The Fat Albert – A Beast of a Burger! Beef Burger topped with Beer Reduction Pulled Pork served with Chicken Wings, Frickin’ Chickin’ Fries, Coconut Maque Choux & Cheese ‘n’ Mac Balls
Price of burger: £17
Recently, it was my wife’s birthday and as a treat, I thought I would take her out for a meal. Now when I say “I thought”, she disagrees and rather thinks it was a case of “She suggested”! Despite not being able to agree on this, one thing we could agree on was the venue. Ever since my visit to The Alb way back in August 2015, I have been longing to go back to re-taste the burger that currently sits at the top position in the “Burger Hall of Fame“.
This was the perfect opportunity for me to go back and really see what’s what; had the menu changed? Was the standard still going to be as high? And most importantly, could they do it all over again? – All questions I was keen to answer.
On arriving at The Alb, we found our booked seats – we knew it was ours because the sign on the table read “This table is reserved for Mr Simon Burger”. Now this is not my surname but, by God, I am considering changing it by deed poll now – it really does have a ring to it, don’t you think?!
Prior to my visit, I had done some research on the menu and therefore knew exactly which burger I was planning to have. On arrival, a cursory glance at the menu merely reinforced my initial impulse – I was going for “The Fat Albert”! Incidentally, this is another name I have considered changing mine to…! Described as “A Beast of a Burger”, this behemoth consists of a beef burger, topped with beer reduction pulled pork served with chicken wings, frickin’ ‘chickin’ fries, coconut maque choux & cheese ’n’ mac balls….drooooooling! Now I don’t know about you, but this sounds just about the best menu description of a meal I have ever read – literally, what more could you ask for?!! The price of £17 was more than I would spend on any other regular burger but this was too tempting to miss. It’s important to note that this price wasn’t the same across the rest of the menu – there are a number of other burgers and meals, all of which were reasonably priced – which encouraged me as I knew this beast would warrant the price tag. Or at least I hoped it would…!
Now wherever we go, my wife always seems to strategically position herself in the chair that faces the direction from which the food arrives. I’m not sure whether it is just luck on her part, or whether she is just so shrewd that she dives in there before I have the chance to know what’s going on. Either way, this time, I wasn’t having any of it! I actually made her sit the other way round so that I could see the food coming. I know that this sounds bat-shit crazy (and, in hindsight, possibly a little harsh considering it was her birthday) but I don’t care – it was the right decision and I stick by it!
I saw the food coming a mile off. My memory of the event recalls Tom walking out surrounded by clouds of dry ice and his hair blowing in the wind, holding aloft probably the best looking plate of food I have ever seen! I swear to you now, this was the kind of plateful you see and instantly say “Holy shit balls – fair play, that looks epic!” I know this to be the case as everyone I have shown these photos to before now has been amazed. Even the burger haters out there – oh yes people, unfortunately they do exist!
A towering burger, some monstrous chicken wings, mac’n’cheese balls, pulled chicken topped sweet potato fries and red cabbage slaw…..droooooling again!
I seriously cannot stress to you enough the excitement I felt when it arrived – this was looking like a serious contender for the top spot and I hadn’t even tasted the damn thing yet! Just so you are fully aware, The Alb already occupies the top spot but we’ll come back to that in a bit…
I started by digging in to the sweet potato fries topped with the pulled chicken with a balsamic glaze. Now I’ve had some ruddy tasty chips in my time but these were sublime. I know that’s cheesy as hell, but I really do mean it; they were delicious and the chicken just…made them. There were plenty of them too, all neatly nestled in a silver pot – perfect. I like the way they weren’t just your standard pub chips; they had a fun spin on them and I like that about The Alb as they seem to replicate their unique twist across other menu choices too.
The mac ‘n’ cheese balls were next on the hit list. I’ve never actually heard of mac ‘n’ cheese balls before – let alone tasted them – but I can assure you, this will not be the last time I have them! Unlike my initial expectations, they weren’t heavy; simply light and crispy with a creamy cheese filling.
I should say that the meal was advertised as being served with “Coconut Maque Choux“. Now at the time, I had no idea what this was but I’ve since Googled it and, despite wracking my brain, I really don’t remember seeing it on the plate meaning this is my only criticism. I may be mistaken; it may have been included, in which case, I will hold my hands up and admit I was wrong. But in all honesty, there was already so much on the plate to keep me occupied that I didn’t really miss its absence and this is just me trying to find faults now.
