By Sourish Bhattacharyya
YOU can't really fall in love with a burger until it's smoking hot! We have many restaurants that serve good burgers, classic burgers, experimental burgers, but it's hard to find a burger with a charcoal-grilled patty infused with a smokiness that alerts your palate to the possibility of something good coming its way. It's a smokiness that can't be replicated on a regular grill, but with Weber getting popular, it is possible now for chefs to grill and smoke up a patty at the same time, which is exactly what Sid Mathur and Shamsul Wahid have done at Smoke House Deli (SHD), Hauz Khas Village.
|The Benedictor is the star of the mmmBurger|
Festival. You must have it, but only after
The SHD at Hauz Khas Village is located where Suresh Kalmadi's Bistro restaurants used to be, within shouting distance from the madrasa that the enlightened Firuz Shah Tughlaq established in 1352 and the lake (hauz) that Alauddin Khilji, who ruled from 1296 to 1316, built to supply water to the residents of the city that's been known since then as Siri. It's not enough to have history as your neighbour. Mathur, a burger fanatic who's also the food and beverage head of SHD's holding company, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, and Wahid, the group's executive chef, know this too well to let go of any opportunity to upgrade the restaurant's menu. And their latest brainwave is the mmmBurger Festival, which has been getting rave user reviews in foodie groups such as the Delhi Gourmet Club.
The menu's smoking hot burger is the Benedictor (Rs 410), which is a brilliant, albeit calorie-intense, take on Eggs Benedict -- charcoal-grilled tenderloin patty, strips of turkey pastrami, peppered fried egg and hollandaise. You can taste the difference the all-pervasive smokiness makes to the taste profile of the burger patty. My other favourite is the naughtily named Lucy's Juicy (Rs 340), which is essentially the Jucy Lucy (the missing 'i' in the name of the original burger is deliberate) with a char-grilled lamb patty. As you'd expect from a burger inspired by the Jucy Lucy, the patty has a layer of cheese inside, but it doesn't rush out in a scalding mass.
The only exception in the menu is the Country-Style Fried Chicken Burger (Rs 360) with peri-peri glaze and cheese melt. I just loved it, though it isn't a char-grilled burger. It may have left a lasting impression because our notion of fried chicken is being increasingly influenced by KFC's growing presence. Such was its novelty that the Smoked Chicken N Tequila Burger (Rs 360) with green chillies, tomato relish and beet jelly just sank into the Black Hole of my memory.
Bravehearts highly recommend the Baconator (Rs 450), a power-packed combo of char-grilled tenderloin patty, oak-smoked bacon and bacon-flavoured mayonnaise (baconnaise), but you can either have the Benedictor or the Baconator, or one-half of each! There are more burgers on the menu, but the one that left me unmoved was the Coal Smoked Chicken Leg Burger (Rs 380) with cream cheese, saffron curry and the short, broad and dark maroon reshampatti chilli. There's also a lonely vegetarian burger, which makes the intentions of the moving spirits of the festival quite clear: this is a celebration of char-grilled meats and is only for card-carrying carnivores.
It may be worth your while to visit Hauz Khas Village and partake of these char-grilled beauties. You may find it hard to go beyond the Benedictor or the Baconator, so drop in with your friends and share your burgers to get a taste of the many flavours, textures and tastes. When you're at the mmmBurger Festival, sharing is more than caring -- it's being able to get the best out of the most.