If someone paid me a pound for every time I uttered the words ‘I could murder a burger’ or ‘a glass of wine would do nicely right now’, I swear I’d be a gazillionaire. Sinking my teeth into a juicy patty sandwiched between a soft bun, or sipping a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc after a long day are two wonderfully comforting experiences I often engage in. Separately. My simple food logic dictates that burgers go with beer, and wine… that goes with everything else, they just don’t go together.
Ben’s Canteen would beg to differ – they set out to challenge this simple logic of mine (and maybe yours too?!) by matching the two together. And because they obviously take their burgers and wine very seriously, they made not one but three pairings… And yes, because I am a self-proclaimed burger enthusiast, I happily tried all three.
We warmed up with a glass of New Zealand rosé (this Kiwi didn’t even know that New Zealand really made rosé) and were spoilt with the array of starters – pulled pork nachos, duck nuggets, DIY guacamole, scotch eggs. You’re probably an avocado aficionado so you don’t need me to tell you that fresh is best when it comes to guacamole, and there’s the bonus satisfaction that comes with smushing it together yourself.
However, when it comes to corn chip accompaniments, the pulled pork wins hands down for its sweet, sticky unctuousness. I preferred it to the usual beef mince version, and will definitely be recreating this at home with the spice levels turned up a few notches. The other two starters were met with the same level of approval, because who in their right mind doesn’t approve of a crispy nugget or scotch egg with a gooey yolk?
But enough about that, let’s talk about the burgers… and the wine… because I think you might still be a bit skeptical of the pairing. I was, but I’m all about going in with an open mind and appetite! A moment of hush came upon our otherwise loud and chatty group when the burgers arrived – three of the largest ‘sliders’ I’ve ever seen, with three equally generous wine pairings.
I had an internal debate over which slider to start with – I’d normally move from white to red meat but as this evening was about dispensing with the rules, I attacked the Cheeseburger first. It was a well executed classic; a small juicy patty fantastically covered with a layer of thick melted American cheese which went surprisingly well with the Te Pa 2013 Pinot Gris from Marlborough, New Zealand.
Next up was the Hawaiian which contained more of that delicious pulled pork, along with coleslaw, pickled red cabbage, and a pineapple fritter. They’re all things I enjoy immensely so I devoured this slider with gusto, but the highlight was without a doubt the pineapple fritter. I know lots of people poo-poo the idea of pineapple in savoury food but I am a fan. Can you tell that I’m one of those pro-pineapple-on-pizza people? The overall sweetness of this slider combination was balanced by a glass of the Moko Black 2014 Pinot Noir, another fantastic choice from Marlborough.
And finally, I faced the Hot Crispy Fried Chicken with trepidation, I might add given the size of it. After the first bite, I decided to ditch the bun and fill the little remaining stomach space I had left with the insanely crunchy buttermilk fried chicken, and the unnecessary but welcomed, rasher of bacon, all slathered with hot sauce and mayo. This gussied up Zinger burger was luxuriously paired with a glass of Mumm Brut Cordon Rouge champagne. Didn’t I say at the start that these guys take their burgers seriously? Who needs dainty canapes or caviar, from now on I’ll be having my champagne with a side of fried chicken!
Dessert was no light affair either, as if we hadn’t already eaten enough… The chocolate and peanut butter brownie was dangerously sweet and attempting to eat one serving alone is not for the faint hearted, I’d advise sharing the goodness with another sweet toothed friend. The Doctor’s DIY doughnuts are also a fun way to end the evening; you get to inject your mini doughnuts with chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, vanilla custard, or a combination of all three. And… you get a dose of warm fuzzies too as for every dish ordered, Ben’s Canteen donate 50p to the Wandsworth Food Bank which I think is a pretty sweet gesture.
I don’t have hollow legs, so I literally rolled home (ok fine, rolled into my uber) after this feast. I loved the burgers and I loved the wines, but did they work together!? Purists, particularly on the wine side of things, would probably err on the side of not, but I thought the concept was great. Ben’s Canteen challenged themselves by pairing burgers with wine, so why not rise to the challenge yourself and give this a go!
Thanks to Ben’s Canteen for challenging me to combine two of my food loves, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!
PS – apologies for the sub-par shots, it was my first outing with my new camera… more practice is needed, obviously!