I had been eyeing up the chicken wings since the moment the meal arrived. These alone explain why it was a bit more pricey than some of the others on the menu – after all, this meal was not for mere mortals! I wasted no time in picking them up and devouring them. There was so much meat on them and the glaze was fantastic! You can have these as a meal on their own and I would highly recommend them. Believe it or not, I was even kind enough to share them (one at least) with the wife – it was her birthday, after all – and, not easily pleased, even she commented on how tasty they were. Well done guys, high praise indeed!
Good god, I’ve got to this stage and not even mentioned the main event yet – calm down folks, it’s coming…
THE BURGER! As I have come to expect from The Alb, the food up to this point had been top drawer but I must admit, I had been a little nervous; after all, what if the burger turned out to be a huge let down? I have been to a number of places where they focus so much on the sides, that the burger is almost forgotten to the point where the poor quality destroys the entire meal for me; not good! But as everything up to this point had been delicious, I hoped and prayed that The Alb hadn’t made this mistake too – falling at the last hurdle. Up until this point, I couldn’t find anything to fault them on. Nothing…!
I couldn’t put it off any longer, I was going in! As usual, I took off the salad (I know, I know, maybe not everyone’s idea of the best way to tackle a burger but you, my friend, are not the mastermind behind the Burger Journal. So there *sticks tongue out*!) which was the first to go and, as I’d hoped, it was delicious, crisp and fresh!
There was nothing for it – I got on with the job in hand and took my first bite of The Fat Albert! Now as you all know, I’ve had MANY burgers in my time and most of them of a good quality – some topped with steak, others with with mac and cheese – but none compare to the taste sensation that I was experiencing at this very moment. I know this sounds a bit romanticised, and I suppose it is, but holy crap, it was flavoursome! The sweetness from the caramelised onion relish on the bottom bun. The thick, juicy, perfectly cooked beef burger. The beer reduction pulled pork…everything just worked perfectly together. Even the brioche bun (which was homemade, by the way) was outstanding!
As with the fries, each element of the burger was well thought out and carefully planned so that, when one tastes it all together, everything is complemented perfectly. After each bite, I found myself putting the burger down, looking at Mrs Burger Journal and saying “Mmmmmm“, or “God, this is nice“.
When I started the Burger Journal, I wanted to travel far and wide to find the best burgers around. Little did I know that I would find one on my very own doorstep!
I think by now, burger fans, you can probably guess what’s coming. At this stage, I would normally say “We have a new leader in the ‘Burger Hall of Fame‘” but, in this instance, I am currently in something of a predicament; how do I put someone on top when they are already in first position? Argh!
I have given this a lot of thought and, in the interests of fairness, I think it is only right that, instead of The Alb taking first and second position (seriously, good job guys!), the first review remains on here with the same rating, and this new review takes its place as the Grand Champion of Burgers. I think that’s only fair, don’t you? Incidentally, if you want to re-read my first review of The Alb, you can find it over here >>> “100% Shropshire Beef Burger” – The Alb.
I have said this before about The Alb; the meals are so carefully considered and each element – I’m sure you will agree – goes that extra mile to make it just that little bit more special and this really is what sets them apart!
I should say that my wife also had a burger. Cheaper – at a very reasonable £9.50 – and smaller than mine, the “Black and Blue” burger consisted of blue cheese, basil crème fraîche and rocket. Although not their flagship burger, my wife assures me that this was equally as well crafted and therefore comes highly recommended.
The service, as I have mentioned was also faultless – Tom was great – and after the meal, I was fortunate enough to meet the owner, James (or Jim) who, incidentally, is a cracking bloke! I was even lucky enough to be invited “backstage” and go into the sauna (or “kitchen” as they prefer to call it) to meet the creator of the best burger I have ever eaten – Luke, the chef. Both were friendly and very humble about the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong, you might be reading this and thinking “Of course he’s put them in top position! How could he not after meeting them?” Well you couldn’t be more wrong! This doesn’t make me biased in any way. My aim has always been to review the burger and the meal as they both stand and, on this alone, The Alb are the top dogs! Nice one chaps!
I really do think they are going to be extremely difficult to knock off that top spot. Can anyone do it? Sounds like a challenge to me – any takers willing to come forward and recommend themselves for my next visit?
Burger ratings aside though, and needless to say, I really cannot recommend The Alb highly enough and I am desperate to go back again soon to try the other burgers on the menu. Who knows, I might even go for something different next time…! Oh, who am I kidding?!
Entire meal 9.9