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

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Yalla Yalla, London

when i told my housemate that i was going to yalla yalla for lunch, she asked me if it was a singaporean restaurant. i said no and was slightly puzzled why she jumped to that conclusion, but it all made sense on my walk to the restaurant – she thought it was “ya lah, ya lah” (for the non-singaporean readers out there, this basically means “yes”, with some singlish (singaporean slang) thrown in in the form of the word “lah”.) … i was thoroughly amused hahaha!

contrary to what she thought though, yalla yalla is actually a lebanese restaurant that serves beirut street food. i love how flavourful middle eastern food is, so i went to yalla yalla with pretty high hopes, and am happy to say that i was not disappointed 🙂

they have several branches around london, but the winsley street one is where i visited for a late lunch on a thursday. it was nearly full when i arrived around 145pm, but we were nonetheless shown to a nice corner table very promptly. the restaurant is modern, tastefully decorated, open, bright and gives off a casual yet sophisticated vibe. service is friendly and prompt. its a great place for a casual lunch!20131128_134515

the menu has a huge selection and i’m pretty sure everyone will manage to find something they fancy:
20131128_133654prices are reasonable and servings are big, so that’s already a huge draw in my opinion!

some complimentary olives and pickled things to keep us company while dealing with the challenge that picking what to order from an extensive menu always proves to be (happy problem, happy problem i know):20131128_134028we were pretty hungry (or maybe just greedy) so between the 2 of us, we ordered 2 starters plus a main each.

the first starter we ordered was the makalé samak, which we were eyeing once we saw it served to the table next to us. it was basically a plate of deep-fried seafood – so sinful but so good!
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makalé samak: deep fried tiger prawns, calamari, and white bait with spring onions, crispy aubergine and chilli minted greek yoghurt – £6

don’t think there’s much scale for you to judge the size of the plate from the photo, but it was BIG. we basically had a mountain of lebanese-style tempura placed before us, and we were certainly not complaining 😉 the batter was very light, not too greasy and definitely not too thick. i could tell that they used fresh oil to fry it, and the prawns, calamari and fish were all nice and fresh! served with some spring onions, pomegranate seeds and topped with a generous squeezing of lime, we really enjoyed this dish. although it was a really generous serving, it was completely polished off and we could see the reflection of our (fatter) faces in the clean bottom of the plate by the end of our meal. it also came with a minted yoghurt dressing but it remained relatively untouched, not because it was bad, but because the seafood tasted good enough on its own.

the next starter we chose was named by time out as one of the 100 best dishes in london – my friend was not a fan of liver at all but we decided that we had to try it given its accolade! 20131128_140111
sawda djej: sauteed chicken liver with garlic and pomegranate molases – £4

i LOVED this – in my opinion, its a must-try if you’re at yalla yalla! make sure you do like liver though, because my friend didn’t and so this plate ended up being all mine. definitely wasn’t a problem for me though; i gladly accepted the challenge of finishing it all wahahahah 😛 the sauce was amazingly tasty and the liver was cooked to perfection – not overcooked till it was hard, and retaining some crunchiness (nothing beats my mum’s homecooked liver dish still though ;)). something different, and definitely worth trying if you enjoy liver/feel like being adventurous and having some.

for our mains, my friend got the seabass fillet, while i got a mixed platter.20131128_140205
lokoz meshoué: charcoal grilled sea bass fillet with citrus scented rice and spicy tomato and coriander sauce – £12.50

i didn’t have much of this, but i had enough to conclude that the fish was extremely fresh and well-grilled – crispy skin, while the meat was firm and naturally sweet. you can’t see the 2nd piece of fish very clearly in this picture, but the serving was extremely generous with 2 big pieces of fillet atop a bed of rice and some accompanying sauce, which was tasty and was a nice tangy lift to the fish and rice. i would say 2 people could share this if they don’t want to overdo the mains and want to save room in their stomach to enjoy a greater range of appetizers!

as for me, i was excited to try as much of what yalla yalla had to offer as possible, so i opted for a platter:20131128_141349
street platter: hommos, tabboule, warak enab, kibbe lahme, chicken rakakat and chicken wings – £7.75

the hommos (chickpea puree, tahini and fresh lemon juice) was delicious and i loved not just slathering it on nearly everything that entered my mouth but also just licking it off my cutlery and having it plain.
the tabboulé (salad-like thing in the front – chopped parsley, mint, spring onion, tomato, olive oil, lemon juice & cracked wheat salad) was very light and refreshing – the myriad of ingredients came together very well to provide a good palette cleanser in between having the different items on the platter!
the grilled chicken wing was good but nothing to shout about; in fact i don’t remember much about it at all…
to the right of the chicken wing is the kibbeé lahmé, a deep fried lamb and cracked wheat parcel filled with onions comfit, minced meat and roasted pine nuts. this was a bit like a lamb falafel and i really enjoyed it! for the worried, the taste of the lamb was not overpowering at all (which is what many fear when having lamb).
the next item to the right is the chicken rakakat – a deep fried pastry filled with marinated chicken, garlic, shallots and harissa. i really enjoyed this as well! the flavours were strong and the skin of the pastry that enclosed the yummy chicken filling was thin and crunchy. it was like a yummy chicken spring roll! 20131128_141609
the insides of the rakakat and the kibeé
the last item on the platter was the warak enab which is traditionally lebanese – stuffed grape leaves! this was really interesting and unlike anything i’ve ever had before. the grape leaves were extremely moist as if they had been soaked in something for quite a while. the texture was almost like seaweed – wet but not soggy or mushy, almost kind of slimy? which sounds quite gross i know, but i didn’t find it so at all! it was actually very interesting!20131128_142252
the inside of the warak enab
if i’m not wrong, the stuffing was a vegetarian (i don’t remember tasting meat) mix of onions, tomatoes, parsley, mint and other yummy things, and the entire roll was probably soaked in something lemon-y. it was good but definitely something that i see people either loving or hating.

we were also given naan as an accompaniment to our mains. the naan was light, soft and fluffy. yummy, but i didn’t manage to have as much as i would have liked to because of all the other amazing food we had before us!

and finally, on to dessert! we were really stuffed by the time we had finished (yes, we finished it all!!!) our starters and mains, but thank goodness we decided to go ahead and share a dessert because what we had was really out of this world:
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yalla jou jou: vanilla mousse speculoos, velvety dark chocolate coating and dark chocolate sauce with a very vanilla ice cream – £5.25

if you’re going to have dessert at yalla yalla, this is what you need to get. SERIOUSLY. my friend and i agreed that even though we were really very full, we would have ordered another if we didn’t have to rush off to our jurisprudence lecture… we also agreed that if there’s one thing we’d return to yalla yalla for, it’d be this amazing dessert. it’s not like anything i’ve had i think, and i normally dislike mousse but this wasn’t typically mousse-y at all (i actually think its misleading to call it a mousse!); it was much more firm than a regular mousse, almost like vanilla ice cream covered in this amazing speculoos crumb coating and topped with chocolate sauce. they were also right in describing the ice cream as “very vanilla” – it was extremely fragrant and the bits of vanilla bean spotted in the ice cream were testament to how good it tasted! oh my, i’m craving this just looking at the picture… it was a really really yummy and unique dessert (not something run-of-the-mill that you can get anywhere and everywhere) to end off a great meal.

given the reasonable prices, generous portions and great taste of the food, i will certainly be back. you should check it out too – yalla yalla (“hurry up” in Arabic :P)! 20131128_14084420131128_153457

Yalla Yalla

12 Winsley Street
London W1W 8HQ