Restaurant

Patty & Bun, Liverpool St

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Here’s a restaurant that has been praised  by the masses. The restaurant that started out as a pop up and now has Liverpool Street, James Street and now London Fields to call home. Patty & Bun is one of the most talked about burger restaurants in London, renowned for its no frills style dining, with only room for up to 30 diners at a time, takeway service and a concise and creative menu which gets straight to the point. Although, when something has been held at such high par, it has so much further to fall.

Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer

My friend and I targeted the Liverpool Street branch for ease of after work antics. We were warned about the limited seating but weren’t expecting such a small venue. I jumped onto the first table I saw and last one available, only to be politely ushered back into the queue as that’s not quite how it works here. You queue up, state whether you want to eat in or out, order a drink and then once a table is available for you then you can order your meal. The layout of the restaurant is definitely feeding off the fast food vibe but with a much more tasteful interior, high set wooden seating opposite the counter and characteristic brick interior classes up the vibe without deviating from the point that this is not a place you dine for the night, maybe half an hour then move on.

The menu at a first glance is exciting, but the longer you look at it the smaller it seems to get. Not necessarily in a bad way. Everything sounds delicious, and you can truly appreciate the fun and thought that has gone into each option. The ‘Ari Gold’ burger had me at hello, not only for the love of the Entourage character from which the name emerged but it also just sounded ‘perf’ (Beef patty, Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickled onions, Ketchup, Smokey P&B mayo, Brioche) at £7.50 and add bacon for 50p. Other burgers included the likes of the ‘Lambshank Redemption’ (Lamb Patty with Coriander and Chilli, Lettuce, Buttermilk Baby Corguettes, Pickled Aubergine, Cumin Aioli, Feta, Brioche) at £8 which my friend chose or the ‘Hot Chic’ Chicken burger (Marinated buttermilk fried chicken, Spicy slaw, Pickled cucumbers, Lettuce, Garlic sauce, Brioche) at £8.50 which I was hesitant to order in fear of comparing it to street food champions ‘Breddos’ buttermilk chicken which is to die for. Sides included the ‘Thunder Thighs’ which came with either Smoked Jalepeno Butter Sauce  or Tamarind glaze. And some fancy chips with Roast Chicken Mayo & Chicken Skin Salt.

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The food arrived 15 minutes later, served up on a red, diner tray and the burger wrapped up in a cute fast food style package. The ‘Thunder Thighs’ I ordered with the smoked jalepeno butter sauce, we ordered were slightly more intimidating than I imagine. The portion of three come served in a small small bowl, swimming in thick, bright red sauce – which if I’m honest I imagined to be any other colour than red. Forget them, back to what matters. Once unwrapped, this burgers aesthetics made my heart jump, ironically. A burger has never looked so perfectly put together, all the ingredients piled high and peeping out from that brioche bun as they should.

Although this did actually cause some problems when it came to eating. I genuinely could not fit the damn thing in my mouth. On top of that, with every attempted bite a ridiculous amount of grease squeezed out from the other side and onto, thank god, my tray. So due to this, I had to lean so far forward to ensure it did actually fall onto my tray and not my lap that I almost fell out of my god damn seat.

Taste wise, it wasn’t until my last few bites that the quality of the beef patty was actually brought out. To my disappointment, all those fantastic ingredients that I’d been so excited about where drowned in tomato ketchup, which is great in small portions but this just ruined a burger that when cut down to basics was fantastic. The melt-melt-in-your-mouth patty and crunchy bacon were a hit, but as a whole, this burger was a disappointment. I wish I could have turned to the chicken thighs with more enthusiasm but the sauce held too many similarities to Buffalo Sauce, which I had a bad run in with a few weeks before at Bad Egg. Maybe this is just personal opinion but I strongly believe that sauce should either be served on the side or bottled for you to apply how much you want.

Overall, the experience was fun – the menu was creative and the food incredibly instagram worthy. I know a lot of people out there will disagree with me, but taste wise, it just didn’t hit the spot. So I’m going to say it’s definitely worth a try, but if you’ve eaten at Bleecker Street Burgers, don’t get too excited.

