£8.50 plus an hour and a half of waiting around for a table on a cold January evening. Was it worth it? Yes, quite frankly. Hell, yes it was!
in Brixton has been on Burgerac's hit list for longer than we care to admit. Despite meeting co-founder Tom back in June last year, Burgerac himself STILL hasn't been (oh, the shame) but thankfully, regular Burgerac contributor, Cheeseblogger, has picked up the slack to file this HB report...
Hello burger fans! Guess who's back? Yes, it's me. It's Cheeseblogger! And yes, before you ask, the rumours are true: I've been based in Kentucky for the past six months helping to fight for my brothers' freedom in the Sausage Wars. Those chickens have gone too far... But I digress, I'm back in London and I'm ready to get down to some Burgerac business!
My first assignment from Burgerac in 2012 was to investigate a far away land, somewhere that he himself hasn't yet dared to venture, a place called South London. After days of considering my options, I packed my toothbrush and jumped aboard the Victoria Line in search of my exotic destination: Brixton.
Within minutes, I'd arrived. It really is a lot easier to get to Brixton from central London than it is to get to most East / North East London destinations (by which I basically mean Shoreditch) and within a few more minutes, I was greeted by my sister who recently moved to and fell in love with the area. Pretty quickly I realised why, as we soon found ourselves a great little bar called Seven
that serves splendid cocktails for a very reasonable £5 a pop and is located just a few doors down from Franco Manca
– which was doing a very good job of looking like it might just be the best pizza joint in town.
The reason we were in Seven was not only for the vibes, but we were awaiting a phone call from our main destination, the reputable Honest Burgers, to let us know when we should head over to take our seats. We were told that we had a 30-40min wait, which of course isn't always ideal, but when you can go and wait in a nice cocktail bar nearby it's instantly not a problem, and actually almost a bonus. The very fact that they operate this service earned them an instant tick from me before we'd so much as sniffed a burger.
After 45 minutes, there was still no phone call but we were all feeling the warm glow of a large Mojito by this point so we decided to stroll over to the other section of the Brixton market where Honest Burgers is based and see if we could now take our seats. Unfortunately, they weren't ready - the place was packed and no one looked like they were in hurry to leave this lovely little burger spot, so the wait continued. Perhaps amazingly, this wasn't a problem as we discovered that Brixton Market is possibly one of the coolest and most vibrant places to be in the whole of London on a Friday night - it's packed full of bars and restaurants that each manages to exude a perfect blend of both quirkiness and quality with apparent ease.
But, as the minutes passed by and the 40 minute wait that had originally been suggested stretched over the hour and 20 mark, the excitement of being in this exotic new land was starting to wear off and our craving for burgers was becoming almost unbearable. Just as frustration was about to boil over, the phonecall-moment arrived and we were finally shown to a table by a very sweet and apologetic waitress. Sadly ours wasn't the indoor table we'd been promised. We were hungry and a bit cold, but the smell of burgers and the welcome option of blankets for diners sitting outside brought our spirits back up.
Honest Burgers itself is very easy on the eye, all stripped back NYC-inspired simplicity, it's got just a few tables inside that are wedged-in around the active kitchen workspace, with a number of tables outside to help feed the masses of people that want the Honest Burger experience. You have to give it to them, the place looks good and despite the very long wait and sitting outside in mid-January, we felt excited to be there.
I opted for the namesake Honest Burger (a dry aged beef patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickled cucumber, red onion relish and lettuce in a brioche bun) with triple cooked rosemary salted chips, an apple and mint side-salad, and a portion of beetroot and apple coleslaw. Bring it on!
4/5 Set on top of a white grease-proof paper with chips on the side as standard (see topmost image on this post), the presentation is both straight to the point and absolutely mouth-watering. It smacks of confidence of produce as there are no frills here, but yet it still looks amazing. I want another one now just looking at the photos.
4/5 Favouring the brioche-style of bun that houses many-a-gourmet burger, the structure just works well and the size of it meant that there was no need for any cutting-in-half or whatnot. This was a light bun that acted as a frame for the art in its centre.
5/5 This was dry aged beef of the highest quality, sourced from meat connoisseurs Ginger Pig
, with smoked bacon, cheddar, pickled cucumber, red onion relish and lettuce. I liked this combo a lot, it's essentially a classic set of ingredients for a burger but in cutting the pickle in lengthways slices and using red onion relish, Honest made the combo their own without being overly flashy about it. One of my dining buddies had a more exuberant burger in the form of the current Special which consisted of the same beef patty but with black pudding, apple tempura, tarragon and caper mayonnaise and baby leaves - something I'd definitely love to try next time.
I should also mention that my side salad and coleslaw were both absolutely delicious!
4/5 The taste! Well, this is the thing… the Honest Burger could well be my new favourite burger in London – and I don't say that lightly. It was an absolute taste sensation with every bite giving me the distinct impression that I was doing my taste buds a massive favour. But, seeing as I had to wait for nearly an hour an a half before I got to sink my teeth into my Honest Burger, I can't help feeling that there's a chance that I might have enjoyed ANY burger just as much. It wasn't that all the ingredients didn't jump out and make it a truly great eating experience, it's just that I was bloody hungry and I ended up polishing it off in record time, so I can't be 100% sure.
3/5 Put it this way, once we'd sat down, it was great. The phone call service to let you know when your table's ready and the blankets at your table were stand-out touches, but the service didn't quite work this time round and despite having warm legs, my feet were very cold by the end which happens when you're sat outside at night in January. Could it possibly be that they need to supply extra socks as well, or is the eating of an Honest Burger simply better suited to inside dining when it's cold outside? The thing is, now I've had a taster, I reckon the next time my sister suggests coming down to Brixton for a burger, I doubt very much that I'll get cold feet.
20/25 = FOUR STARS
Tel: 020 7733 7963