Thursday, December 22, 2011

Burger joint of the week: Hibernia Irish Tavern

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 8:45 AM

CHOLESTEROL:  Thy name is Build Your Own Hibernia Burger.
  • Kat Robinson
  • CHOLESTEROL: Thy name is Build Your Own Hibernia Burger.
You don’t usually go to an Irish pub for a burger. You’d expect more to dine on bangers and mash or fish and chips, right? Well, the burger at Hibernia Irish Tavern is a great smashburger that checks all the boxes.

I have to admit, I was surprised on my last visit to see how the menu has shrank. Gone is the mondo bargain appetizer platter, gone too is the crème Brule cheesecake. The menu has been cored down to a sleek two sided page of pub fare… and that includes the Build Your Own Burger.

For $8.99 ($9.99 for a turkey patty) you get a slice of Swiss or American cheese plus your choice of four toppings. The choices are mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, egg, bacon and onion. It’s served up with fries.

So yeah… I decided to go for it and had the lettuce, tomato, mushroom and egg on my burger. I’ve had other fried egg burgers and they range from good to… well, disgusting. I had hopes this would be a good one.

My burger came out a few minutes later with a pile of just-out-of-the-fryer hot golden fries. I realized I’d made an error and hadn’t passed along what sort of cheese I wanted — there was none on this burger. Instead it was served up open faced on a toasted sesame seed bun with lettuce and a big hunk of tomato on one side and the rest of the ingredients on the other.

The smashed charred edge patty was topped with sautéed button mushrooms and a whole over-medium fried egg. This at first seemed a little unappetizing, but then the scent of it struck me. It was a nice, strong and peppery scent, and I wanted to eat this thing.

The meat…. oh my. After consuming a host of lightly seasoned burgers over the past few months, this burger was a revealation. It was savory and a little salty, with a lot of Worchestershire flavor to it. I suspect that the seasoning, which is slightly different than any other seasoning I have encountered in Arkansas, may come from a bottle of HP Brown Sauce. It had gravy-ish notes in addition to the twang I expect from a Worchestershire-type burger. It was also lightly peppery, and that flavor was throughout the patty.

The mushrooms added a nice firmness to the burger, savory as if they’d been sautéed in the same sauce, substantial. And the egg? I think I was a bit relieved it was over medium rather than over easy. The yolk was just liquid enough to start to blend with the rest of the burger without being runny. It glued the rest of the burger together.

I was also surprised that no condiments came on the burger, though I was provided with mayonnaise and mustard on the side and ketchup was on the table. I ended up splitting my fries between dunks in the ketchup and in a little malt vinegar — which was actually quite good. The fries were thick planks, yes, pre-cut but very good.

It is an unusual burger, and worthy of the pub fare brand. Best of all, it was nice and juicy and filling. I approve.

You’ll find Hibernia Irish Tavern on Rodney Parham between Treasure Hill and Old Forge Road, in the shopping center with Goodwill and Cupids (and the departed McAlister’s). (501) 246-4340 or check out the website.

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