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Ben’s Canteen, Battersea

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Along with the big burger restaurants we have all heard of in London, I love a local beauty just as much. I found out about this little gem on twitter, where I spend most of my days following restaurants promoting some monstrous burger or gluttonous menu. Ben’s Canteen have a great interactive feed and post some fantastic pictures of their eats and are based in Battersea and Earlsfield, with both a popular brunch, dinner and cocktail menu.

Just a ten minute walk from Clapham Junction station, giving you easy access to all parts of London – the journey back to Stoke Newington was a stretch, but hey I made it! The restaurant itself is really cute, white washed with outdoor seating and the fantastic patio doors which are opened up in the summer. This is something that gets me so excited every time I see it, it’s so childish but doesn’t it just feel like you’re on holiday somewhere beautiful in Europe? My friend and I arrived to find the restaurant in the cool state of busy that you’d expect on a Wednesday evening. The crowd was generally early to mid twenties with a very relaxed vibe. So relaxed in fact we couldn’t actually see any staff about when we first stepped in the door (pet peeve) but after a good wait I clocked the vacant table by the window with my reservation name on a chalk board. We took a seat and started to scan the cocktail menu.

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The cocktail menu is so, so great – it’s not your average joe menu featuring the ‘classic’s such as the Mojito and Pina Colada but really eclectic mixes of sparkling wine and gin. My friend and I ordered the Coconut Cove, a blend of Koko Kanu Coconut Rum, coconut water. sparkling wine, Fiorente elderflower liqueur, lemon balm and pineapple and lime juice. The description left me imagining it to be quite a heavy and sweet drink, but it was so light and refreshing – like a more exotic and classy glass of Pimms. One of the best cocktails I’ve had in London since I moved here last year.

At a first glance the menu felt a little all over the place, there was no real theme and the potential of a chef’s need to be a Jack-of-all trades screaming at me. With starter options ranging from ‘Ben’s Epic Scotch Egg’ to ‘DIY Guacamole and Tortilla Chips’ and mains varying from ’38 Day Aged Shorthorn Steak with Cafe de Paris Butter’ to a ‘Spring Shoot Super Food Salad’. Although the whole thing was a little much to take in at first – it worked. We ended up choosing the ‘Spiced Duck Nuggets’ to start and ‘The BC Burger’ with sweet potato fries for mains.

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I have to admit I didn’t quite know what to expect from the meal, as usually with smaller, localised places to eat it can be quite hit and miss. But I actually felt like I’d hit the jackpot with this one. The Duck Nuggets were lightly breaded and served with thick soy sauce dusted with sesame seeds – six to one serving, so perfect for sharing. Cured for 6 days, the duck was full of flavour and so tender, none of that chewy business you get at the Chinese takeaway next to your local corner shop. One thing to note, they come piping hot – so watch out! The burger arrived shortly after we’d finished our appetiser and my God was it a huge portion. The burger itself was stacked high and the sweet potato fries well, there must have been the equivalent of two potatoes on my plate. I don’t even think ‘fries’ is the right terminology for these babies, they are full on, thick cut chips. Not that I was complaining. They were hands down, the best sweet potato chips I have ever had. Chunky, soft, lightly salted and crispy on the outside – they could not have been more perfect. The burger was also fantastic, the beef patty perfectly cooked and topped with Salt Beef, Homemade Burger Sauce & Smoked Cheese, plus the necessity of the beef tomato and salad garnish. Although, I have to say I really struggled to keep all the ingredients in the bun when I was eating – it was pretty embarrassing. I’m 23, I should know my way around a burger by now.

All in all, a great meal. I didn’t want to stop eating the sweet potato fries or the duck nuggets, they are an absolute must if you visit. The burger was enjoyable but not a main dish I’d be addicted to and keep going back for, such as Red Dog Saloon’s cheeseburgers, in all their greasy goodness. But if you’re in the area, I’d 100% recommend you head down, the food is creative and fun – they even have a DIY donut dessert where you inject the filling of your choice with a plastic syringe. They also have daily specials and happy hour cocktail offers which they promote on twitter, so follow them for updates on their menu. The cocktails are great and the staff are friendly so it makes for a perfect summer evening out.

