The Taste of London Foie Gras Burger

63 Charterhouse Street City of London EC1M 6HJ www.clubgascon.com

A Foie Gras burger won Taste of London’s Best Dish this year, a decision that must have had all the other chefs there ripping off their toques and swearing like Gordon with a stubbed toe. All those years practising their craft just to get beaten by a burger?

Pascal Aussignac, the ‘auteur’ of this burger is a great chef and being a Gascon man he loves his foie gras. A few years ago he tried to sell an earlier incarnation of the Foie Burger into the newly opened Westfield. The local market wasn’t ready for this though; a burger that didn’t come in a Styrofoam box caused them to make gun shaped hand gestures and start rhyming things. So the foie burger was relegated to the subs’ bench until its rebirth and triumph at ToL.

Now I like foie gras and I suppose I like buns. So foie gras in a bun should be a winner for me too. With the ToL mini-foie gras burger now on the menu at Comptoir Gascon, along with a main course of duck burger, it seemed time to find out.

After a delicious little cream cheese amuse up came the famous foie gras burger. It was in a brioche bun, which made my heart sink straightaway. What is it with people putting burgers in brioche? Brioche is way too sweet a bun for burgers, yes it has the right texture for a burger bun – soft enough to get a good grip on and not fall apart halfway through– but that’s all. Brioche is technically a cake or pastry after all.

On first bite I’m very tempted to whip out the foie and lob the bun in the bin. It’s masking the foie’s flavour with a sick sugariness and not bringing it out as say, a sweet wine would do with an underlying acidity. Also on board is a cheese, which swiftly melts to the consistency of milk and drips out all over the place.

I can’t believe this is what ToL judges went gaga over, were they all on drugs or drunk or both? One of them is a good critic, I wonder if she raised doubts but was outvoted by the others? I feel sorry for the goose that gave its swollen liver to create this oddity whatever the story. K is none too impressed either, ‘it’s not really anything much is it?’ he says, eyeing his own bun dolefully.

We both eat the burgers in a few bites, £18 worth of food has never gone so quick or to so little effect.  Maybe the problem was in the cooking and not the concept because the duck burgers that follow have bones in both of them, a lot of bones. ‘I really hate biting with trepidation,’ says K indistinctly whilst removing a two centimetre example from his mouth with clear distaste, ‘I mean that’s what burgers are for aren’t they? Easy eating?’ I agree. I can’t imagine chef really intended to add bones to the burgers so maybe someone is just not on the ball in the kitchen today.

The pieces of onion caramelised in balsamic vinegar are also way too big and way too sweet, especially when combined with yet another blasted brioche bun. As for the duck meat itself, a mixture of confit leg and breast, all I really got was confit in mine. That’s where the bones all came from too of course. It’s a bit off-putting overall, the confit texture meat just isn’t ideal for putting in a sandwich.

In fact both burgers seem wrong in just about every way. The ingredients, bones excepted, are fine individually perhaps but the combination is verging on unpleasant and even a bit sickly. The novelty value has no appeal to me, nor does the ‘in your face’ pricing, which makes them a posh parody of burgers and their historic place in the nation’s food chain.

Obviously the ToL judges saw something different so you may well want to gamble £9.00  for yourselves. I wouldn’t recommend it though. I know Comptoir Gascon can do, and normally does do, far, far better food than this.

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  1. June 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Foie Gras is cruel and the production is banned in UK, so how can this be the taste of London?????????????????

  2. June 17, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    and as for “just a burger”… Try telling that to the ducks and geese..Do you know how Foie Gras is produced??

  3. June 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I do know how foie gras is produced, indeed I have visited producers in Gascony and Lot many times. I find the process a lot less repellent than modern factory chicken farming and unlike that kind of farming it has been going on for centuries. We should concentrate on getting rid of factory farms before we start demonising small family producers such as those who make foie.

    The fact that this burger won the prize I found unpalatable not because it had a small amount of foie gras in it, but because it didn’t taste very nice.

    I am happy to eat foie gras anytime.

  4. Jenny McCann
    June 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Trying to justify foie gras by comparing it to the hideous practices in factory farming is like saying Ed Gein wasn’t quite as bad as Harold Shipman because he didn’t kill so many people. Fact is, foie gras is beyond cruel and you ought to be ashamed, not proud. The fact you have witnessed the atrocities go on in these farms yet you still support it leaves me cold. Next time you look at your pets or loved ones, imagine them bring force fed against their will, left bleeding and sore and ask yourself, what’s the difference? Geese are incredibly bright, caring and loyal animals , so seems they have one up on you all ready.

  5. Julie V Blackwood
    June 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    How can a ‘product’ that is prohibited to ‘produce’ in the UK possibly win any award? I am vegan and against any abuse to animals and the way in which this Foie Gras is ‘produced’ is torturous. Those of you who continue to abuse and live off the backs of live creatures, will need to morally grow up and stand on your own two feet, and not the two feet and livers of ducks and geese. You are not starving, there really is no excuse to partake of this horrendous product.

  6. June 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Eating a diseased liver is most disgusting. And the fact that it’s illegal should certainly be considered when awarding prizes. After reading about how the ducks and geese are treated, or should I say tortured, to bring this revolting product called foie gras to consumers SHOULD be against the law. And it is. Check out some of the pictures and you will never eat fois gras again.

  7. June 18, 2013 at 8:54 am

    To vegetarians, meat eaters are disgusting. To vegans, vegetarians are hypocrites. Everyone has their own line they won’t cross, I myself will not eat dog, even though a substantial part of the world’s population do, and see nothing wrong with it.

    If the general public were to spend time in any slaughterhouse, meat eating would drop sharply. Meat eaters prefer not to know how any form of meat is produced and what it really is and only want it cheap and in anonymous plastic packets.

    I do not eat much foie, I cannot afford it for one thing. But I resent anyone telling me what I can and cannot eat, especially when it concerns a food stuff that has been around for centuries.

    Register your protest by not eating foie of course, but not by haranguing those that do and using ridiculously emotive words such as atrocities. I wonder what you would say if you ever saw a real atrocity taking place? What words would you have left, having exhausted your stock complaining about the treatment of ducks and geese?

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