The next Burger battle is Sunday June 21st Get tickets here: designmynight.com/birmingham/whats-on/uk-burger-battle-carnivores-carnival
UK Burger Battle 3: Le Bun Vs Fat Hippo 26th April
When I first heard the words UK Burger Battle, my ears pricked up like a meerkat. Burgers you say? Where? When?
I was actually mistaken in my original assumption of what UK Burger Battle was all about. For some reason, my own imagination conjured up a contest where people battled it out to eat the most, or the biggest, or the strangest burger. But what it actually is makes far more sense, and is far more enjoyable for far more people.
Established in December by Ahmed Kage, the man behind the Jewellery Quarter’s Rib Nights, there have already been two hugely-successful battles, both the same format as the one I attended. Both sold out, as did this latest one (dubbed BURGERGEDDON) and the event also won Best Event in Birmingham 2014/2015, so I was fairly confident I was in for a treat.
The idea is simple. Two burgers, everyone has a four-hour window to try one of each, everyone votes, and the best one wins. What better way to spend an afternoon or evening, munching on gourmet burgers, supping on nice beverages, with some great tunes playing in the background?
How I missed the first two, I have no idea, but having finally got my act together, I headed down with fellow burger lover Mr Manning to what is fast becoming one of the foodiest parts of Birmingham, Digbeth. The venue for the battle was Spotlight, home of the now-renowned Digbeth Dining Club, and a great place for an event like this. Nestled under the archways of the railway viaduct, there’s a big indoor space with a bar, benches and some vintage red Chesterfield sofas. The outdoor space – as it is for Digbeth Dining Club – is home to the food vendors, and on this occasion, the Drinks Bus. This 1977 open-top Bristol Bus has a bar downstairs and seating area upstairs, where DJs were spinning their decks to the hungry crowd at BURGERGEDDON. For anyone who might have been hungry after their two burgers, Victoria Creperie was on hand selling delicious-looking cheesecakes, brownies and baklava for pudding.
So, wrist bands on (good job we’d booked ahead as the event was a sell-out), drinks in hand, and voting slips carefully stashed away, the hardest part came – picking which burger to try first in the four-hour window of tasting and judging. Burgergeddon was dubbed London vs Newcastle, pitting French/American Le Bun from London, against Newcastle’s Fat Hippo. Both were set up, both had queues, and both burgers sounded fab.
We decided on Le Bun’s offering, Le Holy Fire. A seared scotch beef patty, with slow cooked pulled Pinot ox cheek, American cheese, beef jus onions, pickled chilli, onion rings, truffle mayo, bacon salt, dill pickles, gem lettuce, all on a brioche bun.
Between burgers we grabbed a drink from the bus and joined the people enjoying the top deck. It’s not that often you get to sit aboard a bus, drinking beer while watching possibly the most concentrated number of people simultaneously eating burgers that I’ve ever seen. In a clever move, Kage lays on ‘retro games’ and a magician to entertain people while they are queuing, although it has to be said, this is one of those rare occasions that you don’t mind a little wait, especially when you’ve got a drink in your hand and a freshly grilled burger at the end of it.
So, next up was Fat Hippo’s Born Slippy. Two Northumbrian beef patties, piled with slow braised baby back pork rib meat, Monterey Jack cheese, shredded lettuce, jalapeños, homemade Hippo smokey bbq sauce and chilli jam, again on a brioche bun.
Burgers eaten, mouths wiped, it was time to vote. As well as us mere mortals, the Burger Battle had the help of three high-profile judges. I can’t imagine it’s the easiest thing in the world to get the chefs behind some of Birmingham’s top restaurants to your event, but they pulled it off and welcomed Luke Tipping, executive chef at Michelin-starred Simpsons in Edgbaston; fellow Michelin star holder Adam Stokes, of Adam’s; and Aktar Islam, the man behind the Lasan family of restaurants. These pros voted Le Bun the winner, but the people’s vote went to Fat Hippo, rounding the day off in a sort of friendly tie.
Bellies full, smiles on our faces, we left BURGERGEDDON a happy pair. It’s no wonder the event is such a success. The concept is pretty much guaranteed to be a success and with such brilliant organisation, a great venue, and crowd-pulling burger offerings, it’s a winner.
Birmingham is already a stand-out foodie destination, and imaginative events like this are only going to keep it that way. I’ve checked, and there’s definitely going to be another UK Burger Battle, and I wholeheartedly recommend you get yourself a ticket. I know I will be!
Read more about Ellen’s experience here: eatwithellen.com/2015/04/a-burger-tastic-afternoon-at-burgergeddon/
About Ellen Manning
When I’m not writing the news, I’m writing about food, from meals I (or the long-suffering Mr Manning) have cooked in our own kitchen, or delights we’ve tried on our travels at home and abroad. From simple fare at home in Rugby, Warwickshire, to fine dining tried in restaurants across the Midlands, the UK, and the world, I love sharing my foodie experiences. If you like food, I think you’ll like Eat with Ellen.
Follow Ellen on Twitter – @MrsEManning