SLIDER DECIDER – London’s Best Bun Fight 10/09/2016

Last Saturday (10 Sept ’16) we attended Slider Decider at Broadgate Circle, London, and cor we had an amazing day! Despite the rain, the 16 chefs in attendance cooked for the crowds, powered through and did a brilliant job.

We too put the ‘work’ in and sampled 14 out of the 16 sliders on offer. If you want to know what we thought, who the winners were, who we voted for and where you can see more of these chefs then keep on reading!

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So, 16 chefs. That’s a lot. But these were broken down into four rounds of four which made the whole thing way more manageable.  The host, Joe Warwick, introduced who was in each round and chefs changed up on the hour.

Round One

Dan Dabrowski – Balans Soho Society This was one pretty burger, with a black squid ink bun it looked different to the rest instantly. A definite instagram favourite! This was a patty consisting of four types of smoked and cured pork, and it also had an eel crisp on the top of the stack! Never had eel before! We thought this was a nice entry but we couldn’t identify any specific flavours apart from it had a hot-doggy vibe. Pleasant enough but not making us want more immediately.

Ben Waugh – Maze Grill This was the second slider we tasted and Er Mer Gerd….short rib of beef all pulled and tasty. Beefy. Soft. Really easy to bite through and full of flavour plus drippy juice. The chefs were super precise with their prep making sire every one thatbwebt out was exactly the same so everybody got the same tastung experience. All of our group wanted another and was automatically set aside in our minds for a vote, but of course we had to try the others  before we made that kind of commitment. But this should be more like Ben Woooow from AMAZE Grill. This also, for me, set the standard for meat ratio in a slider. There was a lot of it and a pure joy to munch on.

Jeremy Pang – Cha Chaan Teng This was another short rib entry but served asian style – in a light airy steamed bao bun. It was really soft and pleasant to eat but as the meat was sat out for a while before being served (I suppose it was probably resting?) these were a little cold. It had a lot of carrot and coriander pickle which helped it taste fresh and light as opposed to greasy. Nice meat but this one could have done with being warmer.

Tony Kitous – Comptoir Liberanis This was called the ‘Hotdog Slider’, a lamb kofta hotdog swe’ve in a mini pitta bread bun. It was messy to eat and the meat ratio was off – too much cabbage we think. The lamb was ok but we did enjoy the sauce selection the most; harisa mayo, harisa sauce, mayo with beetroot and finally a garlic mayo. Two chaps from Comptoir Liberanis were also loitering around Broadgate Circle giving out free tea and baklava which is never a bad thing (thanks guys!) but this is about the slider.

Round Two

Jim Abbott – Hixster Jim was serving up one of the two seafood sliders at Slider Decider and it was another noticeably different looking slider. Soft shell crab! I’ve only ever had soft shell crab once before and not in this form.  Despite the crab being a battered and fried, the slider was very light. There was quite a bit of batter but it didn’t overpower the balance and this was an enjoyable slider – different to most, light and lemonny. There was also a pickled chili speared on the top which was reported back as ‘very pickley and very nice’ (delegated tasting authority).

Jay Pullum – The Botanist Broadgate Circle One of only two chicken contenders in the Slider Decider (and the only one we managed to try) came from Jay Pullum…this was pretty much doing as much with chicken as you can and delicately portioning it into a few mouthfuls. We had confit chicken wing, BBQ pulled chicken, chicken salt, chicken slaw, cheese and baked bean ketchup! A really moist combo, a bit messy but in a good way – a dirty bird-ger. Very enjoyable and a big high five for this entry from Jay.

This also came with some free chicken wing ‘salt and shake’ style crisps as a little side bonus with the chicken salt in a “naughty wrap” (no idea what that means….) I ate these this morning – delicious!

Robbin Holmgren – Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen When we were queuing I saw toasted buns – a tick of approval already. Iberico pork patty – tick, crunch pork jowl – not sure what a jowl is but I liked the sound of it! The slider overall was good and we enjoyed the different textures with the soft meat and crunchy jowl. For one of us we found that there were too many pickles which spoilt the balance and overpowered the meat, but the chefs were under a lot of pressure to churn out a lot quickly and couldn’t be that precise. This was really nice though and it came with a damson mezcal which tasted like a summer berry margarita. Yum.

