Dirty Burger

This is about as far down the hipster road you can go. A bike shed in a car park is a generous description of Dirty Burger. These days though this is classed as an urban burger joint. Something the hipsters get off on. But in its paired back simplicity it manages to ticks all the boxes. Burger joints should all be simple. None of this choice of bun or cheese crap. It’s a burger, get what you’re given and keep your trap shut.

IMG_2333

IMG_2336

All they offer here is three burgers- they’ve begrudgingly had to add a veggie option to keep the herb munchers on board- and alongside it sit a Cheeseburger (£5.50) or the Dirty Bacon (£6.50). With a side of salty crinkled fries (£3.25) and a stubby of beer to wash things down, all while you sit on a communal table in what has the same decor as a bus stop, you will find yourself to be a happy punter. The burger and fries comes in at under a tenner as well, which is what they should cost. The more I think of the B&L £20 burger the more I see it as daylight robbery.

IMG_2335

IMG_2337

The burger itself is a thing of filthy beauty. The right side of messy. The right side of greasy. If you can imagine an upgrade on a Big Mac then this is what you have. And I mean that in the best way possible. With that same mystery yellow sauce and that same artificial sort of flavour of meat juice and gherkin, it’s everything you have ever wanted.  Here you get the added bonus of being served by one of the hip Soho House staff, rather than some spotty goofball on the side of the motorway. So McDonald’s has finally met its match. The Big Mac has found its rival. If ever there was an accolade for a burger joint, or a reason to give it a try, then this surely is it.

 Burger Rating: 9/10

79 Highgate Rd, London NW5 1TL

 

Dirty Burger on Urbanspoon

Advertisements
Standard

Patty & Bun

Today two strange things happened. The first was this sudden jump in the temperature that happens around this time every year, but still manages to shock me. The second was that strolling past Patty & Bun while enjoying this weather, I found that there was only a twenty minute queue! Talk about having a good day. Imagine saying to somebody ten years ago, that in the future you’ll thank you’re lucky stars when a queue for a burger is less than an hour. Well it shows just how far us Londoners are willing to go for a good one. People will even venture into the deep and dangerous south for a taste of Dirty Burger. As much as the trend had died down this year, burger joints still are the go-to place when you need a treat.

IMG_2104

The menu, just like the decor, keeps things simple like all good burger joints should (take a hint Hache). The only difference here being you can also get your chops messy on a chicken or a lamb burger. Not for me thanks. It should only ever be beef. So I stuck with what I know and went for the Smokey Robison (£8.50). God damn this was one beautiful burger to look at. Handsome and dirty at the same time. It looks all dainty and neat, but as soon as your chops clamp down juices are flowing. Kind of like a classy looking lady who turns out to be a real fiend in the sack. The winning combo. IMG_2105

First up you have the brioche bun. This really is what all other buns should aspire to be like. It holds its shape until the last bite. No matter how much sauce you squeeze on there this bun doesn’t disintegrate in your hands. Then there’s the crunchy smoky bacon that gives it a real bite. The patty here is quality, but isn’t quite as good as Honest Burger. I don’t know if they use Ginger Pig meat, but this just didn’t have that same depth of flavour. Still though it was one tasty patty. The only let down came from the caramelised onions, which didn’t do their usual trick of sweetening things up. Maybe there just wasn’t enough of them in there. This was one smoky burger and it needed a hit of sweet to cut through it all. It just came across as being a bit too bold and heavy.

IMG_2107

The side of chips with rosemary salt (£2.50) were all perfectly crunchy, and it was a nice touch having the skins on. But there just needed more of a hit of rosemary. So you’re all in for £11, which is about middle of the range on the burger scale.

Patty & Bun is still one of the best places in London for a burger and now that the hype has died down a little you don’t need to camp up outside the night before to guarantee yourself a seat. They’re expanding as well with a new place set to open over towards Liverpool St. But for me Honest Burger still is the top dog. This isn’t too far behind though.

Overall: 8/10

54 James St, London, Greater London W1U 1EU

 
Patty & Bun on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Standard

Bar Boulud

Last time I was here too many White Cosmopolitans meant that the only thing to remind me of what I’d eaten were the stains on my shirt the next morning. Tonight I arrived in a slightly more sober state, determined to at least get past the starters before the drink got to work. I was immediately struck by the effortless class and charm of the restaurant, something alcohol had dulled my appreciation of last time around. The dining room has been cleverly designed so that it is split into several sections giving it a more intimate feel.

