TGIF’s Kingston – The Monster ( not quite )

Grabbing a burger after work on a Friday is a relaxing affair, specially when going to a good venue like TGIF Kingston. One of my favourite places to grab some ribs or steak.

It’s a nice restaurant with a friendly staff, very decent barmen/maids and loads of Americana on the wall giving it a nice atmosphere, albeit too much “in your face” if I’m honest.
Loads of cocktails and drinks. Good selection of starters.

First, some mozzarella dippers

Not too fulfilling, but then again I went there for the burger.

And this was the selection. The monster:

Looking at it, despite the size, it looks pretty much underwhelming. The top bun makes the burger look strange, as it is way too big for the fillings, which are just dumped there to give some height.

The first issue I got with this burger, is not the looks, it’s actually with TGIF’s policy: well-done only. No exceptions.
It has to be a really good meat in order for that to work.

but…

It isn’t.
The meat was too dry, and the patty was too dense and mediocre tasting. At that point the disappointment was evident.
Even though the toppings, like the bacon, are of good quality, the burger packed no punch. It had no charisma.
It’s a 14 pound burger and not a microwave meal at Tesco’s!

The fries are nice and tasty, and so was the sauce. The latter saved it somewhat. Gave it a little dimension on a otherwise irrelevant entry to this blog (which by itself is irrelevant, think about that).

The burger to get, if you really must, is the Jack Daniel’s one. That sauce changes the beef completely.
However, the chicken burger “French Canadian” (which I’ve tried before), it’s a much better choice in my opinion.

Like mentioned before, TGIF’s offers a good selection of drinks, including beers and ciders.

Magners Pear is a great Perry. Very refreshing and fruity with some carbonation.

The staff should be mentioned. They will bend backwards for you. Always friendly and there to help.

Food – 2.5/5
Choice of drinks – 5/5
Service – 5/5
Location – 5/5

My recommendation: get the ribs. With Jack Daniels sauce. Oh yes.

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries’ cheeseburger – Covent Garden

Five guys was always an unicorn to me.
Only available on another continent. Always told it is a hamburger with no match. Always told to try it.

The first time I have heard from it was on youtube through the user Daym Drops on this video.

Well, fortunetely, it was an unicorn.
I was informed that Five guys have opened a few restaurants in the UK, including one in Central London, Covent Garden.
Isn’t that just lucky?

After some 30 minutes commuting, I got to their place, which has a rather bland look.

The interior is also basic. Red and white.

But once inside, there is a vibe in the air that tells that the burger is good.
Everywhere on the walls there are reviews from Journals, magazines, blogs saying that their burger is exceptional.

Right away, I can say, that the kitchen is exceptional.
The kitchen is in front of every one to see. It is an open style kitchen that always to see what the guys are doing.

Since the bacon cheese burger over there always receives high praise, I had to know what it is all about.

The meal chosen was:
Bacon Cheese burger (the large one) with grilled mushrooms. I’m pretty sure I could have chosen more toppings.
Cajun Fries (was recommended)
Bottomless Coke.

Receipt says: 14 pounds.

So, after a few minutes waiting on the line, this is what they give you.

I’m pretty sure the last time I saw a brown bag it was hiding booze. Or drugs. Or both. But matter not, let’s look inside.

Are you seriously going to serve me a burger that cost me just shy of 9 pounds on tin foil???

Setting that aside, and unrapping the foil

That is a good looking burger. It is oozing cheese and has a heavenly smell.

But the taste…
I had a reaction similar to this.

(Copyright by Pixar)

The first bite left me speechless.
It seemed that the way the burger is presented was some kind of clever plot to lower the expectations and then having hammer falling on the head.

The bun is moist. The meat is succulent and fills the all the space in the mouth. The cheese is there to round up the taste and the grilled mushrooms were done just right.

I take it all back with my tin-foil comments and brown bags. Keep them. Please, keep them!

This burger is, without a shadow of a doubt, crack cocaine on a sandwich format.
If I had a golden burger award picture, I would have posted it already.

But it doesn’t end here, oh no.
There is more and it is just as good.

The fries

A huge portion of it.

These are some sexy fries over here.
So sexy, they deserved a zoom

These are not only sexy, but they also have character.
Spicy. Well fried with skin-on. A bite will land a haymaker on the face. They are the best fries out there.
Full-stop.

I don’t usually go for seconds.
This meal didn’t need seconds… but this is crack-cocaine.

So, since Five guys also offer “mini” hamburgers, a mini cheeseburger was the choice.

First impression was “that isn’t a mini hamburger. That is a space-sta… almost the size of a big mac!”.
And it tastes the same as the bacon cheeseburger!

Same quality meat, left me speechless yet again.

To wrap things up.

This restaurant won’t win any prizes with appeal, looks, marketing and presentation but who cares?

The greased brown bag and the tin-foiled hamburger is part of the experience and despite this shady look it wins on all relevant departments: Taste, attention to detail and customer satisfaction
Five guys, as far as I’m aware, have their marketing done by word of mouth. The burger is *that good*. And they deserve every bit of praise.

If this isn’t a perfect burger, it is very close.

Food – 4.75/5
Choice of drinks – 2.5/5
Service – 4.25/5
Location – 5/5

Try this.You won’t regret it!

The Botanist – Kew, London

Today’s entry is about The Botanist in Kew.

Just next to Kew Green, very close to Kew gardens, there is a pub that brews their own beer. A selections of Ales, Stouts and seasonal offerings.

And if you do go there, don’t miss them!

Friendly atmosphere, with pub area and a small dining room.

Some pub food is also available, including the beef burger which I will talk about.

Meals are expensive. With the beef burger being 11.50GBP. That means a meal (Burger+beer) will set you back some 15 quid, with no problems whatsoever.

Bacon cheese burger.

The baps have no sesame, but are very regular. They come slightly toasted.

The bacon is unlike normal bacon from cheeseburgers. It’s more like a British twist on the BCB, as the bacon is the same as the one on a English Breakfast. A slab of fried pork bacon without any crunch. Tasty, though.

Cheese is a regular cheddar. Nothing much to say about it.

Tasting the patty shows that it is a very heavy and well-seasoned meat. High density of beef on a thick burger patty, providing some weight to ensemble cast. Slightly spicy and very tasty.

One of the complaints I normally have, is that the meat has a lot of air within. Even though it seems to be a fulfilling meal, it stops being satisfying after a short while (MacDonald’s, I’m looking at you). Not the case here. Each bite fills the mouth with flavour (and meat). And since it is quite a heavy burger, it is a decent meal.

Comes with some of the best fries out there, in my opinion (oh yes…). Crispy with skin-on. Slightly salted and very well fried.

Not sure about the onions and coleslaw. The latter tastes as if there was soap in it.
Area to improve, I suppose.

Friendly staff. Improved from the last year I have been living in the area,

One of my favourite drinks to have, and on of the reason why I got this blog up, is beer. And there is a good choice of micros.
I had a Skunk IPA (I think) and a Nemophilia.

The Skunk IPA is a reddish, slightly sour on the way in, but develops a nutty overtone and finishes sweet.

However the Nemophilia is a creamy, creamy stout. Very coffee and very appealing.

null

I will keep coming to this pub.

Food – 4/5
Choice of drinks – 4/5
Service – 4/5
Location – 4/5