London’s Top Ten Burgers, 2015

…According to yours truly! The top ten burgers in London are a subject of never-ending debate, even with myself.  Who has the right to claim beefy dominance in the crowded London burger scene – who are the upstarts and who are the ‘old’ standbys?  The true top ten burgers of London can only be determined by your own stomach, but I thought I would offer up my own end-of-2015 list.  Of course, this could change at my very next stop, so stay tuned!

May I present my completely opinionated list for you to chew on.  Note that some of these don’t have stand-alone posts yet on (yes, I’m behind in my writing) and therefore don’t appear in my beefy top ten – look at that as a beefy spoiler alert for posts to come!

Hawksmoor burger shot1) Hawksmoor – The Hawksmoor burger is my reining favorite burger in London.  It also happens to be one of my top steaks in London as well, so my friends forcibly made me order the burger despite my desire for steak.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Hawksmoor starts with 500g of the best dry-aged ground beef from their north Yorkshire butchers, The Ginger Pig.  Add bone marrow to the patty before topping it with pickles, lettuce, red onion and mild cheddar and serving it up on a perfect brichoe bun and there you have it – simple perfection.

At £15, it’s pricey without any sides like their triple-cooked chips or beef-dripping fries, but oh what a burger experience!  Juicy and delectable, this burger is worth the price. If you can overcome your inner steak demons and bring yourself to order it, you’ll see what I mean.  It resides on the ‘bar menu’ of Hawksmoor, but you can order it in the restaurant as well.

BRGR burger2) – This gem of a find on Soho’s Wardour Street doesn’t get a ton of coverage in other blogs.  But for me, serves up a top burger at a good price, in a stylish atmosphere.  This burger concept is actually an import from Lebanon where the small chain originated.  Their beef comes from the Duke of Buccleuch Estate in Scotland and is aged for 28 days before becoming your burger.  The back-to-basics burgers are served up with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles and you can add bacon or cheese as your heart desires.

All their sides come in under £4 such as their chili cheese fries or Parmesan truffle fries. I added Gruyere cheese and fresh aioli to my burger and was in heaven. Their prices range from a 4oz. burger at £4.95 to the 8oz. at £8.95. Despite their limited exposure in the London blogging world, I encourage you to swing through Soho and give them a try!

barbouludburger3) Bar Boulud – Another posh burger on my ‘must-tries’, but this one you can bring your crew for backup!  London’s Bar Boulud is the sister restaurant to the New York edition from owner and chef Daniel Boulud. It’s located in the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel, in Knightsbridge.  Boulud includes four delicious burgers on his menu priced between £17 and £24. They also serve up a sampler of three selected burgers so you and some select friends can divide your attention amongst these four 8oz. burger delights.

The Yankee (£17) is a classic beef burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle.  The Frenchie (£19) is topped with confit pork belly, tomato, and dijon on a morbier peppered bun.  The Piggie (£19) piles bbq pork on top of the beef patty and then includes jalapeno mayo and cabbage on a cheddar bun.  The piéce de résistance is Boulud’s £24 BB: a beef burger with foie gras, short rib meat, horseradish mayo, confit tomatoes on a black onion seed bun.  The special burgers rotate, so I’ll have to return soon!

bleecker street burger4) Bleecker Street Burger – From its humble food-truck beginnings, Bleecker Street burger has now established two permanent locations and is a feature on many London top ten burger lists.  I was fortunate enough to try their burgers at the Dalston Yard Street Feast in east London and loved them for their unapologetic richness.  I got to sample three different sliders, which whetted my appetite for the full-size! Started by American expat, Zan Kaufman in 2012, Bleecker Street is her interpretation of the New York city, east village burger. Using dry-aged beef from The Butchery in Bermondsey (minimum of 40-50 days aging) Bleecker has some of the richest, most intense beef flavors in London.

Their burgers run from £6 for a classic cheeseburger to £10 for the Bleecker Black: double beef, double American cheese, black pudding, onions and special sauce. The beef is loud, unapologetic, and amazing – the star of the show beyond a doubt: juicy, rich, delectable and perfectly cooked to a medium rare.  Standard on a seeded bun, the toppings don’t get very diverse, nor do they need to be.  Beef is the focal point and star.

Honest Burger5) Honest Burgers – From its modest Brixton beginnings, Honest burger has grown significantly over the past couple years.  Since I first wrote about them, they have expanded to 11 locations across London.  Like Bleecker, Honest Burgers started as a food truck/festival concept.  And like the Hawksmoor, Honest Burgers source their dry-aged beef from The Ginger Pig butchers and a better for it!  Their burgers all start from £8.50 and include rosemary salted fries.  So they are firmly facing up to GBK and Byron and challenging them to step their games up.

The £10 Honest burger is my choice for a go-to-burger here.  They start with the dry-aged beef, add red onion relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and then lettuce.  All served up on a fluffy bun that just manages to contain the juiciness of the meat – plated on a simple paper-lined metal platter with a nice portion of chips.  Simplicity is the name of the game here, and again, the minimalist toppings let the beef speak for itself.

Joe Allan secret burger6) Joe Allen – The not-so-secret, off-the-menu burger at Joe Allen was a nice little revelation for me this year.  Joe Allen sits in a dark alley off the beaten path of Covent Garden, but that doesn’t mean they are unknown; they’ve been present in the theatre district since 1977.  Their off-menu burger is served very simply: with onion, tomato and lettuce in a brioche bun.  Of course, you can add a variety of cheese as you please and of course bacon.  The burger has a smokiness and character that can’t be artificially imparted to the meat – it takes a grill years of nightly steaks and BBQ to be able to impart flavor to a burger patty as it sits on the grill.

