With National Burger Day here, John Underwood tracks down some of London’s most unusual meals-in-a-bun.
What is it about burgers? In recent years, it seems as if every portable meat dish on earth has enjoyed a brief reign as London’s most fashionable lunch, from slow-cooked spare ribs to steamed Taiwanese bao. All eventually become an unremarkable part of the culinary landscape (try to remember the last time you heard someone get excited about banh mi) – only the humble hamburger continues to excite, with new restaurants regularly claiming to have mastered the art of putting hot mince in a bun. Still, who are we to argue? Thursday 25th August is National Burger Day – here’s where to celebrate.
Olympic wagyu burgers at The Distillery
To mark the Olympics, Bankside hangout The Distillery has devised some international toppings for its popular Wagyu burger. The Australasian option features fried oysters atop the patty, while Africa is represented by plantain salsa and chilli pineapple and Asia gets a classic satay sauce. Europe and South America are represented by cheese (Comte and Appenzeller for London 2012, Feijoada for Rio 2016), although North America doesn’t get a look-in, presumably because burgers are American already. If you want to try the Antarctica burger, simply call ahead and ask for your lunch to be flash frozen.
Luxury ‘BB’ burger at Bar Boulud
Until the end of August, Bar Boulud is hosting a pop-up version of Boulud Sud, chef-owner Daniel Boulud’s celebrated New York restaurant. Alas, that means the pork belly-topped Frenchie burger is temporarily off the menu – but all is not lost for the legions of fans who’ve proclaimed Bar Boulud home to London’s best burger. Served on a black onion seed bun, the ‘BB’ features short ribs, foie gras, confit tomatoes and horseradish mayonnaise on top of (or below) the burger itself. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than flying to NYC.
Ahi tuna burger at Kua 'Aina
Can’t quite face hot beef and melted cheese while the mercury’s rising? Hawaiian restaurant Kua ‘Aina, reportedly one of Barack Obama’s favourite places to eat back home, serves a variety of burgers grilled over ‘lava rocks’. The menu includes several seafood burgers, which can be hard to track down in London (especially if you’ve misunderstood Burger and Lobster’s business model). Try mahi mahi with or without (preferably without) Monterey Jack cheese, or feed your brain and your stomach with the sashimi-grade ahi burger.
Brown butter pecan ice cream burger from Jude’s
As if burgers hadn’t become messy enough to eat, Hampshire ice cream experts Jude’s have devised a hot-and-cold handheld pudding that’s guaranteed to ruin some shirts. Across the Bank Holiday weekend, track down their horse trailer in St James’ Park to enjoy a toasted brioche bun containing crushed nuts, a strawberry ‘patty’ and a scoop of brown butter pecan ice cream, made with Hampshire milk and caramel swirls. Or, if you prefer, have your burger elsewhere and then walk to the park to have a scoop of ice cream like a normal person.