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Meat Mission, Hoxton

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The firm I work for has this incessant habit of disclosing a fun fact about each of their new employees to the whole company around a week before they start. Mine was the fact I have this food blog – which is a great conversation starter but I also feel a new bout of pressure for each post I write knowing it may be falling under managements eyes. On my first day I was discussing this obsession I have for unhealthy food when a team member mentioned a restaurant near by, where I ‘absolutely must try’ the Dead Hippie Burger at a place called ‘Meat Mission’. Others overheard and one lady backed him up and said she knew the owners before they got big and the restaurant was nothing more than a roaming food truck.

International food chain Meat Liquor is a American style restaurant serving burgers, chicken wings and cocktails. London locations including the West End and also smaller spin off, Meat Mission, in Hoxton. This little food joint has skyrocketed to popularity due to its informal vibe and meat centric menu. It seems that in this day and age the larger and greasier the burger and the more run down the restaurant looks, the more popular it is.

I arrived at prime time and avoided the dreaded queues mentioned in Time Out’s review. My friend and I stood by the door whilst several floor staff rushed past without even a glance in our direction. I know just how busy and stressful it can get as a waitress having worked at Las Iguanas for 6 months in 2013, but one rule our manager drummed into us was ‘watch the door!’ – you have no idea how mad people can get in those seconds that tick by when they’re waiting at the door. Eventually a waitress stops and simply just stares at us…after what feels like a lifetime of discomfort I blurt out ‘table for two?!’. We follow her to a distressed wooden table with chairs along one side and a low bench along the other. The restaurant was fairly busy with a variation in the crowd, from family parties to couples.

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Throughout dining, the service significantly improved and we were not left too long or too briefly to make our decisions. We ordered our drinks and received in good time although, I don’t think I will ever get used to drinking wine from a tumbler glass in public. My university days of drinking alcohol from anything but the appropriate glass are well and truly behind me.

The menu, to me, felt quite sparse. I expected much more choice from such a big chain and remember feeling quite reserved on all varieties of burger. The description of each of the 9 burgers on offer – only 5 of them with a beef patty, sounded exactly the same. Ranging from a classic Cheeseburger to the famous Dead Hippie Burger, each one held the ingredients –  cheese, pickles, lettuce, mustard and onions. Which yes, does compile a delicious sounding burger but leaves little to the imagination for someone feeling adventurous. I went with my team mate’s recommendation – the 2x mustard fried beef patties, dead hippie sauce, pickles, minced white onions, lettuce and cheese – which makes up the Dead Hippie Burger. And threw in a batch of fries, for good sport.

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Moments later, my friend and I’s order arrived. Now, I’m all for a funky replacement for a plate, but I enjoy having my own of whatever that replacement might be. In true American fashion, our order arrived on a red plastic tray, covered only in a white sheet of grease proof paper and some serviettes  – my issue, is that our orders arrived on the same tray. I looked up expectantly at our vanishing waitress at a sign more plates would be coming. But no. One tray for the both of us. Like animals.

The meal itself was good but nothing memorable. It always hurts when the fries are more tasty than the burger. The Dead Hippie did not impress, it looked more like a slider than a full size meal – and I felt my heart drop a little at the absence of a brioche bun. FYI the only way to do burgers in 2015. Honestly, I have no more to say on the meal other than it left me hungry and a little disheartened after all the hype. Although, my friend did say that they were a bad batch – so I feel inclined to try it once more. But in no way will I be rushing back.

Bad Egg, Moorgate

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With a new firm comes new territory, I’d gotten to know the backstreets of Fitzrovia and all it has to offer within the year I’d worked in the area. I’m no longer on West End grounds and find myself close to the quirky streets of East London and smack bang in the city’s centre. At first glance I was worried there wouldn’t be many inspiring eateries amongst the modern concrete and glass clad offices but thankfully a few of my new colleagues have paved the foodie way for me. Luckily, I stumbled across this little gem within my first week.

Bad Egg is the new venture from Neil Rankin – who has previously worked his wonders in both Smokehouse, Islington and Pitt Cue Co, where he has based a menu around the protein packed breakfast favourite, eggs – playing on different flavours from around the globe. The menu boasts dishes ranging from goat’s cheese tacos to Korean sweet and spicy ribs – with feature craft beers on offer and a buzzy diner atmosphere, these lunch sized portions are perfect for your midday escape from the office.

