Last week I finally had the chance to tick something off my foodie 'to-do list' that I'd been meaning to try for quite some time, The Hawksmoor burger.
There are a couple of issues associated with actually getting to eat the thing. It's only available at lunchtimes, and only during the week. This throws up all kinds of problems for me to actually sample it. I work nowhere near Commercial Street, and with the added embuggerance of its absence from the menu at weekends...well, let's just say I've waited and watched from the sidelines, biding my time for an opportunity to finally get in there.
But hey it's just a burger right? why all the plotting and gnashing of teeth waiting for an opportunity to try it?
The reply to that would be:- It's not 'just a burger' it is reputedly the best burger in London.
OK, Granted the competition is a bit thin on the ground, we just don't seem to 'get' burgers in the UK, but this one stands head and shoulders above nearly all others.
let me paint you a picture....
Imagine a pyramid with perhaps your microwaved 24 hour garage Rustlers fare lining the bottom, up we go through the dodgy suburban dog meat burger vans where your just as likely to receive a side order of food poisoning as chips, past the defrosted and dry offerings of countless pub menus....whizzing past your McDonalds and Burger Kings, past the so called 'gourmet offerings' of the more upmarket chains.....rocketing skywards, past the other more serious contenders such as Hache - we finally burst through the clouds (for this is truly a mungus pyramid of meat)....and there sparkling like a jewel at the top, master of all it surveys is the Hawksmoor Burger....glistening in an almost mythical way.....angelic music plays....a sense of peace falls throughout the land.
So, not much expectation there then.
Finally, last Friday my chance came, with a day off Christmas shopping I frantically booked a table for lunch at Hawksmoor.
First a bit about the burger, it's made from 100% Longhorn. The notes on the menu state that it
"Includes long neglected cuts like Clod and Stickling and small nuggets of bone marrow".
Personally, I have no idea what these cuts are.....but I like the traditional sounding names and mourn their strangeness to me.... I now long to approach a butchers counter and say "Give me half a pound of Clod.....and, while your at it - I'll have some Stickling as well".
The burger is offered with Ogleshield cheese, or Stichelton Blue Cheese. It's all topped with a hand made demi-brioche bun. (I wont get into the whole bun debate here, others have covered it more comprehensively than perhaps anyone would have thought possible). But brioche seems to be widely considered as the best choice for a bun.
Finally, this comes with triple cooked chips, and Bearnaise for dipping. Woof. (or perhaps, as a salve to the waistline, a salad...hiss).
So, seated in a packed and buzzing lunchtime Hawksmoor, my burger ordered (Medium rare)...I sip my Brooklyn cocktail (Typical me, I ordered a "Brooklyn" meaning the Beer, which they used to serve but seemingly no longer. I was surprised to be presented with a "Brooklyn" cocktail instead....feeling this was perhaps my own fault for being presumptuous, and never backwards going forwards when it comes to alcohol, I drank it anyway. It wasn't bad).
Finally, my burger is brought out and it certainly looks the part, thick and juicy....with just the cheekiest hint of melted cheese oozing from under the bun.
I take a bite, and it's incredibly good, the meat is extremely moist and tastes incredible.....like good meat should, full of flavour...combined with the cheese, the thinly sliced red onion and pickles, the sweet soft bun......I'm literally dazed.
I dunk a beautifully cooked chip in my Bearnaise and sigh happily, misty-eyed.....then proceed to eat everything on the plate, and I mean the lot..it's so good. Meanwhile I keep a weather eye on the GF's efforts to finish her burger. She always leaves a little bit, and she doesn't disappoint this time....I fall on her leftovers immediately like a starving animal.
Now, this is the thing.
It's just a burger, albeit an incredibly good one, but there's no point being snobby about it.
This was without a doubt one of the best things I've eaten all year. Full stop. It was stunningly good. I was in an almost rapturous daze eating it, in between bites of triple cooked chips and Bearnaise, it was beautiful. My only regret is that a return visit is so awkward to fit into my schedule. But have no doubt, a return visit is inevitable. Now that I know it exists....I have to have it again.
As for the question, is it the best burger in London?
I hear the offering at Maze Grill is another contender, but not having tried it, it's impossible to comment. But I will say the Hawksmoor burger is easily the best burger I've eaten in London, and perhaps anywhere. And if there's better out there in the world (and there no doubt is), I cannot even begin to fathom how good they could be after sampling this.
The Hawksmoor Burger is £15
157 Commercial Street
Telephone: 0207 247 7392