The London Burger Crawl…

I welcome a guest, Leo Palmer, who has a burger story that just must be shared…

The internet, I think we can agree, is full of ‘top ten’ lists. I have nothing against the ‘top ten’ as a concept, but since there are hundreds of ‘top tens’ per subject and even more ‘top ten top tens’, I must confess I find their existence somewhat arbitrary. Having made this earth shattering statement, I will now proceed in recalling an adventure which started by reading a ‘top ten’ list.

The ‘top ten’ in question referred to the best burgers in London. On a slow work day back in 2013, the seed of an idea was formed… what if I and some hardy companions attempted to try all ‘top ten’ burgers in one day? A burger crawl, if you will. Not only would this be a gastronomic delight but also a physical challenge. Little did I know that practically a year later this very idea would have me frantically choosing lettuce over an untouched side of chips, oh my abused stomach.

The premise was simple – me and 3 equally burger happy friends, would plan a route around the ‘top ten’ burger joints in London. ‘The list’ ( as it will now be referred to) was compiled from other ‘top ten’ lists (more ‘top ten top tens’) and from our collective knowledge of the London burger scene. The choices were also constrained by proximity to each other and opening times. We actually had about 14 places mapped which gave us some flexibility if anything unexpected were to happen.

(Here comes the part that some marathon gastronomers might sneer at, we decided that at each place we would have half a burger each… I mean ten burgers in a row! Surely no one expected that?)

We gathered on a sunny Autumn Sunday, three of us had chosen to cycle, while one of our party felt that public transport should be given the chance to prove itself. This is where the more anecdotal style of reminiscing ends. The following list will be presented in the cold scientific manner in which it was conceived and executed…

Scoring system: Each member will give a score out of 10 (of course) referring to: 1. taste, 2. texture, 3. appearance, 4. ambiance. These will than be averaged to get a final score. We are excluding price because we feel ‘perceived value’ shouldn’t affect quality.

Patty & Bun 12:00

This establishment is on most ‘top ten’ lists. It was our first port of call and thus had the benefit of our hunger and excitement. A very pleasant dining area with windows opening to the street, staff were very friendly and accommodating, but then we were the first customers of the day… The room soon filled up, and the atmosphere was great, music wasn’t too loud, and we got free drinks because we had to move tables to fit more guests in (never a bad sign!). Nice feature was a lack of plates, just a sheet of greaseproof paper on which to drool.

  1. Taste – 6.5
  2. Texture – 6.5
  3. Appearance – 7.5
  4. Ambiance – 7

Overall Score: 7

Burger One
Burger One

The Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) 12:44

Quite a change of scene from P&B, but by no means a negative one. This is a restaurant which, I have been informed, generally serves excellent food. Will its Kimchi Burger hold up…Yes! In short, yes. Great and unexpected flavours make for a truly inspired burger. What’s more, the chips were a work of art in themselves. It doesn’t stop there, great decor paired with excellent service make this a very high early entry.

  1. Taste – 9
  2. Texture – 8.5
  3. Appearance – 8
  4. Ambiance – 10

Overall Score: 9 

Burger Two
Burger Two

The Opera Tavern 13:54

A very tasteful tapas restaurant which, though surprisingly empty, felt comfortable. Among us it is known as the place with foie gras burgers. These are small ‘bite-sized’ burgers (we decided not to split these beauties) but perhaps this is under selling them. The patty is thick and juicy and topped with foie gras making this a somewhat vertically challenging bite. The taste is amazing and the small size seems like a good choice for such a rich burger. A small personal issue was the cost of beer (the ‘ignore cost’ policy only covers burgers). Frankly, Extortionate.

  1. Taste – 9
  2. Texture – 9
  3. Appearance – 8
  4. Ambiance – 8

Overall Score: 8.5

Burger Three
Burger Three

 

MEATmarket 14:45

This place is going for the ‘trashy fast food yet great tasting’ combo. It succeeds… mostly. I imagine if I went there on a separate occasion I would enjoy it, but given the previous place, I was left cold. Quick service and a perfectly decent cheese burger.

  1. Taste – 5
  2. Texture – 5
  3. Appearance – 6
  4. Ambiance – 5

Overall Score: 5.5 

Burger Four
Burger Four

Bread Street 16:00

Similar to Hawksmoor, this is more of a restaurant that happens to make a mean burger. A comfortable place, probably the most classy of our choices, but arguably a slightly annoying shabby chic décor (cause for debate among the group). Perhaps the most well crafted burger, excellent flavours and clearly good quality meat. We were recommend Village East restaurant (not on the initial list) by the Head Chef of Bread Street who came to have a chat after he heard of our noble quest.

