In 2014, everyone in your office was talking about it. Your friends all kept mentioning the new restaurant they wanted to try. The queue on a typical night is out the door – and that’s just to put your name on the waiting list – which can run to almost three hours in length!
It’s Burger & Lobster, the restaurant without a menu. They have just three food items that they serve: Lobster, Lobster roll, or Burger. Each selection is served with fries and salad and costs £20. Burger & Lobster basically invented the “limited-repertoire” restaurant that has since been adopted by the likes of Flat Iron, among others.
As of this update in 2016, Burger & Lobster has extended its reach to nine London locations, beyond the four I wrote about in 2014 (in Mayfair, Soho, Farringdon and The City). They also have outposts Cardiff, Manchest and Bath – though I’m not sure how well the £20 Burger plays outside the London metro area! While a limited menu can seem like the hip thing to do, Burger & Lobster have basically ended up with an underpriced lobster and an over-priced burger.
Sadly, I’ve got a mild shellfish allergy that limits my lobster intake to just a few bites. Fortunately for this blog that means I was forced to order the burger and consume it with extreme prejudice. Was it a good burger? Yes. Was it a £20 burger? Probably not… but changing that would ruin the easy to explain pricing system, I guess.
Burger & Lobster is the second brain-child of Russian chef-turned-oligarch, Misha Zelman. The first you ask? Goodman, the steakhouse that perhaps forced London to up it’s beef game back in the first decade of the 2000s. Goodman started in Moscow, but it was always Zelman’s ambition to get into the London scene. His “Good steaks for good men” mantra is just fine by me – and it definitely had an effect on the beef-scene when it comes to their rivalry with Gaucho
But then came Burger & Lobster. Let’s face it, £20 is perfectly acceptable for a whole 2lb. lobster or an overflowing lobster roll. However, £20 for a burger means I expect more; maybe some truffle or foie gras? I expect to be bowled over and wowed by the taste and experience!
Perhaps some foreplay and a happy ending thrown in?
The burger was cooked perfectly, served with crispy bacon and melted cheese. It had a fresh, thick slice of tomato and gherkins and sat atop a bed of lettuce on a mildly seeded (ugh) bun. The fries it came with were a generous portion and nicely crisp, but I could’ve done without the side salad and a few quid back instead. Even though this was a great burger, I don’t want to pay more than £15 for it. If they hope to compete with Gaucho
for the upscale burger crowd, then they definitely need to reevaluate things. Of course, you may not have my crippling disability for eating shellfish, so you’ll be just fine with your lobster.
Perhaps the best thing to do (if you don’t have my lousy shellfish allergy) is go halfsies with a friend who has ordered the whole lobster or lobster roll. That way you can ship half your burger and get some lobster enjoyment in. The rolls are packed with chunky pieces of lobster meat and served in my favorite style of bun of all time – the brioche loaf roll. That will ease the pain of dropping 20 quid on a burger and will still allow you to experience a quite tasty piece of meat.
I cannot under-emphasize how important a great bun is for a hotdog, sandwich or burger.
They get it right for the lobster roll, but the burger bun lets me down. Maybe I’m just a jaded ,anti-seed asshole, but give me a smooth, buttery brioche bun any day of the week. Burger & Lobster are riding their wave of rave reviews and winning the London popularity contest right now, and rightly so. The £20 lobster is a great offering and something that London lacked. The £20 burger is something London probably doesn’t need. I guess my shellfish-allergy complaints are how veggies or gluten-free people complain when there aren’t anything but overpriced options for them.
Burger & Lobster has nine locations across London and several others outside of it now. You can visit their website here.
Burger&Lobster – 30/50
Beef (10): It better be for £20
Bun (7): Not my style of bun, too big and firm.
Toppings (3): No real selections to this one, just a massive hunk of tomato getting in the way of everything else.
Value (4): £20 burgers are not for me. Stick to the Lobster.
Ambiance (6): Loud and buzzing ambiance that can detract if you’re at a center table.