The Frenchie, London

been so swamped with life and its many happenings (may or may not have involved 51% play 49% work :P)  in general that i haven’t managed to find much time to write about all the exciting foodie adventures i’ve been on (huge backlog that i will endeavour to clear over christmas break!!!). but i had the pleasure of savouring something that excited me so much on tuesday night that i decided i had to write about it. pronto.

i hereby present to you *drumroll please*… the glorious FRENCHIE in all its glory.
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duck confit in a brioche bun with crispy duck skin scratchings, red onion chutney, mustard, rocket, blue cheese & truffle honey – £6

made the trek to southbank christmas market on a cold rainy night just to have this and i believe it was worth every single step there (along with many other happy patrons who stood in the queue with glistening eyes and later proceeded to stand around the stall mmm-ing and aah-ing as we stuffed our faces in delight). thank goodness it lived up to its hype or i would have been sorely disappointed… i think it has officially made it onto my list of the top 5 ways to spend £6 in london 😉 #heavenisaplaceonearth…

the burgers are made to order and you get to watch hungrily as a mound of duck confit sizzles on a hot plate along with your choice of cheese (blue cheese or goat cheese with truffle honey, raclette or cheddar). the wonderfully fluffy and soft brioche is heated up on the hot plate alongside the duck, and later slathered generously with delicious red onion chutney and mustard before sandwiching the amazingness that is a mini mountain of duck/cheese/scratchings/truffle honey.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the duck was soft, tender, flavourful, well-cooked, and made even better by the occasional crispy edge. topped with melty blue cheese, truffle honey and mayo which provided a real kick, there was an explosion of flavours and textures (from the rocket and scratchings) with each mouthful. oh yessssss the scratchings are surely worth mentioning by themselves… melt-in-your-mouth fatty goodness get in ma belly #YAS. they also added a super nice crunch and were the perfect contrast to the pillowy brioche and soft tender duck. taste-wise, the savouriness of the mustard and cheese were the perfect complement to the sweet honey and red onion chutney. i could go on and on raving about this burger (which i place high up in the esteemed ranks with patty & bun as the closest contender for the title of my all-time favourite burger in london!!!) but i shall stop now and simply urge you to please go try it for yourself!!! (besides being at the southbank for the christmas market, they are also sometimes at brick lane, broadway market and camden lock.)

we also had a serving of duck fat chips with truffle mayo to share. artery-clogging and oh-so-sinful, but very good stuff. i would have preferred them to be a tad crispier on the edges (they were pretty much unabashedly oil-drenched), but they were otherwise very tasty (wouldn’t have expected anything less) and the truffle mayo was fragrant and light, the perfect accompaniment to them chips.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAduck fat chips with truffle mayo – £2.50

i was so satisfied that i was all ready to head home after that 1 burger (which i refused to share with anyone; thankful for friends who understand my need to have my own serving of certain delectably divine foods… heh), but because the southbank christmas market this year is officially a food heaven, we could not resist getting a few (or more) other things to share. other things on the agenda included:
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pulled pork mac n’ cheese toastie (!!!) from grill my cheeseOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
quintessential christmas market food – dutch pancakes with maple syrup (because nutella is too mainstream :P) and strawbz
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super yummy smoked polish sausage from the polish deli

NB: copious amounts of hot chocolate and mulled wine/cider not pictured…

the southbank christmas market has seriously upped its game this year and is definitely worth a visit! i loved every bit of it – compared to the glitzy and commercialised winter wonderland, the southbank market is distinctly different – all cosy and warm like you’re in your neighbour’s backyard enjoying some good good warm food in the cold and under magical fairylights ❤OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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BOBO Social, London

yet another new kid on the london burger block, and this time just a stone’s throw away from where i stay. i’m certainly not complaining! 😛 bobo social is a newly-opened burger joint in fitzrovia located in a cosy shop at the very end of charlotte street which prides itself on offering great burgers in a charming and civilised (i say civilised because your experience at bobo social will probably be far from the usual unglamorous juice-and-sauce-dripping-all-over-your-hands-and-running-down-your-wrists experience that many other burger joints offer) environment.

