1 of 2
2 of 2
Photo by Tara Stevens
Food & Drink
Hard Rock Café
A couple of years ago one of my snootiest food friends made a confession. He was in love, he said. Not with me I hasten to add, but with the burger at, wait for it, the Hard Rock Café. “It’s the best,” he confided in hushed tones that made it seem like he was peddling drugs rather than declaring his love of junk food. I later discovered he was not alone, which got me to thinking, where is the best burger in town anyway?
Finally I decided to do something about it, and while my entire being revolts at the thought of passing a night at the said Hard Rock Café (Plaça Catalunya 21, 93 270 2305, burger €13.95), the burgers are as true to their American roots as it’s possible to get. The “legendary” 10oz special is a beast of a burger topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, pickles, lettuce and tomato all crammed into a soft, white, sesame bun and served with a side of fries and a crispy onion ring. Of course, getting in and out without your friends seeing you may prove a challenge.
Marginally safer in terms of street cred, I’ve long considered Café Viena (La Rambla del Estudis 115, 93 317 1492 www.viena.es, burger €5.90) to be the only acceptable place to eat on the Ramblas, and have been frequenting it sporadically for years for midnight feasts. It’s currently shut while it undergoes a little facelift to celebrate its 40th birthday, but opens again on May 18th. Anyway, when Mark Bittman of the New York Times proclaimed their ‘flauta d’ibéric D.O. Jabugo’ to be the best sandwich in the world I decided to see how the burger compared. Flauta standard it was not. Though plump and juicy, topped with a slice of cheese and a pickle in a toasted, plain white bun, it was just a bit too wet and mealy for my taste. Come to think of it there wasn’t much by way of taste at all until I slathered it in HP sauce.
At Flash Flash (C/ Granada Del Penedès 25, 93 237 0990, www.flashflashtortilleria.com), you get designer burgers in a posh, deconstructed diner atmosphere. They’re a bit radical in the sense that they come bun-less, and can be as raw as steak tartar (be sure to make your doneness preference clear) missing the point of the burger somewhat, but they have achieved cultish status among fans. It’s not quite my cup of tea, but they’re not bad if you fancy something abstract.
When the Cervecería Taller de Tapas (C/Comtal 28, 93 481 6233, burger €5.95) opened, Kate Preston introduced the ‘Hamburguesa de la ternera de Kate’ made to her Mum’s recipe back in London. Being a big advocator of cooking food simply and well, this no-nonsense burger is made from top grade Girona beef, ground in house, seasoned with salt, pepper, onion, mustard and a secret spice mix known to no one but Kate and her Mum. Cooked to order and served in coca bread with a garnish of fresh tomato and caramelised onions, I’d say this ranks at least at number two in my burger ratings. And I have it hot off the press that a new burger is in the pipeline to blow this one out the water.
Still, having chewed, digested and mulled it over this far, the top billing goes to the burger at Cervecería Jazz (C/Margarit 43, 93 443 3259, burger €7-€10). Burgermeister extraordinaire Alex makes burgers that are so good they should almost be renamed the 'Love Burger', the ultimate carnivore's dream involving seriously meaty patties garnished with treats like apple sauce, green Dijon mustard and chilli con carne. It’s served on a Vienna roll (crusty rather than soft), which catches the juices without going soggy, and there’s a huge range of imported beer to wash it all down with. A humble burger turned into an art form.
So is it the best? Let us know what you think…