There are burgers… and there are burgers that have been assembled by a classically trained chef with a passion for perfection.
It’s the difference between chalk and cheeseburger.
Swindon’s newly opened Pick Up Point at the Hop Inn in Old Town takes the concept of pub grub, grabs it by the scruff of the neck and dropkicks it into the middle of next week.
“I wouldn’t call The Pick Up Point gourmet food,” admits chef Josh West.
“It’s just that most other burger places are a bit s***.
“I don’t care if that ruffles a few feathers, I set my standards high. Come and give The Pick Up Point a try and you will find out how it should be done.”
Chef Josh West, is firing on all cylinders as he works the kitchen, whipping up a Honey Buffalo Ranch burger in a blizzard of flying flour and sizzling fat.
As we both stand back to admire the finished product, a fried chicken thigh, dripping with glossy smoked honey buffalo sauce, crunchy slaw, herb ranch and house dill pickles, it’s clear that we are looking at something far removed from many other ‘fast food’ standards.
And the taste is like a big savoury slap around the chops – crunchy fried chicken packed with intense flavour – stretching the definition of burger to the limit.
Josh concedes: “There is something about McDonald’s – not so much Burger King (he pulls a face) – that they do right, and that’s the sauce. If you can recreate that then it’s going to taste OK.
“But I believe that if you can create something that has been obsessed about, that uses the best ingredients from trusted suppliers, and put it together with skill, you are going to end up with something pretty special.”
Josh cut his teeth in the classical French tradition – spending a year in France to hone his art, before spending many years working in the kitchens of hotels and restaurants in London and the Cotswolds.
“It’s a pretty good training ground – having to cut herbs to the millimetre and do everything to perfection – with the threat of something being chucked at you if you get it wrong! It’s a great discipline.
“But my real passion is Asian cuisine which has developed over the years. I’ve always thought it would work brilliantly in a pub and now I’ve got the chance to make that happen. You have that wonderful apothecary of ingredients that have such big flavours – there’s not a great deal of subtlety but it works really well with a pint of beer.
“It’s been an amazing start and Jason and Ben, who run The Hop, have been brilliant.
“They’ve given me complete freedom to create The Pick Up Point and that has made all the difference.”
The menu, as it stands, comprises a tight and carefully considered menu of four burgers, two wings and cauliflower bites.
And there are plans in place to expand the menu as the business develops.
To try Pick Up Point food, visit The Hop at 8 Devizes Road, Old Town.
Follow on Instagram @Thepickuppoint