Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Workshop Coffee (ex-St. Ali)

Working close to Workshop Coffee  as I do some days, I’ve spent quite a lot of time there. I’ve known it primarily as St. Ali and the unexpected name change hasn’t quite sunk in.

Getting good coffee in London is no longer a rarity worth crossing town for, and a decent brew knocked up with Square Mile, Monmouth or Climpsons is easily found now. But Workshop and a few others go a little further. The single-origin beans, house roastery and faffy techniques nobody really needs like AeroPress, Chemex and siphon are what elevate them to the highest echelons of the land of coffee. The upshot of this is the possibility of paying a criminal £3-4 for a single origin filter from their specials list.

But I’m not here to talk about the coffee - this is an ode to a burger. The food here is a mirror image of the standards - serious, high quality and highly priced. The baked goodies throughout the day are all made in-house, imperfect in shape perhaps but full of taste and fresh fruit. The sandwiches are the norm for modern indie coffee joints - modest in size but not scope.

Now and again a burger breaks out of the humdrum league of pretty good burgers to exalt itself above its countrymen and bask in foodie glory. Currently doing the rounds is the sexy beast from the Cod in Chelsea, once a misguided, underage hangout of mine in the mid 90s. Byron’s Chilli Queen is also darkening the Twitter feeds of our seemingly important but actually rather small sphere of burger nutters. And I'd wager that The Workshop Burger could do the same:

It’s £11.95 which is about market price for a burger of this quality. The bun is brioche, but not overly eggy or sweaty. More glowing like a lady. Importantly, it’s mealy enough to hold everything in place without disintegrating under the tomato dribble. 

The cheese is comté, an absolute favourite of mine but not used so much in burgers. Considering it’s such a perfect melting cheese, it’s a rare choice.

The patty itself is lovely. I was on a work lunch so could only justify one picture sadly! I requested medium but it was gratefully on the pink side of that – nicely charred on the edges. The chipotle mayo added some more smokiness too. 

It's just so damn juicy and flavoursome. And really filling. I find the Byron burgers are over in about five minutes. Chips are ratte potatoes, probably the weak link of the situation but not bad by any means. Some skinny fries would make this superb, as it’s definitely a burger in the neo-trad American approach.

And bonus points for two pickles...

So even if you're not after a coffee, I thoroughly recommend you get yourself down to Clerkenwell Road and feast on this juicy, fat little devil. Wash it down with one of three Kernel or three Meantime beers by the bottle. Perfect.

Food – 9/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 8/10
Value – 7/10
Tap water tales – 10/10
Staff Hotness – 7/10 (more if you like '94 Seattle)

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