there has been quite a bit of hype surrounding it since it opened, so it was a natural choice for one of my first meals back. indeed, we knew it was popular but didn’t realise quite how popular it was until we heard they were often full and reservations needed to be made in advance. so we promptly called on thursday night to make a reservation for lunch on friday, but turns out we had moved too slowly because they were already full :O some #seriousbusiness going on here! nevertheless, intent on not letting anything get in the way of us and our burgers, we decided to go with the lunch deal advertised on their website, and took away our burgers to the park to enjoy them as we basked in the (last of) summer sunshine.

i arrived a little before 1pm to place the takeaway order, and was greeted by warm and smiling staff who were efficient and offered me a seat while i waited for the food to be prepared. the place was nearly full on the ground floor (they were expecting to be full by 1pm), and if i’m not wrong they have more seating in the basement.
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decor is simple but tasteful, and i noted how patrons who were dining in were served their burgers on an eclectic mix of intentionally-mismatched dining ware – the burgers sat neatly right in the centre of the pretty vintage plates, and tucking into the burgers with fork and knife was a very civilised and dainty affair.

didn’t take a picture of the menu i was handed, but its available here at their website. you’ll notice that unlike other burger joints, on top of sides, they have a range of small plates, cocktails, wines and a decent selection of desserts (a friend tried the white chocolate cheesecake for dessert and gave it her stamp of approval). i believe this is how they are hoping to differentiate themselves from the rest – offering a full dining experience instead of the idea of “fast food” typically associated with burgers.

for the takeaway deal which is available daily from 12-2pm and is what we went for, you get a original BOBO burger and a side for a reasonable £10. i only waited about 10 minutes before i was presented with 2 big paper bags of food glorious food.
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arrived at the park and excitedly dug into the paper bags to unveil and lay out them goods (this isn’t all; we had 5 burgers and 5 sides in total).
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behold, the BOBO burger basking in last friday’s glorious sunshine:20141003_132511
BOBO burger – 6oz rare-breed beef, lettuce, tomatoes, charcoal-roasted red onions, BOBO sauce (£8.50 or £10 with a side for takeaway)

size-wise, the burger wasn’t very big and i could handle it quite comfortably with one hand. good for the weight and health-conscious who see this as a guilty indulgence, the burgers aren’t very large or greasy at all so they leave you feeling satisfied but not too full. the lettuce, tomatoes and onions were fresh and complemented the beef patty well. on to the beef patty – according to their menu, their burgers are handmade daily using rare-breed beef, and single species wood is used in their charcoal ovens to enhance the flavour of the meat. i must say that the beef patty was indeed well-seasoned, flavourful and very tasty. the meat was coarsely-ground giving it a really nice hearty texture, and the patties were also all cooked to medium-rare perfection, just look at that wonderful pink! :20141003_132846we all felt that they could have been juicier though; they were a tad dry, resulting in no messy juice-dribbling-moments at all. i would also have preferred more sauce; it seemed like i hardly had any of it so unfortunately i can’t really say what BOBO sauce tastes like! as for the next most important part of a burger, the burger bun, BOBO uses buttermilk brioche buns which i enjoyed very much – buttery, soft and fluffy, worthy of proudly emblazoning a big “B” across the top as they do. all in all, it was a pretty satisfying burger but it didn’t quite blow my mind or excite me in the way that i had hoped. the BOBO burger is definitely closer to the style of honest burgers, clean and simple, without the sauciness of patty & bun’s offerings. its worth noting that the rest of their offerings on the menu sound very promising though, and might be vastly different from the original BOBO.

just realised (very belatedly) that i forgot to take a close-up shot of the sides, so unfortunately you’ll have to make do with squinting a little to see them in the picture of everything laid out above, and then envisaging them in their full glory in your minds. for the sides, we went for 2 servings of sweet potato fries, 1 serving of skin-on beef dripping chips, 1 serving of apple slaw with toasted pumpkin seeds, and 1 serving of mixed leaf salad with pomegranate and croutons.

the favourites were definitely the sweet potato fries and the apple slaw. the apple slaw was refreshing and a nice and healthy (relatively) accompaniment to the burgers. the apple was sweet and wasn’t sliced too thinly such that they retained crunch and juiciness, while the dressing was light despite it being mayo-ish. our other healthy side was the mixed leaf salad with pomegranate. it wasn’t anything to shout about, a light accompaniment that could probably be served at any other restaurant.

