Byron hamburger

Before I started food blogging, I didn’t think about hamburgers much. In the summer, when barbecue smoke is drifting from everyone’s balcony and back garden, I’d think about . I’d imagine a burnt slab of mince in a bun with some ketchup, a can of lager and a fat hot dog to follow. But other than that, didn’t feature in my mental foodscape.

And then I started spending time on Twitter, where a coterie of food bloggers are on the hunt for an authentic West Coast burger experience. It’s an ongoing mission and, given the results so far, a never ending one.

So every day I read fanatical burger chat and, as proof that advertising works, hamburgers now dot my daydreams and lurk in the back of my mind, ready to leap out and dance deliciously in front of me whenever I wonder what to have for lunch.

After a long day in the office last week, I was considering the trudge home to a fridge full of limp vegetables and a box of broken pasta when a burger shimmied to the front of my mind and gyrated before me. I had to concede: it was burger time.

Inside the burger

I went to Byron at The Intrepid Fox on Wardour Street, an old Goth pub that’s been carefully redecorated to look like it hasn’t been decorated at all. I was seated at a small table in the middle and ordered a classic 6oz hamburger, French fries and an Oreo Cookie milkshake.

My waitress nodded and said: “I was going to say that’s a bit of a small meal, but with the milkshake I think you’ll be fine.” Less than 10 minutes later, I had my burger and fries.

Happily, the burger was one of the best I’ve eaten in a long time. A juicy slab of beef with a tiny heap of lettuce, tomato and onion, it dripped amazing meat juices down my arm and onto the plate. I swirled my fries in them in so I wouldn’t miss out on a scrap of meatiness.

Byron chips

To make the burger perfect, I’m going to agree with the consensus that a burger needs a sweetish bun. The plain white bun was dull and ordinary tasting compared to the flavour slap of the burger. And having a huge pickle on the side is a problem for burger perverts like me, who enjoy a slice of gherkin in their burger sandwich.

I tried to cut slices off the pickle, but my knife was so blunt it would’ve had trouble hacking its way through warm butter. In the end I had to bite the burger and then slide some gherkin into my full and bulging mouth. Not an attractive sight.

Oreo milkshake

The fries were too thick to be proper fries. They were chips on a diet and, being chips, they needed vinegar. The condiment tray on every table has many fine sauces to splash over your food, but it doesn’t have vinegar. I suppose bottles of Sarsons don’t feature much in Californian drive thrus.

I finished with the Oreo Cookie milkshake, which doubled up as a drink and dessert. It came in a huge frosted metal cup and tasted like satiny liquid ice cream that someone had helpfully blended the wafer into. I loved it.

The bill came to £12.50 without service, which was speedy, smiley and kind enough to suggest that a burger, fries and milkshake meal is a ‘just right’ rather than ‘quite piggy’. I’m afraid that after this meal burgers are going to be on my even more on my mind. This could be the beginning of a terrible burger addiction.

Byron on Urbanspoon

Tagged with: BurgersLondon

0 Responses to Byron, Soho

  1. I must admit, I DO think about burgers quite a bit. They’ve always leapt out at me on menus. I like the milkshakes too even if you feel bit sick afterwards but it’s kind of got to be done hasn’t it?!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Burger, fries, milkshake: that’s the holy trinity and ordering anything else is skipping out on the experience. I do normally end up feeling a bit sick, but the portions at Byron were just right so I left feeling ‘really full’ instead.

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks for the ‘shout out’. At the moment I’m pinning my hopes on Shake Shack opening up in the UK. I’m a glass half full sort of person.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      It’s your fault I think about burgers as much as I do. I wish you’d start a mission to find the best salad and juice bar in London. It would be better for my health. I’m sure America’s burger kings will answer your siren song one day.

  3. Helen says:

    Welcome to the burger obsession club. Tom won’t be moved on those buns, don’t get it myself.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      I understood the sweeter burger buns thing for the first time at Byron. Sweeter buns would’ve made it a complete burger; the plain ones were more of a edible napkin. Didn’t complement the burger at all, just sort of held it.

  4. Rahul says:

    Good that you tried Byron. As a good American (13 yrs of living there) a 6 oz burger just doesn’t cut it. You need 8 oz at least, maybe 10 oz, with raw onion and a glass of red wine. No cheese or bacon for me, just lettuce and tomato on the side. This is more NYC than West Coast I will admit, more steak sandwich than In’nOut. I once ate a burger at the Ritz Carlton in St. Louis that had strips of foie gras on the top. I was hooked.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Foie gras burger? My word, doesn’t get further from the $2 burger than that, does it? I’d agree that 6oz is a bit small, but when you add fries (chips) and a vat of milkshake, then it’s about right for a meal. On its own, 10oz sounds good. But think I’d try to order fries and milkshake as well and rupture my stomach.

