Wednesday, 5 December 2012

This.Is.Burger.Wars...Let battle commence

To the dread of all colonoscopists, London's love affair with the humble burger shows no signs of abating, instead increasing at an exponential rate. This week saw the opening of 4 new central burger joints of Patty & Bun, Byron Burger (Store Street), and new boys on the scene Burger & Shake, and BRGR.CO Soho. We went to all 4...I need a lie down now.

Patty & Bun @pattyandbunjoe
54 James St

First to make an impression opening on the 30th Nov, after previous stints at the Endurance, the doodle bar & feast festival are Patty & Bun. In close proximity to Meatliquor & Tommi's burger joint they make up a mecca for all burger connoisseurs. With Meatliquor especially with it's omnipresent queues outside, there is mroe than enough space for P&B to mop up the excess. Speaking of queues, by the time we made it down at 6 had to wait outside in the bitterness, luckily only for 10 minutes. Being in a large group will be a nightmare to get seated here. Even in a 3 had a few people go in ahead of us in couples *queue icy stares. Front of house was a bit disorganised, but opening night, it's a learning game for them

Their new place has about 30 covers, clearly space is of a premium in these parts, as that really is at a push. This makes the place a lot more lively, but place for a romantic date this is not.
On offer is the Ari Gold, Smokey Robinson, Jose Jose, Lambshank redemption, hot chic (chicken burger) and token veggie burger. Sides are fries (on trend triple cooked with rosemary salt), and winger winger chicken dinner. Prices range from £7-8 for burgers, and it's great to have the option of fries instead of a few places where it is imposed on you, mixing sides with mates is the way forward.

"A shattered world is what you get when you mess with Ari Gold"
Such is the high standards of burgers in London it's becoming increasing difficult to differentiate between the best of the best, but P&B are certainly amoung them. This is a messy burger, not for the faint hearted (literally) with a really good well seasoned juicy patty, and cooked to perfect medium rare.  
Chicken wings, smoked and confit in duck and chicken fat, are lip-smackingly good, almost to the levels as the bread street kitchen taramind ones. To get 6 aswell for a fiver, win.

Unlike every other restaurant in town, P&B do not charge for service, leaving you to actually tip what you want instead of it being begrudging imposed on. Hallelujah. The friendly, enthusiastic service despite a hectic opening night, made up for our brief time in the cold. With the option of takeaway aswell this place is onto a winner. For me it's the best of the bunch of the Burger Triangle

Patty and Bun on Urbanspoon

Burger & Shake @BurgerShake
47 Marchmont Street

Inside is like a dulex colour chart, tile swatches from white to dark blue, but it's classy, much like the lettering above the window.  It fits in well with the street and area, and as such attracts a much higher class clientele through it's doors. It's been a while since I walked into a burger joint to see someone eating one with a knife and fork. Enough to make you audibly gasp. With the same amount of covers as P&B the space is managed well, split between a few tables of four one side and splits of 2 the other. 
Touch screen tablets must be a waitresses nightmare, this is definitely not a place not needed, choice of burger (w or w/ cheese or bacon) hot dog and lobster roll is probably more manageable on a pad, and made ordering a bit stagnated. 

At £9 for the house burger, without fries, is pushing it considering the pricing structure of similar burgers, consider the Honest Burger with fries for same price. The patty is good, cooked perfectly and well seasoned, and the bacon crisp without being overdone. The other toppings didn't really work, the pickles far too thin to add any sort of bite and no noticeable trace of the horseradish in the ketchup.  The fries were pretty standard, and for £3 addition is pushing it, especially with an obligatory 12.5% added. The bill indicates these were double fried, well in this town if it's not cooked at least 3 different ways and seasoned with some kinda herb infused salt you've not read your 'what's on-trend' pamphlet. 
The 'Shake' part of the menu lived up to expectations, the ovaltini (of course served in a martini glass) was great. I think it was too much of a coincidence that Kelis - Milkshake was played as soon as this was  put down! 
The owners seemed keen to make sure customers were satisfied, and is a welcome addition to bloomsbury, and although for me not hitting the high notes of somewhere like Honest, there is little else around towards this end of Bloomsbury that really stands in it's way. And if you really feel like splashing out there is lobster roll

Burger & Shake on Urbanspoon

6 Store st

As for the new Byron in Store Street, well it's much of the same you come to expect from Byron, good burgers, excellent customer service, and probably one of the smallest Byron's I've been in. Store Street espresso just opposite is perfect for a double espresso afterwards as well. It maintains the typical Byron forte of indiviudalising each of it's restaurants with it's own unique charm. Such is the success of Byron it's ideal for those too lazy/busy to walk 0.4 miles to either the St.Gile's High street, or Rathbone place restaurants!

147 Wardour Street

BRGR.CO Soho make me sad. After 4 burgers in 6 days, it's safe to say the best was not saved to last. Although I managed to get a free burger in their twitter giveaway, I'd rather pay for something worthwhile. I don't really know where to start, on the positives their staff are nice and service was efficient considering this was their most busiest day giving away 500 burgers over twitter limited to 2 days! A fair feat.

The giveaway was restricted to the 4oz and 6oz burger, predictably I went for the 6oz 'Tender Blend' which was described as a phenomenal blend of the most tender beef cuts...' bold statement since their gourmet signature 6oz 'Butcher's cut' contains EXACTLY the same description..errrr. Speaking of the menu, their choice of dips, are cajun or malt tarragon aioli, horseradish mustard yogurt, or their house dip, none really appealed, even in an adventurous 'that's different, i'll give that a shot'. Boldly stated on their tables is a 'quirky' sheet stating that a PhD in BRGROLOGY takes twice as long as mastering the art of cutting the Fugu fish, clearly they spent more time procrastinating on their PhD than I have on mine.

Soon after sitting I sensed a smell I'd not experienced since working at McDonalds 11 years ago, burger fat hmmmmm, clearly their extractor fans are not nearly adequate enough.
Soon enough the burger appeared, patty flat and squashed, greasy bun with all the ingredients on the side. I don't want to have to construct the burger myself, if I didn't want something just ask to have it left out. Since I got extra cheese it's a bit of a task to insert as the cheese sticks to the patty and disintegrating bun. The patty is relatively tasteless and it's not just under seasoned, there is no seasoning. Angels just a few metres away is more tasteful.

To add insult to injury, service charge was added to my extra cheese, even Byron only adds service when it's for groups over 8, I had to make the burger myself do I tip myself? For a similar price you can go to Honest burger not 3 minutes walk away and get the cheese burger with fries. I mentioned this to the waitress when asked if I would be back, only to be confronted with a statement that their cuts are better(!). Apparently this includes rib-eye, tenderloin, and hanger but this changes in each of their burgers.
On my way back to walk, I went past Honest, and peered through the window. That's how it's done

BRGR Co.  on Urbanspoon

4 burger openings within a 6 days, I gotta give myself a break, I don't know how these burger bloggers manage it all. As far as burger wars go, Patty & Bun is my clear winner from this opening battle.

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