as for the sweet potato fries, i loved how they were chunky and rather thickly-cut, almost like wedges except that they were still rectangular and generally fry-shaped, not wedge-shaped. i can imagine that they would have been even better if taken fresh at the restaurant; they were unfortunately a little soggy by the time we tucked into them, but still satisfying and remotely crispy on the outside nevertheless! they were supposed to be sprinkled with truffle salt but unfortunately there was nary a hint of that… as for the beef dripping BOBO chips, given their fancy-sounding name and the fact that they were named after the restaurant, i had very high hopes! they ended up meeting my expectations, but not quite surpassing them in any way. they were good fries, but not particularly outstanding and in fact i think they could have done with a little less salt.

all in all, we were all a little let down and agreed that the burgers at BOBO didn’t quite live up to our high expectations. admittedly, our expectations were pretty high because we had heard so much about the burgers, and the fact that we took them away instead of dining in probably reduced the taste-good factor, even if just by a little. we also found the prices rather steep compared to the other big burger names in town (patty & bun still remaining my top choice and honest coming in a not-very-close second; i swear patty & bun really has my heart 😀 ), and hence all agreed that we wouldn’t quite jump at the chance to head back to bobo. that said, the other burgers on the BOBO menu (which come at a heftier price tag) sound really interesting and i like the idea of the experimental burger sessions they have on monday nights, so there is definitely reason to give it another chance!

BOBO Social
95 Charlotte Street
London W1T 4PZ
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PS. we didn’t know then, but that friday turned out to be what seems to be the last day of summer… its suddenly gotten cold and it seems like dreary london is here to stay for winter 😦
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picnic-perfect ❤

Honest Burgers, London

and the search for london’s best burgers continues, this time with my visit to honest burgers in soho to give their much-raved about burgers a try. arrived around 630pm on a thursday night to get my burger fix, just in time to snag one of two outdoor tables to have our meal at. we were told that we would have to wait for about half an hour to get a table inside, so our protesting empty stomachs got the better of us and made us opt for the alfresco dining (in winter?!) option. it was nice anyway, because honest burgers is located in a cosy shop along a short residential side street that hardly sees any cars going down it.

the menu at honest burgers is simple; they have on offer a chicken burger, 3 types of beef burgers (each with more toppings than the one before), a vegetarian option, and a special that changes quite often from what i can see on their facebook page:
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thank goodness for the menu’s simplicity, because i would probably have been super indecisive and taken ten times the time i took to decide what to order if it was any more extensive. it was hard enough deciding between the honest and the special, but i eventually settled on the honest since i decided i had to try the house special before moving on to other things that might have too many distractions from the basic burger!

service was rather slow but we (kindly?) attributed it to the crowd, and the fact that we were seated outside so it was more difficult to get their attention. luckily we got our food when we did, because we were starting to feel the effects of sitting outside ie our hands were getting cold and we needed to get them busy stuffing our faces with food!20140206_190052
honest burger: beef, red onion relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber & lettuce – £9.50 (comes with a side of rosemary fries)

we were pleasantly surprised and very pleased that all the burgers (at the prices stated on the menu) come with a side of fries! because i was nursing a bad throat that day, i requested for the beetroot and apple coleslaw instead, a request that they very gladly acceded to. extra points for that! 20140206_190351
picture of topless burger so you can see the red onion relish!

the burger was decently-sized, and they were generous with their portions of sides. i’ll start with the beef patty – it was meaty, chunky, very tasty and cooked to moist and juicy pink perfection. all their meat is supplied from the ginger pig, none of that processed patty meat here; this was some high quality meat and you could definitely taste it! what made it even better was the generous amount of cheddar melted on the top – mmmmmmm… my only qualm was that i felt the beef patty could have been a tad bigger. the smoked bacon was delicious and very tasty, but it wasn’t fried till it was crispy so if you’re a fan of crispy bacon, you’d probably be a little disappointed. veggies at the bottom of the burger were fresh, and i liked the addition of large chunky pickle slices. the red onion relish was also a lovely addition, adding sweetness and moistness to a burger that might otherwise have bordered dangerously on being dry due to the lack of sauce.

i was disappointed by the burger bun, though. it was rather dry and i was hoping for something more glazed and brioche-like. maybe that’s not what they were intending to go for though? at least it was served freshly toasted so it was nice and warm.

think you can tell that the bun was rather dry from this pic:20140206_190640

it was otherwise a very satisfying burger. was generally quite a clean eat (ie no sauce dribbling unglamorously down our forearms) and not heavy because of its focus on simple but high quality ingredients.

