Donut Burger, The Smoke Haus - Birmingham, UK

Ahh, American barbecue joints. They're a dime a dozen over here now it would seem. Fortunately for me, I am a sucker for them as the portions are often large, the food is fried goodness and I'm always getting a burger! 'The Smoke Haus' sits at the heart of Brindley Place overlooking the canals and fits the American barbecue joint template to a tee.

The interior can be closely described as the offspring of a Hard Rock Cafe that made love to a TGI Friday's that made love to a graffiti artist (uhhh, three-way?). With scattered pop culture photography/memorabilia and graffiti across the walls, the restaurant has cool vibes for sure. Let's look at the menu.

Ribs, monstrous sandwiches, steaks, hot-dogs, mixed grills and burgers. Basically ... MEAT. The menu featured seven burgers with a variety of toppings including macaroni, pulled pork and roquito peppers, as well as chicken and doughnut options. Seeking a little sweetness for my lunch, I went down the doughnut route, opting for the aptly named 'Donut Burger': 8oz patty, swiss cheese, smoked streaky bacon and sweet sauce between two sweet glazed doughnuts.


Mm! The doughnut burger is a beautiful thing. Visually, this was a stunner; the top doughnut drizzled in 'sweet sauce' with bacon atop the cheese atop the patty and more 'sweet sauce' oozing out of the bottom doughnut. Okay, let's dance.

My usual reservation with doughnut burgers is eating two doughnuts at once (top and bottom buns), resulting in a sickly sweet overload. Surprisingly, these doughnuts were not actually too sweet aiding the overall taste and not plummeting the burger in to a Willy Wonka fest. However, they were unfortunately not as fresh as I'd have liked, lacking the light and airy nature you get from, let's say, a Krispy Kreme. On-top of this, the bread ratio was also a touch too high.

The cheese was thinly layered and too mild to stand out. As the patty was reasonably sized, paired with the two doughnuts, a thicker layer of cheese would have benefitted in driving more flavour.

The 'sweet sauce' was indeed sweet. Who'd have thought? I would pinpoint it as some kind of maple syrup, which worked well, especially with the bacon. Although it would be difficult to add another sauce to this burger without ruining the overall synergy, I still felt like it lacked that something more. Perhaps that thicker layer of cheese would have combated this.


The bacon was a perfect addition for sure. It was crispy and flavoursome, standing out amidst the sweetness. The patty, however, was not quite as magical. Despite some light seasoning that pulled through to the tastebuds, the cook-time of well-done zapped a lot of the juices out of the meat.

Luther burgers are very difficult to master. Whilst the 'Donut Burger' at 'The Smoke Haus' was enjoyable, it did not quite tick all of the boxes. Although it was refreshing to not be overloaded with sweetness, the overall flavour felt like it was missing that something more. On-top of this, the patty was somewhat dry and the cheese somewhat lacking. I will be heading back to 'The Smoke Haus' for sure, though I will likely sample some of the other burgers on the menu and cure my sweet-tooth with their awesome dessert selection instead.

Patty Master Musings:

  • We sat at the front windows directly overlooking Brindley Place. Beautiful spot to sit and people watch.
  • My partner had a huge hot dog. No innuendo. It was delicious... she said.
  • Did I Dip It? I did not, though I am not sure what I would have dipped it in to anyway.

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Smoky Bacon, Smoky Boys - Watford, UK

Smoky Boys is a BBQ and Grill Haus specialising in gourmet burgers, steaks, hot dogs, shakes and cocktails. Taking 'simple ingredients', Smoky Boys claims to transform them in to something 'seriously tasty'.

The restaurant itself is tidy with the usual rustic feel and exposed brick. Whilst the 'industrial' theme is certainly nothing original anymore, it works for these types of establishments.

The menu was extensive for a small restaurant. There were 13 burgers in total; from beef, chicken and even lamb. I opted for the bacon cheeseburger option named 'Smoky Bacon'; beef patty, mapled glazed oak smoked turkey bacon, grilled onion, mature cheddar and American cheese, Smoky Boys Sauce between a brioche bun.


This was an alluring and sizeable burger, boasting a glossy bun and a splash of colour with the cheese, bacon and sauce. The first bite, however, sent me down a path of uncertainty. Whilst there were some solid flavours parading on my taste buds, there was also uncertainty in other areas.

Starting at the bun; it was too thick on top, with it becoming progressively more flaky the further through it I got. Unfortunately due to the thickness, it also threw out the ratio of everything below it.

The cheese was moderately applied and relatively mild in taste, perhaps a little drowned by the volume of sauce. Speaking of which, the 'Smoky Boys' sauce was tasty, but a pretty typical burger sauce concoction.

The turkey bacon was, without a doubt, the highlight. The maple glaze shone through driving a unique flavour to the burger. Whilst turkey bacon has its limitations compared to its piggy counterpart, I was impressed with the taste here.


Smoky Boys states its beef is sourced from free-range native-bred cattle and aged for a minimum of 40 days. The menu also states that the patty would be cooked medium which unfortunately, as expected, was not the case. It came well done and whilst it was not dry, it seemed to be heavily oiled instead, likely compensating for the cook-time. The result was a patty that was a little too greasy and somewhat average in taste.

