Somehow, in the month that we’ve been back in London, without even noticing there have been quite a few burger adventures. Who am I kidding? At any opportunity I try to convince Duncan we should be eating burgers. This has all been my doing, and it’s only really that these meals are a result of my convincing him that burgers are in order. Sometimes he concedes, but more often than not, he is the voice of reason and probably the reason my burger consumption is not one per day.
First up is a burger that is no longer available. Sorry ’bout that. It’s a direct result of laziness on my part of not posting more. As part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Byron collaborated with well-known burger purveyor Fred Smith to create the Chilli Queen Burger. Queen Elizabeth’s personal preferences to chilli are unknown, so I can’t really say where the inspiration was for the chilli.
I’ve always loved Byron, but have never posted anything about them on here. When I first discovered Byron, there was a period when we would visit them, I’m ashamed to say, on average once a week for about 2 months straight. Excessive yes, but Byron do truly make a great burger, and my iPhone is littered with various burgers I’ve eaten there. I’m quite lucky and have just moved from living within walking distance of the Hoxton branch, and am now within walking distance of the Angel location. My new requisite for houses is public transport, good shower pressure and proximity to a Byron.
The Byron Chilli Queen burger used the glazed bun seen so briefly for their Uncle Sam burger (bring it back please, kthx). Shiny and sticky, it was soft and squishy, just how burger buns should be. The beef patty was topped with my beloved American Cheese; a chipotle mayo that had the slightest kick to it, and fresh green chillis. The chillis were surprisingly not that spicy and added a nice burst freshness to the burger.
A chocolate brownie chaser was pleasant – nothing special. It’s definitely the burgers you come for at Byron.
2nd on the burger odyssey is the somewhat new kid on the block, MEATmarket, located at Covent Garden. MEATmarket is the 2nd site for Yianni Papoutsis who is leading the charge for brilliant burgers in London. Starting out originally as the MEATwagon; a food truck, then moving into a temporary location at a pub in South-East London, before finally opening Meat Liquor last year where the idea of standing in line for 2 hours to get a table shockingly became the norm. News of Meatmarket was a relief – perhaps now the lines at Meat Liquor would start to subside. While Meat Liquor was dark, loud and rowdy; the type of place you settle in for the night with piles of food and cocktails; the focus of MEATmarket is fast food and high turnover.
It took us a few minutes to work out just where it was located. Up above Jubilee market at Covent Garden, it’s easiest to head for Tavistock St and walk along until you see the words MEATmarket and go straight up the stairs. Overlooking the market, it’s actually a quite odd location for a restaurant to be up there on the balcony. On a Sunday lunchtime, it was surprisingly empty when we arrived, but as we ate the tables slowly filled up.
All the MEAT favourites and necessities are here; mustard, ketchup, mayo and paper towels.
Orders are taken at the counter and the only menu is one that is hung on the wall, just like a fast food chain. No cocktails, here, just soft drinks and milkshakes that can be served hard for the adults. Soft drinks are bottomless and serve yourself style in a basic paper cup stamped with the logo. The whole set up is designed for quick turnover.
Like Meat Liquor, the food is brought out on one tray. Once the tables started to fill up, the PA system was used to call out people’s names to announce readiness of meals. A nice nod to old school burger fast food joints. The fries tasted exactly like the absolute best McDonalds fries, when they’re fresh out of the fries and liberally sprinkled with salt. This was not a bad thing.
I went with the Black Palace burger; a take on the White Castle burger. This was definitely one of the more messy, sticky burgers I’ve had the pleasure of eating. A pile of sweet caramelised onions on top of a double patty burger (cooked more than I usually prefer), melted American cheese and thickly cut pickles. The whole thing had the softness you only get when a burger has been steamed. It was like they took the basic burger served at Mishkins and just built on it. My hands stunk of burger for the rest of the day, no matter what I did. It was delicious.
While the burgers are the same great quality everyone has now come to expect from the MEAT crew, it will be interesting to see how well it does. The lines at MEAT Liquor are crazily long, and while MEATmarket seems to provide an alternative to this, I tend to think part of the MEAT experience is atmosphere, and to be honest, there isn’t much at MEATmarket. Good for satisfying burger cravings, but not for a good night out.
Part 3 took place a while ago at my favourite place for London burgers, Lucky Chip. I think I’ve spoken enough about just how brilliant I think Lucky Chip are, in no short part due to the wittiness of celebrity burger titles and aged-beef patty’s.
First up was the Kevin Bacon. Look at that beautiful burger bun. Perfectly shiny, beef patty, American cheese, bacon and pickles.
This time around I went for the Danny Trejo burger. Probably not the best choice as I think I’m slightly allergic to jalapeños. Too bad for my body because I love them and always order anything that has them in it. Cheddar cheese, streaky bacon, sour cream, chipotle mayo and jalapeños on a seeded burger bun. The cream cheese tempered the spice from the jalapeños and was brilliant and beefy. The rocket added a nice pepperiness. The only thing I would change is to put it on that gloriously shiny bun that the Kevin Bacon comes in and it would be perfect; but that’s just me being picky.
Disappointingly, this time around the fries weren’t their usual brilliant self. Soft and flaccid this time, I’m prepared to overlook this one-off slump, as I know just how crunchy and fresh they normally are.
Lucky Chip still wins the #1 spot in my heart for burgers, and my only disappointment is I didn’t make it to them the other week when the Bill Murray-Life Aquatic burger made another short-lived appearance. That burger has now become my white whale.
The last stop on this burger adventure around London was at Spuntino in Soho. Since I’d been there last, the menu was yet again seasonally updated. My initial disappointment that the mackerel slider had been bumped for the prawn po’ boy disappeared once I had a bite of the crunchy prawns, shredded lettuce and spiced mayo. The other sliders on the plate were the pulled pork with slices of apple; a beef slider and I’ll be honest – I can’t remember the last one. I think it was the meatball slider because ever since I keep thinking I should make them at home for dinner one night. I think maybe it was the lamb with a tomato sauce?
While everyone knows you don’t make friends with salad, I think you would at least make acquaintances with this one, as it was surprisingly great for what amounts to a bunch of vegetables. Mixed salad leaves, with chunks of asparagus and slices of softly boiled eggs. The dressing was creamy and tangy and the whole plate was sprinkled with sesame seeds and crushed hazelnuts. Such a great combination and definitely one salad recipe to mentally file away for future use.
Spuntino evidently decided to do away with the mackerel slider and put the mackerel its own starring dish. Good call, as this was brilliant. Pan-fried mackerel, in a creamy saffron sauce, with leeks and broad bean swimming in the sauce. When Duncan wasn’t looking, I drank the remainder. In my defence, we were sitting at the back and no-one saw. I also had no spoon. The sauce was THAT good, that I didn’t want it to go to waste.
The only way to make this meal better? Order another 2 prawn po’ boys.
I love Spuntino. Great for a quick bite; good for solos diners or turn up at night, brave the queues and drink away the night on prohibition style cocktails while listening to the Black Keys.
Evidently, I eat a lot of burgers. Um, not really sure how to justify any of that. It was all in the name of research?
Go forth, and eat. With a side of fries.