IMG_1961

The previous night I’d eaten at Balthazar, a grand brasserie that has tried incredibly hard to create a certain French mood and feeling. Bar Boulud has perfected this with ease and has the feel of a restaurant that has been running for years. That being said, there is still is something about it though that does make you feel like you are eating in an international chain of hotels, which of course you are given its location in the basement of the Mandarin Oriental. It just feels like a restaurant that is built for wealthy travellers who need somewhere comfortable and familiar to dine in. Everything here has a certain ease and grace to it, and reading between the lines on the menu, it is basically the best room-service menu you could wish for.

To start we shared the Degustation De Charcuterie (£18), which is made up a selection of pâtés, terrines and sliced meats. They were all perfectly enjoyable, but each lacked a distinctive flavour of its own. There was no obvious difference in taste between the Pork Head terrine and the Moroccan spiced one. The sliced Serrano ham again was fine, but wasn’t one I will remember. What will stick with me was the incredibly powerful French mustard, which was a real sinus cleaner and perhaps a little strong for the meats.

IMG_1926

We also shared two of the sausages for £18. The Tunisienne is a spicy lamb merguez served with a mint tabouleh and a couscous and pepper stew. This was a bit of a let down both in its size and taste. There really wasn’t much spice and the couscous was average. The other sausage was the ‘Morteau’, made from smoked-cumin spiced sausage and served on a bed of lentils. Again the size of the portion was a little disappointing, but this one tasted much better, mainly because the lentils had been soaked it a porky jus.

IMG_1927

For main I couldn’t resist the burger. The BB (£20) stood out from its rather long description- a beef patty, foie gras, red wine braised short ribs truffle, frisée horseradish mayonnaise confit tomato and a black onion seed bun. If ever there was a way to make a burger sound a lot more complicated than it actually was. With a side of fries (£5) this is an expensive burger. But it sure as hell was tasty. The patty was packed with flavour and perfectly cooked. A burger connoisseur might complain that the bun didn’t hold its shape, but tonight I was in the mood for something sloppy. There wasn’t enough of the foie gras though, as always seems to be the case in dishes where it makes a cameo appearance. And the horseradish mayo was lost in all that meaty juice. The side of fries were as good as you could wish for, really crispy and you got plenty for that fiver.

IMG_1928

My partner had the Piggie burger(£14), made up of a beef patty, bbq pulled pork, green chili mayonnaise and red cabbage slaw. It tastes as good as it sounds. Again with a side of fries for a fiver it creeps up towards the limit of what I’m willing to pay for a burger, but I’d say this trumps the B&L burger for £20. It’s definitely worth coming back for.

IMG_1960

IMG_1931

With a White Cosmopolitan (£13.25) each to finish things off the bill came to £70 a head, which seemed a lot for some cold meats and a burger. Admittedly we did drink a bottle of the house white each, but what did catch my eye was the £4.10 for each bottle of soda water (we were drinking spritzers). We managed to spend nearly £35 on soda water alone! Overall it isn’t a restaurant I’d go to for the French food, but if I was in Knightsbridge and didn’t want to glam myself up and needed some simple comfort food like a good old burger, then this would be top of my list.

Food: 7.5/10

Service: 7/10

Value: 6.5/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA

Bar Boulud on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Standard

The London Burger Scene

The London burger revolution started a couple of years ago during the recession when people just needed that cheap and fatty friend to help them through the day. Burger restaurants were popping up everywhere, making it suddenly trendy to be eating and talking about burgers. There were burger vans, pop up stalls, and even burger events. It started a new culture, where people suddenly had requirements over how a burger should be cooked and what the bun should be like, they even wanted to know how long the beef had been aged for. We’ve come a long way from the 99p McDonald’s stalwart.

My burger rules are simple: 1) The bun must hold its shape and it should be soft, preferably brioche, and never a crispy ciabatta bun.

2) The patty is the star of the show and the meat should always shine through.

3) It should always feel like a dirty and naughty treat, never a light bite.

Let’s start with the staple- the reliable Byron burger. This is the Volkswagen of burgers. Never let’s you down and is everywhere you look. They’ve basically become the new Starbucks with one on almost every street in Central London.

IMG_1891

Inside they are always trendy with good music and half-hipster staff. The Byron burger (£9.25) is consistently good but with a side of fries (2.95) is at the upper limit of how much a burger should cost. The Oreo milkshake here is unbelievably good, served up in the huge shaker, and easily enough to keep you from moving after the meal. Byron is the ideal place when you just need a quick fix without the queue.

