Finally the day had come - my last Monday unshackled by the horror of work had arrived (I had spent the penultimate Monday gorging rare steak and sticky toffee pudding, washed down with rioja with my Aunt and Uncle at Hawksmoor). Luckily for me it was also Easter Bank Holiday, so everyone else was off work to enjoy it with me.
After a stroll along the beach (making time for an obligatory Mr Whippy) we found ourselves at 7Bone Burger Co., the second branch (the original, in Southampton featured on Russell Norman's Restaurant Man, no less) of a kind of Pitt Cue/ Meatliquor hybrid with the usual roll call of burgers, ribs and dogs topped with a smattering of cock scratchings - here not an embarrassing itch you pick up after a drunken fumble - that show no sign of falling out of fashion. But could a healthy dose of grease, smoke and booze rouse us from our pitifully hungover state.
The only way to find out was to start with a stiff hair of the dog and after necking a pint of Erdinger in the nearby Mary Shelly (an insalubrious gaff with very cheap beer) to start, I quickly moved on to a pickleback with a Dead Pony chaser. They also serve a range of Kernel and Beavertown beers, Hawaiian Kona and, rather incongruously, Delirium Tremens, the 8.5 percenter from Belgium.
We also drank our way through large swathes of the rest of the menu, including multiple Coronas (no lime), local Boondoggle ale from the nearby Ringwood Brewery, a 24 Unanswered Voicemails cocktail - rum shaken with fresh lime juice, campari & (com)passion fruit - very bitter, but rather nice, and, for the Monkey, the Game Over, a cocktail containing a myriad of different rums and topped with tropical fruit that is so potent it is limited to two per person. He, of course, drank three.
The chilli cheese fries were what I would choose to have fed to me on my death bed. Although I fear too many of the former would expedite the latter. The chips were crisp, the fiery ground beef chilli complemented by the blanket of gooey American cheese sauce, all crowned with a scattering of pickled jalapenos.
The superlatives continued with the rest of the sides. The Wings an’ a Prayer were served buffalo style with a ranch type dip although the liberal dousing in vinegary hot sauce was a little too lip-puckering, even for me (and I have been known to drink neat Sarsons on occasion).
The frickles were the best I've ever eaten, hands down, perfectly crisp and with a carapace of batter that adhered perfectly to the gherkin instead of slipping off in soggy strands.
For the main event I oscillated between a lump of protein from their smoker and a burger. In the end meat in a bun won out and I picked the single Prince Charles is Overrated with aged beef, bacon, cheese, shredded iceberg, pickles and dirty spread.
Phenomenally shiny brioche bun aside, this is a pretty average looking burger from the outside; inside, however, it's a whole 'nother level. The meat was a perfect pink hue, and with just the right balance of grease and smoke and the gooey American cheese oozed seductively across the patty. Retrospectively, the advertised bacon was innocuous in the mix and the salad a bit lacklustre, but why weigh down a good burger with errant green stuff.
The Monkey inhaled his double Shuffle to the Straight Time - a simple beef patty, kansas style fried onions, cheese and american mustard combo - whilst the Ewing enjoyed her more outre Robert Johnston, stuffed with gloriously funky truffled garlic shrooms and truffle mayo.
The Lion picked a menage a trois of little three ounce sliders, the beefy Prince Charles and the Shuffle to the Straight Time alongside the Winner, Winner, a buttermilk fried chicken breast, charred baby gem lettuce, 7bone caesar dressing which possesed - or so the others told me, as I didn't seem to get to try it - impossibly tender chicken that even beat the bucket of California Chicken - alongside five bottles of red wine - we had chowed down on the night before.
For pud I went with the ice cream stuffed doughnut (you can also get a waffle). It feels like sacrilege to say it (I haven't yet found a custard I didn't like, even the NHS version that is pretty much served in slices), but I found the cereal milk custard the ring of fried dough sat atop of kinda strange. Didn't stop me polishing it all off, though.
We also shared a, decent enough, (S)knickers in a Twist shake - peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, caramel sauce and two shots of bourbon - whilst the Ewing, thwarted in her attempt to order the Scrappacino coffee shake as they had 'run out of coffee' made up for things with a gigantic coke float. The sugary taste of childhood. (The sugar content sent me hysterical - TE).
Walking back across the sand, watching the sun go down on a final Monday of freedom and with a belly full of beef and hangover already slowly encroaching, I couldn't have asked for a more fitting send off into the world of 9-5.