Tag Archives: burgers

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Restaurant review – Honky Tonk, Clapham Common South Side, SW4

Sometimes when you push yourself to go out of your comfort zone you’re rewarded with new discoveries, a broader horizon and, if you’re lucky, even a boosted confidence. My comfort zone is most definitely North London. I’m talking a comfort zone within London here. Obviously I am happy to travel out of North London to leave London, but when I’m in London my heart is always north. It is my home and I love pretty much everything about it, with the exception of Morrisons on Holloway Road, which is the third circle of Hell.

But last night I ventured to South London. I was on a promise. A promise of burgers and hardshakes at Honky Tonk. Honky Tonk is one of those seemingly ubiquitous places that are attempting to be a slice of Americana in London. Burgers, wings, pulled pork. And bourbon. Always with the bourbon. Honky Tonk have one branch in Chelsea and another in Clapham. Due to all of this, my hackles were raised from the offset.

I went with Andrew and our friends, Martin and Laura. Martin is big fan of burgers. BIG (ironic really, because he’s a really tiny person). He complained that my blog hadn’t featured burgers in a while. Seemed only fair he came along for this one.

We arrived and were seated quickly. It was pretty quiet, but the joint started to fill quickly after 8pm. Weird really, because Honky Tonk’s happy hour ends at 8pm. Whatevs.

The restaurant is kind of a hybrid of anything the interior designer thought was “trendy”. Exposed brickwork, mirrors with quotes written on them lining the stairway (to the grim loos), a wardrobe in the corner that claims to lead to Narnia. I didn’t get involved in that hijinx. Overall the decor was at best tedious and at worst anger inducing (in my opinion, because I hate that stuff).

The boys and I decided to have hardshakes, while Laura sensibly went for an OJ. Then we waited 20 minutes for them to arrive. Did I mention the restaurant was pretty empty? Yeah, I did, didn’t I? The shakes came served in large milk bottles, with the shot of liquor on the side in one of those jam jars your get marmalade in at hotel breakfasts. All highly whimsical. What absolute larks.

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The milkshakes were actually pretty good. I started to relax. I even said to the others that, “I thought I was going to hate this place, but I actually quite like it”. See, I open-minded and willing to cast my net wide (to Clapham, burgers are obviously in my proverbial net).

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Martin and I ordered starters because we’re massive pig-rats. I had buffalo wings with peri peri marinade and blue cheese sauce, Martin had crab cakes. My buffalo wings were fine, but they weren’t the best I’ve ever had (MEATLiquor, people). The portion wasn’t exactly generous. How very un-American of them. Martin said his crab cakes were good. I didn’t try them because they were tiny and there were only two.

Then we waited for another 30 mins or so for our main course to come. Oh but don’t worry, they left those empty, finished plates in front of us for about 15 of those minutes. In for a penny in for a pound with the lacklustre service.

The food did come. Andrew had gone for some greedy heart attack in a metal tray, which was meant for two people (two pieces of their famous ‘Not’ fried chicken, half a rack of pork ribs smothered with either our BBQ or bourbon sauce, a generous helping of pulled pork and buffalo chicken wings coated in a choice of sauce – buffalo, BBQ or peri peri, served with rosemary fries). This is a blurry shot taken by my fiancé:

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I had a Honky Tonk burger (cheese, bacon, caramelised onion, guacamole, salsa, gem lettuce, tomato and their “very own and very delicious” burger sauce), Martin had a Fire in the Hole burger (topped with red jalapenos, baby gem lettuce, tomato, chilli cheese & honky hot sauce) and Laura had a Halloumi burger.

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My burger was OK. The brioche bun was good, but the burger sauce was, I think, wholegrain mustard mixed with mayonaise (this is distinctly not burger sauce as I know it), and the patty was overcooked and very dry). The chips were magnificent.

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Martin’s burger was also overcooked and apparently not that hot. Blah. Andrew’s tray was actually just two of each item and a pretty small bowl of pulled pork, but SHEDLOADS of chips. As he pointed out, if he was sharing he’d be pretty annoyed. Laura said her burger was good.

Now we waited about 30 minutes for our plates to be cleared. The wait staff did clear them in their own sweet time, but they left mine and walked off to talk to someone behind the bar. Eventually I had to go over and ask them to take my plate and to bring us the bill.

