‘Best Turkish Restaurant’. Can we find any other Champion’s League restaurants on the same level as #Gokyuzu #Kervans #Mangal #Capital instead of your average Europa league standard of Turkish restaurants.

We will also be exploring what makes the Champion’s League Turkish restaurants stand out from the others. The flavour of food, the free bread quality, cost, portion sizes and the service.

Where to continue this hunt? Green Lanes in North London of course, the Mecca of Turkish restaurants!

But which to choose… there’s so many to choose from! One of the man dem dives straight onto the #iPhone7 and Google’s ‘Best Turkish restaurants’ for the area. Selale Restaurant pops up in the ranking results with positive reviews. A quick scan of the website reveals Selale was the winner of best British Kebab Award 2015. Man Dem definitely have to try this!

Will Selale qualify for the Champions League or end up in the Europa League. Will Selale be a contender for London’s Best Turkish Restaurant?

 

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FOOD: We ordered mixed grills, or as they call it, the Selale Special. Each mixed grill comes with lamb ribs, chicken wings, lamb kofte, chicken and lamb doner (which Sweet Tooth and Pepper Man swapped for lamb beyti), chicken shish and lamb shish! (Is your mouth watering yet?) It’s safe to say if you are a Vegan this probably isn’t the place for you. The meal was served with white plain rice, red bulgur wheat and salad.

In most Turkish restaurants except @kervans the lamb and chicken shish lack flavour, and in Selale’s case it was the same. The meat was tender and well cooked but it just didn’t have that finish, you know like how @UsainBolt blasts away the competition in the last 50 meters of the 100m sprint. These meats were more like Justin Gatlin… and, ummm, where did he finish again?

However, the lack of flavour was covered up by other parts of the mixed grill, similar to a boy band which has one member in the background who’s dancing is average.

Now the lamb ribs, lamb kofte and beyti. The ribs were lean, not too fatty and pretty much standard in taste compared to other Turkish restaurants. That’s not a bad thing, but, (according to The Manager) what made the difference was the chilli sauce. He says, “When you lather that bad boy on it, it changes the game!” However, if you can’t handle the spice, the lemon juice on the lamb also gives a nice taste sensation.

We still can’t find a lamb kofte to match the flavour of Mangal’s, (Arcola Street, E8). Selale’s effort was middle of the road. The kofte and beyti were very similar in taste being that they were both minced lamb on a skewer, but the beyti just edged it as it had more flavour due to the larger amount of ever so visible herbs within it.

The doner wasn’t the more common type that most people have come to know but the type where it is layered cuts of the meat piled on top of each other. The doner was, average, we definitely prefer the “original” type. Don’t get us wrong, it works but not the reason why we would return.

For mixed grills, the rice and bulgur wheat are just plate fillers to make your plate look buff, @Kervans are the worst for this trick. Selale didn’t fill the plate too much, but they all taste the same and nobody really cares about them. Reminds us of them songs nobody cares about on albums that have just been added to make up the numbers so you don’t pay £12.99 for only the 3-4 good songs.

 

The bread and mixture of salads that is standard when you come to these establishments was again, on point! One thing we will say is the bread that came on the platter had a completely different taste to the bread that’s served as an entree (see them posh words there lol). The bread on the platter was seasoned or flavoured with something and it wasn’t particularly nice. Tasted like it was stale, yet soft garlic bread but instead of garlic they used some other herb like oregano or thyme.

Last but not least, the chicken wings! Yes exclamation! Probably the best we have tasted EVER from a Turkish restaurant! The pieces were so well seasoned to the point that writing this sitting on a Jubilee line tube to Stratford at 8.05am the thought of eating them gives that feeling like a fiend wanting to be back there for their next hit.

The chicken wings were seasoned so well they made you do that thing where you pause to look at them to make sure you’re not dreaming before taking your next bite. Lol They tasted amazing, top notch, higher level, orgasmic even… definitely champion’s league! We agreed we would actually consider revisiting just to have the chicken wings again!

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SERVICE: The service was amazing! Staff were very attentive, despite it being bigger than the size of Gökyüzü, and went that extra meter. We can’t say mile because that would be Michelin star level service, but it was swift and efficient, not at any point did we have to signal a waiter or waitress for anything. As soon as eyes looked up from the plate someone was there to ask if you were ok or needed something, and not in an overbearing way. They got the balance just right.