The real surprise here is the brioche bun.  It is quite simply, the best bun in the London game – and perhaps further afield.  It is amazing, a bun that would make a french pastry chef proud. The bun is a bakery-style masterpiece of fluffy, eggy, soft-as-a-cloud-yet-firm, deliciousness.  It’s even a bit sweet; and that works perfectly to offset the smokey flavor of the beef.  In my post, I had more praise to heap on this baked masterpiece, but I urge you to try it yourself.  Pop in for a pre-theatre menu – I promise

Five guys Burger7) Five Guys – Simply put, Five Guys has a special place in my heart.  I grew up with Five Guys, and watched them go from a single store in Arlington and then Alexandria, Virginia to the mega franchise it is today, spanning countries and continents.  In the UK, Five Guys opened their first shop on the fourth of July, 2013 – the line of expats waiting for a delicious burger extended down Long Acre street.  Pretty soon the word got out and it wasn’t just expats, but their British compatriots who were enjoying the delicious burger-ings of Five Guys.   I wrote my review a year after they opened – and already, nine locations existed in the UK.  At the time of this post, Five Guys UK has 41 shops across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Five Guys is no-frills: It’s sloppy, it’s messy, it comes in a greasy brown paper bag, and It smells as glorious as it tastes.  The standard burger is the double patty and for around £8.00 you can customize your burger with 16 different toppings and sauces.  They never freeze their beef – or anything else for that matter – and only use pure peanut oil for their fries.  Fun fact from the Five Guys website, there are over 250,000 possible combinations for your burger.  I don’t expect Five Guys to slow down at all in the UK, or the US for that matter – they do things according to a perfect method for fast burger-flipping dominance.

Bobo Social Burger8) Bobo Social – The Bobo Social caught my attention purely because it was close to my office on Charlotte Street, London.  They opened in early 2015, hoping to compete not just in a crowded burger marketplace, but on a super-competitive culinary part of London.  Anyone who knows London well knows that Charlotte Street is an oasis of good eats, which doubles down the challenge to stand out with a burger.  Bobo Social stands up to the challenge starting with their £13,000 Kopa charcoal oven which seers their burgers at 300c to lock in juiciness.  Their burgers are made with rare-breed beef from farms in Yorkshire, Essex and Kent; varying from Dexter, Longhorn and Red Lincoln breeds. Bobo Social is supplied by Flock & Herd, another one of London’s top premium butchers.

Their burgers range from the Bobo (£8.95) on up to the Debauchery for a cool £20.  The bare bones Bobo gets you a 6 oz. patty lettuce, tomatoes, charcoal-Roasted Red Onions, BOBO Sauce on a brioche bun.  The Debauchery is 6 ounces of Wagyu beef & rare-breed beef, Ogleshield cheese, confit shitaki mushrooms & onions, bacon mayo, shaved truffles; so it’s basically the Ferrari of burgers.  The “inbetweeners” include my personal favorite, the ‘Peanut Butter’ (£11.95) with peanut butter, Monterrey jack cheese, maple-cured bacon. You could also try the ‘Capsicum’ with British chorizo, Manchego cheese, tomato & chili Salsa, fresh chilies, and jalapeño Mayo for £12.95.

Patty&Bun Smokey Robinson Burger9) Patty & Bun – Patty & Bun is another London burger joint that has achieved great success in the time since I first wrote about them in March, 2014. They now have three permanent locations and were recognized in the Telegraph’s article ‘The World’s Best Burgers‘.  The original James Street location featured just four beef burgers alongside a lamb and portobello mushroom burger, 5 sides and drinks – nothing more was needed to break through.  No frills here either; just some brown paper on the table, a hardy wax-paper burger wrap, and book-thick stacks of napkins to help you make your way through the burgery goodness.

My favorite Patty & Bun burger is the £8.50 Smokey Robinson: beef, cheese, tomato, lettuce, “mounds of caramelized onions,” bacon, ketchup, and smokey P&B mayo on a brioche bun.  Perhaps their most widely commented-on item is the smokey mayo.  It’s a Patty & Bun invention and is perfect on their juicy-as-hell burgers to really bring out the flame grilled taste of the meat.  Medium rare preparation is standard and don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a seat – it’s worth it.

MEAT Market burger10) MEAT Market – MEAT Market is another down and dirty burger joint, located in the Jubilee Market of Covent Garden.  They are a part of the “MEAT” family of restaurants which includes the well-known Meat Liquor chain which also has two locations in London.  They have grown to include locations in Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, and even Singapore – along with side concepts like MEATmission, MEATwagon and CHICKENliquor.

Like Five Guys, MEAT Market trades in the double-burger concept.  The meat they use is juicy, fresh, smokey and peppery.  In fact, my favorite burger here is the Dead Hippie (£8.50) which is comprised of two “mustard-fried patties”.  The dead hippie sauce that’s added to the finished burger is a closely guarded secret.  Again like Five Guys, you get the burger wrapped in foil or wax paper and then are set free with a roll of paper towels on each table.  MEAT Market is a lunch joint, so expect a little queue and while you wait, read all of their entertaining signs throughout the restaurant!

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