7/10

Then there’s MEATliquor, MEATmission and MEATmarket. These are the one-night stands of the burger world. You love it while it’s happening but you have to promise yourself not to do it again for a while. MEATliquor is the flagship, and it’s a hell-hole of a burger joint. It’s how Satan would design a restaurant, and probably the last place my partner wanted to go after a nice shopping day in Selfridges. With graffiti all over the walls, blasting rock music and the stench of meat in the air, this is about as dark and meaty as the burger world gets. MEATmarket is my least favourite of the three, only because you can’t go there in winter because it gets so bloody cold and because it took me three attempts to find it.

IMG_1898

The Dead Hippie (£8.50) is as good as it gets. Two beef patties, minced onions and Dead Hippie sauce. This really gets the fingers and chops dirty. A side of cheese fries (£4) are absolutely covered in cheese and salt as well. This is what going to a burger joint should be like. Fuck all this California bunless crap they’ve introduced at B&L to appease the waist conscious yummy-mummies.

IMG_1899

9/10

Next up Burger & Lobster. I do love the concept, but the more I think about it, the less it merits that £20 price tag. Yes it’s top notch meat and it’s a big old burger that comes with killer fries and a good little side salad, but this is a hefty note to hand out for a burger. The bun always seems to disintegrate as well. I’d always stick with the lobster here.

IMG_1661

7/10

Honest Burger is my personal favourite. It’s definitely the most chilled of all the burger joints, and it keeps things simple with a few things to choose from that are all great. The Honest Burger (£9.50) is the pick of the bunch. Caramelised onions, a great brioche bun, bacon and a perfectly cooked patty. All of the burgers come with rosemary fries and this pushes it up to the next level.

IMG_1890

IMG_1889

Always go for a pot of the Chipotle mayonnaise (£1), as this stuff laughs in the face of the shite they serve at Grill Shack and Jackson + Rye. A bottle of the Hawaiian Big Wave beer (£4.75) is a great choice to wash things down. My favourite thing about Honest Burger is they let you go elsewhere for a drink and give you a call when the table is free. Something all no-reservations places should do.

9.5/10

Dirty Burger is probably the hottest burger joint in town, and thankfully they’ve opened up in Kentish Town, saving me the trek to the deep south of Vauxhall. The name says everything you need to know. If MEATliquor is the one-night stand then this is the brothel. You go there and get a simple choice, hand over your money and tuck in. The Cheese burger for £5.50 is exceptional value, and is the best of its kind. This is the real in-the-know burger lovers choice.

IMG_1895

IMG_1893

9/10

Five Guys isn’t for me. It just looks like an even shittier version of McDonald’s. It just feels too commercial and there’s not that passion put into it like the other places. Burgers here are churned out just like the constant queue of Covent Garden punters looking for a quick fix. Even the website pisses me off with it’s option to see the nutritional value in the burger. What’s the about? As far as I’m concerned a burger should be a heart stopper, not have anything to do with nutrition. The bun’s just not that good either.

5/10

Shake Shack is another US import and exists within the touristy central arcade in Covent Garden. Maybe it’s because of this that I don’t love the place. It just isn’t cool enough, and again lacks that passion. The burgers are decent value at under a fiver, although you do need to double up to get your fill. The Double SmokeShack (£9) is the pick of the bunch, but it came overdone and a little on the dry side last time I tried it. A cardinal sin in the burger world. But the crinkly fries are spot on.

IMG_1900

6.5/10

Haché. Well for a start it’s a crap name. I passed this place about fifty times before I realised it was a burger joint. Inside doesn’t pack too many punches either, it was all too nice and clean looking. There were  even fairy lights. This was a big No-No. I’m about to tuck into a meaty feast and the surroundings should reflect this. Also there’s just too many things to try on the menu. A burger joint should keep the menu paired back and only offer a few things. I don’t want to see a Steak Milano burger on there, whatever the hell that is. And the bun was crispy ciabatta; which is no friend of mine.

5.5/10

There are countless other great places in London, and still I haven’t tried Patty & Bun, which I’ve heard only good things about. But nothing is worth queuing over an hour for. As a burger lover I hope the revolution continues. It’s a good thing to have these places where you can get down and dirty and get your chops messy at any time of the day. Sometimes it is exactly what you need. The problem for me is I get this urger about four times a week. For more London Burger info check out two killer burger blogs- Burger Me! and The Burger Addict.

Standard