By Maggie Majstrova
Going out on New Year’s Eve is a yearly struggle for me. Everywhere is expensive, full of overly drunk Londoners and quite frankly ‘forced entertainment’ is just not my thing. So, as of last year, my other half and I started a new tradition – staying in on NYE and going out on New Year’s Day.
Although certain places choose to stay closed on January 1st, generally speaking, the streets and pubs are quieter and you tend to be able to get into places without having to pay a ridiculous entry fee AND even get a seat. Win, win.
Two years in a row, we’ve chosen The Craft Beer Co. in Covent Garden as our destination. The location itself is great – a little off the beaten track, but still only a few minutes from Covent Garden station, making it extremely busy on a ‘normal’ day, but even with the 1st being a Friday, the place had a nice buzz, without being totally crowded. There has been a bar in this location for a fair few years now, some of you may recall Rudy’s Revenge, and as they say – if it ain’t broke…
The Craft Beer Co. chain of pubs is worth a visit on its own – the Covent Garden branch has 15 Cask Ales and 30 Keg Beers, which change regularly, so there is always something new to try, whether you’re after something pretty standard or looking to try something unusual (last year, they had a peanut flavour beer, which was excellent). Thought I would suggest booking a table, if you plan to go in the evening as with limited seating space, it does tend to get a little busy.
Food-wise, the proprietors have chosen to partner up with Forty Burgers, who have been going since 2012 and use beef exclusively sourced from a Royal Warrant holder to HM the Queen. Only beef from Aberdeen’s pastures is used, which is meant to make their burgers particularly luscious thanks to a special and unique blend of meat. You had me at ‘burgers’, guys!
Although chicken and veggie options are available, their menu is succinct and I agree – better to focus on few dishes done well, than overwhelm the customer with pages and pages of options, which won’t be cooked as the Gods of the Kitchen intended.
We opted for the two newest burgers: Elvis (beef patty smothered in peanut butter topped with a fried banana and crispy bacon) and Heat (beef patty double dipped in hot buffalo sauce, served with blue cheese, red onion relish, pickles and lettuce). The Elvis with a side of house fries and the Heat with a side of Bacon Dust Fries. Yes, bacon dust – dust made of actual bacon. Need I say more?
You’ll have gathered by now that I’m a fan of trying new things AND I also happen to be a great lover of peanut butter. But on a burger you say? I see your point.
Actually, as a concept, the flavours just work together. Surprisingly or not! But, there is a key issue with the Elvis burger. It’s a problem of ratios. When Forty Burgers say ‘smothered’ in peanut butter, they certainly mean it. And so it happens that the banana, which actually cuts through the peanut butter really well – whilst you still have banana left – isn’t allowed to do its job after the first couple of mouthfuls. Your mouth is cemented shut and there’s just no way out. So a problem of ratios – too much peanut butter, not enough banana to help balance it out. The beef itself really is excellent, however.
The Heat, on the other hand – perfect. Provided that you like a bit, or a lot, of spice. The blue cheese and condiments cut through the heat allowing you to taste the flavours, without feeling like you’ve burned your taste buds forever.
So overall, it’s some food for thought (see what I did there? Genius .. ) for Forty Burgers, but by no means something that will put me off another visit!