I appear to be practically the last person to the phenominam that is the Ad Cod party. A non descript pub on a back street in the heart of Chelsea, that would fade into obscurity except for its not so well kept secret of an absolutely stellar chef. The name Fred Smith slips eloquently off the tongue of most of London’s burgerati.
The pub itself is traditional style, dark wood bar, comfy seating around the edge, and a barmaid doing a grand job of polishing all the bottles, of coke, spirits, you name it (?!). The pub leads out onto a long dining room that looks quite spacious until it starts to fill up and you realise how tight the space is between tables; a giant sky light keeps it beautifully bright until the night comes in. The polite, nautical themed, and quite sweet little dining room doesn’t quite seem capable of churning out some of the utterly filthiest burgers in London….
As good as our starters and nibbles are, and they are, I find I’m holding myself back, fully aware of the sort of beast I’m likely to be served, belly and brain fully on my prize, and I want to tackle that with the hunger it deserves. Obviously I’ve seen plenty of pics of Fred Smiths creations, so I have an inkling of what to expect, and even though he’s told me he believes this is his best one to date, still nothing can prepare me for the absolutely, yes, beautiful burger I’ve ever set my eyes that is set before me. It’s like an image of a Mc Double Cheeseburger pimped to beyond belief, and yet still even better than the promotional picture; perverse inverse of the limp and sorry looking specimen you are programmed to expect as an apology to descriptive picture. Food envy can be nasty thing if you’re on the wrong end but I’m very much on the right one last weekend, the focus of some very, very jealous eyes. As much as I want to fall on my dinner with gusto, I feel a little bit shy all of a sudden in this nice, almost quaint room with a increasingly drunk couple to my right that are practically sat in my lap with anticipation, completely indiscreet with their burger lust.
Sod it. I dive in with all the elegance of a very inelegant thing, struggling to get my mouth around the gigantic sandwich, cheesy sauce running over my hands and down my wrists. It’s messy, quite possibly the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten, juicy, oozy, unctuous and unbelievably delicious. Constructed of two mustard fried patties on lettuce and pleasingly thinly sliced tomato and pickles, with special sauce within a sturdy little bun, the whole lot is then drenched, smothered, dripping with cheese. No normal cheese though this; Fred tells me he wanted to do a cheeseburger with more flavour than your regular American style and so he created his own, almost rarebit style, combining three different cheeses with Alsace bacon fat. The result is an intensely bacon flavoured cheese that combines with all other burger incredients to deliver an almighty umami blow. I’m stuffed and yet gutted when I get to my last few bites, eking them out, surprisingly the bun is still intact although I am now covered in rather more of the innards than intended.
Oh, I should mention the boy stubbornly refused to have a burger but was still wowed by his lamb dish. The couple next to us had the regular cheeseburger that looked glorious but a far more grown up affair that still managed to have them in raptures. An espresso martini was all we could manage for dessert….
I was lucky enough to put in a request and had mine as a special on Saturday but Fred is doing them until this Saturday as a lunchtime special.
Whatever you do, DO NOT miss out on this burger, it’s an absolute beauty!