Where?: Wig and Pen, Oxford
What?: The Ultimate Surf, Turf and Cluck Burger
How much?: 9.99
As a visitor to Oxford, I quickly realise a few things.
1. There are a lot of Chinese tourists all snapping away and fulfilling the 1970's Viz stereotype of Chinese tourists.
2. Oxford is not as expensive as you think. You can pick up some really good food for not much, like you can in any large university town if you know where to look.
3. The architecture in Oxford is as beautiful as you might imagine.
Lets concentrate on the second point here. You can eat well for not much in Oxford if you know where to go. You can have a damn fine breakfast from The Oxford Cafe for 5.95, so long as you're willing to share personal space with strangers and be partial to conversations about cats and how they poo in particular places.
And we found ourselves marching up and down Broad St eyeing up some really nice places in our hunt for some food. We nearly hit The Grapes, a Bath Ales owned pub with some lovely ales on draught but were put off by the apathetic service and the overactive air conditioning.
So we braved the noisey and chaotic climate of The Greene King owned pub The Wig and Pen next door.
Despite there being a Gourmet Burger Kitchen just down the road, I was unable to persuade my marital unit that this was something we should consider, so I comprimised and decided to have a burger here instead.
Like Wetherspoons, they do ale, a large menu and the usual 'order at the bar with your table number thing'. However, unlike Wetherspoons they have music playing so conversation became a little hard without shouting a lot.
Ignoring the rest of the exhaustive and mostly average menu the one thing that I spied was The Ultimate Surf, Turf and Cluck Burger. For 9.99 you could have the behemoth on the menu with every sort of meat imaginable.
Beef burger (size and meat unknown), Southern Fried Chicken, Bacon, Cheese, Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce and Scampi. Combined in to a massive burger which makes you truly believe you're getting your money's worth.
I decided to do their 'Burger, Fries and Drink' offer and upgrade that offer up to the Surf, Turf and Cluck burger for an extra 2.50. Unfortunately they don't let you choose any real ales with this, which is frankly baffling given Wetherspoons are able to do this with their similar offer?
So after the usual awkward 'shout and order' given the music volume was rising on a timer somewhere in the backroom every 20 minutes, we waited about 10 minutes for someone to put things in microwaves, or whatever they do, and boom. It appeared.
No one really knows where the meat comes from, the cheese seems to be a generic cheese that you can create at home with bacon fat and an airfix model and the bacon is...well bacon and the Coleslaw is mass catering's finest. But I felt that whatever they were trying to achieve, a hole filled and a photo taken in my case, was achieved and although it was a little average on the whole this is something I would definitely have again. The combination worked (although the justification for calling it 'Surf' comes from the two solitary bits of scampi skewered mercilessly to the top) and the chicken, well I was impressed with this as it wasn't dry and was cooked very well. The beef itself was kind of generic and cooked to 'inch of life' but it was pleasant.
Good one Greene King...