On Valentine’s Day we decided to spurn the cheesy restaurants, champagne and roses and go to Hawker House with our pals.
Hawker House is run by the Street Feast folks, who run night markets in London that bring together food trucks, booze vendors and the hungry hordes throughout the year.
As it’s cold right now, they’ve retreated indoors to a warehouse in Bethnal Green. Hawker House was inspired by Singaporean-style night (hawker) markets where people grab what they want from different vendors and then sit on communal, canteen-style benches and eat together.
It would be hard to ignore the food truck scene that’s exploded in London over the last few years, and the beauty of Hawker House is that it allows you to sample lots of different trucks all in one place. This is ideal for someone like me who wants to try everything. Right. Now.
Having tried Bleecker St Burgers before at #NationalBurgerDay and deciding them to make the best burgers in London, I made a bee-line right away. Zan, who started up Bleecker and was serving at Hawker House when I was there, is totally focused on creating NYC-style burgers. Look, I haven’t been to New York (I know, right?!) so I can’t speak to how they compare to New York burgers… But I have eaten a burger before and mine was amazing. They’re SO meaty and rare and juicy and just, ugh, totally perfect. Zan whipped me up a triple cheeseburger off-menu, which I shared with Andrew. We also had sweet potato fries, which were so crunchy, fluffy, sweet and moorish that it was pretty hare to share them.
I then went for a Grilling Greek chicken souvlaki. While I was there I caught up with some long-time Twitter friends I’d bumped into. Everyone was so friendly at the event. It was so great to put some faces to some Twitter avatars! Anyway, the souvlaki was OK but I think I’ve been rather spoilt by living in North London close to some of the best Greek and Turkish restaurants in the UK – and my Grilling Greek didn’t totally match up. Noa and Petek, you still have my heart.
After this I took a massive breather, and focused on drinking wine from plastic glasses and chatting to my friends. The rest of the crew indulged in Roti Chai (not amazing, apaz), Breddos Tacos (really good – I was sad I couldn’t fit these in) and Yum Bun (the all-round favourite of the night).
One last push saw me heading for a sweet treat, and to the You Doughnut stand!
I went for cinnamon sugar doughnuts with warm salted caramel sauce and marshmallows. Ooof, they were ruddy amazing. Fried to order, they were little nuggets of sweet cinnamonny clouds with a delicious warm caramel sauce. I feel a bit jealous of myself right now for having eaten them.
Hawker House was a really fun night. It was a bit cold inside there, so wrap up warm and get there early-ish as the tables fill up.
Hawker House is running every Friday and Saturday evening until the 22nd March. For more information visit Hawker House’s website.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…