The bill came. It was significantly incorrect to make us irritated. In the end, our meal cost £120. This is pretty bloody steep, I think. Especially when everything about the meal was pretty lazily done.

Sadly this adventure did nothing that made me change my mind about North London being distinctly better than South. I wouldn’t even go to Honky again if it was next door to my house, though.

Service: 0.5
Venue: 2
Value: 0.5
Overall: 2/10

Honky Tonk, 16a Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AB

Nearest tube: Clapham Common (1 min walk)

Honky Tonk on Urbanspoon

 

I was invited to review Honky Tonk. Yes, you read that right.

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Restaurant Review – Patty & Bun, Liverpool Street, EC2M

One of mine and my brother’s favourite stories about our dad is the time he complained about the service in the Tunbridge Wells branch of McDonalds. Patience isn’t the Hedges’ strong suit, and my dad took issue with the fact that he had to queue for “fast” food. I have inherited this trait. Andrew’s most worn-out phrase to me is, “Zos, just chill out” because I am so impatient in that awful muttery under breath kind of way. And you know who else I’ve discovered isn’t patient? City bankers.

More often than not I work in Shoreditch, and sometimes I have cause to go into the City – the Square Mile where apparently all bankers congregate to get bonuses and screw over Iceland (hazy on the details). The cause this week was to pay in a cheque like it was 1995. I don’t like going into the City much because I hate sharing space with bankers or whoever they are (lawyers? other people who still wear suits to work – who are they?!). City-dwellers are, on the whole, consistently incredibly rude and arrogant – constantly ploughing into people on the pavement with a kind of “I’m more important than you” attitude and sighing when shop assistants don’t give them special treatment and bump them up the queue just because they’re wearing a suit from T. M. Lewin. Basically The City is like Berkmageddon and I hate it.

When I was down there yesterday on my lunch break I decided to cheer myself up with a trip to Patty & Bun’s new branch on Liverpool Street. It’s more of a takeaway feel than their site in Fitzrovia, but the menu is the same – burgers and chips. The place pulled me in like it had a tractor beam.

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It’s set up sort of like a rustic version of McDonalds. You go to a counter, order your food and then you’re given a receipt (novel!). If you’re eating in then you can sit at one of the little tables around the sides of the restaurant but if you’re taking out you’re told to go outside and wait by a window for your food to be passed to you. I am not sure what they will do when it’s raining, or have really considered that people might want to wait in the “10-15 minute” wait for their food – I’m sure it’s a stumbling block they’ll overcome.

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As I waited for my food (which took 5 minutes max), a steady stream of suits strode up to the window and demanded to know where their food was. One suit turned to me and I gave him a sympathetic smile and he said “Don’t think they’ve figured this thing out yet, huh!” to me. I just raised my eyebrows (I don’t like talking to strangers – I am not friendly). He had come directly out of the restaurant to the window and complained. What a… banker.

My food arrived in double-quick time. I picked it up from a girl who looked so deeply sad and panicked at the same time – like someone facing the firing line. Who can blame her when dealing with tosspots all day? Anyway, I took my food – in a massive MASSIVE bag – and dashed back to the safety of Shoreditch.

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I went for an Ari Gold, which is a hamburger basically. It was delicious. Medium-rare tasty patty, lots of lovely pickles and a sturdy brioche bun to keep it all together. My desk buddy, Kat, was very annoyed that I had such a delicious lunch. She had Covent Garden soup. Haha.

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The chips were, well, they were chips – neither outstanding nor terrible. They didn’t have enough rosemary on them to really constitute being called “rosemary fries”, but this is a minor quibble.

And as for those impatient bankers? Well, I didn’t have a problem waiting five minutes for my lunch so I don’t see the problem. I can imagine even my dad would wait that long… and he’s a retired banker.

Service: 5
Venue: 3
Value: 3
Overall: 7/10

Patty & Bun, 22/23 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 7PD

Nearest tube: Liverpool Street (30-second walk)
Patty & Bun Liverpool Str. on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

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Restaurant Review – Honest Burger, Camden Lock Place, NW1

I met one of my closest friends, Josie, nearly 15 years ago – gulp! – when first started Sixth Form. We had our “frees” together, and spent most of them in the sixth form common room talking about boys and whether we should go to the local shop on a snack run or not.