moving on to the sides, the rosemary chips were quite possibly some of the best chips i have had. they are a must-have!!! i was having a sore throat, but i simply could not resist having more after having one chip. the rosemary flavour is strong but not overpowering, and my friend and i felt that the chips were of just the right size and thickness. they were crispy on the outside but thick enough to have a nice soft potato-ey bite hidden within that crispiness. finger-lickin’ good! they also weren’t too oily, which always makes the chips-eating experience more guilt-free (deceivingly so!!!). we happily lapped up every single chip that the burger was accompanied by.

as for the beetroot and apple coleslaw, it was a very refreshing change from the burgers and chips; a great option if you’re looking for something healthier! it was light, fresh and tasty. general taste was like normal coleslaw though i thought it was definitely less tart than coleslaw can sometimes be when made with raw cabbage. it also had less of a thick mayonnaise-y kind of consistency and a lovely sweetness that came from the apple and beetroot combination.

additional sides can be ordered at £2.50 per serving.

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honestly (pun completely intended 😉 ), i still prefer the burgers at patty & bun, though i also must say that they’re just different types of burgers. the honest burger is more of a classic burger with very good traditional toppings while the patty & bun burgers have more interesting recipes with exciting sauces and combinations. so it really depends on what kind of burger you’re looking for… honest is probably worth going to for their amazing rosemary chips, but patty & bun has their amazing wings too! i definitely feel that the patty & bun burger bun is better though!

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Honest Burgers

4A Meard St, Soho
London W1F 0EF

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The Exhibit, Balham

an invitation to check out the revamped menu of a happening joint in the heart of balham was too good to turn down, so it was on a rainy thursday night that the 2 of us made the trek into zone 3 to pay the exhibit a visit! we were afraid we would be unable to locate the restaurant but thankfully it was just a stone’s (more like a grain of sand, actually) throw away from the tube station – so not to fret; even in zone 3, the exhibit is extremely accessible!

we got out of the tube station, and 2 minutes later, we were here:
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rach was thrilled by the old-school diner sign and the classic movie timings display, so it was with high hopes that we stepped through the doors and into the exhibit. we headed right up to the 1st floor (making a mental note to check out the bar after) where the diner was. immediately we were struck by how american the layout of the diner was.
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as we were ushered to our seats we were informed that there was a thursday night deal where shakes went for £1 (for a soft shake) or £2 (for a hard, ie with alcohol) each. they have different deals every night which keeps things exciting and people coming back for more (and more). we were particularly taken in by the “movie nights” deal where you get 2 courses and a movie ticket (to catch a film in their boutique cinema on the 2nd floor) for just £15.90 – a real steal, in our opinion! check out the blackboard for the full range of offers:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

for a thursday night, the place was pretty crowded but service was still efficient which was great! here’s the all-american artery-clogging (but totally worth the reduction in lifespan) menu:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

while deliberating what to get (ordering is always a life-changing decision), we decided to start with 2 shakes – a cookie monster soft shake (on the left) and a tiramisu hard shake.
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cookie monster – £4 (£1 with a main on thursdays), tiramisu – £7 (£2 with a main on thursdays)

i (rach) had the cookie monster and loved every drop of it. it was thick, creamy and full of cookie goodness, though i think what could have made it even better would be the addition of some chunky cookie bits. it was also surprisingly not cloyingly sweet, which allowed me to make my way steadily through the entire glass instead of having to leave half of it, as milkshakes often make you do. very satisfying for this cookies and cream fan over here! nic ordered the tiramisu shake which was what jumped out at him from the menu once we were seated but he was, unfortunately, kept in his seat. we both found it a little too diluted and icy; we tasted more alcohol than anything else and even after mixing the cream in, it lacked the thick creaminess that one would expect from a shake.

and now on to the food, we decided to try as wide a variety of food from the menu and settled on the ribs and a burger. we were told the signature was a firm favourite with both the staff and customers. we were also keen on the wild boar and chorizo burger but popular opinion swayed us towards the purist’s beef burger. to accompany those 2 mains, we had a 5 inch stack of onion rings (and promptly regretted not going for a taller tower of that finger-lickin’ goodness) and the interesting-sounding skins with mushrooms.

