"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


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.

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Blogger fatima k said...

I suggest trying The Prince Regent pub on Gloucester Road, I've had an excellent burger there quite a few times.

Surprisingly, the Deliverance burger is actually pretty good also.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 12:25:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are they onto their second site already? or have i got my geography wrong?

Thursday, December 04, 2008 8:50:00 am  
Blogger tim_g said...

when i opened this page i looked straight at that picture at the bottom + went - 'finally!! someone in london can make a decent burger' and then i read yr review + found out that the pic was from america :( not surprising at all

Thursday, December 04, 2008 9:17:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Gary - it's still their only site I believe

Tim - Depressing isn't it?


Thursday, December 04, 2008 9:20:00 am  
Blogger Chris Pople said...

@tim_g I did exactly the same!

Thursday, December 04, 2008 9:59:00 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

It urks me that our burgers are so mediocre in London but it hurts me when they charge so much for them.

Round the corner from the very decent (and not overpriced) Hache there is The Engineer on Gloucester Avenue. This is a pub. They have quite a nice burger but it costs £12.95.

At Molly's on 3rd between 21st and 22nd Street in Manhattan I'm sure the burger was under $10 and it was really good.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 10:26:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

......and the thing about Petes is that he really believes that he is serving up a quality product! You can get a decent burger at Bodeans in Tower Hill.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 10:44:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that there is nothing more disgusting than a seeded,or grain filled bun for a burger.
The "delivery system" as H2 says,is important.Forgive me for what I am about to say,as I am a Maths/Physics geek,but the perfect burger(along with appropriate meat)must respect the perfect ratio between the thickness of the cooked burger and the "delivery System".I could give you the formulae,but basically the 2 slices of delivery system should not be thicker than the cooked burger,and the sum of both should not be higher than opening your mouth to say "ouch!".Thus,the only correct delivery system is 2 slices of toasted bread(as done in the connecticut cafe that started it all many moons ago).And don't destroy the great meat by adding lots of salad/tomatoes etc.Nothing should be added to a great burger on the toasted bread,but a shmeer of cheese spread(boursin with garlic is great as is gorgonzola-not together).Adding lots of toppings is a trick to distract you from the fact that the meat,and delivery system are inferior.The Connecticut cafe to be visited by H2 on his next book writing trip? only adds a shmeer of cheddar cheese spread-home made not Kraft Kemical!

Thursday, December 04, 2008 1:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All ye seekers of the perfect burger in London....GO WEST Chiswick where you will find a magical place called "GROUND"...yea ,and verily it is the best in this part of the world.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 1:20:00 pm  
Blogger Gavin said...

Agree that the Hache Burger is better but it's a) twice the price of Cheeky P's and b) you have to endure the Patchouli Oil of Camden Town to eat it.

Best burger in the City environs anyone? Might have to try that Bodeans version.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 2:04:00 pm  
Blogger Chris Pople said...

Gavin: My favourite in the city is The Diner on Curtain Road. And there's a Haché in Chelsea if you can't face Camden...

Thursday, December 04, 2008 3:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your ratio C.Elder. I take it you're referring to Louis' Lunch in New Haven. Grilling the perfect burger is a summertime obsession over here in Canada so we get lots of practice. Nothing worse than the wrong bun. The toast idea isn't "wrong" of course, but the perfect, seedless bun in the correct ratio to the meat is crucial. Add some high quality cheese, a couple of appropriate toppings and you're in paradise.

Thursday, December 04, 2008 3:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't it one of the King Henry's who lamented..."A burger!A burger! My kingdom for a burger!"?

Thursday, December 04, 2008 4:24:00 pm  
Blogger Frequent Traveler said...

Focusing on good quality and fewer ingredients would definitely make a positive difference.

Uncomfortable seating doesn't help either... too bad.

Your pictures had my mouth watering, and here in the US we have oustanding 12 oz. hamburgers at Cheesecake Factory.

You made me want one - and with gorgeous onion rings like that to boot - cruel, while I am on a diet !

Friday, December 05, 2008 1:40:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JoelnOntario you really know your burger holy places!Yes it is indeed Louis' in New Haven.As I am sure you know,the burger there is served unadorned in all its grilled glory between 2 slices of toasted white bread with a shmeer of cheddar -no ketchup either!

Friday, December 05, 2008 9:31:00 am  
Blogger Patrick said...

I'm sure you've already been there Dos Hermanos, but try Shake Shack next time you're in Manhattan. Epic.

Friday, December 05, 2008 2:33:00 pm  

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