Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Burger & Lobster - No Alarms and No Surprises

Burger & Lobster (@londonlobster)
36 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PS

Well, you couldn't accuse this one of false advertising. Featuring a minimalistic menu consisting simply of burger and lobster (either whole or as a roll), the Dean Street branch is the second of the two B&L restaurants opened by the team behind the eponymous Goodman in Mayfair. Goodman is famous for boasting some of the best steaks and burgers here, but we were particularly intrigued here by the prospect of £20 lobster.


 First things first: getting in. We arrived for dinner at about quarter to 6...not most people's idea of a decent dinner time, but necessary when you consider how busy this place does get (hour-plus long wait times are not uncommon here). After being seated, we were presented with a drinks menu. Yes, a drinks menu. They're really keen to point out the lack of food choices here. After the waiter kindly explained the choices of dishes, we decided to try the cheeseburger and a lobster roll. Both were priced at £20. Splitting the bill is quite easy here.

The only menu you get
After what was the most brief of waits (the advantage, I suppose of having such a small menu), the dishes were presented to us on two large trays, MeatMarket style. The portions were, to put it lightly, enormous. The burger especially was the biggest I've yet seen in London, and both dishes were accompanied by a very generous portion of fries (with mayonnaise provided without request...the Belgian amongst us thanks ye!) and salad, which itself could have been a starter. The portions were certainly the biggest I've seen outside of the US, but it did look impressive and I was famished!

Burger
The burger was made from a mixture of American and Irish beef we were told. We asked for medium, but because of the size of the damned thing it was a bit on the rare side in the middle parts. On the outside of the patty it was really charred thick, so that the first few bites on the outside were met with quite some resistance. However, inside the patty itself was very soft and broke in a satisfyingly easy manner with every bite. It was topped with lettuce, a very soft slice of tomato, some red onion and what appeared to be a mayonnaise sauce. The bun was a classic toasted brioche, studded with white AND black sesame. The black sesame was a nice touch as it gave a wonderful fragrance which added some sophistication to the simple flavours of the meat and bun. A word about mechanics. Having a very thin bun underneath does allow for a nice thick slice on top of the meat, which does look very pleasing, but it does soak up the burger grease and fall apart a bit too easily.

However, I'm not sure if this sophistication really justified the price tag. I think it is a bit steep for a burger, even if you do get a huge portion with masses of fries and salad on the side, but it still compares unfavourably to its pricey peers such as Bar Boulud. Perhaps the £20 was to cover the meat's airfare from America?

Lobster Roll
On to the lobster half of the menu. So the sides were the same here, but the main was of course quite different entirely. The mostly lobster claw meat was served cold, with a delicious wasabi mayonnaise on top, some chopped chives within a heavily buttered brioche bun. I really liked the lobster roll. I'm not generally a fan of lobster, as I don't really think it's worth its luxury pricetag when compared to good crab meat for example. The claw meat, however, is my favourite part and has the most unbelievably soft texture, without any flakiness whatsoever. It combined really well with the pungent wasabi flavour, whilst the buttery brioche allowed all those complex aromas to really linger after every bite. Lovely!

I think conversely, that this was actually good value for £20 as you were getting what would be considered premium meat and the flavours really did match up to the billing. I think I will try the grilled whole lobster to get more of an appreciation of the flavour of the lobster alone, but the combinations in that roll were truly a treat!

The full spread. Come hungry!
A quick word on the sides. The fries were actually really good, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. The actually taste of the potato did come through nicely as it (thankfully!) wasn't overseasoned, although the salt did seem to collect all at the fries at the bottom. Not a big issue though. The salad was also good, a mixture of lettuce leaves, with some croutons and parmesan.

Overall, I did enjoy Burger and Lobster, if more for the lobster roll than the burger. Not to say that the burger wasn't good, as it was actually very, very good but I don't think I would go there with a friend to have two burgers. That wouldn't be good value at £40 for two without drinks I don't think, even again with the portions in mind. However, the lobster was brilliant and I would definitely come back and try that again. It's not going to become a regular though, as I don't think lobster is something that should or can be an every day pleasure. It's one to file under impressing guests from out of town, or maybe a special occasion, if you can get more than 6 people together to book a table.

Cruci-fried
One final word, even though I don't necessarily think it's that important to everyone is about the ethical aspects of being able to serve lobster for so cheap in such huge quantities. My issue is not with the  killing of them as I believe they do it in a humane way (probably by electrocution, as is required by law I believe...if someone could correct me on this I would be very grateful). Rather, the logistics of being able to serve such a huge amount of lobster. I would like to know a bit more about how they obtain such a volume of them sustainably. They apparently have one of the largest restaurant lobster tanks in the world... something I would more associate with Cape Cod or Hong Kong than London to be honest!

It's unfair to single out Burger & Lobster alone, as this is an issue everywhere in the world, but when you pay a premium to eat out well in London, you do expect a little bit of piece of mind in this regard. This, combined with the fact that the meat has to come all the way from the US (Honest Burger down the road serves lovely Ginger Pig sourced stuff, after all) did play on my mind a little bit. I can understand how it's not a big issue for everyone else so feel free to disagree with me on this!

Square MealBurger & Lobster on Urbanspoon .

Photos by Nathalie.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds and looks mouth-watering. I checked the place out in zagat.com and the reviews are great. My stop for spring break out of work. I like their continental smallgoods melbourne from the page, a generous pack of lunch of burgers and fries.

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  2. I agree, its best to eat sustainable, but if you walk in there- then you should know what you're getting...

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    1. Just caught this comment now. I agree completely, and I don't think it should make much of a difference to anyone's decision to eat there, it was just really a bit of an uneasy feeling at the back of my mind (Engineering instincts kicking in probably)

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