Popular creative burger shop Gourmet Cafe has been radically renovated and re-branded. The concept is still burgers, but the menu has changed dramatically. The owners have departed from burgers with novelty ingredients and clever names to more simple pleasures like a bacon cheese burger, or a chicken burger topped with crispy roasted chicken skin. In addition to sandwiches, there are starters and sides like Korean chicken wings and macaroni and cheese as well as desserts like banana pudding.
I've tried a few times to get on the Beef & Liberty train when it comes to their burgers. My first time eating there was on a Monday, and it was BOGO night for burgers, but I was a little underwhelmed by my burger. It was fine...but not really memorable.
"Maybe it was an off-night", I thought to myself, so I tried again on a Monday a few months later, it was the same thing again.
"Well your problem is obviously that you're going on Monday nights, when they're slammed for those BOGO burgers" my friend said, in response to my griping about the underwhelming burger.
In an effort to address this possibility, I made a THIRD trip to Beef & Liberty on a recent weekday afternoon, when the restaurant was essentially empty and the kitchen would ostensibly be able to focus completely on my burger.
It was only then that I was able to conclude that my burger experience from the very first time had been thoroughly representative; Beef & Liberty burgers just don't taste very good. The main issue is that there's just no seasoning on the patty whatsoever. I don't care how high quality your meat is, or whether you've got the perfect blend of imported chuck, short rib and brisket or whatever...if you aren't putting adequate salt and pepper on your burger patty, then it's missing something. Sometimes a salty pickle or good bacon can replace the need for salt on the patty, but that wasn't happening here ether.
Aside from the lack of seasoning, there was also no sear on the outside of the burger, so no lovely maillard reaction savory goodness. It seemed like the burger hadn't been cooked on an adequately high-heat source to create a good sear, resulting in very little surface texture. It was just a poorly seasoned and poorly cooked burger patty - no way around it. Extremely disappointing for a 100 RMB burger.
The shoestring fries that accompanied the burger were completely unseasoned as well. What does Beef & Liberty have against salt?
So why the three stars, you may ask, and not lower?
Because after the second visit, I learned to hedge my bets, and so on this third trip we also ordered a pulled pork sandwich, and that was pretty delicious. Savory, juicy, slightly tangy with good crisp from the slaw on the side - exactly what a pulled pork sandwich should be. The side salad I ordered with it was also good. It seems the kitchen's disillusionment about appropriate seasoning levels only manifests itself in the burgers...
Besides this, the banoffee milkshake was a delicious indulgence, the fancy ketchup is tasty, the drinks were fine, and the terrace environment is really nice - quite the highlight. I would go back to enjoy these things, but not those overhyped burgers. There are many better options around town if you feel like spending that much money on a hamburger.
Was in the neighbourhood of the Portman Centre, the rolling TV screen of Beef & Liberty caught my eye, so I popped in at 14h30 which was well past the regular lunchtime trade of the various F&B outlets that surround the perimeter of the complex.
Was greeted by the manager, as other employees appeared to be dining at the tables dotted around the outside edge of the restaurant, and taking their own late lunches.
Didn't fancy a meaty burger (too hot today) so gave their new beetroot burger a go, which consisted of a brown rice and kidney bean patty, topped off with a slice of beetroot, and garnished with goat’s cheese and it's well worth it, the brioche-style bun, was moist and springy, a lot to thank the French for here, I opted for the Liberty Fries, over the side salad, the Liberty Fries are crisp, full of flavour.
I also ordered the Scotch eggs, natty little Scotch eggs, the quail eggs were cooked to perfection, along with pork coating and breadcrumbs, no taste of stale oil at Beef & Liberty, the accompanying Wilkin & Sons Tomato Ketchup is a nice touch, slightly different style of ketchup.
I have eaten at Beef & Liberty a number of times over the years and can honestly say you can't fault the place for its consistency.
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