Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fish & Farm 'Secret Sauce' Burger - 20/25

Fish & Farm is one of those restaurants within a hotel, in this case the Hotel Mark Twain in downtown San Francisco. It came to my attention as a winner of a San Francisco burger shoot out in 2009. Could it still cut the mustard?

As with Polkers, it's not a 100% specialist as there's a bunch of other non-Burger items on the menu. Ambience is very upmarket though with candles on marble tables, amuse-bouche and black aproned waiters with the life story of every item on the menu. As mine was about to launch into the family history of the salmon special, I stopped him with "I'm only here for one thing". To which he replied, "Of couse, Sir would like to sample our burger". Hell, yeah.

I love the statement of intent that is a socking great knife sticking out of it. None of this namby pamby cocktail stick malarkey. It presented superbly and tasted superb too. This was an incredibly well balanced symphony of flavours and textures. The beef itself was spot on, nicely charred, yet amazingly juicy and perfectly pink, the caramalised onions combined with sharp pickle + salty crisp bacon and the secret sauce all schmerged in the bite without overwhelming to provide layers of taste and texture worthy of a seriously good vin rouge. The bun was good as well, keeping its form well, nice proportion of bread to burger, amazingly, given the sauciness of what lay between, elements of it actually stayed toasty-crisp too (can you tell I'm liking this one yet?).

Okay, deep breath, the fries.

Now, earlier in the day I'd taken luncheon at The Waterfront Cafe to tick my seafood box and been blown away by the 'pommes frites' that accompanied my grilled Escolar. They were perfect little sticks of golden potatoey skin-on melty crispness. Like my lemonade, freshly homemade and not off the shelf. Ironic that it should be a seafood restaurant nailing that which has been missing from my burger quest for the last 2000 miles.

Did Fish & Farm come close? Nearly. Hot, salty, good thickness - halle-frickin-lujah! They just missed out on the last 10% of potatoeyness and crispness. The 'steak sauce' dipping pot on the side however was a perfect complement (a proprietary mix of tomatoe, chipotle, horseradish, dijon and garlic apparently).

All in all, the smugness of the waiter was entirely deserved for this magnificent tapestry of taste. And so we score; remember, 0 is for not present, 1 is merely functional, 2 is adequate, 3 is good, 4 is really good and 5 is OMG-can't-talk-eating.

KBI-1 : Quality of Burger

5 / 5

(Beefiness, quality of cooking, not getting lost in the extras)

KBI-2 : Distinguishing Features

4 / 5

(i.e. The 'headline' variation e.g. Bacon, Chilli, BBQ)

KBI-3 : Ability of Bun to Maintain Order

4 / 5

(size, freshness, flavour, keeping it all together)

KBI-4 : Condiment Enhancement

4 / 5

(variety, suitability of extras)

KBI-5 : Fries Counterpoint

3 / 5

(portion size, crispness, potato-ey ness)

KBI-6 : Other Supporting Actors


(quality of side orders)

Total Score


Fish & Farm on Urbanspoon

What was in the Secret Sauce? They wouldn't say, but I'm betting some combination of their steak sauce, thousand island and peppercorns. Whatever it was, we have a new leader...

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