The staff were so polite, knew about everything on the menu and answered all questions asked without hesitation. Even when we were awkward and asked to substitute items from the mix grill (as we often request) it wasn’t an issue, unlike other establishments we’ve visited. They were more than happy to oblige. And the little extras like opening and closing the main door made Man Dem feel like we were in Mayfair. Top marks for this place.

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OVERALL: Once again the Turkish never failed. In regards to portion size, it was a feast for kings. We tucked in until we couldn’t eat anymore… bellies were niiiicceeee!

However, Pepper Man was right (for once!) the majority of the food was not much different to any other Turkish we’ve visited. Only the chicken wings really stood out, but on the whole, pretty average.

The biggest difference between this restaurant and other Turkish restaurants was the service. ROUND OF APPLAUSE! These people know how to treat customers!

Overall, although relatively new to Green Lanes, Selale makes it into the Europa League, but we can see it creeping into the Champions League if the lamb seasoning is improved.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 6 Man Dems.

Best Burger Ever!!!

Where is the best burger in London? This is an ongoing argument amongst the @ManDemVFood team.

The Photographer prefers @meatgram. Sweet Tooth can’t get enough of @dirtyburgerldn. The Manager thinks no one does better burgers than @fiveguysuk. Cheese Lover is obsessed with @pattyandbun. The Vegan 🙄 just craves any burger with real meat in it and not #quorn. And finally Pepper Man… Pepper Man took a random shopping trip to Reading, stumbled across @handmadeburgerco and ever since has been banging on about being “The best burger EVER!” whenever the ‘Best burger in London’ debate is re-visited, despite it being out of London. 😄

The rest of the lads had never heard of #handmadeburgerco or their alleged 40 varieties of #burgers.

There were only so many months we could keep ignoring Pepperman’s Handmade burger rhetoric, especially when he found out there is a branch in #Wembley. So The Manager and Cheese Lover reluctantly agreed to put Handmade Burger to the test and took a visit to North West London with Pepper Man.

However, if the burgers are no better than @mcdonalds Cheese Lover wants some petrol money for his long journey around the A406.

Did Pepper Man end up at the nearest petrol station with his hand in his pocket or is there another contender in the Man Dem V Food’s pursuit to find London’s best burger?

PEPPER MAN: It’s been a long time coming but the time is finally here. I’ve managed to convince the #mandem to travel a lil further out than they would like to and head to Wembley. What’s in Wembley they say? Handmade Burger Company. I went to their other branch in Reading a while ago and oh my gosh. BEST BURGERS EVER!! Yea I said it. I’ve laid my cards on the table.

I ordered the HBC Cheese & Bacon. The burger consisted of a single beef patty, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onions and BBQ sauce all sandwiched between what we were lead to believe was a fresh #handmade buttermilk bun. For a side I felt daring and opted for the newly added Mexican chips. These were thick cut like the ones you get in a fish & chip shop. The reason why they’re called Mexican chips is because they are topped with melted cheese, salsa, chipotle sauce, hand crushed avocado and jalapeños.

The chips were dead! Simple as that. I liked the idea of the cheese, salsa & avocado but in reality they didn’t do it for me. They were really thick so heavy going down and flavourless so adding the extra ingredients helped but not enough. The chipotle sauce was absolutely awful on them. My preference is fries over chips all day all day (Kanye) so i wouldn’t order them again.

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Now the burger, oh gosh, I had been looking forward to this all day. I dived in like Tom Daley at the #Olympics. My first bite had my eyes rolling back in my head like when you put a cotton bud in your ear and you hit that spot. The beef and bacon along with the BBQ sauce all went together perfectly. But hold on! After a few more bites, I realised this could have been a lot better. Maybe all the excitement got the better of me. Something wasn’t right. I started to think and I came to the conclusion that the chef ever so slightly over cooked the patty. It was a bit tough and chewy, it began to be a task to eat it. Jaw bones working extra hard to break everything down. This was a major disappointment as I was really plugging this place like It was my actual restaurant. I said it had the best burgers EVER… several times! That’s a massive statement, even for me. I hope the others still enjoyed theirs…

THE MANAGER: Pepper Man said “It’s the best burger EVER” and that I would be “overly full”. Hmmmm… that’s a lot to live up to but we shall see. From the menu several burgers and the Hipster chips sounded promising. Although it’s a burger establishment we also partook in a helping of chicken wings, I mean if they are on the menu why would you not get a portion.

