Is it me or are burger restaurants coming out of London’s metaphorical ears? It seems that every time I read Time Out, a new burger place is opening up in some trendy part of Shoreditch or Soho. Burger and Lobster is one of the chains that’s opened up quite recently, that I would really like to try. There are only two things on the menu, and there’s no prizes for guessing what those things are.
I’ve already tried some of London’s better known burger chains. Byron is always a failsafe if you’re in the West End and you fancy something a bit more substantial (and a bit naughty) than your average Pret.
My personal favourite burger place though, is the little known Hache in Camden Town. A little fact for you – “hache” derives from the French “to chop.” You can’t really beat 100% ground Scottish beef in a soft brioche bun, but the thing Hache really wins on is the choice of toppings you can add to it. I struggle not to always order the goats cheese and red pepper beef burger. The dry salty taste of the cheese works so well with the sweet pepper and savoury meat. Hache burgers are never dry either – I like how they’re slightly pink in the middle to retain their juciness.
I’d like to comment on the decor and atmosphere of Hache too as it’s a far cry from your usual American diner style burger joint. You find it by coming out of Camden tube, turning right, then immediately left down the trendy little Inverness Street, which almost resembles backstreet Berlin. It’s hard to spot from the outside as there’s no neon sign or brash branding, that you might expect from such a place. Instead, you’re greeted by soft outdoor lighting and a European style outside porch sitting area.
As you go inside, it feels more like a French bistro than a burger restaurant. You expect to see escargot and steak tartare adorning the plates, rather than juicy brown buns full to the brim.
London’s brilliant burger restaurants are obviously inspired by those that can be found everywhere in America. One variation on the standard burger, which I only came across last year, is the “Slider.” When visiting the delightful Lisa Khatri in NYC last year, she insisted “you guys must try sliders!” Jake and I looked at one another slightly puzzled… was she referring to some kind of adult outdoor play contraption? We were later to find out that sliders are in fact, minature burgers.
In principle, sliders don’t taste any different to ordinary burgers, but for some reason their size almost leads your mind to believe that they are sweeter in flavour (maybe it’s the whole cherry tomato thing that does it.)
I went to one of mine and Jake’s old haunts Giant Robot last night, with my lovely Antiques House colleagues. It’s a restaurant come bar right near Farringdon station which has low-key American diner written all over it. It proudly offers “Balls and Sliders” on its menu, which might be a tad mind-boggling initially. Last time I went there, I ordered the beef meatballs, which were incredibly spicy. I do love a hot curry, but this was almost unbearable! This time, I opted for.. yep you guessed it… the sliders.
The French fries on the side were so-so to be honest. Slightly dry and not very hot. Hmm. But the sliders didn’t disappoint, which was afterall, the main event! I ordered the beef and gherkin slider as well as the slightly less conventional turkey and sausage slider with fennel salami and spicy tomato sauce. The sauce was certainly spicy and oozed out of the burger as I bit into it – delicious!
Giant Robot is a good option if you’re in the Farringdon area and you fancy a cool bar slash restaurant type of affair. But if you’re craving a burger I’d always say head down to Camden to Hache.