Who ever thought the burger would become so de rigueur? Michael Raffael finds out how to prepare the beef-based culinary stars at London restaurants Bar Boulud and Hawksmoor
A random Google search will show how many bloggers are posting their top 10 favourites. There's no shortage of opinions. What they are all looking for as their ideal is the perfect package - perfect beef, perfect bun and all the trimmings, dished up promptly. It's not fast food, but it is easy eating without any hint of pretentiousness.
This current enthusiasm mirrors the experience of New Yorkers over a decade ago, one that is still going strong. Then, Daniel Boulud latched on to the potential of applying his â¨classical French skill to the burger business and what resulted was a cult following of the db Burger at db Bistro Moderne, and today Boulud also serves twists on the American classic at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. When he came to London two-and-a-half years ago to open Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, he already had a proven winner. His in-house recipe covers all the bases from the butchery and the bakery to the slickest of US service.
Kitchen-dining room partnership However good the basic burger recipe is, the key is putting it in front of the customer as soon after it's as ready as possible. It's not something that eats well when it's warm. Add to this the fact that it's being prepared quite rare for some customers and it could easily lose its edge.
The restaurant operates an ordering system designed to prevent lapses between kitchen and dining room. If an order comes in without a starter the ticket goes directly to the burger station that starts cooking it to order. If there's a starter ordered, a "fire" message passes to the kitchen as soon as the starter has been cleared and the burger-making process kicks off.
As well as the chef on the pass, the restaurant has an expeditor on the dining room side who manages the runners charged with taking the food to the different stations in the room.
There's a different service rhythm between lunch and dinner and also at weekends, when there are families wanting to be served quickly.