  5. Chris says:

    Can I also disagree with the ‘bigger is better’ mantra from Rahul? Bigger just makes it easier to cook them medium/rare etc. But it also makes a great big ugly cricket ball of a burger that you can’t eat without a knife and fork. Give me a nice thin manageable patty any day, and if you want more beef just have extra layers 🙂

  6. Rahul says:

    Chris – one day I will inculcate you into that better world called an East Coast burger … So far far away from McD’s!! Served on nice China, mostly eaten by pink faced braying men in white shirts, pinstripe suits and Hermes ties. Washed down with a nice Californian red. Accompanied by frites w/ dijon mustard. All for about $10-15. Must stop now, getting hungry …

  7. Gav says:

    Byron is definitely the best option – wish they were still doing the Big D so you could have checked that out – it was definitely the best burger I have eaten in the UK.

    Bet you’re glad you ventured round the corner from Bodeans!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Yes, I completely missed out on the Big D. I managed to double book myself on the one evening I was going to go and I am quite sad about that. Never been to Bodeans. I take it I shouldn’t bother?

      • Gav says:

        No no Bodeans is all good it’s just a nice change having Byron round the corner for a fast food fix. Definitely give Bodeans a go – I like the burnt ends which are only available a couple of times a week I think althoughI think they were goiung to try and make them available all week.

        Their ribs are good too – I do hope someone goes on a mission to find the best ribs in London.

        And as far as fast food goes why has no one done proper fried chicken??!!! It’s so tasty when does right with decent quality ingredients

        • ginandcrumpets says:

          Ah, misunderstood. I will take the amber warning light off Bodeans, because I do like barbecue. Are burnt ends the American equivalent of scraps from the chip shop?

          Somewhere doing proper fried chicken would be dangerous. I remember my mum making it for me when I was little and Maryland chicken was considered adventurous and exciting fare for a picnic. Been thinking about trying to recreate it for a while now. Might be time to give it a go.

          • Gav says:

            Yep definitely give it a go the pulled pork is good too – I usually go to the Soho one but you might be a ‘Sowf Londoner’ so I tink there is one in Claaaapham 😉

            The burnt ends are slow cooked brisket I think, smothered in sauce and nice and smokey. All this talk of pig is making me insanely hungry.

            Oh yes make some deep friend chicken, blog it and make me eternally jealous (I will pay handsomely if you mail me some) If only there was one proper chicken shop for every 100 Kansas / Memphis / Cottage Fried chicken. It really is so tasty and just like burgers you can only get the good stuff in the US of A.

            Right now time for a top from you – where’s your favourite place north of the river I need some inspiration for Saturday night

  8. Lizzie says:

    I am rather a fan of Byron’s but I can’t fathom why they don’t use a sweeter bun. I am also a burger pervert; I’ve got the surreptitious burger-munch-pickle-scoff down to a tee…

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Burger perverts of London unite! The pickle is not nearly as good eaten on its own. Reckon there ought to be a choice: “In or on the side, Madam?” That would be easy, surely.

  9. The Grubworm says:

    Blimey – this is the third burger blog post i’ve read today. And it looks like Byron, Hawksmoor and Goodmans are the holy triumvate of burgerdom.

    I guess i’ll just have to go and try all three out *sigh*.

    Great review – and i can see that milkshake is a meal in itself.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Today is clearly burger day. The Hawksmoor burger does look really, really good. I’m going to have to go and try that one now I’ve ticked off Byron.

  10. Browners says:

    Sounds like I am going to have to try Byron Burger soon simply to see what the fuss with the bun is all about. It can’t be so unsweet that it’s bitter can it?!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      No, just plain. A plain white bun, which is good with butter and ham and salad, but didn’t really go with the burger. It wasn’t bad, just not 100% satisfactory.

  11. ginandcrumpets says:

    @Gav North London? Er, I haven’t been further north than Spitalfields for a while now. I remember having a nice meal at 500 on the Holloway Road, Archway, last year.

    When I lived in Stoke Newington, about 21/2 years ago, I used to like Il Bacio on SN Church Street, Rasa on Church Street and the kebab place at the end of our road (never learn its name, so that’s no help to you).

    Also enjoyed Le Mercury in Islington because it’s candlelit and the starters are £4 and mains £6.50. Amazing! We had starters, mains and desserts whenever we ate there, I can tell you.

  12. The Grubworm says:

    @ginandcrumpets @gav can I shoulder my way into the conversation on North London? Being an ex-Islington, now Stoke Newington resident I can second Il Bacio and Rasa, both are good. If you’re looking Islington way then Otto Lenghi is a good bet, as Metrogusto if you want Interesting Italian.

    But if you head a little more centrally North, there’s a whole host of mouth-wateringly good places: Sardo near Warren Street, Rosa’s Thai in Spitalfields and pretty much anywhere on the lower end of St John Street is excellent- Portal, St John, Eastside Inn, Vinoteca.

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