Sunday 6 December 2009

Hawksmoor - The best burger in London?

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 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'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.
It's superb.

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
E1 6BJ

Telephone: 0207 247 7392


The Ample Cook said...

Love the word 'embuggerance' !!

Great review Dan. It does sound like a stonkingly good burger.

goodshoeday said...

But is it better than one you could make yourself at home??? Cos £15 is a LOT for a burger especially one made from long forgotten (for which read cheap) cuts - maybe they are in league with Waitrose peddling 'forgotten cuts' to the middle classes ;0
Mind you your description does make them sound very good....

The Prodigal Fool said...

Yep, it's on my foodie 'to-do' list too.

And after reading your post, it just jumped up a few places!

Dan said...

Hey thanks Jan. Embuggerance is a cracking word. It is a lovely burger, if your around that way for lunch mid-week, give it a try.

Linda - £15 is a lot, but'd pay around a tenner for a dried out rubbish burger in a pub, which isn't in the same league at all....not even on the same planet. Be interesting to make your own at home and see. But until that happens, I heartily endorse the Hawksmoor burgers meaty goodness, and proclaim at £15 it's more than worth the moolah for lunch.

The Prodigal food - Fantastic. Be interested to hear your opinion when you've had a chance to try it.

Carter Stewart said...

Sounds like a great Burger! I will put it on my list to try out! My favourite London Hamburger is at The Automat on Dover Street, but this looks like it could take first place!

Also, Dan, this was my first visit to your blog as @LDN had a link on twitter- so look forward to reading about your adventures on a more regular basis.

Anonymous said...

You're missing something serious here.

Burgers aren't supposed to be gourmet, or gourmand or gastro - there just supposed to be burgers.

The best burgers in the world are without a doubt the ones available from Webers, a roadside hamburger take away on Highway 11, North of Orillia in Ontario - an hour or so outside Toronto on the drive up to Algonquin National Park. They also have an outlet at Lester B Pearson Airport in Toronto, but being in an airport it lacks a certain ambience.

But don't worry if you can't get there - they're just good simple burgers - buy yourself some lean mince, and your favourite crusty rolls, and make your own. Don't worry about fancy cuts or breeds of meat - it's a burger ! Just remember - you can't be pretentious when you're eating a burger.


Uma said...

Mmmm... Just got an email in about your latest post. It's 4pm, I'm still in my dressing gown after a very heavy sesh last night and the thought of a succulent burger is too, too much. What I'd give for a juicy burger with all the trimmings right now. It's perfect hangover material, but getting hold of one, especially a good one in my neck of the woods is an impossibility. Cheese on toast it is then.

Dan said...

Carter Stewart - Thanks for the comment. I haven't tried the burger at Automat, I'll have to give it a go.

NorthernHeckler - You live upto your name with that comment.
Thanks, but not sure what I'm missing? I made no claims for gourmand, gourmet or gastro burger status. I simply stated in my opinion this is the best burger in London.
The burgers you describe in Toronto sound interesting, maybe one day I'll get to try one.
I also have to disagree - I couldn't turn out a burger like this without a fair old bit of experimenting and fannying about. I've made my own burgers many times. I'd rather just pay the £15 and get something that's perfect as a treat now and again.

Uma - 4pm and still in your dressing gown hahaha good work!!!
Agreed, I reckon this would be a cracking hangover burger.

Anonymous said...

Dear Carter Stewart and Dan, I am the chef who specified the burger at Automat some five or six years ago, and also the chef responsible for the one at Hawksmoor although the spec was done by Huw, the owner. My slightly biased opinion is that the one at Hawksmoor is in the top the world, if you want one compareable you have to travel to New York.

Marcus Shingler said...

That burger looked great in that photo Dan. Plus Hawksmoor is handy for Liverpool St so is now on places to eat after my new year diet! About Jan 2nd then!

Cheers for the blog.


Fat Les said...

Lad; all very well and so said Dieu Hermandos, Ms Belly Pork, Foodnovels, Hollowkegs, stich and oatbikkies, etc...but give the burger at Goodman a try, it's the the def.

nibblescribbler said...

Throwing a spanner in the works, but if you just HAVE to eat your burger accompanied by a cocktail (presuming Hawksmoor gave you the hankering) next time you're in London stop by at Townhouse on Beauchamp street (behind Harrods). £10 will get you a burger, and another thousand of your hard earned pennies a Porn Star Martini.

