2015 Best Burger Search: The Old House
Restaurant: Old House Pub & Kitchen
Address: 214-216 Wellingborough Road, Northampton, NN1 4EE
Chosen burger: OH Signature Burger
Consists of: Venison burger with black treacle smoked bacon, chilli bacon jam, toasted brioche bun with salad
Price: £11.95 (with hand cut chips)
As our gentlemanly journey continues in search for Northampton’s finest burgers, we revisited one of 2014’s stronger performers. With a new head chef and a new menu, we decided to visit the Old House. Located in the heart of the bustling Wellingborough Road, the Old House is one of Northampton’s most popular bars and restaurants. The gastropub and head chef James Peck constantly strives to push culinary boundaries, injecting contemporary flair into traditional dishes – to read an in-depth review of the bar, read our ‘Old House review’.
After a scan of the Old House’s menu, the OH Signature venison burger with black treacle smoked bacon very quickly grabbed our hearts and minds. We were interested to find out if the head chef James was able to put us out of our burger misery and deliver Northampton’s first five 5 burger.
OH Signature Burger
As is tradition with a burger review, we have to start with the most important element; the meat. The ambitious young chef at the Old House employs a somewhat unique technique, cooking his patties sous-vide. This is a method of cooking which involves sealing food in airtight bags and placing it into a temperature controlled water bath to cook. Having never tried a burger cooked sous-vide before, we were excited and slightly apprehensive in equal mention. We were worried that being leaner than beef, the venison could be slightly tougher whereas cooking the burger in a water bath would
fail to deliver the deep, meaty flavours we would need from the venison patty. In the end, our apprehension was completely unwarranted. The patty was soft, moist and succulent in the middle whilst the outer layer was wonderfully brown and crispy with barely had an ounce of grease. Venison was a
wise choice by the gastropub, with the meat being naturally more gamey and intense in flavour than beef; making it an ideal choice for sous-vide. The venison retained its rich, meaty taste and was enhanced with well balanced seasoning.
The fresh salad was a welcome addition, with the juicy tomato complementing the tender meat and the red onions & gherkins adding a necessary crunch to the proceedings. The chilli and bacon jam brought a moderate injection of sweetness but the flavours were more subtle than we expected. Combined with the sweet and salty qualities of the well cooked black treacle bacon however, the jam and bacon made ideal bed partners for the rich meat.
If anything let the burger down, it was the toasted brioche bun which had unfortunately fallen on the wrong side of toasted. It impaired the fluffy and slightly sweet nature of the inside of the bun and was too crispy. The hand-cut chips with the skins left on however, were a triumph; cooked to perfection and deliciously moreish.
The Old House Signature Burger showed a clear understanding of crafting a balanced burger; with each ingredient being wisely chosen to work well with one another. The real star of the show was the juicy and tender venison which managed to achieve that all allusive ambition of a soft, juicy middle and brown, perfectly seared exterior. The common pitfalls of overcooking the outside was avoided thanks to the water-bath, with each bite oozing flavour without being greasy. The fact that venison is slightly leaner left us feeling healthy afterwards as well – well kind of; we are not that delusional. The only simple slip up was the over-tasted bun… but as they say, ‘the devil is in the detail’ – or is it ‘God is in the detail’? Regardless, the details matter a great deal when it comes to that all important five stars.
The OH Signature burger certainly left a mark and receives a well deserved four stars. Far beyond average but just failing to reach the level of burger greatness, the Old House has again managed to produce a burger that left us satiated without the usually unavoidable burger guilt that follows such a culinary experience.