Jos and I, circa 2005
Jos and I, circa 2005

Fifteen years, countless nights out and a few “boys” later and here we are. Josie is married to the lovely Ash and they’re off to live in America. Although excited for them, I am sad to be saying goodbye to Jos – even if we both know we’ll always be close. So I’m trying to cram in as many meet-ups with her as I can at the moment! When Ash suggested Andrew and I go and see Scroobius Pip with them I was all over it.

So this Monday we headed to Camden, stopping off for a meal first… We decided on Honest Burgers, as going to burger joints has become our go-to choice recently.

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Honest Burger is pretty no-frills, with burgers and fries served in large enamel bowls and the venue having bar-style seating around the edge of the open kitchen. Oh, and the wine is served in tumblers (see above).

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However, what you get for this no-frills venue is reasonably priced and very decent food. I went for the special, which came with red onion rings and pickled green chillies. At £11, it also came with a generous portion of the house signature salt and rosemary fries, which were perfect – crispy, fat and fluffy. The burger itself was delicious, too.

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The patty was hella juicy and perfectly pink, and the other fillings gave the burger a lovely sweet, salty and then spicy undertone. The bun was also perfect – mopping up the massive amount of juice and staying light and fluffy, holding together the burger to the last bite.

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This is the “Honest”, which is red onion relish, beef patty, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. I was allowed a small bite and can confirm it was spanking good, too.

As for the gig – it was brilliant, with an added surprise of seeing Andrew’s brother and his best mate there. A good night was had and added to the 15 years of brilliant memories I have of Josie and mine’s friendship – here’s to many more.

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Service: 4

Venue: 3

Value: 5

Overall: 8/10

Honest Burger, Unit 34A, 54-56 Camden Lock Pl, NW1 8AF (There are branches throughout London – see the website for more details)

Nearest Tube: Camden Town (13min walk)
Honest Burgers on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Restaurant Review – Umami Burger, The Grove, West Hollywood, LA

The Grove Truffle Burger

On our trip to LA we visited Umami Burger at The Grove (a shopping centre in LA). So far, so uninspiring, right?

But Umami are the best burgers I’ve maybe had in America. Ever. OK, tied with In-N-Out. But they’re amazing.

Umami Burger, The Grove
Umami Burger, The Grove

Umami Burger is a gastro burger chain in California, although they have a branch in New York and Florida too. Anyway, it’s basically about packing a burger full of as much rich, savoury flavour as possible. And they take it very seriously. Consequently Umami is always super-busy. The word has spread and the people, they have arrived.

Here’s what the menu looks like (the menu various slightly from venue to venue):

Umami Burger menu
Umami Burger menu

We went for truffle fries, fried pickles and sweet potato fries to share. We also got some aoli dipping sauce.

A blurry shot of our sides
A blurry shot of our sides
Fried pickles
Fried pickles

Burgers-wise, I went for a Royale, which is a beef patty topped with braised short rib, roasted garlic aioli and Umami’s truffle cheese. Here it is:

Umami Royale burger
Umami Royale burger (note the pool of blood on my plate. YUM!)

Andrew went for a Grove Truffle Burger, which sounded insane: beef patty, parmesan fondue topped off with The Grove special truffle sauce. Cray. Here is it:

The Grove Truffle Burger
The Grove Truffle Burger
The bite-through of the Grove Truffle Burger
The bite-through of the Grove Truffle Burger

Everything was incredibly fresh, savoury and addictive. I’d say moorish, but addictive is more accurate.

A side note: they also service Mexican coke(-a-cola) there, which is apparently coke without all the fake stuff in. SUPER sugary.

Service: 5

Venue: 5

Value: 5

Overall: 10/10

You can find Umami Burger venues by clicking here.

Nearest tube: hahahaha.

Images © Andrew Phillimore

Food Review – #NationalBurgerDay Event

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August 27th was National Burger Day in the UK. This event was dreamt up by lifestyle newsletter Mr Hyde, Tweat Up and a range of premium burger vendors across the country. In London there was to be an event where all the best names in burgers would be flipping and selling their patty delights. It could have been just a cynical marketing ploy, but the evening was so brilliant that I don’t mind – I’m just glad they did it.

