For any of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ll realise there’s a third ‘b’ I’m developing a bit of a liking too. That’s right, I’m really hitting it off with my new road bike. Who knew cycling could be so fun! Plus, cycling means I can eat more burgers.
With this in mind I took myself on a bike ride from where I live in London, to Brighton. The majority of the ride was pleasant – country lanes, a surprising amount of down hill, and for once good weather. There is a sh*tter of hill at the end, but I had a good incentive to keep the peddles turning. I was heading to The Troll’s Pantry, a burger stall causing a bit of a stir on the Brighton Burger Scene. I’ve been eyeing up these burgers for months.
|Food porn alert|
And these burgers are without a doubt some of the best I have ever tried. I would cycle this route one hundred times over to eat them (or try to at least). These burgers dare to be different, and I love them even more for it. The Troll has a real commitment to locally sourced produce – not a half arsed approach, it’s a dedication to finding the very best local ingredients – something many restaurants do but without the same passion behind it.
The Troll’s Pantry is currently set up in a pub called The Hobgoblin in central Brighton. It’s got a massive beer garden which is where The Troll (Paul) has his home. By the end of my cycle I’d developed quite an appetite, so I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be consuming above average amounts of burger, and decided to start with The Imperial Burger.
|Ever changing menu|
Described as a “pivitol point in the Troll’s Pantry history” the burger was created during an alcohol fuelled wedding event. The Troll told me that before the creation of this burger he’d always strived to avoid the “burger clichés” of BBQ sauce and American mustard, instead preferring to focus on seasonal philosophy. Then a booze-inspired epiphany occurred, The Troll realised that sometimes clichés exist for a reason. And burger clichés taste good.
So The Imperial (£6.50) I suppose is the most ‘normal’ of The Troll’s Pantry burgers – it’s the ‘local’ take on a classic New York style cheeseburger. With the focus on locally and ethically sourced ingredients, processed cheese is a no go, so instead St Giles cheese is used, which had melted perfectly when I tried it. The rest of the burger is stuffed full of pickles, salad, American Mustard, ketchup (sometimes home made with local tomatoes, wild fennel and fentimens cola – mad). The main thing is keeping it simple and affordable.
What a beautiful burger it is.
|The Imperial Burger|
The patties are made up of medium ground chuck steak (with some other cuts to increase the fat content to approx 25-30% – providing loads of flavour). This is sourced from grass fed cows, which is much healthier than grain fed – not that I ever thought the words healthy and burger would go hand in hand. The patties are weighed out into 1/3 lb balls and shaped to order. The griddle is greased with dripping (even this is homemade and local, from the same Longhorn cows).
|Cooked to perfection|
As if this isn’t enough, The Troll also makes his own burger buns (this guy really is a burger genius) and they are one of the softest, freshest burger buns going. My fingers sunk into the dough but it held the contents of the burger perfectly, so light and fluffy.
And voila – the simplest of The Troll’s Pantry burgers. Lovingly prepared, deliciously juicy and enough to make me demand more. And more.
Next up I went for the Stinky Breath Burger (£7.50). There was me thinking these burgers couldn’t get any better. As I waited for my burger to arrive groups of people were shaking their heads around me. The whole pub garden was going through a group moan of ecstasy. It was pretty spectacular to watch, if a little strange.
|Stinky Breath Burgers|
The sauce of the Stinky Breath burger is a simple roux with a Sussex beer (light and hoppy), local blue cheese (High Wealds Brighton Blue or Molecombe blue), finely chopped anchovy, mustard and crushed garlic. The raw onion in the salad and garlic mayo adds an extra amount of ‘stink’ and the St Giles cheese melted on the top seals it without it becoming too messy (although my hands were still doused in burger juice).
I dream about this burger at night. Not just one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, but one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Before you think I was enjoying these burgers so much because of my mammoth bike ride, it’s not just me. This is The Troll’s cult classic burger, with a hard core dedicated following – people make the trip just for it (myself now included – I can’t wait to go back). It’s salty and strong, wonderfully juicy, daring and worryingly addictive.
|Glorious Stinky Breath|
|Even the lettuce looks good|
Next up was the Drunken Knight (£8) – the most ‘out there’ burger and a seasonal special.
The burger comes with a layer of charred asparagus, adding an incredible crunch – don’t knock it until you try it, this really works. I had fretted while I was waiting that the goats’ cheese would overpower the rest of the burger but it was surprisingly subtle, despite the generous serving.
|Drunken Knight Burger|
The mayo is boosted with ground ivy (not related to ivy but in the mint family) and the patty is slathered in a beer and chocolate sauce.
|Asparagus and chocolate in a burger does in fact work
The beer has been meticulously selected, and a bitter has been chosen which has been brewed with chocolate malt. Despite my initial concerns, the flavour of the meat does shine through and the cheese and saucy concoctions don’t dominate. All together, it’s a thing of beauty.
|Another angle of the Drunken Knight|
|Stinky Breath Round Two|
It was a relief to be eating such an imaginative, yet delicious range of burgers. The passion behind The Troll is unquestionable, his love of food is infectious and his burgers sublime. I love a simple burger, but these more unusual creations were mind-blowing.
With so many different options and new burgers all the time, The Troll’s Pantry will be a regular feature in my diary. If padded shorts and lycra aren’t your thing, then the Troll’s Pantry is still a very easy option from London, just 50 minutes on the train.
With a potential Troll’s Pantry café on the way (with English Breakfasts on the menu), I might even need to relocate to the coast.
The Troll’s Pantry, The Hobgoblin, 31 York Place, BN1 4GU