Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hawksmoor Christmas Burger

A little jaunt earlier to check out Hawksmoor Seven Dials’ Christmas Burger saw a momentous occasion and newsworthy joining of forces...

Not only was it @scouserachel’s maiden Blonde-ing to yours truly, but I was also privileged enough to witness her own judgment day. The annual Christmas sarnie summation took this Blonde viral pre-George Michael fame, and this was surely to be the pinnacle of the genre. Sorry Pret, but there is actual GRAVY here.

Coming in at £15 including more carbs than are ever wise before an afternoon’s work, the Christmas burger also hosts a little jug of gravy for dipping both the duck fat tatties and the multitudinous ingredients falling from the burger.

It’s on trend in terms of buttermilk fried blah blah, but doing so to turkey is an even smarter upgauge of a more boring bird. There is Tamworth sausage which is a ‘quietly deluxe’ McDonalds breakfast sausage patty. These guys are just so clever. There is a huge rasher of bacon. Sprout tops provide the greenery. Cranberry ketchup the lube. Oh, and masses of cheese – all piled into a perfect brioche bun.

Quite reasonably, the bun did struggle under this burden, and I granted myself special dispensation to knife and fork it after a few lifting attempts. I’m quite a stubborn weirdo with burgers (not even really approving of halving them), but this is a sloppy beast. It encompasses hot, crispy, smooth, sharp, salty, sweet – any sensation you could ever need in a lunchtime.

I’ve not much else to say except run and get one while you can… meanwhile I’m halfway to horizontal at my desk. I really should be dozing on the couch swearing at Eastenders instead, my Christmas dining having peaked today. Hawksmoor, as ever, just get it right.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Rapha Cycle Club

Rapha Cycle Club is almost a little too cool for its own good. It’s a sleek, metallic, industrial space, split between cyclewear and a café area. The people at first glance are as you’d expect: inked-up cliques of a better-heeled (and wheeled) variety than Look Mum No Hands.

On closer inspection, there were more folk in civvies than in cycling attire, and the staff were incredibly welcoming. No exclusive cyclist ghetto is this, unlike the terror of deigning to perch on the wall where Poland St meets Broadwick.  

Focaccia was a good size and price (£4.50) for these parts, especially when eating in and it’s grilled and served with a decent handful of dressed salad. It was packed full of prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and a great lunch. My long black was delicious – I believe they’re moved from Monmouth Beans to Square Mile. 

Interestingly, it was predominantly male and is effectively a very blokey coffee joint. Any ‘coffee date’ I have with a male friend inevitably results in a brief stand-off before one caves in to proclaim “fuck it, fancy a pint?”, and the faux-intentions of coffee are long consigned to history. But at Rapha there are actually plenty of guys having a coffee together. Talking tats. And hedge funds.

They sell booze (a short, eclectic wine list and Kernel beers) and with some music on, it wouldn’t be too shabby a place to come for a quick evening drink, or a cheeky afternoon one. And I thoroughly enjoyed the buzzy, original surroundings too, which reminded me of the many ‘concept’ café-in-retail offerings in Tokyo. I look forward to returning for the braised beef brioche – effectively pie filling encased in a brioche bun, which at £3.50 seems great value.

Rapha Cycle Club on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 December 2012


BRGR is rubbish. There isn’t a massive point in writing a great deal because I would advise anybody from going there and W1 offers a far better array of burgers within spitting distance but to summarise: 

  • The burger patties are all uniform, flattened and too large in diameter. There should be some element of challenge to eat it.
  • Only one type of cooking is ‘advised’ per burger, which gives the impression of expertise and to-order cooking, but is actually a passive-aggressive assembly line.         
  • My 6oz, even though medium-rare, didn’t taste of anything. Except warm mince. 
  • My cheesy fries were just regular fries with some cold grated cheese chucked on. 4am Kebabish style.
  • The space is too smoky (it stinks of well-done burgers, which is how the house burger is served!) and is in serious need of better ventilation. 

There’s not much more to say, but I love a good rant, so I'll continue. The staff were very pleasant but who gives a monkey’s when the fundamental product is so bad. They're surely all actors in between Shakespearean leads – they certainly deserve Oscars for hawking this shite with a smile.

Quite how a joint with such chutzpah and designs on provenance can output something so insipid is astonishing. If you’re going preach about select butcher cuts like a Pedigree Chum ad, then you need to back it up with your product. Or overseason. Or cheat. Worcestershire sauce, parmesan, garlic, shallots, anything…would've been a boost here. Easily the worst medium-rare burger I’ve ever had.

The bun is photogenic and shiny but again ineffectual, surrendering in despair under the burden of such crud. It’s all ‘heel’ with no actual bread substance. No burgers come with cheese as standard either. I didn’t ask for it as I wasn’t paying attention, but received it regardless and was charged a quid.

The whole experience reminded me of trips to Swiss Cottage Garfunkel’s in the 90s (not even Tootsies, RIP) which sadly did happen on occasion. But we didn’t know any better in those days. Nor did we have Honest Burgers. But we do now. So don’t bother…

Food – 3/10
Drink – 6/10 (good lemonade, one beer on offer)
Service - 8/10
Value – 6/10
Tap water tales – 3/10 (not offered or asked)
Staff Hotness - 8/10

BRGR Co.  on Urbanspoon
Square Meal