Now there are some things you just don’t order when you’re out with new company such as spaghetti bolognese, noodles or ribs. I like to defy these unwritten rules and enjoy putting my etiquette into good old fashioned practice. Starving and craving something meaty avoiding all salad based dishes on the menu, I went for the Peking Ribs (Umami Rich Soy, Hoisin and Ginger Sauce) and some fries on the side – totalled at £11.50. Pretty good price for Central London.

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Our food came within 10 minutes and to my surprise my dish wasn’t at all messy as I’d pictured, it was one hefty, pork belly rib with a crispy outer layer and smothered in sauce, it looked delicious! The fries were plain and nothing really to shout about but necessary to pair with something as rich flavoured as the ribs I ordered. Another plus to the meal – the rib was so large I could use my knife and fork, usually I wouldn’t really care but it was my 3rd day at work – no way can I walk into the office after lunch with an ambiguous stain on my white shirt now can I? The Peking Ribs were so, so great for the first few mouthfuls, cured and slow cooked to perfection, the meat just fell off the bone. But as I got further through my meal I found it got more difficult to enjoy, maybe I needed more sides to mask the generous helping of hoisin sauce which became more sickly with each bite. Along with the amount of fat that was oozing onto my fork, it just wasn’t for me.

I wouldn’t say it made me write off the restaurant all together, the food looks impressive and the recipes are creative but with the result of my meal and the lack of competent service – generally when hiring a floor staff you choose someone who can remember which customer said what and be able to handle it when there are more than 3 tables with hungry customers. It’s not somewhere I would make dinner reservations on a Saturday night to be the centre point of a planned evening but a good option on the lunchtime list all the same.

Shake Shack, Covent Garden

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You will have seen this little number all over the press recently in recognition of its booming sales and impressive IPO which has outperformed the rest of the industry. This modern burger joint started out as a humble food stand in Madison Square Park, New York around 11 years ago and has now expanded to 63 locations around the world, due to popular demand. It’s first day of trading alone valued the company at around $1.6 billion.

So, I thought I’d better get myself in gear and see what the fuss is about.

This burger experience is similar to that of your regular fast food restaurant, you stand in line with your menu which is handed to you at the door and order at the counter. It’s pretty hectic as you can see that behind the counter of the friendly cashiers the kitchen is mayhem. Which doesn’t surprise me as each burger is compiled to perfection, dissimilar to the likes of McDonalds who would probably forget the ‘beef’ patties if they tried hard enough. I ordered a single ShackBurger (Cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce), regular fries (other option, cheesy fries) and a Caramel Shake. In true sugar addict fashion I couldn’t not get a Shake, particularly as this wasn’t a regular milkshake, it’s made with frozen custard – and custard is one of my favourite things.

ShakeShack is located in Covent Garden’s covered market on the first floor, which is ideal for them as they’re hitting a tourist hotspot but not so ideal for the customers – well in winter anyway. The layout kind of killed the excitement for me as all the indoor seats were taken so we were left to face the freezing temperatures either inside or outside the covered market. First we tried the outside seating as the electric heaters held some appeal only to find they did as much good as fingerless gloves – sounds like a good idea, do not do their job. So we went for the ones inside the covered market, which blocked the breeze a little.

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Back to the food. It was so, so great. The burger itself, perfection, it just melts in your mouth – the patty cooked medium and paired with the softest brioche bun. One thing that really impressed me, is as I mentioned earlier, every burger does look perfect and exactly how they advertise. The crinkly chips were light and crispy – fairly addictive. Then there was the Shake. I want one everyday of my life for the rest of my life but my inner nutritionist tells me no. Frozen custard is the way forward and much less sickly than your regular milkshake packed out with ice cream and chocolate bars and God knows what else.

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So yes, I strongly recommend visiting Shake Shack. It is worth the hype. Although, it’s unlikely to replace your other fast food chain favourites as you are paying around double the price for essentially ‘a burger in a bag’ as my friend cynically put. The average meal of a burger, fries and shake is around £13 and the menu does have a good variety, with the option to double up on patties in each one. They also serve wine and beer, which is a change for a takeout setup. I’ve heard good things about their ‘Shroom Burger (Crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce) and I will slowly be working my way through all of their Shakes on offer.