GUERILLA BURGERS: THE WRONG TACTICS
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the feeble attempts of most London restaurants to create a decent hamburger is like watching a bunch of one legged men in an arse kicking contest. It might provide some initial car crash excitement as you wonder just how bad it can get, but in the end, you just want to turn away in embarrassment.
Lunch today was at the latest entrant to the ‘Burger Wars” the (brand) new Guerilla Burgers in Marylebone. It had been open for all of half an hour when I arrived and was already packed with what I assumed were family and friends, but was assured were real, honest to goodness paying punters, all of who were apparently enjoying themselves
For the fifteen minutes or so I had to myself before my companion, Signe finally deigned to turn up, I had enough time to look at the menu and around the room. Both looked the part and for just one brief moment I dared to believe that I might actually be sitting in London’s first worthwhile dedicated burger joint.
Just how wrong I was only became apparent once Signe turned up and our shared starter arrived a few minutes after we ordered. It may be difficult to get a decent hamburger in London, but it is impossible to get a decent hot dog. So, when I saw a “New Yorico Jumb All Beef Hot Dog” advertised on the menu, it had to be done. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the reality turned out to be so much less interesting than the menu description as we were presented with a sizable but shrivelled sausage (no sniggering) which may have tasted perfectly pleasant, but was let down by a fairly grim bun and onions which had not been cooked for long enough and lacked any sweetness.
The main event served in silver trays, was presented with some ceremony by the lovely wait staff, but the sight of a seeded bun did not augur well. The walls of the restaurant were covered with praises of the perfect burger, which makes the insipid efforts that were placed in front of us all the more disappointing. The meat is cooked medium (unless requested otherwise) but was dry and tasteless, the advertised “crispy” bacon was nothing of the sort and the toppings, served on the side so you could add them yourselves, were limp and unappealing. Both hamburgers came with a small portion of tarragon sauce which our waitress assured us was “sensational” It wasn’t, it was actually rather nasty, but not as nasty as the green slick of chilli in Signe’s burger which she announced “just gave a huge hit of raw garlic”
Side dishes are well priced but come in tiny portions, which are poor value even if you are ordering the small size. The onion rings come in for particular fire for being heavy and slightly greasy (see those on recent post about The Lord Clyde for an excellent version) and it barely took the fingers of one hand to count the number of sweet potato fries in the small bowl placed between us.
There is one aspect of US restaurants that is guaranteed to drive me up the wall. Tea should not ever, ever, ever be served as a cup of tepid water with a bag at the side for you to fashion your own beverage. It is wrong when the yanks do it, it is even more insulting that the one aspect of American restaurants Guerilla Burgers chose to ape should not be decent short order cooking but a failure to serve a proper cuppa.
It was not all dreadful, thankfully. Milkshakes were teriffic, creamy and thick and the service was efficient and a total delight, if slightly over eager on the first day. It deserved the 10% service charge which brought the bill to £36 for two. However, there are enough weaknesses here, quite aside ones that might be overcome when the kitchen finds its feet, for me to be pretty sure that those who are looking for a great burger in London are not going to find it here.
A paragraph on their menu reads (their caps)
“ The ICONIC burger is the leader of all sandwiches. The meal of the people, one that NEVER FAILS to satisfy”
Unfortunately, in London, it seems that it is one that RARELY FAILS to disappoint.
P.S – Just for all those of you who were worried I might forget my promise to keep posting the picture of THAT double chilli cheeseburger from Marty’s in LA, here it is. You will have noticed that I have added a picture the Marty’s chilli dog too, just in case anyone from Guerilla Burgers wanted to see what a proper one of those looked like.