I’m still loving burgers. Are you surprised? Since my first burger post back in November (Between Two Buns – Part I), the trend in London has kept going, and so more delicious meaty treats have become available for me to try. And so it is only right that these juicy, meaty delights be shared with you, and so here is part two of the best burger joints in London! (it’s such a tough life!)
Patty & Bun, James Street (off Oxford Street)
I’ve been waiting to try a burger from this place since it opened at the end of November last year, but every time i’ve gone to dine, the queue to be seated has been in excess of an hour, so i’ve always chosen to dine elsewhere. But this time around, late on a Saturday afternoon, the wait was a bearable 20 minutes, and so I knew, this was my opportunity to try the burger that has been described by a guy in my office as “the most incredible burger [he’d] ever tasted!” and “better than Meat Liquor” – quite a claim, but with a constant queue outside, he can’t be far off being correct, right? Right! the first bite of my £8.50 Smokey Robinson burger (beef patty with cheese, tomato, lettuce, mounds of caramalised onion, bacon, ketchup and smokey P&B mayo within a brioche bun) was like a bite of pure delight. As I squeezed the bun together to be able to fit it in my mouth, the juice of the medium/rare patty dripped through the bun making it a juicy meaty mess (but a good mess). The combination of the sweet onions and the smokey bacon made the taste complex and quite frankly, incredible. This really is a burger worthy of the ‘Best burger in London’ title! The Rosemary salted chips however aren’t quite as good as those available from Honest Burger, but hey, you can’t win ’em all!
Five Guys Burger & Fries, Longacre (Covent Garden)
On opening day, which just so happened to be Independence Day, the queue for this new American burger joint was 200 people deep! It snaked around the corner from Long Acre and down Garrick Street. So that day, we gave it a miss. But it didn’t take long before I was able to have a taste of one of these eagerly awaited burgers. The concept is great – choose your burger (plain, with cheese, bacon or both) and then pile on your toppings, all for no extra charge! I went for the Little Hamburger priced at £4.75 and then topped it off with lettuce, pickle, grilled onion, mushrooms, jalapenos, green pepper, mayo, hot sauce and relish. I’m pretty sure my relish was missed out, as I don’t remember tasting it, but that could have been something to do with the fact that my mouth lost all feeling from the hotness of the jalapenos! The patty is okay, not quite juicy enough for my liking (and definitely not my preferred medium-rare state) and the seeded bun was soft but nothing too special. The good thing about this burger is that you make it what you want it to be. And you simply MUST order a side of fries with it. Regular is HUGE, so if it’s just you, go with a small portion. The regular managed to feed 3 of us! They’re thick fries, cooked in the skin and then sprinkled with salt. They taste perfectly homemade!
Shake Shack, Covent Garden Piazza
And as though America wasn’t happy with invading London with just one high profile burger chain, the very next day after Five Guy’s debut, Shake Shack, a burger joint that started as a hotdog cart in Madison Square Park NYC, opened it’s doors to a large queue of burger lovers in Covent Garden’s Piazza. Now I know that opinion is split with most people, and in my office alone, Shake Shake is the winner in the battle between them and Five Guys burgers… but for me, I was disappointed with Shake Shack’s burger offering. I went for the Smoke Shack (£6.50); a cheeseburger topped with British free range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and Shack Sauce. And it was okay. The patty itself was good, and the bacon was also very tasty. And I even enjoyed the cherry peppers… but together it just didn’t work. The flavours didn’t marry together, and all in all, it wasn’t quite juicy enough. But that doesn’t mean I won’t return to Shake Shack, because what brings it back from the brink is the accompaniments available here. Milkshakes (£4.50) and ‘concretes’ (small tubs of dense frozen custard ice cream from £4) which are delightful on a hot day, and fresh still lemonade (from £2.75) which is refreshing and tasty, and then the chips are crinkle cut and delicious (and only £2.50) – all of these components put the burger to shame (if i’m honest), but maybe the clincher, the thing that keeps this burger joint on my radar, the thing that sets it apart from the other burger places, is the fact that this restaurant…. serves dog treats! And much to the delight of Barney who was treated to a little Pooch-ini cup (£3) – A red velvet doggie biscuit with peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard. Spoilt pooch.
I want you to picture the interior decoration of Meat Liquor. Picture the dark walls, the violent graffiti, the rude scribblings on the toilet doors… and now think of the exact opposite! That is what this pretty little burger restaurant in Camden looks like. The walls are lightly painted, the lighting is dim and romantic, and there are pretty little fairy lights creeping up the walls and around the mirrors. There’s a semi-classy ambiance about this joint, and the food matches this. The menu is extensive, and each different burger hosts a nationality. I went for the Steak Catalan Burger, a beef patty cooked rare (to my specification) topped with grilled chorizo sausage, fresh chilli and tomato jam, all wedged between two fresh brioche buns. Priced at £10.50, it’s probably one of the priciest burgers on the gourmet burger market, but that is exactly what it was – gourmet! The ingredients taste good quality, the chorizo is juicy and well cooked, the chilli and tomato jam is sweet and the beef patty is succulent, and as a result, you don’t feel like you’re being robbed for you dinner. A side of fries is a must (they taste like McDonalds fries, which for me is a good thing!) but if you want to go a little more gourmet to match your burger, opt for the potato wedges or sweet potato fries instead.
Brgr.Co, Wardour Street (Soho)
This intimate Wardour street burger restaurant prides itself on using premium beef patties, and doesn’t feel the need over complicate it’s burgers. Your options are as follows: The 4oz Original Blend (£4.95), The 6oz Tender Blend £6.95) or the 8oz Masterpiece (£8.95) – each comes deconstructed, with a soft brioche bun, lettuce, tomato and pickles. So simple! And each can be cooked to your own specification, although the menu comes with recommendations. I opted for the Original Blend, initially worried that this might be a bit small, but I was pleasantly surprised – a great size for a lunch. The thing I liked about this burger was the simplicity; while for an extra cost I could add cheese, bacon and other toppings, I didn’t feel like the burger was lacking without these extras, and I think this was due to quality of the beef and the seasoning, as the chargrilled meat was bursting with flavour. This is a sign of really good cooking, which was also reflected in the taste of our side dish – a bowl of Parmesan and Truffle Fries (£3.85) which were not overly covered in their topping, giving them a great flavour which was not overpowering. This is a great burger place if you don’t want to overcomplicate things, and if you have a small budget!