CHEEKY PETE'S: BURGERED IN BISHOPSGATE
According to their website, there are over 8,000 possible combinations of burger available at Cheeky Pete’s in Bishopsgate. I can only hope that the other 7,999 are better than mine.
The search for a decent burger in London continues. There’s Hache of course, easily the best of the bunch, but after that, I would rather pick up some wild beef from Borough market and craft my own at home than risk some of the garbage on offer even from those places predicated almost entirely on selling “gourmet” discs of dead cow between bread.
To be fair, those at Cheeky Pete’s are no worse than many, the beef, from Wales I was told, is decent quality and the service was prompt and friendly. Although to be fair, I was the only one in the place as I ate my early lunch so it should have been. But there are enough things wide of the mark to make it unworthy of a revisit.
Let’s start with the bun. As I have said before, a burger bun needs to fulfil little to be a good delivery system for the meat and while I don’t want the wispy, sugar-filled softness of a McD, it should be soft and slightly spongy to soak up the juices. At Cheeky Pete’s the intimidating seeded bun dwarfed the contents and had been toasted so it was too crunchy. It was decent bread, just not the right bread for a hamburger.
The toppings too caused consternation. On entering, you collect a clipboard onto which is attached a chart for you to tick your choice of meat, toppings, sauces and sides. Although I suspect this could be quite fun, the truth is the “build your own burger” concept might play well in the US, but here in the U.K, I think we should concentrate on getting the basics right before we try to take the advanced steps of topping selection. My own choice of tomatoes, bacon and onions was harmless enough but the possibility that someone might order a cheeseburger with pineapple, anchovies and radish is too horrible to contemplate.
Instead of offering huge choice, they should concentrate on the simple matter of good quality. Instead of offering a sorry handful of small onion rings seemingly from a catering pack, try making them fresh. It aint rocket science and it aint that hard. I didn’t try the fries, but the feeling of my considerable gut is that they would be little better.
The uncomfortable chairs and counter seating do not make Cheeky Pete’s a place you would ever want to linger, which makes their offering of a selection of wines and cocktails seem bizarrely misguided and, while they have the good sense to offer free soft drink refills, my bill of £7.50 seemed a lot to pay for a meal that had me in and out quicker than a teenage Liverpudlian on the rob.
As I said, Cheeky Pete’s is no worse than many in London, which isn't saying much at all. But, the final image, taken at Marty’s on my recent trip to L.A. shows you just how far we still have to go.