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On the night itself, over 1000 people flocked to Dalston Yard, which has been home to Street Feast all summer. There lay all the best names in burgers: Bleecker Street, Byron, Dirty Burger, Disco Bistro, Honest Burgers, MEATLiquor, Mother Flipper, Roti Chai Street Kitchen, Breddos Slider Bar and Two Nights Only plus a special appearance from Eat My Pies, who made a burger pie. Phew! Quite a roll call right there. Sadly, the only team lacking were Patty & Bun.

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Tickets were a little over £11, and for that you got entrance, one pint of Meantime beer and two shots – a pickleback and a chilliback.

We decided on a shortlist before, based in part on the menu and part on good things I had heard about particular burgers.

My hit list: Bleecker Street, Disco Bistro, Honest Burgers and Mother Flipper. This seemed to be the same hit list as everyone else, so the queues were pretty lengthy.

First we hit up Bleecker Street for their cheeseburger triple. That’s three quarter pounders with cheese. It was enormous.

The Bleecker triple being prepared
The Bleecker triple being prepared

 

The Bleecker Triple in all its glory
The Bleecker Triple in all its glory

 

The Bleecker holding form well.
The Bleecker holding form well.

 

Luckily, everywhere was slicing their burgers in half so you could share with co-Burger Adventurers. Andrew and I split our Bleecker and then Andrew was asked to pose as a model…

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When we eventually got to bite down on our Bleecker it was INCREDIBLE. So, so juicy and perfectly cooked with a pink middle. The cheese was unctuous and melted perfectly, but the absence of toppings really allowed the meat to be the star of the show. Who needs lots of gimmicks when you’re cooking amazing quality beef to such a high standard? It was the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. I cannot praise it highly enough.

We then went and got a Disco Burger from Disco Bistro. A Disco Burger is a rare breed beef patty, cheese, Carl’s special bun sauce and pineapple & bacon jam. Here it is in all its splendour…

The Disco Burger
The Disco Burger

 

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Christ, this was so good too. Much smaller than the Bleecker, it was a different beast entirely. The patty was decent and juicy – a little more well done than my preference, but hey ho this isn’t a major gripe. The thing that really made you sit up and notice with this burger were the toppings. The cheese was all melted into the pineapple and bacon jam, which was sweet and sour in equal measure and insanely moorish. This was Andrew’s favourite burger, and came a close second for me after the Bleecker. I definitely want to go to Disco Bistro now and sample their fare further.

We then visited Pickleback Alley for our Pickleback shot. For the uninitiated this is a shot of whiskey with a pickle juice chaser. They were rank. I hate whiskey anyway, much to my brother’s chagrin. I felt like my throat had been striped afterwards. The only thing that would help was a burger.

The Picklebacks
The Picklebacks
Not a fan.
Not a fan.

Mother Flipper had a giant queue, so we got in line like the good little Brits we are. We placed our order and then waited for our burger. Mother Flipper were doing lots of exciting things, including a smaller burger with a maple and bacon cronut for a bun. We went for a Dirty Barbie, which is a double patty, American cheese, candy bacon, candy fried onions with tomato relish and barbecue sauce. It sounded incredible, and I’d heard such great things about Mother Flipper. I was sure this burger was going to be The One. When it arrived, it was slightly overcooked but the grill chef was under A LOT of pressure with a huge amount of people waiting for their burgers so I can forgive that. However, the toppings made the burger incredibly sloppy and they all sort of slid off! Burger nightmare. Once in my gob, I couldn’t taste the patty but the toppings were nice if a little too overpowering and unbalanced. The BBQ sauce was too strong for my taste. And I found the texture of very crisp, chewy bacon and slippery fried onions not totally a pleasant one and it didn’t really work. I am sure Mother Flippers are better than this and I am excited to try them again when it’s a less frenetic atmosphere.

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The Dirty Barbie
The Dirty Barbie
Inside the Dirty Barbie
Inside the Dirty Barbie

Last burger of the night. We waddled over to Honest burgers and ordered an Honest +. This is a special creation for the night and contained a Ginger Pig beef & bone marrow patty topped with Red Leicester cheese, crispy pigs cheek, shallot & parsley salad, red onion relish & homemade pickles. Another big queue for this guy! However, there were comfy sofas to snuggle up on while we waited – and the people watching potential at the event was brilliant. Everyone was SO friendly and we got talking to a lot of people about what we had, what they were having next etc. Everyone seemed so passionate and excited about burgers. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE.

