Friday 26 June 2015

Restaurant Review: Black's Burger, Epsom

I drove to Epsom so we could go to the cinema on Sunday evening recently. That may sound quite dull but it was the first time I’d driven somewhere unfamiliar other than on a driving lesson (I normally go to the local train station and village high street and that’s about it), the first time I’d used a satnav (though I also had my boyfriend giving directions), and one of the only times I’ve driven in the dark (and I discovered unfamiliar roads in the dark do make me quite nervous!).

We got there successfully (if you overlook stalling at a junction because I was confused about where I was going) and so I felt like I deserved something of a reward. This driving lark is still really stressful! We often go to the cinema in Epsom and eat there beforehand and have tried quite a few restaurants within walking distance of the cinema. It was only recently that I’d heard about Black’s Burgers – it’s set back from the high street so we hadn’t spotted it before. But they don’t take reservations and I was always worried they would be busy on a Saturday night when we only had a limited amount of time before the film starts.
Luckily on a Sunday they weren’t too busy – the Purley restaurant takes bookings but this one in Epsom doesn’t. The restaurant is almost fast-food, but not quite – you order and pay at a counter, and help yourself to your own soft drinks, but food and other drinks like milkshakes are brought over by a server. It’s a great compromise if you want a quick meal but want to feel like you’re somewhere like a Byron or Gourmet Burger Kitchen rather than Burger King.
The restaurant was set up by three members of the same family who wanted to make good burgers with no gimmicks and all the trimmings. And they certainly have all the trimmings. There’s the ‘salty streaker’ with grilled halloumi, streaky bacon and avocado puree; the ‘rock n rolla’ with Monterey jack cheese, smoky streaky bacon, fried egg, peanut butter and ‘no green stuff’; the ‘dirty burger’ with Frank’s hot sauce, double cheddar, blue cheese sauce on a bed of ‘blacks slaw’… my only problem is deciding what to order (and how to burn off the calories afterwards).
I’ve actually been here twice now; the first time I had the ‘juicy lucy’ which boasts a Monterey jack cheese stuffed patty (that is, the cheese is inside rather than on top of the burger), streaky bacon and maple mayo, and ‘no green stuff’. The way the cheese oozes out from inside the burger as you bite into it is genius.
The second time I ate here I had the ‘bbq burger’ – a beef patty topped with bbq pulled pork, Monterey jack cheese and an onion ring (and salad  – no dodging the green stuff this time). It sounds cheesy to say it was a taste explosion but it really was – the tangy flavour of the pork, combined with the juicy beef burger and the cheese was at first fantastic, though the onion ring was lost somewhat and would have been better on the side. Towards the end the flavours became a bit much and I started eating the pulled pork separately. The bun couldn’t handle the filling and started to fall apart, leaving me to finish the meal with a knife and fork. In fact I couldn’t actually finish it as it was so filling!
Which makes me wonder how anyone could actually eat the Beast… Black’s offers a challenge in its Purley location (which I haven’t been to) where you can get your meal for free, and your name on the wall of fame, if you successfully demolish “The Beast” within an hour. If you fail, you pay £60 for the meal and your name goes on the wall of shame! So what does the Beast entail? Nothing less than 7lb prime black angus beef, half a pound of mature cheddar, 7 rashes streaky bacon, 1 whole lettuce, 7 whole tomatoes, 1 lb skinny fries, and one full size milkshake with two scoops of ice cream. In the photo, it’s almost the size of the man’s torso… I don’t think that promoting something like this is actually a good idea or at all responsible; they do offer a group challenge for four people who can try to tackle it together; it costs £90 if you fail, and there is a separate winners board for teams, as they refer to this as the ‘cheat’s challenge’. Probably best that I leave it there…..

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