Shake Shack Dark Kitchen, Deliveroo, Islington

Almost perfect (albeit pricey) takeaway patty smash

Burger source

Shake Shack needs little introduction. A US import, with food-stand to National chain heritage (albeit via the medium of a large food services company), it arrived in the UK in 2013 and expanded slowly from its original location in Covent Garden. In addition to its dozen or so physical locations, it runs a dozen “dark kitchens” with Deliveroo, starting peak pandemic and evidently thriving.

So, when Lisa and James (who I was catching up with) asked me what I wanted to do for takeaway dinner, and Shake Shack was provided as an option… well, I felt I was long overdue.

The order

James warned me that the burgers were ‘small’ but I assumed that he was using the same mindset to describe it that I use when I go shopping when I’m hungry – i.e. one informed entirely by greed. So I flexed my willpower and ordered a single smokestack burger (cheeseburger with applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers, shack sauce), and we shared a time limited herb mayo bacon fries (crinkle cut fries with – you guessed it – herb mayo and bacon, sprinkled with chopped spring onions), and – largely because Simon was mocking me about it at Black Bear Burger and I relented – we shared ten chicken bites.

The meat of it

Post unboxing, this is how it presented.

Turns out, James wasn’t seeing this through a lens of greed. This is a small burger (4oz max, at a guess), but in a delightfully soft, brilliantly yellow brioche bun. A perfectly melted American cheese is evident and dark, crisp bacon peeks around the edges. You can sense rather than see the shake shack sauce.

In cross section, those peppers come into evidence, and the burger squishes into further submission. The knife didn’t so much cut through the applewood bacon as shatter it along a fault line, it is crisper than Walkers. The burger’s a little dry, though: no fatty ooze, and only the faintest hint of the shake shack sauce.

First bite: this is umami-tastic. The textural contrast is superb – melty cheese, soft, coarse ground, well season, well-charred meat, crunchy bacon, sweet soft brioche and creamy – if slightly too sparse – shake shack sauce. The red peppers didn’t add, for me, what this burger needed – bright, sweet acidity. Give me a pickle, any day. And a couple of dollops more of the shake shack sauce to make up for the dryness of the patty-smash-plus-delivery-travel combo. And… I think a double is not too greedy given the proportion of the burger. But really, all in all, a splendid takeaway burger.

The world underestimates crinkle cut fries. Or maybe it’s just me, too used to having them slightly underdone from a McCain’s bag when I’m rushing cooking supper at home. But well done – as these are – they are beautiful, full of crisp surface area, replete with soft, hot, luscious potato. The ‘herb and bacon [and spring onion]’ build is self-assembly, provided in pots and tipped ingloriously over them, adding creamy sweetness (from the mayo), bright freshness (the spring onion) and crispy crunch (guess from where?). It’s great, though for the price – £7 ish IIRC – the portion is far too small.

The chicken bites were reasonably seasoned, hot, juice, somewhat crisp and fresh. BUT – another £7 or so later – they were hugely erratically sized, the supplied BBQ sauce was saccharine and insipid, and – on the whole – I’d rather have had another burger.

Overall, a great experience. Not the best value small-burger-and-fries you’ll ever have, but an excellent takeaway treat, especially if you are low on salt.

Monkey finger rating

Bun – 4.5/5
Build – 4.5/5
Burger – 4.5/5
Taste – 4.5/5 – just the dryness! And the indeterminate peppers!
Sides – 4/5 – good fries, meh nuggets, overpriced
Value – 3.5/5 – it is a lot of money for an undersized burger and overpriced sides

Burger rating – 4/5 – an excellent, albeit overpriced and every so slightly dry takeaway burger

The deets

Most of the restaurants seem to be in London at the moment, but the dark kitchens are more dispersed. So, you know, deliveroo it! A full list of locations can be found here.

The Beagle, Barlow Moor Road, Manchester

Very serviceable Mancs Deliveroo burger, with decent skin on chips and craft beer

Burger source

The Beagle seems to be one of that new breed of gastropub; handmade burgers, an excellent craft beer selection, burritos and more.

The menu is relatively low fuss; no indication of the heritage of the burgers or any such stuff; no hand-fed cows on the salt-marshes of Northern Ireland or anything. Picking the order off Deliveroo, you’d be hard pressed (but for the booze selection, and the absence of kebabs) to identify the difference between this place and a kebab shop that also did burgers.

But the ratings were high (90%+) and I thought it’d be nice to have a Northern burger whilst visiting Manchester, so I did. Looking up the website of the pub, it’s clearly the kind of craft burger/beer hipster hangout I love, so next time – who knows – maybe I’ll make it in. But this time I was housebound with the kids, so ’twas not to be.

The order

I went relatively simple – the Maple Bacon Burger, a 6oz patty, chipotle mayo, crispy streaky maple cured bacon, and cheese, on a brioche bun. With salad and skin-on chips.

I had them deliver a craft beer too – a High Wire Grapefruit (Grapefruit Pale Ale is apparently a thing).

The meat of it

The stack is messy; a huge slice of tomato and salad coated in copious chipotle mayo, bacon and burger both spilling out of the side of the apparently undersized brioche, and the burger blackened and flattened to the point I imagined I might need to skip the review – so mediocre was it likely to be.

But looks can be deceiving. Whilst the stack was indeed messy, delivery may account for some of the sliding, and the cross section reveals a coarse ground patty that has decent amount of pink visible. The bacon cuts with an audible snap when I prepped for the cross section shot, which adds drama and excitement – bacon was made to be fried crisp, IMHO.

On first taste, I’m confused. There’s salt from the extremely melty cheese and the bacon, adding to the bite of the burger (simple salt/pepper seasoning on that, and not too much of it). The sweet hint in the bacon couples with the sweet salad and sweet brioche and is countered by the mild but obvious heat from the – very flavourful – chipotle mayo. Of which there is slightly too much, but which adds more than it detracts.

The bun starts to fall apart in my hands as I eat; though the burger lacks real juiciness, the mayonnaise and salad is taking its toll on even the egg-and-sugar enriched bun. The combination is certainly more than the sum of its parts, though; a good bite to the meat, a crisp, salty, gooey texture from the cheese and bacon, the sweetness from the bun and salad and the texture and heat added by the mayo gel extremely effectively, even after being in a takeaway box for 10 minutes. The pros outweigh the cons (slightly overdone, dry meat, slight under seasoning, messy stack, inadequate bun), and the overall experience was very satisfying.

The fries; held up very well. Medium-cut, skin on chips, these taste of real potato, are crisp without being greasy, and are well-seasoned without being salty. Even without ketchup they are enjoyable, which is a good sign.

The beer; I will not attempt to review too comprehensively. My taste in beer is unusual; I favour sweeter drinks with a hint of beeriness and prior to the current craft beer renaissance we seem to be going through, I’d only ever order a beer if there was Hoegarden on tap. This beer is the lovechild of a fairly standard craft IPA (think: Beavertown Neck Oil) and a can of Lilt. It’s not overtly sugary but the hint of sweetness cuts back the bitterness of the IPA to leave a very smooth overall experience. The Grapefruit flavour isn’t overly chemical. I’d have it again, but I suspect most real beer lovers wouldn’t.

Monkey finger rating

Bun – 3.5/5

Build – 3/5

Burger – 3.5/5

Taste – 4/5

Sides – 4/5

Value – 4/5 – £10 for burger and side, plus £5 for the beer (!!) with 10% off the lot.

Burger rating – 4/5 – really a very good experience overall

The deets

You can find the Beagle on Deliveroo, or at 458 Barlow Moor Road, Manchester, M20 0BQ. The pub’s website is here.

City Burgers, Vauxhall, Amazon Restaurants delivery

Decent burger; bad sides, both suffer in delivery

Burger source

We wanted to try out Amazon Restaurants to use a voucher I had been sent, and City Burgers came up top. There’s no useful website, so no idea on the origins of the meat or the restaurant. It seems to be pop up within the Vauxhall Street Food garden, so a place with aspirations of gourmet but accessible food. Here’s their write-up:

Introducing our in house Burger stall, serving delicious, carefully sourced Hamburgers freshly prepared to eat in or takeaway. With a selection of burgers taking influence from global cuisines expect to have your tastebuds tingle to the flavours of London, New York, Madrid, Munich, and beyond.

The order

Cheese & bacon burger, skin on fries. Comes with a double 4oz patty. Colleagues had sweet potato fries and buffalo wings as well, and due to a glitch in the order we got to try the wings too.

The meat of it

The order system allowed you to specify a ‘done’ rating down to rare; I went for medium rare.


Arriving in a cardboard box with no wax wrapper, the stack was still mysteriously intact. The potato roll had a lovely shine on it, the melt on the bright yellow American cheese was remarkable, and the single slice of back bacon had a charred crust – the look was lovely.


In cross section, it holds up. Although more medium than medium rare, it’s not bad looking for a delivery burger.  Layers of salad protect the lower bun; onions, pickle top the bacon and the melty cheese drapes down the size. You can see the ooze of ketchup providing sweetness throughout the burger.

On tasting it – it’s impressive for a relatively mundane delivery burger. The meat is well seasoned, the bun holds up well, the bacon is crisp and adds a bit of bite, and the ketchup provides the necessary sweetness given the bun is a potato roll rather than the more popular brioche seen so often these days.

However… if there was a charred crust on the burgers, it softened in delivery and for being transported in a steamy cardboard box.  So the texture felt slightly off, despite a coarse grind and a loose pack. And there was probably just slightly too much meat in total – 2x 3oz patties would have been plenty!


The fries – were terrible. Again, delivery would have been a factor, but not only were my portion a mix between standard frozen essential-type French fries and the skin-on variety advertised, but they were definitely undercooked. No effort to compensate for delivery had been made, so the chips lacked any crispness and were underseasoned (no salt was provided in the delivery bag). The sweet potato fries – which I didn’t try – reportedly had a raw crunch to them.

The buffalo wings – were a misnomer, really. They were fried chicken wings where the very light breading had buffalo flavour woven through the seasoning. They were dry and bland, lacking both the taste and texture you’d hope for buffalo wings.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4/5
Build – 4/5
Burger – 4/5
Taste –  3.5/5
Sides – 1/5
Value – 3/5 – £7.50 for burger, £3 for a giant but rubbish portion.

Burger rating – 3/5 – a good burger, let down by terrible sides and a couple of delivery defects.

The deets

I think both Amazon Restaurants and Just Eat will sort delivery for you if you’re in range. Or head down to Vauxhall; 6A South Lambeth Place, SW8 1SP London, United Kingdom


Roast to Go, Borough Market, London

Amazing crust, juicy middle, delicious burger sauce. Simple burger well executed.

Burger source

The takeaway service of the very famous Borough Market institution, Roast, has a lot to live up to. I’ve not heard anyone experience Roast without singing its praises, though I’m yet to sample its wares in person… I will need to add it to the list. But, thanks to Uber Eats, it was an extremely efficient delivery option for a work burger lunch. The menu’s extremely limited, but Roast’s conceit is fine meat, finely prepared, finely cooked.

The order

The ‘Borough burger’ features a 30% fat 6oz meat patty, melted cheese, thick sliced pickle, tomato, lettuce and red onion on a semi-brioche bun.

The meat of it

Even delivered, this is a solid burger. Robust, yet somehow soft and inviting – a set of adjectives that only really makes sense when you’ve spent as much time thinking about burgers as I have.


And on first bite – wow. A crisp shell on the patty gives way to a juicy, perfectly medium patty; still inviting after the journey over on the bike, but not threatening the bun at all with dripping – this is not a messy burger.


The seasoning is savoury and inviting, the pickle sharp, sweet and a marvellous textural contrast. The salad accoutrements are a perfect, fresh complement to the savoury sensation the rest of the burger, and the semi-brioche adds a pliant hint of sweetness, not overwhelming, but holding the stack together perfectly. The burger sauce, largely mayonnaise, though clearly heavily accentuated, was sweet/salty perfection. It took an act of will not to eat this faster.

My only criticism – and it is hunting for flaws – is that the burger could possibly have been even juicier. But I suspect this is a factor of it being a takeaway rather than a flaw in the preparation.

I spotted that the recipe for this burger was in the wild as part of the promo for the Roast cookbook, so try to make it at home if you’re so inclined.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4.5/5
Build – 5/5
Burger – 4.5/5
Taste –  4.5/5
Sides – n/a
Value – 4.5/5 – £8.50  for the burger plus a share of delivery.

Burger rating – 4.5/5 – there’s really very little to fault in this marvellous burger specimen. I want to have it again in the restaurant!

The deets

Roast 2 Go is available via Uber Eats and Deliveroo in SE1, or pop down to Borough Market – The Floral Hall, Stoney Street,  London SE1 1TL.

Breakfast and burgers, 106 Leadenhall Street, London

Delicious, none-too-heavy burger, tasty even when delivered by Uber Eats

Burger source

Says the website:

“Our burgers are made from 28 day aged grass fed Scottish beef & made fresh daily. Our patties are custom blended, cooked to order & served with lettuce, gherkin, tomato, red onion garnish & our chef’s homemade burger sauce. All our beef patties are 5oz, hand made daily & cooked from fresh…”

I first encountered this restaurant when I needed a lunch venue near a client’s office on Leadenhall Street to meet The Bond, one-time guest blogger on this very blog. I remember it being awesome at the time but was too distracted by my mission to lure the Bond back to the employ of my company (mission: success) that I didn’t give the food the time enough for a review.

The day after the second general election in two years, and thanks to the assist of Uber Eats, we gave it another try.

Burger lovers loving burgers – my team (plus the Bond) settle down to tuck in

The order

My order? A cheese & bacon burger – simples. We shared a few sides of fries between the 9 of us who were hitting up Breakfast & Burgers on this occasion (a few of us had been up late watching updates from the political craziness). Nothing too fancy. A few people went for the chicken, non-bacon variants, and Bondie had the chilli burger (“just the right level of heat”).

The meat of it

Despite being on the back of a bike for 15 minutes whirling through central London (an entirely faff-free process, with Uber Eats, once I figured out the limitations of the app), the burgers arrived warm and well packaged. Unfurling the wax wrapper revealed a handsome stack; a large slice of tomato, pickle and salad topped the burger, (as well as the cheese and bacon), itself surprisingly intact within a large brioche bun.

Seriously, that pink is so perfect, this burger could have been Sous Vided

The cross section revealed a PERFECT pink, beautifully medium burger. The 5oz patty meant it wasn’t overwhelmingly drippy but the coarse-ground, loosely packed patty was perfect for what it was – well-seasoned quality beef. The slightly greedy man in me likes a slightly higher fat ratio, which might have been solved by getting the double burger on the menu… but it was lunchtime! So wasn’t going to be that indulgent. The bacon and cheese was a nice complement, though not overwhelming, and the burger sauce further added to the savoury bite. The bun and amazingly fresh vegetables were the sweet and crisp counterpoint to the umami-ness of the burger… all in all, it was perfectly balanced.

The fries, which never travel well – particularly not thin-cut french fries – were PERFECTLY seasoned, fairly large portions (they’d have to be at £2.75 a pop), and well fried – still crisp despite cooling rapidly from the trip. Remember them being equally impressive in store.

Sadly we didn’t opt for any other sides – will have to save those for a return trip to B&B.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4/5 – slightly oversized for the patty
Build – 5/5
Burger – 4.5/5 – bit more juice welcomed, but perfectly cooked
Taste –  4.5/5
Sides – 4.5/5

Value – 5/5 – <£10  for the burger and (admittedly shared) sides – which for a lunchtime indulgence, delivered, seemed pretty reasonable.

Burger rating – 4.5/5 – All in all, this really is a very special burger, from a very special little restaurant. It’s even better in-store, when its served in a basket, diner style. No frills, no thrills, but no spills either. Too tasty to wastey.

The deets

106 Leadenhall Street – a short walk from Liverpool Street. Also served via Uber Eats! Was with us within 15 minutes of being collected. And, once they hit the bike, you can track the burgers in real time…


Pamella sets off on her cross-river odyssey with our precious cargo


Tommi’s burger joint, Battersea – Deliveroo review

An impressive burger, given it was delivered. But what is with that (lack of) sauce? And HOW much, you say?

Burger source:

An Icelandic import, the Eponymous Tommi has a 30+ year history of burger restauranting, and has clearly been a success, expanding across Europe in that time. Due to open his third restaurant in London, it is clearly doing well on these shores as well. Little is said about his culinary ambitions for the burger itself, but it is clearly high quality meat. The rest is shrouded in mystery – at least, until I actually go to a restaurant and ask someone about it.

The reason we discovered Tommi’s Burger Joint is simple: having used Deliveroo a couple of times, I got hit with an e-marketing email from them promoting the new Deliveroo only restaurant in Battersea – in range of our office in Victoria on a chance Thursday. And so Friday lunch was booked in. Unlike previous reviews, therefore, this one wasn’t enjoyed with my usual Burger crew, but rather in the company of my sporadic co-blogger, Richard.

The order

We knew little of Tommi’s. The menu is simplicity itself, variations on burger, with options of cheese and bacon.  So, inevitably, we all went for the (somewhat overstated) “Special Offer of the Century with Cheese and Bacon” weighing in at £13.90 apiece, inclusive of a healthy portion of fries and a drink.

The meat of it:

This is a well constructed burger; there’s absolutely no doubting that. Even without discounting for the fact it was delivered, the (wax-wrapped then boxed) packaging meant restaurant-style presentation in a takeaway parcel. A perfect stack.


The bun seems an egg-washed roll, holding up well to the rest of the burger with brioche-like glisten but none of the sweetness. The cheese was well-melted over a perfect medium burger, the lettuce was crisp despite the bike transport to us from Battersea, and the coarse-ground beef was loosely packed, juicy and well seasoned. The bacon was good, if not evenly distributed, and perhaps slightly ungenerously proportioned for the size of the (6oz?) patty. So far, so (mostly) great.

The letdown – and it’s possible this was my own fault for ignoring the extensive ‘sauce’ menu that makes the otherwise simple Tommi’s menu complex – was that the small amount of tomato sauce/relish (it’s not ketchup, it is red, and it’s not sweet) didn’t provide the necessary contrast to the juicy, savoury combination of bacon, burger and cheese. The mustard was sharp and felt a bit lonely without a companion sweet sauce. The result is a burger without the delightful contrast most burgers have of sweet and savoury, and left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied.

The sides: the fries (and having to discount for delivery here) were excellent, surviving the travel well. They were still significantly crisp and were well seasoned and tasty, but obviously wouldn’t stand up to  comparison to any decent fries had in store. They are definitely fries and not chips, like someone had turbo-charged McDonald’s french fries, but again… should have ordered sauce. And if I’m being harsh, other than they travelled well, there really wasn’t anything noteworthy about them at all. The sweet potato fries didn’t travel as well, had oddly intermittent chilli spicing, and (as sweet potato fries sometimes do) somewhat lacked the crisp moreishness of the regular fries.

Monkey finger rating

Bun – 4/5
Build – 5/5
Burger – 4/5
Taste – 3.5/5
Sides – 3.5/5
Value – 3/5. £20 – £13.90 for the ‘offer of the century’ felt a lot, especially as the burger feels incomplete without sauce – a further pound.

Burger rating – 3.5/5 – I’d definitely have Tommi’s again, but the next time I Deliveroo, it’ll be for Dirty Burger.

Bonus delivery review

Deliveroo is a challenging proposition. A delivery service, with connections with its restaurants but limited ability to provide service guarantees that I can think of. I’ve had orders from them before arrive significantly late and all they can do is offer vouchers (which, full disclosure, we used to reduce the cost of the offer of the century to about £8 a head). This time around, the delivery arrived within 10 minutes of the forecast window and the service (calls to confirm the order had been collected from the restaurant, and a further call when the delivery driver arrived at our secure building so we could pop down to collect it) was excellent. If they have a restaurant whose food you want to sample in range, I’d recommend it; even if their drivers can’t always be punctual, their excellent service goes a long way to mitigating any bad feeling you have about it.

The deets

Restaurants are plentiful in Iceland, but in London you need the Kings Road or Mayfair branches if you’re not in range of the Battersea Park Deliveroo store.