Typical. Some friends from out of town come to visit and totally show you up by taking you to the hippest fucking place in town to sit around eating (mini) burgers. Oh the shame! Thankfully, rather than be all smug about their impressive nose for a good burger in a city they don't even live in, Bren and Richard (from Dublin) ordered me a beer and a slider on them. What gents!
So, here's a view of Spuntino - the entrance is just behind this viewpoint to the right - you come in and there's a bar of people sitting and eating fabulous looking small plates of food. It's somewhere you sit and order stuff as and when you feel like it - another beer, another small plate - just raise an eyebrow and your wish is the bar staff's command. And guess what – Meantime London Pale Ale is on tap and small glass mugs ( half pints) of it are served on request. I already love this place, and I haven't even tried the food yet...
OK, so here's the important part of the menu, printed on a brown paper placemat in front of each diner round the bar. Now, the mini burger can be found in the section marked "sliders" - although none of these dishes are technically sliders. I won't bore you with semantics – but if you want to know the difference between a mini burger and a slider, then have a read of Adam Kuban's piece, A Mini Hamburger Is Not A Slider blog post from 2008 over at the consistently brilliant A Hamburger Today blog.
As I arrived at Spuntino, Richard was eating a Lamb & Pickled Cucumber "slider" (a pair of which are shown above), and Bren was tucking into the Brick Lane Salt Beef option. The pair were in raptures and wasted no time ordering me a Ground Beef & Bone Marrow "slider" and a mugful of beer.
My mini burger arrives and I reach for the camera. It's small but perfectly formed – and biting into it reveals that everything about it is indeed perfect – from the suitably tiny pieces of onion and gherkin spears - to the perfectly seasoned, plump and moist beef and bone marrow patty. I dread to think how many of these I could happily eat over the course of a boozy afternoon propping up the bar in Spuntino. A lot!
Now then... my original visit to Spuntino a couple of weeks ago was a flying one – so I only had one beer and one "slider". But being a burger detective, I was keen to get back to do some more investigating. Which I did on Friday and discovered – after extracting an extremely promising lead from one of my most highly valued sources (thank you Daniel!) that beyond its choice of so-called sliders, Spuntino has a... SECRET, OFF-MENU BURGER!
So here's my unlisted, not-particularly-secret review of said Spuntino burger with cheese:
When a burger's this good, price is totally irrelevant. For a few drinks and a few dishes at Spuntino, expect to pay about £30 a head
As you can see, the burger is actually rather similar in looks to Joe Allen's off-menu burger: it is a kind of only slightly flattened ball shape and shrouded in perfectly melty cheese. The bun is the same soft aerated bun used for the "sliders" only perhaps a little larger. The bun isn't toasted but wonderfully soft and squishy. I was dining with a friend and we'd ordered one of these bad boys to share along with a lamb "slider" each – so we cut it in half and were delighted to be greeted by the following (file under #foodporn) sight:
61 Rupert Street
No phone. No reservations.
Monday to Saturday, 11am till midnight. Sunday, noon till 11pm.