food glorious food!
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the signature burger is a hand-made ground steak beef patty enclosed in a seeded brioche bun, topped with red lettuce, onion, relish, dill pickle and mustard mayo. we built on that by adding jalapeños, guacamole, cheddar and a fried egg (they have an impressively huge range of toppings to choose from, that can be added to any burger on the menu). when it arrived, nic had the chance to show off his superior photography skills (or so he thinks) by snapping this pic:
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signature burger – £7.25 + toppings (prices as stated on menu)

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the burger was very decently-sized and because of what we had packed into it, it was extremely hearty and satisfying! since most people are most concerned with the patties in their burgers, patties first – they were extremely meaty, chunky, and we could really taste the meat, though we would have preferred it to be a bit more medium-rare (though i’m sure you can make a request for that). it was clearly not factory-made and was quite a thick slab such that it wasn’t lost in all the other ingredients that we had added. together with everything else we had picked, it made for a delicious burger. especially the fried egg because, as rach always says, she is a complete sucker for wet egg yolks, and this was one such amazing egg. given how amazing the fillings were, the brioche bun was a bit of a let down. it wasn’t as buttered as we would have liked and was a tad too thick. nonetheless as a whole the burger was delectable.

we also ordered a full rack of ribs to share:
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full rack of ribs (original flavour) – £11

the ribs were generously slathered with a thick gooey layer of barbeque sauce. nic appreciated that the ribs were slightly charred and rach liked that they were meaty. the meat was soft and tender, though we felt they could have been even better if the sauce soaked right through the meat and the insides were more thoroughly marinated. they were good enough to leave us licking the bones though; that’s always a positive sign of good food!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and now for the sides, the onion rings exceeded our expectations, not just in terms of serving size (aka height) but also in taste.
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5-inch onion ring stack – £3.50

we absolutely loved the batter which was crisp and left no aftertaste of stale oil but what nic loved even more was the juiciness of the fresh onions which is clearly evidenced here:
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evidently pleased. which is longer – his hair or the onion???!!

and finally, what was probably our favourite dish of the night that left us yearning for a second serving after we had finished the first one:
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skins with mushrooms – £4.20

this amazingly simple dish was simply amazing – it consisted of a fried potato skin filled and baked with mushrooms and cheddar. rach’s favourite part of the dish was the skin which remained crispy even after we had left it for a while – who knows why we did as it should have been gulped down immediately. nic felt that the pureness of the taste was so good that the sour cream (pictured in the middle) was rendered redundant. the sweetness of the fresh mushrooms complemented superbly with the saltiness provided by the melted cheese. it’s a wonder why this dish hasn’t been propagated on to some other american diners’ menus yet. as mentioned earlier, we liked it so much that we had a second serving.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the star of the night

despite all that we had eaten, there was space for dessert (there always is)!!! we went for the sundae:
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the exhibit sundae – £3.90 ft. nic and his tongue

a typical american diner dessert, the exhibit sundae consists of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, toffee sauce, crushed brownies and whipped cream. our favourite part of the sundae was the addition of chunky peanut butter, it added a very nice and welcome bite to the otherwise slushiness (not in a bad way) of a sundae. the brownies also added texture to the dessert which we enjoyed.

after dinner, we were kindly shown around by luke. we checked out the top floor which has a big room with a bar and a balcony that can be used for private gatherings or parties. the top floor is also where the boutique 28-seater cinema is located, and they show films twice a week (check out the movie schedule on their website and advance booking is recommended). for popular films, additional screenings may be added, as happened on the day we were there, when about time was being screened for the third time. unfortunately, we were oblivious to this fact 😦 if we had known that they were showing it that night, we would have made haste with our food and headed up to one of the cushy sofas to enjoy the movie.

besides the diner, the first floor has another function room that plays host to a range of events, including a speed-dating one that was going on that night.

and finally on the ground floor, there is a lovely bar which charmed us with its stylishly modern yet cosy interior. it also helped that they have live acoustic music on thursday nights and there was a healthy crowd that had the place buzzing and alive.
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overall we were thankful to have been invited to the exhibit as it would not have otherwise crossed our minds to venture out this far. the trip, however, was thoroughly worth it and it would be a waste to let the (slight) distance deter you from paying the exhibit a visit. the concept of having a diner together with a cinema and a bar is fresh and unique; in our humble opinion, this hangout has all the makings of a great venue for an all-in-one night out. be it a night for a nice meal before a movie or just a night for drinks after work the exhibit is a perfect place to get together with mates for a jolly good (and food) time.

thanks for having us, greg; and luke too for showing us around. we’d love to return to check out the brunch menu soon!

