Friday, 9 November 2012
Thistle Hotel / Brands Hatch
Who are they?
The Thistle Hotel is part of the Thistle brand of hotels that you can find across the country, slotting in somewhere between Holiday Inn and Hilton in terms of quality/price ratio. This particular Thistle is right on the entrance to the racecourse at Brands Hatch and as a result the hotel lobby and diner are decked out with motor sports memorabilia. As for the food, it pretty much covers everything you would expect on a hotel menu, with a choice of salads, fish dishes, steaks, pasta, burgers and the rest.
As my job takes me across the country on external events, I tend to book into different hotels along the way, giving me the chance to sample some burgers out of London on a fairly regular basis and this time gives me a chance to put the Thistle to the test.
Aside from the rather limp looking chicken burger on offer, the Thistle Hotel's sole beef burger offering is an Angus beef burger and the promise of a decent cut of meat paired with bacon and cheese in a slider bun raised my expectations. On delivery, it came with a side salad and a rather cliched faux chip fryer basket with some fries and certainly makes for an appetizing sight. However, as we all know, looks can be deceiving. In an effort to get the food out in a timely manner, despite the fact that barring two other couples we were the only ones in the restaurant, I couldn't shake the feeling that the meal had been rushed.
The thin cut chips were barely cooked, almost as if they had only just had enough time to defrost and warm up; their quality akin to budget catering-grade oven chips. The square slab of cheese, which on closer inspection was possibly jarlsberg, had barely melted upon a piece of bacon that had a similar story to tell. If you have ever had a hotel breakfast, you will know what I mean when I describe the bacon as looking as if it had been sweated under a hot lamp - just enough to just about cook it but leaving the meat rubbery. If the Thistle had been intending to interrogate the bacon into giving up its flavour, I expect that they must have given up quickly.
This inspection then leaves the patty itself; a fairly well cooked, if slightly thin and dry, beef burger that had an average taste and perfectly acceptable for use in a burger but would not hold a candle to other establishments offering premium quality meat (Byron springs to mind, for example). I wonder if the lack of specific flavour other than "minced beef" here is down to a lack of appropriate seasoning or perhaps that the Angus burger itself had been pre-prepared for the hotel by a supplier. I suspect in this case that both of these answers are true.
I suppose the only nice things to say in balance is that the salad was refreshing to have as a side option to counteract the taste of the burger and that the bun was as expected, but all in all, a disappointing experience.
Sadly, it's a pretty sub-par offering in terms of burger. Whilst I appreciate that the Thistle has a captive audience at Brands Hatch (being in the middle of pretty much nowhere) and for the most part the only competition is a mobile hot dog stand, but for me this doesn't mean that they should be lazy with their burger and charge quite so much for it. Poor show.
Where can I find them?
Just the other side of the M25 Eastwards. Car / Taxi recommended.