Review: The Fiesta Burger – Wahlburger

Sad, sad burger

A recent entrant into London’s burger scene, the American chain Wahlburgers capitalises on the name of its famous co-owner, the celebrity Mark Wahlberg. Founded in 2011 by brothers Paul, Mark, and Donnie, the chain uses the motto “Our family, Our story, Our burgers”.

The Covent Garden location opened on the 20th of May 2019.

We visited on the 19th of July 2019 for lunch.

The Burger

The Fiesta Burger

I ordered the Fiesta Burger, described as a “1/2lb Burger, dusted with housemade southwestern spice rub, fresh jalapeños, lettuce, pepperjack cheese, homemade salsa, chipotle mayo & pickles“, all for £12.50.

The burger was well constructed, with the contents and bun well balanced and only a hint of lettuce spilling out of the side. Inside, the toppings were neatly arranged, almost with a little too much precision. The patty was more or less the same size as the bun, unsurprising given its moulded nature.

In terms of appearance, I was unimpressed. It looked tired and uninviting, the bun was flat, the cheese was the colour of Donald Trump’s hair, and it had a lollipop stick coming out of the top. The cheese had a greasy, glossy finish to it, flecked with bits of what I assume were peppers. Some cheeses look amazing melted, but this pepperjack looked horrible.

It was served with a wooden lollipop stick to hold it all together, which was completely unnecessary.

The Patty

yuck

Wahlburgers meat is described as simply “fresh Scottish beef” and is a blend of chuck, brisket and short rib, ratios unknown.

This patty was the most condensed, dry, flavourless patty I think I have ever had. It’s worse than even the cheapest Weatherspoon’s patty, for at least they have some texture, even if it is gristle. It entirely lacked both texture and flavour. It had clearly been moulded – evidently with considerable force – and resembled a hockey puck. It was almost like eating processed meat. It was spongy, rubbery, uniform, and dry. I struggled to tear off a chunk for closer inspection. The meat was ground so finely as to congeal together, and I was left wondering if they salted the meat before grinding to give it such a rubbery, awful texture.

I asked for mine cooked medium, and to their credit it was pinkish inside. However due to the compression applied it had formed into a mass that looked as much like a pork chop than a burger patty. If this had been decent beef, it wasn’t any more.

At least it was well seasoned.

The Bun

The bun was, well, odd. It was very springy to the touch, dense, and fairly heavy. It had quite a sweet flavour to it, but the texture stood out as being… unique. The nearest comparison I can make is like a sweetened potato bun. Appearance-wise, it looked limp and uninviting, slightly squashed, and a bit greasy – not in a good way.

My bun had no char, which I took to be deliberate on the part of Wahlburger, as other diners buns did. It held together well, unsurprising given the total absence of juices from the patty, and both the sweetness and unique texture were not off-putting, but they brought little to the burger aside from a slight doughyness.

Toppings & Condiments

Underneath the meat

On the bottom bun was a thin spread of chipotle mayo – not enough to wet the lettuce, but just enough to impart a subtle smokiness on the palate. Next up, the lettuce was a mixed-leaf affair, medium sliced. It appeared to have some kind of dressing on it, very much giving one the impression of the little salad that comes alongside cheap pub food.

The “salsa” was little more than a few bits of chopped tomato and contributed little. The pickles were quite standard, straight-cut and medium thickness.

The patty was “dusted” with a “southwestern spice rub”, and while leaving aside questions of whether it can technically be called a rub if it’s used for dusting, I have to say that it was quite nice, adding a warm, gentle spicyness.

The top

The cheese was a greasy disappointment. As I’ve said many times before, you can’t just throw any old cheese on a burger – it has to melt well. This cheese did not melt well, containing far too much fat, and it completely separated leaving puddles of grease. It did add a nice spicyness to the experience.

On top of the cheese were a measly three thin slices of jalapeno, and a touch more chioptle mayo.

Overall I was happy with the lamination (our term for the order and layout of the ingredients).

Summary

This was less Wahlburger, more maul-burger. While this had all the essential ingredients of a decent burger – the meat, quality ingredients, the inspired menu – it was simply a botched job. The patty was awful, it looked crap, and it was horribly overpriced. The toppings and condiments were passable, but when the patty is that bad, what’s the point?

I had been expecting more, as Wahlburger has been one of the more hyped burger joint openings in London of late, and its association with Mark Wahlberg I foolishly took to suggest a mark of quality. Instead, I was left wondering why someone would want to have their name anywhere near that burger.

While the name “Fiesta Burger” conjures up imagery of parties, of sunshine, of happiness.  This burger was sad, limp, and depressing. Save your money and go to Weatherspoons.

Score

  • Patty – 1
  • Bun – 2
  • Construction – 2
  • Lamination – 3
  • Toppings & Condiments – 3
  • Total: 2.2 / 5

Afterword

It’s been a standing rule of The Burger Report since inception to only review a burger based on the food, and to exclude the service, sides, drinks, location, and so on from our reviews. We continue to stand by this rule, believing it to be a core value of our journalistic mission to bring you the bottom line in burgers.

However, we’d like to add a note to this review – skip the Smoked Bacon Mac’n Cheese at Wahlburger. It’s fucking dire.

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