The Exhibit

12 Balham Station Rd
London SW12 9SG
http://www.theexhibit.co.uk/

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PS. finally writing together again!!!
(excuse the unimpressive attire – this is us on a school night in rach’s kitchen)
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BRGR.CO, London

brgr is yet another place that has added itself to the already long list of choices we have for burgers here in london. being the first outlet outside of lebanon where it originated, i was initially apprehensive of how it’d fare but it came highly recommended from friends so this is where i ended up on a thursday night when i was craving some manfood! hahaha.

you’ll find it at the end of wardour street that’s closer to oxford street, and this location was extremely welcome since it shortened the trek from school after a torturous jurisprudence lecture (am sure it’ll be as welcome if you’re heading over with aching legs after intense christmas shopping too)! the interior of the shop was not quite what i was expecting – in contrast to other burger joints like patty and bun (possibly still my favourite burger in london; see review here), the decor in brgr is not what you’d expect from a typical burger joint – it seemed to be going for a more smart & sophisticated vibe with its dark colour scheme, and staff were dressed in crisp white shirts.
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at brgr, you can construct your own burger, choosing the kind of patty, followed by any sauces or cheeses that you want to add to it. here’s the menu:20131205_183229

they pride themselves on the beef they use (premium beef sourced only from the duke of buccleuch’s estate in scotland), and the signature burgers are supposed to contain only the best cuts, more so than the standard patties in their regular burgers. my friend and i both decided to go for the 6oz “butcher’s cut” plain, without any distractions from the fancy cheeses or sauces, and could not resist getting a serving of the parmesan truffle fries to share (it was calling out to us once we spotted it on the menu).

service was prompt (though it was hard to get the staff’s attention as it got later and the place filled up) and we were served our food rather quickly! the burger came deconstructed, with the veggie left out by the side – still not sure what the idea behind that is…
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6 oz “the butcher’s cut” – £7.95

lifted up the top half of the burger bun to reveal the AMAZING slab of beef patty within:20131205_184845

i don’t think the picture does how good it looked justice at all – it looked absolutely tasty and juicy and perfectly-cooked and made me want to dig right in. but alas, i had to snap a few shorts of it to share so i had to resist that urge for a bit. my friend on the other hand, promptly attacked hahaha.

all put together now:
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the beef patty certainly did not disappoint – the quality of the beef lived up to what it was made out to be. it was tender, juicy, sweet, wonderfully seasoned, and perfectly chargrilled to a pink medium rare. tasted like a gourmet beef patty, and even had that melt-in-your-mouth goodness at some points. the veggies in the burger were simple but very fresh, and the brioche burger bun was yummy – super soft and light and fluffy in all its glazed goodness.

what struck us most about the burger was its simplicity – no fuss in the form of dripping sauces or melty cheese; it was simple and very clean, and that is what makes the brgr burger special in my opinion. after finishing the whole burger (which i thought was a pretty good size), i didn’t feel like i had just eaten something unhealthy (which burgers that are heavier tend to result in) at all! in fact, it was not at all unthinkable to order a second one; it was that light! so it really depends on what you like in a burger – if you’re looking for something hearty and heavy and bursting with flavour, then i think brgr is not for you. (try patty & bun instead!)

we were also extremely impressed with the parmesan truffle fries:
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parmesan truffle fries – £3.85

these were calling out to us once we saw them on the menu, and we were not disappointed! the fries were thin and crunchy like what you’d get at macs, but a hundred times better with all that cheese and the fragrance of truffles! i loved how the parmesan was melted over the fries instead of just having shaved parmesan sprinkled on the top, and both the cheese and truffle were well-spread throughout the pile of fries such that each fry had the taste of both. (the worst thing is when you have to eat fries plain because all the toppings are just heaped in the centre and at the top – hate when that happens!!!)

finally, we had a dessert special (they have specials written on a blackboard) – the DESSURGER:
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dessurger – brioche bun, lemon custard, chantilly cream, vanilla parfait crusted in pistachio and blackberry jam

SIDE VIEW:
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my jaw literally dropped when it arrived at our table – it looked amazing and i had never had a dessert burger before so this was all very novel and exciting!!! luckily it tasted as amazing as it looked or i would have been sorely disappointed.