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Anyway, Honest burger. This was a good burger. Really nice and meaty and the parsley salad actually made a lovely little refreshing break from the tidal wave of fried food. I was so full by this point I wasn’t able to give it my full admiration. Honest Burger were also serving crispy pig cheek scratchings, which had all sold out – they sounded so good though. Next time.

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The Honest+. Apols for the crappy photo, it was dark by this point.
The Honest+. Apols for the crappy photo, it was dark by this point.

The evening was so brilliant and made me so happy that I live in London. It was great to see so many people so passionate about what they were doing. There’s nothing more soul destroying than eating generic food that’s made without care and love. Everyone at National Burger Day was on their A Game, and the customers were loving it. It was a beautiful evening, which helped too. I’m so happy that I went.

Oh yeah, the Chilliback? I ducked out. I sipped my chilli tequila before giving to Andrew and it was actually really lovely, but I am weak and couldn’t handle it. Andrew said that was delicious though. Maybe next time…

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Most photography © Andrew Phillimore

 

Restaurant Review – Burger & Lobster, Dean Street, W1D

The HUGE lobster

Burger & Lobster is the Ronseal of restaurants: it does exactly what it says on the tin. They serve burgers or they serve lobster. Those are your two choices. In theory, anyway. Both items are priced the same, £20 (again, in theory). It does raise the question of who would order a £20 burger when you can get a £20 lobster, but let’s proceed with this review, shall we?

We – and by “we” I mean Andrew and I – went with two awesome pals we met at a fitness bootcamp in Highbury Fields. Having falling off the bootcamp wagon and into our bootcamp instructor’s bad graces, we decided to go the whole hog and eat loads of food together. In for a penny, in for a pound. We went one rainy Saturday night, and put our names down – there was an hour wait I seem to remember, so we went for a swift drink in the Crown and Two Chairmen up the road (a Soho fave of mine, I know not why), but were called much more quickly than an hour to say our table was ready.

We sat down and ordered cocktails and beer, and got down to the serious business of choosing a crustacean to eat. The menu goes that you can get a lobster roll with chips and salad for £20, a burger with chips and salad for £20 or a lobster with chips and salad for £20. I know I already covered this, but there are further options. You can get a larger lobster to share for more money, which comes with unlimited fries (greedy!) and salad (meh, who cares?!). We went for a massive lobster to share between the four of us, with unlimited fries. On the advice of our waiter, we got it grilled instead of boiled and we all opted for the lemon and garlic butter sauce.

The HUGE lobster
The HUGE lobster
The huge claw with lots of yummy meat inside.
The huge claw with lots of yummy meat inside.

Our monster lobster arrived. Yikes! We donned our complimentary and very flattering plastic bibs and went to work. It was DELICIOUS. The lobster was sweet and soft, tasting ever so slightly of the sea. The butter sauce made the dish stand up to attention, and the fries were, well, they’re fries but they were good.

Me with my classy bib
Me with my classy bib

The tasty cocktails kept coming, and the atmosphere was lovely – relaxed yet buzzing. The waiters were pretty busy, as the place was packed to the rafters, and it is a large restaurant, but they were attentive.

It's time.
It’s time.

The meal was slightly on the pricey side – I think about £140 for four with drinks maybe. Could be wrong, it was a while ago. BUT we did all eat A LOT of lobster, and it was such a fun night out. It was a really sociable, laid-back evening, and those are some of my favourite evenings.

Service: 7

Venue: 7

Value: 8

Overall: 7/10

Burger & Lobster, 36 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PS

Burger & Lobster also have branches in Mayfair, Faringdon and the City (near Bank)

Nearest tube: Leicester Square (7 min walk), Tottenham Court Road (9 min walk)

Burger & Lobster on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review – Patty & Bun, St James St, W1U

My Ari Gold

First up, apologies for my absence. I know you’ve all been lamenting about it. But it was birthday. I turned 30, guys. I also went on holiday and had weddings to go to. So there we go. Now for the main point of business…

I have read really, really good things about Patty & Bun, so decided to check it out with a few of my wonderful friends. We gamely queued up, put our names down and continued to queue. We did queue for an hour, which is a bit galling, but I was with great friends and the time passed quickly as we caught up. Other ingenious people in the queue were going to offies and buying beers. It was also a warm summer’s evening. If it was pouring with rain I probably would have been less full of humour about it. Actually, I wouldn’t have queued.

