Last Friday, I dropped by The Admiral Codrington to meet with its chef Fred Smith and to finally taste his popular burger. It was lunchtime and the pub was already filling up.
For starters, I ordered the chilli squid. I had only meant to try a few as a taster but the flavours were so unexpectedly enticing, I managed to polish the who bowl off. I truly recommend this dish.
For main, of course, I had to try the burger this time.
I will elaborate on this delicious choice later when I tell you about my meeting with its creator.
The burger came with fries and for dessert, I gave into temptation to taste the rhubarb crumble, which was indeed a great dish.
And the whole meal was washed down with some still water and a glass of obligatory bubbles!
The Admiral Codrington isn’t just about the burger as you can see from my initial post on the pub’s restaurant (here). But with such a buzz about the Ad Cod burger, I decided to focus my Q&A with Fred Smith on the local’s meaty favourite.
CG: Your Twitter bio states your journey for a perfect burger. When did that begin?
FS: About 18 months ago when I was in Manhattan. I was inspired by the quality of burgers over there. It then took about six to eight months of experimenting: getting the right flavours and combination of ingredients.
CG: Outside London, where is your favourite place to go for a burger?
FS: The Shake Shack in the US and Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village, NYC.
CG: Where did your journey as a chef begin?
FS: When I was 18, I started working at Ransome’s Dick restaurant in Battersea. I also worked for Stephen Terry at The Walnut Tree in Wales, who incidentally once ran this place too. After some time in Australia, I worked at the Brown Dog in Barnes, later moving to the Duke of Wellington in Marylebone and I’ve been here at The Admiral Codrington now for two and a half years.
CG: So essentially, you’re a bit of a London Boy?
FS: I grew up in Clapham and spent a lot of time hanging out on the King’s Road, going to Peter Jones and spending time in Chelsea with my friends.
CG: Where are your favourite places to go in Chelsea?
FS: The Botanist, Foxtrot Oscar, Medlar, Barts and Tom’s Kitchen.
CG: What is your favourite cocktail?
FS: A Manhattan, which I once had at 21 Club in New York – where the drink was invented. I also like an Old Fashioned and a good G&T.
CG: Now, your burger. There was an infusion of smokey flavours. Did you put anything into the meat?
FS: That would be the bacon but no, I didn’t mix the bacon into the patty. I don’t like it when a burger has a slice of crispy bacon on top of the patty so when you bite into the burger, it falls out. I grilled the bacon between the patty and the cheese so it becomes part of the burger.
CG: It was so good and all the way through, I was trying to figure out where the flavours were coming from. (*Just to add, the burger has a real depth of flavour, so complicated yet so simple. I loved it!*) … So what about the rest of the burger?
FS: The bun is a brioche bun but not a typical brioche – not overly sweet. It’s more to reflect the American styled bun which has a bit of sugar in it. The caramalised onion creates a bit of an onion chutney. There is also shredded iceberg lettuce, mustard and pickles with cheese and of course the bacon and patty.
The construction of the burger is also important: you must be able to pick it up.
CG: And so your final word on the perfect burger?
FS: Keep it simple.
I just want to say thanks Fred for taking time out to meet me and for a great lunch. I’ll definitely be back!
The Admiral Codrington is located on 17 Mossop Street, London, SW3 2LY. www.theadmiralcodrington.co.uk