Traditional advent calendars are for granddads, kids, and nerds.
Im sorry, but its true.
Bored by miniscule slabs of cheap chocolate, or worse: smug two-dimensional pictures taunting me from behind a cardboard window, I decided to make it my Christmas mission to eat 12 burger specials in 12 days in the good, charitable name of peace, love, and spreading the good word of burgers.
Well, that and a 12 day break from having to make meals with my own hands, time, and ingredients.
There were moments of pure euphoria, heightened eyebrows in utter disbelief, and at one point, hovering dangerously close to being sick on the Hammersmith & City line.
So without further ado: these are the 12 burgers of Christmas, rated and reviewed.
Meat Liquor, XXXMas Burger
Free-range Herons farm roast turkey, Herons farm old spot sausage patty, crispy bacon, stuffing crumbles, gravy and Cranberry sauce.
Listen. Ive had enough McMuffins to recognize the worth of a sausage patty. Dip&Flip have built their entire brand on the inclusion of gravy in a burger.
Hence, MeatLiquors XXXMas burger is a surefire success. Its a meaty Venn diagram of successes, and wrapped messily.
A squishy bun is a godly bun, and I find great comfort in knowing that, if needed, I could crumple my bun into the palm of my hand like a late night Post-It note that says learn magic??.
Crisp, ashy bacon crumbles under the tooth and tastes like its been lifted straight off a winter BBQ by angels.
But turkey is too dry! I hear you wail.
Not here. Not between these soft buns, and merely scattered as topping on a deblanketed pig.
Sauce drips like leaked treacle from the sides and suddenly I feel so grateful for the world and the treasures it holds.
FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE.
The XXXMAS burger is £9.50 and on offer until 7 January.
Hanks, Christmas Cracker burger
Buttermilk fried chicken, house Cajun spice, shredded lettuce, pickled onions, Applewood smoked cheese, crispy bacon, and cranberry mayo.
American-influenced Hanks (named after the single humble food truck theyve upscaled from) dont give a f**k about your mums Christmas dinner.
Buttermilk chicken, bacon and lettuce? On Santas special day? Leave it out.
In truth, its only the garish cranberry mayo sauce that excuses this special from being a run-of-the-mill, year-round staple.
Theres a fine-tuned balance between soft and crispy at play here, I can appreciate that.
Is this burger delicious? Without question.
Its even worth the trip to Deptford.
But it instills no festive cheer in my heart.
Its a great chicken burger with a Santa hat on, but it is not a Christmas burger.
Thank u, next.
Hanks Christmas Cracker burger is £8.50 and will be on the menu until 29 December.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Holy Smoke
6oz Douglas Fir smoked beef patty, crumbed and fried Camembert, truffle mayo, onion jam, baby spinach, in a sesame seed bun.
This burger is smoked with real Christmas trees, but you wouldnt taste it.
Its a lovely idea to get behind, but I guess you just have to believe.
Camembert explodes to the touch and clings to the face like your least favourite aunt.
The whole package is pleasant enough, albeit a weaponised attack on anyone with a moustache.
But its somewhat safe. Slippers for your da safe.
Cosy when you need it, but not for Instagram. Not even Stories.
GBK have a whole back catalogue of specials to their name, so Id hoped theyd push the boat out further with this years offering.
Now watch them smash it for every other holiday in 2019.
The Holy Smoke is £8.95 or £12.95 with fries and a drink. Itll be on the menu until 8 January.
Vurger, Crackin Christmas vurger
A crunchy stuffing patty with leek, chestnut, cranberry and apricot spices coated in a crispy crumb. Cranberry maple syrup cabbage, rocket, and crispy fried parsnip tails on top.
This vegan burger contests with the best of em.
Show me someone who says that turkey is the best part of a Christmas dinner and Ill show you a liar.
Roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings reign supreme on the plate, and only a pig in a blanket comes anywhere close to challenging.
Yet in the absence of meat, everything else still has to be elevated. Spices and textures are used here that would otherwise be completely overshadowed by a thick, uniform patty.
Even I know that buying non-meat burgers can sometimes feel uninspired. This vurger automatically gets eccentricity points for not being a ginormous Portobello mushroom in a brioche sandwich.
It is a stodgy boi, however.
Devoid of gravy, it needs an injection of sauce to finish the job.
Vurgers Crackin Christmas burger costs £9.95 and will be available until 25 December.
All Star Lanes, Christmas Dinner burger
Southern fried turkey, sage and onion sausage patty, lettuce, baconnaise, red onion and cranberry relish, a pig in a blanket, and chicken crackling on the side.
This burger is stacked. Seriously, its an absolute heffer.
The burger equivalent of a house of cards waiting to fall down, thankfully it has the benefit of being tasty.
Southern fried turkey is KFC in tinsel.
Chicken crackling is what I imagine Gary Lineker actually eats instead of Walkers. It is truly a revelation.
It still feels odd to eat a burger of such quality next to bowling lanes and the towering treasure trove of sweaty trainers.
But the next time youre on a meat mission, spare a thought for All Star Lanes.
THREE AND A HALF STARS.
The Christmas Dinner Burger is £14 at Stratford and £16 at White City, Holborn, and Brick Lane, with £1 from each burger going to Centrepoint. Itll be on the menu until 1 January.
