There is something quintessentially British about hamburger vans.
Where else would you find yourself in a shady field, by the side of the road, or in a parking lot for fatty, smelly, fried meat in bread?
Years ago on family outings around Maidstone I chased my dad for a hot dog or sausage sandwich in any burger van we saw, even though I wasn’t hungry. . It is the experience of “eating out”.
That’s why Sophie’s snack bar was where I headed on a hot holiday morning.
Sandwiched between Lockmeadow and McDonald’s in Maidstone, it sits in the center of the B&Q parking lot, meaning I could kill two birds with one stone and grab some duct tape before ordering.
I swung to the busy parking lot just after 10am and looked for the safest place to stand between a group of four, while still maintaining social distancing.
A stone’s throw from the Gourmet Griddle, which was reviewed by another bespectacled Maidstonite, there are plenty of other dining options nearby, but nothing stood in my way.
“A box of breakfast and a stick of sausage and bacon please,” I asked the woman who looked like she was about to collapse in the heat.
I quickly understood why she looked so hot as I was standing in my mid-twenties, something hot. With the sun scorching over me, it was hard to tell if it was the bacon sizzling on the grill or my pale complexion taking a beating from the UV rays.
Waiting 13 minutes in the sun with no place to hide wasn’t the most enjoyable, but looking back, sitting in my car with the air conditioning on was always an option.
But if I had done that, I would have missed the comical conversations between the two workers begging one of their regulars to buy cigarettes at the store, or watching a fallen coke can explode and soak anyone within a radius of two. God for social distancing).
Almost 15 minutes after ordering and seeing my skin turn from pale eggshell white to salmon pink, it was time to jump in the engine and come home.
Back home in the cool inside, I first opened the breakfast box and encountered two fried eggs, two pieces of bacon, two hash browns, a sausage, tomatoes, beans and two slices of bread and butter. There was the option for mushrooms but I, like any sane person, can’t stand them.
The food was better than expected with the sausage and bacon cooked to perfection, the beans heavy and hot but not too hot.
My only criticism would be for the eggs which were quite chewy, a bit crispy around the edges with both almost transparent.
It also looked a bit bigger than it was and it took just under 5 minutes to push it into my esophagus. I was glad I had the extra breakfast stick, which looked like half a baguette.
This is where things got serious and an undying appreciation for burger vans grows stronger.
A giant French baguette stuffed on the verge of exploding with two-foot-long, well-done, but not overcooked sausages, bacon and red sauce is what every meat-eater dreams of.
Still warm from coming home and a short time to finish the breakfast box, the breakfast stick took me back to my young careless days where the worst thing in the world was being denied no matter what. it was the hamburger van by a grumpy dad.
It was so good that as I write this on Tuesday, the first day of my “diet”, I am already considering firing him. In a world full of McDonald’s, KFC, Nando’s, and Five Guys, I would always go for a big breakfast sandwich in the local burger van.
Notes out of five
Food: sensational. Cooked to perfection other than a ladle egg made me want to come back ASAP. *****
Drink: Drink offered with the breakfast box. No Oasis fridge and drinks were broken, so slightly warm Fanta Zero was the underwhelming option. **
Decor: What better place to spend your weekend than the B&Q parking lot? Yes. But the weather was fine. **
Staff: chatty, funny and helpful with recommendations. Drenched some customers with a wild Coke though. ****
Price: £ 10 for the breakfast box and a foot-long sausage and bacon stick. Definitely worth it for the quality of the food. *****
For more news on major brands and the best places to enjoy a tasty bite, go to our Eat, Drink, Buy section.
To read the reviews of the Secret Drinker pub, click here.
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