£5.50. In time-honoured burger joint tradition, the Dirty Burger I was served (one quiet Tuesday lunchtime) looked nothing like its press shot:
Occupying a small corrugated iron shack in Kentish Town round the back of Pizza East and Chicken Shop, Dirty Burger
only serves one burger, the eponymous Dirty Burger...
DB has been set up by global members club Soho House
(who also own Pizza East
and the recently opened Chicken Shop
) who seem impressively quick to convert current food trends into cash cows. And, rather like they did with Pizza East, the company's tactic seems to be to open restaurants that do one thing, and do it with as much well-researched authenticity as it possibly can.
So let's get down to it. The Dirty Burger consists of an aged beef patty, cheese, a thin but tasty slice of tomato, some iceberg lettuce, with a splat of American mustard in a glazed bun. To accompany it you can choose between either Onion Fries or Crinkle Cut Fries. On this, my first visit to Dirty Burger's round-the-back shack, I opted for crinkle fries...
They were the first thing I tasted, so I'll tell you all you need to know before I get to the burger assessment: they're really fucking good. Perfectly salted, golden and crisp.
And so, to the burger. As its name implies, a Dirty Burger is in nature a sloppy and messy beast. Before tackling it make sure you've got a stack of napkins at the ready – though it's not the meat that's messy. My patty was cooked a decent medium rare - but rather than it be loose and super course ground (which would be my ideal) it's really quite compacted and solid. I wouldn't go as far as to say it was chewy - but had it been even a shade more cooked, than that might have been the case.
Texture aside, it's a tasty enough patty. You can taste the age, but it doesn't overpower the beefiness. Which is important. But the combination of a patty that's solid rather than loose – and an enormous amount of American mustard, plus a slippery slice of tomato, thick cut pickles and random size pieces of iceberg lettuce makes for sloppy eating. Basically, there's a lot to slip and slide around - which is exactly what it all does, until you've got mustard and cheese on every finger. If you can eat the thing before it all falls apart, then you're to be congratulated. Dirty by name, dirty by nature!
Somehow, and I think it's because it's called Dirty Burger, and because you're eating in a shack on makeshift furniture made from planks of dirty, stained wood, you kind of don't mind it being sloppy and messy. In a way, the name and the environment perfectly preps you for it. It kind of makes it OK. It makes it all part of the DB experience. Which, actually, I really like.
I haven't taken advantage of it yet (Kentish Town isn't an enormously handy location for me, to be honest) but Dirty Burger is also set up to cater for early-morning, hangover-curing meat cravings: it will be serving up its Dirty Breakfast offerings from as early as 7am (9am at the weekend) which take Maccy Dee's sausage and egg and bacon and egg McMuffins as their inspiration. I don't' know about anyone else, but this sounds like my kind of breakfast!
Here's hoping Dirty Burger opens a branch in Stoke Newington soon. Preferably at the end of my street.
Round The Back
79 Highgate Road
London NW5 1TL
Tel: 020 3310 2010
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