 

Round Three

Adam Rawson – Last Year’s Champ. The queue for this one was MEGA. I mean winding right the way round broadgate circle. Once we got the burger, we could understand why, it was truly lush. Really moist and you could taste the quality beef used – a loose aged beef patty. The truffle aiole on this bad boy was superb, and complimented the gorgonzola cheese perfectly. Creamy, slightly cheesy, rich. Yep. We went back for seconds with that one and knew it was a deserved winner for last year and definitely stood out in 2016 too.

Richard O’Connell – Tom’s Kitchen The team here produced a heather smoked grouse slider with venison bresaola (air-dried, salt-cured) and a sloe berry sauce. Unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of the bun…the sauce was good but overall we weren’t that impressed as the wholemeal bun was too big and dry and sucked the moisture out of every thing else. You couldn’t really taste the meat for the bun. The largeness of bun also made it quite tall so a bite wasn’t that convenient (and my mouth isn’t small). However, the heather was a really nice accent to this and it was served with a shot of sloe gin which really complimented it along with the chutney.

Unfortunately for this round we didn’t get to try Sameer Taneja – Talli Joe or Andrew Tajudin – Dickie Fitz – sorry guys!!!

Round Four

Tim Anderson – Nanban An aged beef patty with a red miso and pork broth and freshly grated English wasabi. Overall this was a pretty good slider but the miso broth was a little overpowering. I’m not massively keen on wasabi so that may also have been why I found it a bit strong, but we do think it could have done with less sauce on the whole.  The beef was good but I did leave most of the bun as at this point in the competition stomach room was at a premium do bun had to go.

Jacques Fourle – Ember Yard Smoked pork belly. Yes. Also served with crispy pig ear strips – something I would have been wary of before. The softness of the pork belly and the crispiness of the ear (that sounds so weird) really worked well together. I really liked this one, got a thumbs up here.

Jorge Lorenco – Crab Tavern This was the second and final seafood slider in the competition – a champagne lobster burger. I haven’t had lobster before so had no idea what to expect but this was really nice! Delightfully light and fresh and it was a smaller size so looked cute presentation -wise. The pink bun was from Bolita Bun and was another instagram favourite. Yep. We like. I was very surprised at how much I did like this slider actually! Unfortunately we didn’t get any champagne with ours which was a bummer, but worse things have happened. This was another one with a huge queue so it must have been popular, or did people just want champagne?

Joshua Campbell – Smokin’ Buns Our last slider of the day was venison from Joshua Campbell which was also his last slider of the day. This had a few key ingredients missing – the rabbit and duck ham. Alas I think (mayhap) due to the time this had been cooking, and possibly because it was the last slider to go out, ours was pretty dry. It’s difficult to be able to fully comment on this one because we just had the patty and bun without the other elements, really but it was a bit meh for us.

Mark Jankel – Street Kitchen  This was delicious. I also took one home and ate it for breakfast this morning (we did intend to eat it yesterday but ran out of room!). This had an aged beef patty (a few of those about) but with home smoked porchetta. The patty was soft and rare and the porchetta combo was excellent. This was really rich and flavourful and I’d definitely be interested in seeing some more of his grub at Street Kitchen

Then what happened?!

Voting! Part of this thang was that you, as the public, could have a choice in who you thought should win the Peoples Choice. Each slider token book came with three vote stickers. We aren’t sure if the public vote process was completely fair as a lot of people may have only shown up for part of the day and therefore they couldn’t properly judge the best slider.  However, it was fun anyway!

Adam Rawson

Adam Rawson displays his happy face

Our votes went to:  Adam Rawson – Last Year’s Champ, Ben Waugh – Maze Grill and Jay Pullum – The Botanist Broadgate Circle. If we had more we would have gone for Mark Jankel and Jorge Lorenco.

The Judge’s votes gave Sameer Taneja – Talli 3rd place, Robbin Holmgren – Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen 2nd place and Adam Rawson was declared winner again for the second year running – deserved, well done Adam!!

We were shocked that Ben Waugh of Maze Grill didn’t place! We loved your slider Ben – props from FMPH to thee.

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Anyhoo, the battle of the buns was an amazing day out. It rained a fair amount but people were still able to have fun and it was a great event.  Let’s hope there is another Slider Decider next year! We will be there for sure.

 

If you went, make sure to mark your posts with #SliderDecider!

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