Heineken Brisket Burger, Hard Rock Café - Washington D.C, USA

Combining a huge range of music memorabilia with typical American cuisine comes Hard Rock Café – surprisingly a British created restaurant.

I am a big fan of the Hard Rock brand as it fuses my love for music and burgers, all within a slick and stylish environment. However, as each restaurant is individual in its memorabilia, size, layout and style, experiences tend to vary. I have been both blown away and disappointed by these restaurants in the past.

The Washington venue is small, impacting the volume of memorabilia available for guest viewing. This may also be the reason as to why the restaurant did not feel as genuine as others, lacking the level of authenticity I am accustomed to in other locations such as New York, Las Vegas, London and my personal favourite Prague.

The menu is identical anywhere around the world, with the burgers always including the ‘Local Legendary’, where the city’s individual style and attitude are reflected in the burger. Notably on a visit to the Dubai restaurant, I sampled the 'Date Burger' which to my surprise turned out to be one of my favourites. The local in Washington was a pulled pork burger which, whilst tempting, did not scream out to me quite as much as the limited edition special: the 'Heineken Brisket Burger'.

I am not a huge fan of alcohol in general; let alone Heineken. However, the components of this meal sounded too difficult to resist: 'half-pound Angus beef patty' topped with Heineken-braised brisket, caramelised BBQ onions, garlic aioli and Gouda cheese. Yes, please.

The magnitude of this burger impressed me. At the same time, however, it could not have been more dissimilar from its promotional image which presented it in a much cleaner form with finer brisket pieces. The reality was far from this; this was a big, bold dirty burger with large chunks of brisket slopping out of it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, mind.

The first taste was dynamic with flavours flying around my mouth like Pearl Harbour. This was a hard burger to put down as the fusion of flavours blended so delightfully together.

Starting at perhaps the selling point of the burger: the braised beef was chunky and full of flavour. Surprisingly, the Heineken infusion was light, not at all dominating the taste. In-fact, had I been asked to pinpoint the flavour I would not have been able to identify that it was beer. The juiciness of the brisket drove the majority of taste alone, especially given the fattiness of the meat - perhaps a little too chewy at times, but overall an impressive addition to the burger.

My cheese was actually substituted for Cheddar, making it difficult to comment just how well Gouda would have worked. However, the Cheddar balanced the burger well, especially when paired with caramelised onions, which added a sweetness to the proceedings. If this was not enough, the garlic aioli added another depth to the burger, directly contrasting everything else, but working extremely well to enhance the flavour.

On to the make or break point: the patty. This was a big piece of cow sitting at half a pound belonging to the Certified Angus Beef brand: a company that famously supplies a huge plethora of restaurants, particularly around the USA, including the Cheesecake Factory, Bubba Gump and Planet Hollywood. This was an impressive patty, despite being cooked well done. Perhaps not the most tender of meats, but it certainly remained juicy throughout and held its own against all the other flavours.

This was a solid burger; a surprising achievement to stand out in a burger-heavy visit to Washington. The flavours were fantastically dynamic and perfectly balanced throughout, with all elements relying on one other to build to a tastebud sensation. The slight drawbacks came with the chewiness of some pieces of brisket, as well as the slight lack of tenderness to the patty. In spite of this, this was probably my favourite limited edition burger from Hard Rock. Good stuff!

Patty Master Musings:

  • Whilst our service was fantastic, it also added to the lack of authenticity. I miss that 'Hard Rock' attitude I have witnessed before in these restaurants. I do not mean every waiter should serve me whilst headbanging and shouting lines from a Slipknot track, but it would be nice if there was a rock attitude behind the staff, as well as the restaurant itself.
  • The lack of memorabilia in this restaurant was underwhelming, but also made worse given the last Hard Rock I was in was in Orlando -- the biggest Hard Rock Café in the world.
  • Did I Dip It? I certainly did not need to. The flavours were oozing through this burger from all components.

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