Honest, The Christmas Special
Honest beef, smoked bacon, deep-fried Camembert, cranberry sauce, and rocket.
No novelty gifts here. Just practical.
A designer pair of socks. A well-reviewed tool kit. The Christmas burger.
When the basics are done this well, my word is this burger essential.
THREE AND A HALF STARS.
The Christmas Special costs £12.50 and comes with a portion of rosemary salted chips.
Hawksmoor, Christmas burger
Two burgers (one turkey and one pork patty) with crispy bacon, sprout tops, spiced cranberry ketchup and a slice of Ogleshield. Plus, turkey gravy for dipping.
People have ridiculed me. Yelled in my face. Mustard isnt Christmas – yet here it is, perfectly nestled in the original Christmas special.
Every constituent ingredient is multi-faceted and flavoursome.
Its with deep regret that this masterpiece needs deconstructing, although this does afford you the opportunity to drizzle turkey gravy over the top and let things soak.
The result? Preferable to the Big Day.
Yes, a sacred meal with your nearest and dearest is special. But Hawksmoors breaded turkey is art.
When I die, I dont want to be buried or cremated. I want to be breaded by Hawksmoor.
Bread me, Daddy.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS.
Hawksmoors Christmas Burger costs £14 on its own or £18 with chips or salad. Its available at Spitalfields Bar until 24 December.
Shake Shack, Xmas Shack
Crispy chicken breast topped with gruyere cheese, pickled shallots, sliced kale, cranberry bacon chutney and gravy mayo.
Another chicken burger in Christmas clothing, but not up early enough to fool me.
Yet again, as a chicken burger, I cannot knock the quality. Give this to me after a night out and you may well have saved my life.
But for Christmas? I want to be surprised.
This is what I expected, but not what I wanted.
The Xmas Shack burger is £8.50 and is on the menu until 1 January.
Byron, Holy Cheesemas
Beef patty, American cheese, smoked cheese, cheese crisp, pickled red onions, lettuce, spicy garlic mayo, onion ring, scoop of bacon macaroni cheese. Upgrade with an extra bowl of molten cheese sauce – a mix of Byron cheese, Cheddar and Emmental – to the table for dunking for an extra £1
Byron have been rolling this guy out for around seven years now.
What started as a Christmas special has quickly evolved into its own sovereign tradition.
I mean, an onion ring?
Chris Reas just grabbed the car keys and called it a day.
Now I bloody love a cheeseboard on Christmas. Even more so than dessert.
But attempting to eat it, swimming in custard-yellow cheese sauce, felt more like a forfeit on Get Your Own Back.
Just because something doesnt fit my Christmas, doesnt mean its not Christmassy.
Just look at Christmas stockings, or Mass.
Let Byron, be Byron.
The Holy Cheesemas burger costs £14.95, and the same goes for the Veggie Cheesemas. Theyre both on the menu until 2 January 2019.
Lucky Chip, Chevy Chase burger
Longhorn beef patty, pigs in blankets, aged cheddar, honey mustard dressing and mayo.
The fact that Lucky Chip can serve me one of the God Tier burgers, with a pint, IN A PUB, means I am forever indebted to them.
Ive never known beef to fall apart so easily, to softly melt like butter.
Stick a pig in blanket on it and well, its still not exactly Christmas.
But frankly, when it tastes like this, I dont care.
Lucky Chip is doing four different Christmas burgers this year – the Rudolph, the Gizmo, the Bad Santa, and the Chevy Chase. Theyre each £10.95, apart from the Gizmo, which is £9.95. Theyre on the menu until the end of December.
Blues Kitchen, Bun Humbug burger
Buttermilk turkey, stuffing, Brie, cranberry, topped with two pigs in blankets, and resting on Brussels sprouts.
How can something so inoffensive, so entertaining when youre there in the moment, be so forgettable mere moments afterwards?
Did you watch Elf this Christmas? Muppets Christmas Carol? Its A Wonderful Life?
Well, remember The Family Stone? Sarah Jessica Parker? Diane Keaton? Clare Danes?
This burger is The Family Stone.
Editors note: The Family Stone is an underrated Christmas classic and I do not approve of any bashing of it
The Bun Humbug costs £14.50 and will be on the menu until 27 December.
Absurd Bird + Deliveroo, Sproutmas Burger
Pan-fried Cajun sprouts, bacon, chicken dusted with a secret sprout spice crust, a green cheese sauce, sweet potato and watercress.
Thats it, Christmas is cancelled.
The Grinch has finally stolen Christmas.
Disclaimer: Im not terribly fond of sprouts. In fact, I think theyre utter scum.
But know that I was so emotionally ready to be converted by the Bird.
Cant hate sprouts if theyre Cajun-spiced or a mere dust on chicken, can ya?
I can. And I did.
Even Byron are laughing behind hushed hands on the playground.
Green cheese sauce? Not even we would come up with something so despicable.
Youre a mean one, Mr Grinch.
ONE AND A HALF STARS.
The Sproutsmas burger is available only through Deliveroo in London, Glasgow, Bath, Exeter, and Leeds. Orders can be placed online or through the app between 5pm and 10pm each day over the festive period. Its priced at £9.95.