Ready, steady … crook?
Well, actually – no.
Chef Darren Simpson, who we know of only from the odd time we used to watch Ready Steady Cook, has come in for a good deal of sometimes venomous stick for taking the KFC dosh and having his name and image affixed to the chain’s line of supposedly deluxe burgers.
Like just about everyone else, we sniggered.
Good luck to him, though.
Truth is, if I was in the same position as he or fellow foodie celebs such as Maeve O’Meara or Curtis Stone, I’d probably be doing exactly the same. Kids to put through school and hay to be made while the sun shines and all that.
As the barbs flew amid talk that Simpson had comprehensively trashed whatever reputation he had, he was moved to comment: “I’m not sure how many of these critics have actually tried my burgers, but I think they should do that before passing judgment.”
Well, now we have – and our judgment is … nowhere near as bad as we expected.
As we pull into the local Barkly St KFC outlet, Bennie is gobsmacked more than surprised or delighted.
We’ve talked about it for weeks, so he can’t quite believe his dad is really going to do this.
We order one apiece of the two burgers to share – smoked bacon and parmesan, and sweet BBQ and carelmised onion.
My expectations are below zero.
I warn Bennie that if this goes as badly as I expect, we’ll out of there pronto and up the road for a dosa.
I expect this food to be so awful as to be beyond redemption. And certainly I expect it to look nothing like the images conveyed by TV trickery.
The latter is certainly true.
These are diminutive sandwiches.
Nor does the chicken bulge out from under the “warm sourdough buns” as strongly suggested in the advertising. Big surprise, eh?
But the buns ARE superior to the normal unbread served by the major chains.
The other lauded protagonists – parmesan, real carmelised onion, BBQ sauce, chilli sauce, bacon – are in as short supply as is the chicken.
And the bacon is under-cooked.
There are only a few tantalising moments as that trademark KFC chicken flavour merges with the rest to deliver something approaching flavoursome.
Worse, as we drive away we agree that we struggled to tell the difference between the two – something confirmed when we get home and I can’t tell one from the other when I upload the photos.
Still, our burgers are edible in a way that I truly didn’t expect.
Far from memorable in either a good or a bad way – and that, indeed, does exceed my expectations.
At $6.95 each, though, we can’t help but compare them very unfavourably with the similarly priced and truly memorable sandwiches we experienced recently at La Morentia.