  1. Taste – 8.5
  2. Texture – 8.5
  3. Appearance – 9
  4. Ambiance – 8.5

Overall Score: 8.5 

Burger Five
Burger Five

The Woolpack 17:17

Our first proper pub. Somewhat of a wild card, we diverted here due to badly timed kitchen closure at the aforementioned Village East. The day was on a bit of a low ebb. The Woolpack managed to get us back on track, a great burger, truffle oil and crispy onion chunks, need I say more? I must confess that in a moment of weakness we split this one into quarters. Even as we sat in the beer garden we could feel the weight starting to build in our stomachs. The burger came with chips and salad, within seconds the salad had gone. The fresh crunch of a lettuce leaf was brief respite, we still had quite a way to go.

  1. Taste – 8.5
  2. Texture – 9
  3. Appearance – 6.5
  4. Ambiance – 7

Overall Score: 8

Burger Six
Burger Six

Village East 18:23

Now that kitchen service had resumed, we took our rather comfortable seats and ordered. Yet again to our shame a single burger. It was becoming difficult to judge the burgers objectively, but still this wasn’t a bad burger, and coupled with a relaxed atmosphere all things considered worthy of ‘The List’.

  1. Taste – 7
  2. Texture – 6
  3. Appearance – 5.5
  4. Ambiance – 8

Overall Score: 7

Burger Seven
Burger Seven

Bleeker St. Burger 19:03

Yep, it’s in a van. Perhaps our most modest contender, though by no means lacking in flavour. A great little cheese burger (back to halves). Simple, no fancy ingredients and well put together. I would call it the ‘purists choice,’ the burger is after all a fast food, it should be able to impress on a humble scale. At this point, conversation was limited to grunts, pale faces illuminated by the glow of the van, monotonously chewing what still managed to be a tasty burger.

  1. Taste – 5
  2. Texture – 5
  3. Appearance – 4
  4. Ambiance – 5.5

Overall Score: 5 

Burger Eight
Burger Eight

Lucky Chip 20:01

Another pub, another burger, or to be precise a ‘Royale wit Cheese’. During this… experiment, what continually impressed me was that no matter how full you felt, as you raised the burger to your quivering lips, the first bite still made you want to eat the whole thing. The ‘Royale wit Cheese’ was no exception and I believe our first burger which had bacon… never a bad thing.

  1. Taste – 7
  2. Texture – 5.5
  3. Appearance – 6.5
  4. Ambiance – 6

Overall score: 6.5

Burger Nine
Burger Nine

Dirty Burger (Shoreditch) 21:00

Prior to this tour, Dirty Burger was my burger joint of choice, so perhaps it was a fitting end. The familiar corrugated tin shack welcomed us with a musty smell. We ordered the special – a double cheese burger topped with pulled pork and milkshakes. The end was in sight, and we wanted to end on a high. A great, brilliantly sloppy and sticky burger was only hindered by the knowledge that the classic Dirty cheese burger is even better.

  1. Taste – 8.5
  2. Texture – 7
  3. Appearance – 7.5
  4. Ambiance – 6.5

Overall score: 7.5

Burger Ten
Burger Ten

So there we have it, 10 burger joints, 1 day! What a ride… walk… waddle… crawl. Our winner was The Hawksmoor burger with a whopping 9! I have never felt so full for such a continuous amount of time. We saw some great places, many of which I aim to visit again, however not necessarily for a burger. Agreed, we could have eaten more at each sitting, but frankly if it’s not enjoyable then what’s the point?

We know that we missed out plenty of great places, maybe a second trip will be required to solidify our investigation for the greater burger cause, who knows. But for now… I will end on a burger based bun…

Fun facts:

  • 16.3km cycled between Patty & Bun and Dirty Burger
  • Mostly public transport was quicker
  • Cost £55 pp
  • 1.4kg net gain pp

Leo Palmer. Over. (And lying down.)

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Okay, I don’t even eat meat and I’m hungry for a burger now. This is a great experiment and social outing. I wish I could’ve come too!

    1. fayelucinda8 says:

      I know, I was quite jealous! I might have to conduct my own experiment… see if it’s the same for girls as for four burger lovin’ guys.

      1. Yes, I think it might even be more fun. Hah. Just had a thought of you setting this up and then posting it on here as a general invite. Now that would be a real social networking experience! I bet you would overwhelm the burger houses!

      2. fayelucinda8 says:

        I think that would be marvellous… Hoards of hungry bloggers set out to scrutinize their nearest and dearest burger joints. I would love that!

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