the brioche was lovely and light and fluffy, and though i was worried that it would just be a giant cream puff-like thing, i was pleasantly surprised that it was not the case at all! all the different components of the “burger” came together wonderfully – the chantilly cream was unbelievably fresh and light, the pistachio bits added crunch, the lemon custard was firm (a little like the texture of ice cream, just not as cold!) so that it didn’t get lost along with the cream, and added a nice and refreshing (slightly tart) lift to the dessert.

at some point we realised that maybe we should really be eating it as a burger so this is what we did:20131205_191944it was like a massive jam donut, only much much better.

we agreed that it was definitely worth trying but its a special item on the blackboard menu that changes, so i’m not sure how often they have it! just means that if you’re there and they happen to have it, you should definitely order it then 😉

all in all, we enjoyed our experience at brgr and concluded that its a great place if you’re looking for a light and clean-tasting burger. if you’re looking for something greasy or heart-attack inducing however, then this is probably not the place for you.

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BRGR.CO

87 Wardour St
London W1F 8ZD

Patty & Bun, London

i think my quest to find my favourite burger in london may very well have ended with my visit to patty & bun two weeks ago. the only thing holding me back from using “the best” instead of “my favourite” is my acknowledgement of the fact that not everybody likes their burgers the same way and so what i think is the best may not be the best at all in someone else’s opinion!

this place is so popular and so consistently has a queue that there is a location tag for “the patty & bun queue” on instagram – is that not hilarious? hahaha i thought that was highly amusing/intriguing! headed there for lunch on a friday and we waited about 20-25 minutes to get in, which was shorter than i expected.20131031_125033
happy despite the queue

it felt shorter than it actually was too, since we spent a good portion of it staring at the menu and trying to pick something to order; everything sounded amazing!!!20131031_124231
the menu

very conveniently located off oxford street, patty & bun occupies a small, cosy and simply-decorated shop that i thought gave off a very casual/chill/relaxed vibe, just like a burger joint should! don’t expect anything fancy; its quite a no-frills place that is really all about the food on the tables.20131031_131205our one qualm was that the tables were pretty close to each other and the music and chatter were rather loud, making it quite hard to carry on a conversation without having to raise our voices or strain our ears. but this didn’t seem to matter much once the food came and we we were all too busy stuffing our faces to speak much 😛

it being my first time there, i decided to start from the basics and opted for the “ari gold” cheeseburger. without a doubt, one of the best cheeseburgers i have ever had.
just look at that –20131031_134305
~DROOLS~

20131031_133951the burger was big, amazingly tasty and seriously dripping with juice. i loved the sweet brioche bun which was perfectly toasted, and what it held within was even better!!! the beef patty was cooked to absolute perfection – wonderfully juicy and naturally sweet, and all the flavours from the cheese, onion, special mayo etc came together to give this HUGELY satisfying burger (one of the best i’ve had in a while) that sent me straight to food heaven. i forgot all about the wait to get in + for the food once i sunk my teeth into this seriously good stuff…

we also ordered some sides to share, a serving each of their chicken wings and rosemary chips:
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i quite liked the chips, though i wouldn’t really rave about them as much as i raved about the burger above/will be raving about the wings below. i liked their thickness – not too thin and not too thick, and they were well-salted with a hint of rosemary which was a nice touch! they were really good with the ketchup/mustard/mayo/hot sauce (Y)

20131031_134003as for the wings, i have never had chicken wings like these before! they were drenched in a thick and sticky barbecue sauce which actually reminded me a bit of an asian-style dish (maybe it was the spring onions?). the sweet sauce was yummy, but it was the way the chicken was cooked that really impressed us all – the meat literally fell off the bone and was cooked to perfection! it was moist, sweet and wonderfully tender. finger lickin’ good stuff! 😉 definitely a must-try side if you’re at patty & bun, in my opinion.

BEFORE:
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MIDWAY:20131031_133722

AFTER:20131031_140123

they have choc ices available for dessert but we were unfortunately too stuffed to have any 😦 i will DEFINITELY be heading back to patty & bun soon for a burger fix. the thought of sinking my teeth into that amazingly moist and juicy burger again has never been far from my mind; i guess you could say it was love at first bite 😛 worth the queue in my opinion, and definitely in the running for best burger in london!