Anyway, once we were in, we were seated by a lovely waitress who was sweet and attentive throughout our meal. We ordered beers, burgers, chips and coleslaw all round. Actually, I had a wine, which was served in a tumbler. Details, details!

Here’s a glimpse at the menu…

The full Patty & Bun Meny
The full Patty & Bun Meny

I went for an Ari Gold (a cheeseburger by any other name would taste as sweet…), as did most people. A few cheeky chappies in our group went for Smokey Robinsons.

The food arrived…

My Ari Gold
My Ari Gold
Rosemary salt fries from Patty & Bun
Rosemary salt fries from Patty & Bun

My burger was brilliantly juicy and very meaty. The pickled onions cut through the grease and added a really interesting flavour. The cheese I couldn’t taste so much, but it was a wonderful burger none-the-less. A world away from the terrible grey, unseasoned thing I had at Shake Shack.

A slightly blurry inside of my burger
A slightly blurry inside of my burger

The fries were nicely seasoned, and the colesaw fresh and zingy. Our super-waitress brought us a huge array of condiments, which is always a good sign I feel in a burger joint.

My friend couldn’t finish her burger, so her loving, doting husband merrily hoovered up her Smokey Robinson after eating his Ari Gold. He proclaimed that the Smokey was better. And he’s a doctor, so don’t argue with him.

I was pleasantly impressed by Patty & Bun. It’s a great alternative to MEATLiquor, and I much preferred the laid-back vibe there to the slightly manic atmosphere in MEATLiquor. The only bummer was no chilli cheese fries.

Service: 9

Venue: 7

Value: 6

Overall: 8/10

Patty & Bun, 54 James St, London W1U 1E

Nearest tube: Bond Street (7 min walk)

Patty & Bun on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review – Shake Shack, Covent Garden Piazza

Shake Shack Shack Burger

I have to make a  confession – I have turned into everything I thought I was not. I, Zoe, went and queued on the opening day for something. I have never done it before (and don’t plan on doing it again). I have always judged people who have queued for Harry Potter books, Apple Stores or Kate Moss at Topshop; “Those idiots,” I bleated to myself. “They’ve been sucked in by consumerism. They are the advertisers’ dream, giving press to these events!” Then I became one of them. Grim. So what made me become a massive hypocrite? Burgers. Yes, a hot, greasy sandwich. Forgive me.

In case you don’t live in London/live under a rock (same thing? I JEST!), Shake Shack opened in London last Friday to great fan fare. The hype was huge. They’re from New York! They make burgers! I had one at Dubai airport! Wow, the stakes were high – and so were the queue levels. YET STILL I went along.

Here’s the Shake Shack menu:

Shake Shack's London menu
Shake Shack’s London menu

Yes, you’re right, that is £7.50 for a burger. No, it does not come with fries. No, there is not table service. What there IS is a massive, hour-long queue manned by harmless yet slightly annoying Shake Shack workers who try to enforce the British queuers to do “mexican waves”. We’re British – we love queuing and we hate enforced fun. Know your audience, Shake Shack. Eesh.

So you queue for an hour to go into a little, noisy hut to place your order. It’s like the world’s smallest McDonalds with Kiss FM playing so loudly you have to shout your order (and they get it wrong anyway). I have photo evidence:

Inside Shake Shack's ordering "hut".
Inside Shake Shack’s ordering “hut”.

 

Aside from burgers, SS do “custards” (read: milkshakes) and “concretes” (read: McFlurries). They have interesting flavours (chocolate, vanilla… haha, I kid. They do have those flavours but they have other things like, um, sea salt and brownies and jam etc). They also do crinkle fries and crinkle fries with plastic nacho cheese on top (bleurgh). I will never cheat on MEATLiquor’s chilli cheese fries with those nacho-carby things.

So then you order and go and find a table. Someone might help you find a table – there were loads of employees there (that might die down though after the first wave of enthusiasm). You get a buzzer thing and they buzz you when your food is ready. Then you go to a window, get your order, realise your order is wrong, ask a man to get you the right order, wait 10 minutes and he brings you the right burger after everyone else has finished their burgers.