So, the wings, apparently seasoned over a long period of time, and come in two different flavours, BBQ and Hot. It was at this point I saw a nervous gleam from the eye of Pepper Man, ah well!

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The wings were almost perfect! As much as I try to find a fault, I can’t. Beautiful texture and grade of chicken. It didn’t fall off the bone so that would suggest they were fried, also the slight, the ever so slight, crispness leans toward a fried wing. The sauces were amazing! In other establishments, it’s as if the wings are soaked in water before cooking or stored in a place where they develop an odd taste, but not these! They were fresh! With a taste sensation that I can only describe as intense, but not over bearing. I’d go back there just for those if the price was a little better, or should I say “pocket friendly”. 👀

The chips! One of the man dem accurately nailed it… “these are pub chips” and I’d have to agree, but in my case they were pub chips with shredded cabbage and a hint of some form of mayonnaise or burger sauce on them. For me, a waste of money, there was no reason for me to pay £1 more for raw cabbage and mayo, the chips were not even crispy man! Not one iota! I would even go as far as to say they were soggy! And not even hot hot either, even @Nandos chips are better!

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On to the Burger, I kept it simple and opted for the Cheese Classic and I can’t fault it, it wasn’t perfect, but I can’t complain, a thick beef patty, with lettuce and tomato (I don’t like tomatoes in burgers), original #HBC burger relish, mayo, red onion with a generous helping of what seemed and tasted like Swiss cheese. There was no option in regard to how I wanted the burger cooked, with that could it have been medium well to add to the flavour? Maybe, the burger bun was (as stated in the menu) #buttermilk which we were excited about, but for me #brioche buns have to be industry standard as they maintain the softness allowing for a perfect compliment to the burger and sauces. I wasn’t overwhelmed but I was definitely not disappointed, however, the Handmade Burger Co need to work on their chip man! Chat bout!

CHEESE LOVER: Pepper Man picked the American BBQ Bacon Stuffed for me (beef patty stuffed with Swiss cheese, topped with smoked bacon, HBC BBQ pit sauce, mayo, shredded iceberg lettuce & red onion with handmade coleslaw, topped with a gherkin). The buttermilk bun caught my eye, usually I like to keep things simple but his experimental ways have influenced me to open up my tastebuds. The only question I had for the waitress was about the Swiss cheese as I have never tasted it before. Her response didn’t instil any confidence, in fact she stated it wasn’t very nice lol.

Despite this place being called ‘Handmade’ burger I wasn’t able to make a straight swap and have cheddar cheese because the cheese is already inside the burger patty. Sounds more like ‘Ready made’ burger to me.

However, the waitress was very accommodating and suggested slightly tweaking the burger patty thus allowing me to change the cheese.

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The burger itself reminded me of #Pogba. It was trying to be the best burger but instead was a young pretender with lots of potential. The ingredients were sourced from a high quality vendor, visually the burger could sit alongside the big boys, but two things let it down. 1. The buttermilk bun was too tough. I will be sticking to brioche in future. 2. The patty was slightly overcooked. Hugely disappointing and if Handmade Burger wants a seat at the ‘Best burger in London’ table they must train their chefs to be consistent!

All I will say about the chips is don’t bother, probably the worst chips I have ever had at a restaurant.

If I was in Wembley buying furniture at @ikea I would pop in for another burger, but based on this experience I would not trek around the A406 just to visit here again.

OVERALL: The service we received was pleasant, honest and efficient. We couldn’t ask for more. S/O to Kristina (our waitress) excellent job. The atmosphere was calm, but with it being Wembley, we assume that on an event day the place would be heaving with people. Unfortunately, the burgers were a slight let down; over cooked is never a good thing when you’re choosing the “best burger” in town.

However, this shouldn’t deter you from giving this place a try. With over 40 different variations of burger on the menu, there’s something for everyone. Pepper Man did state he had never been to the Wembley branch and his views were solely based on the Reading branch. Looks like he’ll still have to fork out for some petrol for a road trip for the mandem to go to Reading to redeem himself.

That might reduce the banter but Pepper Man is still going to get it in the neck for this one… well, until someone else pipes up with another burger place that is. Anyway, the ongoing best burger debate continues…

We give Handmade Burger Co an average but fair 4 out of 6 Man Dems.

http://handmadeburger.co.uk/