Patty & Bun

54 James Street
London W1U 1HE

PS. i MUCH (much much) prefer the burger here to what shake shack (see review here) offers – to me, it makes for a MUCH juicier and tastier (and hence more satisfying) meal. one of my friends felt that what we had here was rather heavy however, so if you prefer something more plain/light then this might not be for you. given the price and serving size however, i don’t think you can go far wrong with giving patty & bun a try! seriously good stuff.

Shake Shack, London

shake shack has finally made it across the pond! the once elusive only-in-US burger joint has made its highly anticipated appearance in the middle of london’s happening covent garden. it opened sometime over summer and having heard so much about their burgers for so long, it was one of the first few places i checked out upon my return to school (hello year 2!!!).

we had our burger fix on a rainy thursday afternoon and were pleased to find that there was no snaking queue in sight at all! we attributed our luck with the lack of fellow burger-hunters (some of my friends who have been have had to queue) to the wet weather plus the fact that we were there close to 2pm when the lunch crowd had thinned out. there were only about 5 people ahead of us in the queue, and given the number of people taking orders and working in the kitchen, it moved very swiftly:
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the system they have going at shake shack is that you queue to place your order, then proceed to the seating area where you queue again to be seated. you will only be allowed to take a seat if you have the buzzer they give you after ordering, so you can’t go with a bunch of friends and have someone reserve a table while the rest go and order. i think this makes for a pretty efficient system that helps them make the most of the tables they have. it didn’t take long for our buzzer to vibrate and our food to be ready for collection, yay!20131003_135322 shack burger: cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and shacksauce – £5

more of the famed shack burger in all its half-eaten glory:20131003_135522i was actually a little disappointed by the burger! but maybe it was because i went with extremely high expectations given how much i had heard about it from people who had tried the burgers in US. it wasn’t bad at all; it was certainly above average, but just not a case of love at first bite for me hahaha. as a very typically american-style burger, it was compact and relatively small (big eaters should opt for the double option).

the burger bun was soft, warm and tasty, while the lettuce and tomato were fresh (as you can see from the pic; i hate it when veggie that has started browning is put in a burger!). as for the burger patty, it was juicy (but i wish it was even more juicy – the juice-dripping-down-my-hands kind of juicy) and everything together tasted very yummy although i would also have preferred the cheese to be a little more melty! given its price though, i really shouldn’t be complaining AT ALL – we all thought it was good stuff for the £5 we paid 🙂

one of my friends who is a vegetarian opted for the ‘shroom burger:
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‘shroom burger: crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese, topped with lettuce, tomato and shack sauce – £5.25

it looked REALLY good (just look at that cheese oozing out!!!) and my friend could not stop raving about the mushroom and cheese combi, so this is definitely what i am going to get the next time i visit shake shack! YUM.

i must also mention the fries – we ordered 3 portions of fries to share among the 5 of us, 2 plain and 1 with cheese!
20131003_135238we were originally rather skeptical about the fries because we saw when peering into the open kitchen while queuing that they were frozen and not freshly made! we later discovered that our worries were unfounded though, because they were goooood fries. we could tell that they were fried with fresh oil and they weren’t overly greasy at all; it almost made me feel guilt-free while eating them. remotely healthy-tasting but still very yummy fries… strange huh!

we also ordered dessert to share because we thought what they call “concretes” sounded too good to resist:
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union shack concrete: double – £6.50

this was like a dense frozen custard ice cream blended with a bunch of mix-ins. we got the union shack, which was made up of chocolate custard, st john bakery chocolate hazelnut brownies, fudge sauce, paul. a. young chocolate chunks and sea salt. i actually think it sounded better than it tasted, because it sounds amazingly amazing, doesn’t it? and it just tasted… not bad, pretty good! hahaha. i thought there was nothing fantastic about the ice cream itself – it was smooth and creamy, but nothing exceptionally extraordinary. the mix-ins were yummy though! especially the hazelnut brownie, despite the fact that it was very sweet. i’d probably have been more satisfied with gelupo gelato or something, though.

it was definitely a much-needed visit to a much-raved about place, and despite the fact that it fell below my expectations, i wouldn’t mind going back if i’m in the area and looking for a cheap (by london standards) and satisfying meal.

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Shake Shack

24, Market Building, The Piazza Covent Garden
London WC2E 8RD