I think there is potential with the Smoky Boys 'Smoky Bacon' burger, but every positive seemed to be equally weighed down by a negative. The highlight was the maple glazed turkey bacon paired with the 'Smoky Boys' sauce, whereas I was let down by the bun, average cheese and overly greasy patty.

Patty Master Musings:

  • The cocktails looked good here. As I was due to jump on a train, I did not have time to investigate further.
  • Did I Dip It? I did not due to the volume of sauce on the burger.

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B&H Scottish Beef Burger, Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings - London, UK

Located in the Clerkenwell area of London sits Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings; a delightful space for food and drink.

I sat in the bar area during my visit, but it is noteworthy that this establishment has multiple spaces each with their own unique charm, including a garden room and club room. The interior is airy, spacious and bright throughout exuding an esteemed quality.

Bourne & Hollingsworth aren't exactly known for burgers. The menu has a range of main courses including risotto, trout, steak and curry. Only one burger is present on the menu; the B&H Scottish beef burger, served with cheese, bacon and pickled onions with thick cut chips. Sounds like a classic.


My initial thoughts were positive. This was a tall, vibrant and balanced looking burger. The first bite was pleasing, but not overwhelming. Despite the high quality of ingredients, nothing delivered 'outside the box' so-to-speak.

The cheese was the most potent flavour, largely because there was no other sauce on the burger. Melted around the patty and oozing out of the bun, the strong taste was welcome and enjoyable.

The back bacon was surprisingly not crispy, but worked well in driving flavour regardless. The age-old debate of streaky vs. back on a burger has me going backwards and forwards with each meal I enjoy. Typically more premium or posh burgers opt for back bacon and it worked well here.


The patty was not quite as enjoyable. It was cooked well-done, as expected, ultimately resulting in a dry and somewhat bland flavour. This was a shame given it was perfectly sized and balanced with the rest of the components.

The bun was a little dry, especially the lid which was considerably thicker than the bottom. Due to this imbalance, the bottom became soggy from the cheese overload. The salad, however... very fresh!

Bourne & Hollingsworth's 'Scottish Beef Burger' is a smart meal that ultimately lacks the substance to pull it ahead. The ingredients generally felt premium, giving it vibes of a healthier burger than perhaps the norm I am used to. However, this likely led to it being the reason it didn't stand out very much. There are certainly better items on the menu at this beautiful restaurant.

Patty Master Musings:

  • In summer, this is a beautiful place to be. I recommend popping in if you are local, even if it's just for a drink.
  • The late night clubroom apparently has sparklers. SPARKLERS!!
  • The chips were crazy thick-cut. I got about 4 -- they were top notch though.
  • Did I Dip It? Yeah, I needed that ketchup about half way in. The cheese needed a partner in crime.

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Homemade Beef Burger, Gas Street Social - Birmingham, UK

As Summer approaches, finding the best venues to spend a sunny afternoon is key. Cue the Mailbox: Birmingham's canal-side restaurant and shopping complex. With a strong line-up of eating establishments, there is something for everybody at the Mailbox, including burgers. This time around I headed to Gas Street Social; a cocktail bar and restaurant specialising in sharer dishes, socialising (who'd have thought?!) and alcoholic goodness.

The allure for me was the 2-for-1 Burger Mondays. The menu was interesting, particularly the social plates and range of all-day breakfasts. The choice of burgers was minimal with only three core options: beef, chicken or vegetarian. From there, you 'accessorise' your selection with one of three sauces and additional toppings.

I was glad to be in attendance on a Monday as the core price of the beef option was £12.50 alone. With what I deemed as the required toppings of cheddar cheese and bacon, this burger would have cost £15.50 had it not been buy one get one free. Fortunately you do get chips as well. The burger is served between a buttermilk brioche bun and topped with lettuce, tomato and onion, as well as my choice of 'sauce': caramelised balsamic onions (not quite sauce).


Visually the burger was a winner and I was impressed with the fresh feel of it from the first bite, though what immediately became apparent was how dry and imbalanced the bun was in relation to the rest of the components. It's a shame as it was clearly fresh and had a nice crisp to it, but the bread ratio was off and likely due to how dry it was, it began crumbling away at the bottom.


On to the components: the salad was well-balanced and felt fresh, bringing a welcome vibrancy to the burger. The cheese was unfortunately very thinly layered on top of the patty lacking in overall taste as a result. The real winner of the toppings were the caramelised onions. I am a sucker for sweetness in burgers anyway, but these were good caramelised onions driving substantial flavour.

The patty was thick and well-seasoned, though the cook-time was well-done likely resulting in the overall dry taste. The streaky bacon was a required addition, adding a crispy and delicious flavour throughout.

Gas Street Social's 'Homemade Beef Burger' sits slightly above average in the taste department, thanks to the delicious caramelised onions and streaky bacon. Unfortunately, these two components were let down by the dry bun and beef. I would have this burger again, but only on the 2-for-1 deal, and definitely loaded up with toppings. Regardless, Gas Street Social is a great bar with good vibes, especially in the heat of summer.

Patty Master Musings:

  • This place oddly felt like a London chain, especially with the prices, but it isn't. (I guess the name is a giveaway, right? Unless they just build their restaurants on Gas Streets around the UK. Odd business plan)
  • Did I Dip It? I had to a little at the end once the caramelised onions had disappeared from my life.

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