The perfect burger — now in Galway

The making of a perfect burger has been the aim of many a chef over the years and recently we have seen the arrival of gourmet burger restaurants where the whole focus is on providing you with a substantial meal in a bun. The meat has to be right, the cooking (preferably chargrilled ) has to be perfect, the bun itself has to be well chosen, and then you decide which additions will make it a finished product. I am surprised how long it has taken for this type of food to catch on as 25-plus years ago I survived on a diet of such burgers in Birmingham, served in a basket with fantastic chips and salad.

Over the Christmas holidays I read one of my presents, Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection. One of the chapters is about his quest to make the perfect burger, and as is typical of the man he went to extreme lengths to do so. One of the places he went to sample a burger was The Shake Shack in New York, designated by Time Out and the New York Times as a must visit if in NY. I recommend that you visit the website www.shakeshack.com and you can click on the ShakeCam and see the length of the queue. If you are in New York and want to have a gourmet burger moment, visit the Parker Meridian Hotel on 57th Street. There is no sign in the hotel for the restaurant, just a well hidden tiny neon picture of a burger and an arrow discreetly hidden down a narrow passageway. They sell 1,100 burgers per day.

Back to things more local, December 2009 saw the opening of Boogaloo Burger in Lower Abbeygate Street, Galway. The owner, Cathal Dillane, has designed a funky, cosmopolitan style eatery next door to the Yankee Candle Shop. They are serving up some of the best gourmet burgers that I have eaten. The emphasis is on having the best quality ingredients and making sure everything is prepared in-house. There is also a big emphasis on giving the customer lots of choice. You can choose the bread type: large bun, wrap, or naan; and you can choose the main ingredient: 8oz beef burger, whole chicken breast, or 8oz lamb burger. They make their own tomato sauce (really excellent ), their own salsa, tapenade, pesto, dressings, and all the various dips. Everything is as authentic as possible and an example would be the Caesar salad — Romaine lettuce, homemade anchovy dressing, freshly made croutons, and shavings of parmesan cheese. It is the attention to detail like this that can create great food.

The burgers are 8oz of round beef specially selected and supplied by Collerans. The buns are freshly made each day by a French baker and the salad leaves are fresh each day.

The chips are made from that star of potatoes in the chip world, Maris Piper. There is a big range of burger types and they all start off with an 8oz burger, a beef tomato slice, salad leaves, red onion, and the rest is up to you. Prices start at €7.95 for the classic burger and up to around the €10 mark for the ones with various extra fillings. During January and February there is a special offer of a burger and beer for €10.

There are great options for vegetarians also, a really great vegetable burger with lots of freshly roasted peppers, which is as much a meal as the meat ones. It is served in naan bread rather than the traditional bun, however I’m sure you can have whichever type of bread you prefer. There are some great salads, all served with home made dressings. Every week will see the addition of specials such as lamb kofta meatballs and a special salad.

The children’s menu offers a 4oz burger, or chicken skewer, a choice of skinny or chunky chips or mash, juice or milk, and ice cream for €6. There is also a big selection of board games to play with, both adult and children’s types. Boogaloo is open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 12 noon to 8pm, and on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 12 noon to 10pm. They are closed on Sundays. Spring and summer will see extended opening times until 11pm every day.

If you are wondering what boogaloo means, it refers to a music style from New York in the late 1960s which was a fusion of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and New York styles. I wish Cathal and all the team success and judging by the samples I tasted the word will soon spread.

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