Samuel Muston: It is time to put the gourmet-burger concept to bed?

 

It is perhaps apt that in the week after we reached Peak Farage, we fell off another cliff top – we've reached Peak Burger.

It was a slow climb, beginning approximately 13 years ago, when Daniel Boulud, whose restaurants have more stars than Orion's Belt, put the DB burger on his menu. It cost $32 and was made of sirloin, short rib and not a little foie gras. People gasped. $32? He must be crazy. And foie gras, too? It was a brazen liberty to take with a hamburger. But people bought it – and what's more, they bought into the idea of it. He had taken something you found in a diner and lavished on it the same attention, the same love, that he may previously have reserved for his frog-leg fricassee.

That same drive to widen the burger's horizons was copied by a thousand other chefs in the years to come, eventually reaching a meaty conclusion with the gourmet-burger restaurant. These seemed to explode here in Britain in 2012. Outposts of the upscale Byron chain opened on every street corner in the capital, or so it appeared; MEATliquor annexed Brighton in 2013 (Leeds is soon to follow); SoLita started doing the business in Manchester, too.

The chefs were evangelical – "the beef is top-notch", "the buns are always fresh", "the cheese is the best you could buy" – and we, the punters, were happy to queue round the block to buy them. And why not? They were largely true to that same Bouludian vision of taking something simple and improving it with care.

In recent months, though, something has begun to change. We seem to be in the middle of a bun-based arms race. This week, Zagat.com ran an article in which it detailed the eight "craziest" burgers on sale in the UK. There is Tongue 'n Cheek's Heartbreaker burger, which may do just that, given that it consists chiefly of ox heart; Byron's Miami Slice – a burger whose cheese- and sauce-covered patty is garnished with shoestring fries; and then the final proof that the bottom has fallen out of the burger barrel comes in the form of the Pig Salad burger. This creation consists of – deep breath – a minced pork, chorizo and black-pudding patty topped with crispy pig's ears, confit pork belly, smoked bacon and chorizo aioli, and finished with lettuce, cheese and Bramley apple jelly and a pig's tail. Oh and yeah, it comes on a brioche bun.

You don't have to be a raving puritan to think that maybe, just maybe, these monstrosities are an offence to minced beef. Is the party over? It is time to put the gourmet-burger concept to bed?

One could argue that the burgers that Zagat lists are simply examples of comfort food reaching a sort of apotheosis. And, having been hung over myself, I can just about see a grain of sense in that. But in such "comfort food", with its dripping meat and surfeits of cheese and sauce, you find only false comfort – and, to follow, only a needled conscience and possibly indigestion.

A peak has been reached and now we need to walk quickly, and with head held high, down the other side.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week