The Donut Burger – The Smoke Haus (Cardiff)

So four of us us decided to try out a burger in The Smoke Haus which you’ll find by John Lewis (used to be Hooters). It seems like a nice place, it had a bit of a chain feel although as far as I know there’s only two of them, lots of stereotypical American photos and Memorabilia on the walls and NFL on the TVs dotted around the place. We were given a booth which was snug but comfortable, it was just a shame we couldn’t see a tv because the place would make a good sports bar.

We all started reading the menu on arrival, it was quite a big menu with four or five pages ranging from sharing platters to BBQ and ribs but for me it was time to take a trip to burger town USA. There’s a range of burgers on offer all American themed, some with brisket, some with pulled pork, some spicy options but I fancied something a bit different.

I should set the scene a little in that all four of us drank quite a lot of beer out of some very big glasses the night before. I can’t speak for my friends but I was definitely looking for something to appease the hangover God’s and a burger seemed like the natural choice.

I was in fact going through that part of the hangover when you fancy eating something big and bad for you, so the option to double up was Automatically ticked in my mind. I was also craving something sweet and my Pepsi wasn’t gonna cut it so I decided on the Donut Burger.

Now I should let you know that this wasn’t my first holey experience (yes I made that joke, live with it). I was lucky enough to have a similar burger in The Urban Tap House (it’s on the list to review) and that burger made love to my tongue in ways I didn’t know were possible. So I was thinking if The Smoke Haus have it on the menu then they must get how the Donut Burger combo can work so well.

IMG_0916 IMG_0913 So the food arrives and as you can see it looks pretty good, the description on the menu said;

“A Haus cheeseburger topped with grilled smoked streaky bacon, sweet sauce then placed between two sweet glazed donuts”

You can see each part of the description in the presentation. The burger came with fries which I upgraded to sweet potato (sweets for my sweet) and a small somewhat pointless bowl of coleslaw which didn’t go with the burger and wasn’t runny enough to dip in. I guess it’s a cheaper side salad but it seemed pointless.

All of our food arrived on trays lined with Greece paper. I’m not sure I liked the idea, cutting through the burger left me feeling like I was making a mess and a few times I went through the paper and had to check I wasn’t gonna eat it. I think if the burger is so big and sticky that you can’t pick it up then you should provide a plate. Buy hey I’m sure some people find it a novelty.

To give you an idea of the burger itself I’ll break it down:

The meat

Well the burger certainly wasn’t lacking meat, I ordered the double burger and both Burgers were cooked through (no choice to order medium or well etc even though it’s steak mince). I think the menu said they were 100% beef and I can say it felt like it. The meat itself was finely ground, I’m guessing by machine which ultimately made the burger have very little texture apart from the grilled outer shell. I think it’s great they use prime Welsh beef but if you process it industrially it feels like a mass produced product. Time is love on cooking and sometimes saving time cuts the love you feel and I think that happened here.

IMG_0924 The meat itself tasted ok, it wasn’t very juicy but it also wasn’t dry either, it had a very lean taste, if I had to guess I’d say there wasn’t much fat content and definitely a lot of protein. It certainly felt that way when I’d finished, the burger sat in my stomach and weighed me down, ultimately the double seemed too much as the 8oz Burgers were so dense and thick that each bite seemed like my stomach was getting a weights work out. Sadly I don’t think even Mr Motivator would have helped me finish it all. I’ve had this feeling before with GBK Burgers let me know if you get what I mean, we’ll no doubt review them too.

The toppings

The burger came with some bacon which seemed nice, I think if it was crunchy it might have added some much needed texture to the burger but it was tasty none the less. The burgers also came covered in cheese, I’m not sure what cheese as the taste was pretty mild, at one point all the cheese slid off my burger so it wasn’t very gooey or anything. I think it probably added to the taste of the meat and slightly broke up that flavour but not enough to make a difference to the burger overall.

Now for my main gripe with this burger, the somewhat underwhelming donut. 2 ringed donuts with a nondescript sweet sauce on top. The problem I have is that if you’re going to use a sweet ingredient like a donut then it needs to speak to the burger somehow. What I had was a Donut from a box with Burgers and bacon. It felt like a weird American breakfast from McDonald’s and not one cohesive burger. I think it comes down to the fact that they didn’t do anything to the donut. My first donut burger experience gave me that “this is so wrong it’s right” feeling, you know that feeling that killed Elvis, it’s the feeling that usually ends in you sat alone, sticky and happy yet slightly ashamed. That donut burger worked so well because they had taken the time to caramelise the sugar in and on the Donut, as well as do the same for the burger and toppings. What you got was a sweet sticky smokey mound of uncuisness that oozed sweet and savoury in all the right places, but alas in smoke Haus I had a lump of meat with a Donut on it. IMG_0917 Rating 3/5 – better than some chain restaurant Burgers, but ultimately lacking in the effort to make the burger anything above average. Ultimately there’s better Donut Burgers elsewhere if you know where to find them.  You’ll also be full for the next year or two if you get the double, if you try it be prepared to care for an uncomfortable food baby until it’s ready to go university.

About Notorious BBQ Lloyd

Welsh BBQ obsessive and founder of Notorious BBQ, on a journey to bring people amazing smoked meats! also a big geek, rugby fan and superburgerbro

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