Here’s what my burger looked like (clue: it looked like a BURGER):

Shake Shack Shack Burger
Shake Shack Shack Burger

Inside the burger:

Inside the SS burger
Inside the SS burger

The burger was nice, yeah. Moist, meaty, but overall slightly bland. It had nothing that made it stand out as being worth queuing for an hour. I like burgers too. I love MEATLiquor et al. I just found this burger REALLY underwhelming. I do not understand the hype. The concrete was fine. But just that: fine.

So I feel like Shake Shack are going to clean up because everyone is like me, and gets excited by hype and has to see it for themselves, but ultimately I feel like there are a lot of home-grown places in London doing far more interesting and better burgers. It all just felt slightly soulless and deflating.

Service: 3

Venue: 2

Value: 1

Overall: 4/10

Shake Shack, 24, Market Building, The Piazza  Covent Garden, London, Greater London WC2E 8RD

Nearest tube: Covent Garden (3 min walk – maybe more depending on how many annoying tourists are in the way)

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

BURGER REVIEW – Lucky Chip @ The Sebright Arms, Coate Street, E2

Lucky Chip Burgers at the Sebright Arms


Lucky Chip Burgers at the Sebright Arms
Lucky Chip Burgers at the Sebright Arms

I’ve been wanting to go to the Sebright Arms for ages, to sample the much-raved about Lucky Chip burgers. Having dined at the Slider Bar (at The Player in Soho), and found them wanting I’d heard many people say The Sebright is where to get the real Lucky Chip experience. Indeed, my friend Ed claims that The Sebright serve the best burgers in London town, and Ed knows what is up.

The Sebright is a rough-around-the-edges pub in the no man’s land between Bethnal Green and Hoxton, but it is a large venue with plenty of comfy seating and extremely friendly staff. We went on a Friday night and it was busy, but not unpleasantly so and everyone seemed to be having a good time. An all-round good vibe, if you will.

Lucky Chip have a residency at The Sebright, and no doubt the reason behind the pub being so bustling. The menu looks a little something like this…

The Lucky Chip Menu at the Sebright Arms
The Lucky Chip Menu at the Sebright Arms

I went for a Royale wit Cheese, but most people (seasoned Lucky Chip fans) seemed to favour the El Chappo. We also all had chili cheese fries and wings for sides (not each, we’re not greedy. Well, only slightly greedy).

The burgers were delicious – very juicy meat, perfectly medium-rare (a good burger has to be nice and pink in my opinion), the bun didn’t fall apart and the fillings were a perfect accompaniment. My dining friend, Toby, dubbed it “just like a Big Mac”. I think that’s a little harsh – the flavour and style is similar to the ubiquitous Big Mac, but it is so much more hearty, meaty and juicy than a Big Mac. The best burger I’ve had in London? Yep, easily.

Chili Cheese Fries @ The Sebright
Chili Cheese Fries @ The Sebright

The chili cheese fries were totally smothered in chilli and jalapenos, with a moderate sprinkling of cheese. They were very good indeed – but not as good as those served at Meat Liquor. However, the experts said the fries had improved since their last visit, with tweaks being made to the recipe. I like that Lucky Chip aren’t resting on their laurels, but instead striving to make things better. I’d definitely order these again when I go again (when, not if!).

The BBQ wings
The BBQ wings

The chicken wings were the let-down on the night. The BBQ sauce wasn’t punchy at all, and instead just a slightly sweet, sticky glaze. The chicken itself was flabby and not at all crisp. And there was no extra dip. MeatLiquor wins here again I’m afraid in the wings stakes. With a few tweaks, these could be great but instead I found myself wishing I hadn’t bothered with them.

As I said before, the staff we lovely and smiley and fast to serve you at the bar. The drinks were good – the boilermaker (a beer and whiskey cocktail) was a particular favourite. I had a really excellent time, and would definitely recommend this place. It’s not fine dining, it is no frills but what it’s doing they’re doing well. Sure, there are a few niggles, but they’re slight and I am sure as the place evolves these will get ironed out.

Service: 5/5

Venue: 4/5

Value: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

Lucky Chip @ The Sebright Arms, 31-35 Coate Street, E2 9AG

Nearest tube: Bethnal Green 15min walk

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