The Pink & Lily is a lovely, traditional pub set high on the edge of the Chilterns where, on previous visits, I've enjoyed some good grub and ale writes Amy of food blog Pies and Fries. Following a recent refurbishment and menu revamp I decided it was time for me and The Ewing (my intrepid, burger-loving other half) to don our rural burger dectective caps and revisit it...
Previously a private residence the building has been in use as a pub since the early 1800's. Its most famous patron was 1st World War poet Rupert Brooke, who used to call in for a drink when out walking locally. As well as having the Brooke Bar named after him Rupert has now been immortalised in a burger, and this is what we were here to sample one misty Sunday lunchtime.
The Brooke Burger comes in at £9.95, and is descibed as a 'Handmade Angus beef burger, Dijon mustard, gherkin, tomato, a side of coleslaw and house chips'. You can add Cheddar and bacon or Stilton and mushroom for an extra £1.00. Deciding to try both cheese combos, I chose the cheddar (above) while the Ewing plumped for the Stilton:
The burgers rocked up looking pretty fancy; an open bun presentation with frisée lettuce, tomato and a cornichon placed on one side, and a cheese and bacon/mushroom glazed patty on the other. The Ewing's Stilton number looked particularly good. A silver pan of chunky chips, homemade coleslaw and a side salad completed the plate.
When assembled the burger was compact and pretty appetising. The cheese was well melted, the bun freshly baked and the meat nicely grilled on the outside. So far so appealing. Then I halved it...
Oh, the horror! The Ewing did, rather graciously, point out we hadn't specified a particular level of 'doneness' for our burgers, but these were uniformly grey throughout. I know that it's unlikely you're going to find the cow still mooing on the plate, but from a pub that obviously prides itself on good grub I would expect the default to be medium/medium rare, rather than shoe leather.
The patty itself was well flavoured, fairly coarsely minced and nicely seasoned, which made its incineration even more upsetting. The bun was good and springy, and just the right side of chewy. It held together well, but there was a distinct lack of any juices from the meat to really test its mettle.
The toppings were average. I liked the Stilton and mushroom combo, which managed to be punchy with out overwhelming the beef. The cheddar version suffered as the cheese had cooled by the time I came to eat it, making it rather bland and chewy. The (back) bacon was pretty flabby, but had just enough smoky flavour to complement the mild cheese.
On the plus side the chips were really very good. Hot from the fryer, and with a perfect ratio between fluffy and crispy.The posh salad was fine when removed from the bun and eaten on the side, but didn't seem to belong in the burger. And, as for the the lone cornichon; why? Pickle slices can make any burger better, but a fancy French gherkin is just not up to the task.
Presentation 3/5 The plate looked very promising; all components were fresh and nicely arranged.
Structure/Bite 2/5 This is a bijou burger that goes up instead of out. The lack of width means there is nothing to really get your mitts around, making the whole thing feel rather precarious.
Component parts 2.5/5 Fair to good. The toppings (minus the salad/cornichon) were passable, and the bun was tasty. The quality of the meat and patty texture were pretty decent.
Taste/Texture 2/5 The flavours worked nicely together, and seasoning was well judged, but it was criminally dry due to overcooked beef.
Experience 3.5/5 Very friendly staff, and a warm relaxed atmosphere. Plus a bonus half point for the open fire and Rebellion beer on tap.
Total score 14/25 = TWO STARS
A lovely pub with great staff. With a few tweaks this burger could have real potential.
Pink & Lily
Tel: 01494 488 308