Quite the eclectic combination...

catty said...

£15 for a burger? Wow it's got to be sumthin' mind blowing for that price!

Dan said...

Anonymous - That's a really interesting, bit of info. Thanks for the comment... and if you are indeed who you say you are, and this is your creation....WELL DONE - I salute you and your Burger making skills, your a genius.

Marcus - Thanks for the comment, very convenient for Liverpool Street :)

Fat Les - Goodman is on the cards for February.....loving the use of "Lad" and the corrupted bloggers names...

NibbleScribbles - Always pleased to receive recommendations for meals or drinking (especially Martinis) - I'll have to check that out, Thanks.

Dan said...

Catty - I don't know if its just me, but lunch for £15 in a restaurant, especially when the burger is as cracking as this strikes me as about right. I'm thinking, if I went in a rubbish pub for lunch, I could easily spend a tenner on some re-heated microwaved crap....hell, a McDonalds meal costs about a fiver nowadays and isn't a third as good as this.
It's worth the money I'd say.

Greedy Diva said...

OMG - burger porn. Love it. I can vouch for Byron as the best cheaper burger option I've had in London, although I'm desperate to get myself to Hawksmoor now.

Food Urchin said...

The burger van round the back of the now defunct and demolished Hollywoods in Romford used to do a special called "The Gutbuster". It contained about 4 beef paties of a non-descript nature, sausages, bacon, egg and mushroom and cost about four quid. It was of course a pile of shit but heaven after 12 pints of Sambucca. I am a more refined character now and will seek out this "Hawksmoor" burger after your recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Echoing the love for "embuggerance".

This sounds great, I really want to find an excuse to get over there. For me the #1 burger is found in New York, in the back of Le Parker Meridien hotel (as featured in Heston's perfect burger programme). All the qualities you've described are definitely there, the loose mouth texture, the sweet-salty cheese, the superb meatiness... divine.

Helen said...

Yes, it's true. I am officially a burger GEEK! A bun geek! It is a damn fine burger though and a damn fine bun too. I kind of like the way it's only available at lunchtimes because it keeps it so elusive. I mean, bone marrow in a burger - it's basically a work of genius.

Dan said...

Greedy Diva - Byron comes up again and again as the cheaper decent option, I'll have to give that a try too.

FoodUrchin - Hollywoods in Romford....what a shithole, thanks for the memory!...and the gutbuster sounds like it fits the place so well....but like you say, after 12 pints of sambuca...almost anything tastes good.

Roastpotato - oooh blimey, now that does sound like the upmarket version..New York, Le Parker Meridien and Heston as well. Sounds cracking.

Helen - aha - yes you are a burger (and bun) geek and I acknowledge your serious study in this important field. I agree entirely, it's a pain in the arse to get in there - but it makes it just that bit more special.

Handpicked Collection said...

Whaddya mean, 'just a burger'? That looks good enough for us to consider changing our Christmas lunch from Harrisons Balham (who do a mean burger, plus a pretty good salmon one too). And bearnaise too? You're allowed to be a bit snobby about an establishment that does bearnaise. Yum.

Q80 Burgerbelly said...

The burger at Automat is solid, although not the best I've had.

gastrogeek said...

brilliant post- you've really really really made me want a cheeseburger now! Still haven't made it to Hawksmoor, it's moved right up the hit list after reading this.

Dan said...

Handpicked collection - 'just a burger' hahaha agreed, a bit harsh on such a fine piece of food. I'd change my xmas do to Hawksmoor as well if given the option.

Q80 Burgerbelly - I'd be interested to know where is the best burger you've had in London?

Rej - Thanks very much :) Oh, you have to try it - it's not even that far away from you... it's lovely.

Unknown said...

Sounds great Dan but I agree with some of the other comments that it is interesting to see a burger as a high end food

Browners said...

Splendid stuff. That's one tasty looking burger. It's the sort of post you wish you hadn't read because it sounds so, so, good. And I've now got long distance, digital food envy.

Dan said...

GC - it was great, you'll have to try it. Yep, agreed - it is interesting to see a burger pimped as high end food.

Browners - Thanks. