Burger & Beyond, Shoreditch, London

Excellent dry-aged burger with little to fault

Burger source

From Essex to London, these folk are pretty serious about their burgers. Their backstory:

We’re known for bringing some of the best burgers to the capital, using freshly ground dry aged beef made from choice cuts of meat. We first gained a fanbase trading from a Citroen H van, before opening sites at street food markets Kerb and Street Feast – and finally launching our very own restaurant in E1. Alongside the top chef-quality burgers that gave us our name, we serve American-style sides including Dirty Tots or Fries with bone marrow gravy, plus sauces such as our signature Burnt Butter Mayo, and a drinks list of cocktails, craft beers and wine.

For my part? I had been working late and wanted a treat, near(ish) the office. So I went in search…

The order

I had the burnt butter burger – a dry aged beef patty, double american cheese, crispy pancetta bacon, burnt butter mayo & onion. Side of (regular) fries, and a ‘piece of mind’ lychee based Prosecco cocktail (it had been a long day).

The meat of it

The burger makes for impressive viewing. The juices on the plate – a little messy, but titillating. The melt on the cheese – exquisite. The bacon – streaky. The burnt butter mayo – oozing out the side. The bun – a glorious shine. We’ll come to the fries.

In cross section, the coarse ground, loose packed approx 5oz patty shows off a pink core. The onion and mayo spills out .The melt on the cheese becomes yet more apparent. The bun – is a little cold and stodgy, which is a shame as everything else looks glorious. The fragrance of dry aged meat, coupled with the mayo, is like nothing else I’ve experienced in a burger.

First taste… brilliant. A good crust on the burger, brilliantly seasoned. A light, dry-aged funk comes across that’s quite hard to place, as does the bonus umami from the bacon, cheese AND the very distinctive flavour from the mayo… wow. The mouthfeel is brilliant, as you’d hope for given the grind and pack of the meat in the patty. The raw onions give a light big-mac-esque texture (only the good things about it, not the bad). The only – minor – downside, as expected from cutting the cross section – is the bun. Too big, too cold, too bready for a single patty. And the mayo sliding out of it did make it slightly too messy to eat by hand, so this was a cutlery burger.

Onto the fries… these are exquisite. Some of the best fries I’ve ever had – crispy on the outside but not so much so that they become crisps, with a fluffy, hot potatoey interior. They are perfectly seasoned, the tin cup holds heat without inducing sogginess – just lush. I paired them with some ketchup and mayo dips, which did help mellow out the saltiness. But that’s not a complaint.

This was disappointing – the piece of mind, a cocktail that I assumed would meet my hankering for something sweet and refreshing… but the lime was undetectable, as was the agave and the lychee. It tasted largely of spiked, watered-down Prosecco, which was a weird consequence of the combination of ingredients (Vodka, Lychee Liqueur, Agave, Lime, Prosecco). A lot of money for a meh drink.

Monkey finger rating

Bun – 3/5
Build – 5/5
Burger – 5/5
Taste – 4.5/5 – minor deduction for the bun
Sides – 5/5 – glorious fries
Value – 4/5 – £28 for burger, side & cocktail, which felt a little steep (inc service)

Burger rating – 4.5/5 – I’d be tempted by a double next time, and a more conventional drink. But otherwise grand.

The deets

A short walk East from Shoreditch High Street, the restaraunt was small but cozy, with efficient service and a good atmosphere. Recommended. Find details and other locations here.

Dirty Burger Shoreditch, 13 Bethnal Green Road, London E1

Has Dirty Burger peaked?

Burger source

For me, Soho House’s Dirty Burger is part of the great opening salvo of London’s battle against burger mediocrity. I rememer being distinctly impressed, one Friday lunchtime jaunt out with colleagues to the Vauxhall Branch. It introduced me to some key burgering techniques, including the mustard fry (mustard on the grill with the patty, a key tenet of In&Out’s Animal Style), I vaguely recall. They also use the ‘lid technique’ to ensure a good cheese melt on the burger, covering cheese topped burgers on the grill plan and squirting water on to create a cloud of steam that does the necessary work. Invaluable in home-burger creation. I was looking forward to revisiting with a review in mind, so post a team shuffleboard session (more fun than it sounds), we braved a torrential Summer downpour and headed to the Shoreditch branch.

The order

A Dirty Bacon (a cheese burger with bacon), naturally. And crinkle cut fries, because – why not? And onion fries too, because I remembered these being legendary.

The meat of it

As it’s basically a take-away, service was expectedly rapid (if not up to the speed of a lesser fast-food joint). We were the only customers on this particular rainy day. The burgers initially looked glorious – check out the stack!

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Unfortunately, first tasting did not live up to the glamour picture. The “bacon” is really a gammon steak, half an inch thick and adding ludicrous saltiness to this already well-seasoned burger. The cheese was delightfully melty, as remembered… but the burger itself unfortunately was overcooked and a little chewy, with little pinkness on cross section.

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This meant that the bun, sturdy as designed to cope with a juicy patty, was actually a bit too dry. The salad was fresh and sweetish but the ‘bacon’ overwhelmed everything, including the pickles – which went entirely unnoticed. My memory of the mustard fry was either mistaken or they’ve changed the recipe as the only flavour coming through was the salt. The beef might have been great – but overcooked as it was, it didn’t impart huge amounts. Ketchup and mustard added after-the-fact improved the balance somewhat, but sadly on this occasion, Dirty Burger missed its mark.

As to the sides…

As per my recollection, the crinkle cut fries were a limpid offer – slightly soggy and underwhelming. They came unseasoned, so self-salting is necessary. Fortunately, my memory of the onion fries was accurate; they are a savory, crispy enigma. How does something so crisp, crunchy and delicious, contrasting perfectly with sweet thick rings of onion, emerge from the same deep fat fryer? Spectacular, if greasy, indulgence.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4/5
Build – 5/5
Burger – 3.5/5
Taste –  3/5
Sides – 4/5 -bump for the onion fries
Value – 4/5 – £10 for burger and side, ish.

Burger rating – 3.5/5 – didn’t live up to its erstwhile glory. But I’d go back on the offchance they were having a bad day, and perhaps not order the gammon burger…

The deets

Dirty Burger is increasingly all-over. The Shoreditch branch is at 13 Bethnal Green Road, just opposite Box Park (where you’ll need to go if you need the loo, as the tiny restaurant has no facilities). Fortunately Dirty Bones just around the corner is a good place for a cocktail after, if you want to keep the theme Dirty…