Last weekend saw the man that brought you the much acclaimed Rib Nights launch his latest cook-off venture: UK Burger Battle. World leading street-food burger vendors (“crews” if you’re down with the kids), The Beefy Boys and The Flying Cows, got together on Sunday at the Spotlight in Digbeth to stuff rowdy punters with oozing burgers to garner their votes. Spotlight is home to the award winning Digbeth Dining Club (our review of that here) which almost every Friday offers Brummy foodies an opportunity to try some of the UK’s finest street-food purveyors.
For the inaugural Burger Battle event we had two challengers. Firstly The Beefy Boys (@thebeefyboys) from Hereford who have recently returned from being voted the second best burger team in the world in the Las Vegas World Food Championships. They offered “The Butty Back” – a third of a pound Hereford dry aged beef burger with slow smoked Hereford beef brisket. This considerable mouthful, served in a Brioche bun, was topped with Butty Bach BBQ Sauce (named after the beer from Wye Valley Brewery which is used in the sauce), Swiss cheese, American cheese, lettuce, onions, and red cabbage slaw.
The Beefy Boys were competing against The Flying Cows (@Dans_Kitchen) from Rugby. They have an ex-fine dining front man who has worked in some of the top restaurants both here in Birmingham and in London. They offered us “The High Flyer”. This was a dry aged grass fed Dexter steak with Aubrey Allen smoked maple bacon topped with Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese,
pickled red onions, gherkins, FLC sauce, lettuce, and Peel & Stone pork fat brioche bun.
We ordered our tickets weeks in advance as at £22 a head they sell out quickly! When we arrived we were wristbanded on entry which is your ticket for a burger from each of the two contestants and an arrival drink, and we were provided with a voting slip. We then had 4 hours to enjoy our burgers and the entertainment before the voting closed. There was a bit of a queue for the burgers but it was no worse than other street-food events and the queuing is absolutely part of the experience. We chatted to quite a few random people about what they thought was good and who was going to win. The cheerful burger battle team did a great job of keeping the queues to a manageable level. Between burgers and while waiting for one of the queues to die down we had drinks from the bar and played retro video games on consoles that were set up in an anteroom.
The burger crews were utterly competitive but were chatty and keen to talk to everyone to share some of their top tips and secrets (though I’m sure not all) whilst trying to get well over 300 burgers per team served to very exacting standards. The pressure was made even more intense for them at the opening event when they were reminded they had just about every food blogger and reviewer from Birmingham in attendance and two Michelin starred chefs who were on the judging panel, and who had also brought their entire brigades and front of house teams to the event.
For both of us and most of our foodie friends there on the night we were in agreement with the judges on The Flying Cows taking top marks. The combination of the sweet bacon with the beef and the added flavour from the pork fat brioche was a great combination. I found that every element of the Beefy Boys entry was superb (I could have eaten that beef brisket all night long) but it didn’t come together as a whole for me. Nonetheless, it was the people’s choice winner! So both teams were deservedly awarded.
After we devoured our burgers and wiped down our chins, there was just enough room for dessert from Victoria Creperie who make some of the best cheesecakes you’ll find in the midlands.
Any night from Ahmed Kage would not be complete without his trademark features: a funky soundtrack, a close up magician to freak us out, and an after party to ensure everyone remembers the event, if only for the hangover!
Thanks to Ahmed, The Beefy Boys, and The Flying Cow – we look forward to the next one.
You can find details about upcoming Burger Battles here.