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A new entrant has arrived in Washington Street, moving comfortably into the Premier League of the Burger. The early hamburger had typical ingredients of bread, vegetables, and ground meat. It is gone well beyond that now and the West Cork Burger Company, who opened in October, are elevating its status even further.
A hamburger, beefburger or burger is a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. The patty may be pan fried, barbecued, or flame broiled. Hamburgers are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, pickles, or chiles; condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, or "special sauce"; and are frequently placed on sesame seed buns. A hamburger topped with cheese is called a cheeseburger. (from Wikipedia)
Last year’s Cork Burger Fest and last week's nationwide event and the competition involved have challenged burger outlets to come up with something a little different. Probably a little early to look closely at this year but last year, with food outlets and butchers joining in the spirit, certainly led to a a lot of innovation locally before Son of a Bun were declared the winner.
And innovation leads me neatly back to Washington Street where co-owner Henry Hegarty proudly introduced me to his line-up last week. No less than five burgers. Henry is planning a new menu in about six week’s time and it will be interesting to see which of the five is selected.
The early favourite, it was ahead on Wednesday, is the Reb-Elvis. “This burger comes with a serious health warning”, Henry said just as we started eating. Keep your finger on speed dial to the emergency department. This burger finished the King and it may just get the better of you too! We teamed up with our friends at Rebel Chilli to create this monster of a burger. We call it, The Reb Elvis! A 6oz patty, peanut butter, raspberry and jalapeno jelly, smoked streaky bacon, Irish cheddar, bacon and fig jam, gherkins and pickled chilli's. Long live the King!
I read the detail, and kept eating. What an amazing feast for a tenner! The jelly, the jam, the heat and, of course, the meat. And the bun, soaking up the juicy bits and the flavours, wasn't half-bad either.
All local. And, for the Festival Week, sides were included.My pick, should probably say my kick, was the Kimchi. Spot on. Shared that with CL, and got a bunch of their tasty fries in return. And I also stole some of her pickled Shiitake mushrooms.
My burger was great but we both agreed that hers probably shaded our mini-contest. And we are hoping that it will feature in the new menu. It is the Smoked Shin of Beef Burger: 6oz Patty, black garlic aioli from their friends at West Cork Garlic (great the way they support local producers), smoked chilli jam, sun dried tomato and those pickled shiitake mushrooms. Cheese too of course. This one scored big, well worth its place in the Premier League!
There is a interesting strand in the backstory here. When Henry was a young fellow (he’s not really that old yet!) and travelling with his father they often stopped here in this premises in 6 Washington Street - for a meal. It was then known as the Delphi Palace and the new operators acknowledged that with another of their Festival Five, the Delphi Palace Burger: 6 oz lamb patty, spice rub, black garlic aioli, green chilli, aubergine pickle, rocket and spinach raita.
Also featured was the Chicken Avo Burger - Marinated chicken breast, avocado, tomato, bacon & fig jam, sun dried tomato pesto, cos lettuce & garlic mayo. Back to the east for the fifth burger, the Pork Banh Mi: 6 ounce patty, Vietnamese dipping sauce, carrot and Daikon pickle, cucumber pickle, pickled chillis, coriander, mayo.
The West Cork Burger Company is a bit of a mouthful. A really tasty mouthful, whether you go the Angus or Wagyu route!
That is the first serious choice to be made when visiting the new burger outlet on Washington Street. Well, not quite new; the Henry Hegarty led company has been operating here since October.
Bantry-based Henry will probably be familiar to you from his Wokabout stall, a very popular stop for quality Thai style street food at Irish markets and festivals. Also in the West Cork team is Macroom Butcher Michael Twomey, a supplier to many local chefs, Bryan McCarthy and Martina Cronin for example.
You may pick your burger direct from the menu or, flip the card over, and you may go the DIY route. Choose your bun (four options), your meat and weight, your cheese (again four options).
Toppings is next. You could get confused here as there are no less than eight options including mushrooms, onions, even pineapple! Step Five is the sauce, no less than nine choices here.
If all this decision making is proving too much for you, then have a look at the regular offerings: The Japanese, Classic Bacon Cheese, Chilli Burger, Chicken Burger, and Portobello (no meat). And there’s also a Kids Menu.
We just come in as Storm Eleanor hit, so were looking for something fast. I choose the six or eight ounce Japanese. So, six ounces of Angus (could have had Wagyu), with Miso Slaw, Shiitake Mushrooms, smoked chilli jam, crispy lettuce, gherkin, and Irish Cheddar cheese.
CL spotted the Offer of the Day and that meant she got the Chicken Burger (with cucumber pickle, grilled pineapple, lettuce and garlic mayo, along with a portion of fries for just ten euro). My beef, with fries as a side, came to fifteen.
The fries are top class, no excess oil, and again you have a choice of sauces specifically for them. And there are a few other sides as well, including Kimchi. That Thai and general Asian influence from Henry’s wok is at work here in Washington Street too, deliciously so.
Fancy a drink? There is a short wine list and also some very local beers (from the Rising Son Brewery in nearby Cornmarket Street) while the cider is by Stonewell from Nohoval.
The furniture is a bit on the rustic side, with raw timber used on the walls and in the booths for both seats and tables. The burgers are as good as you’ll get and service is friendly, helpful and efficient.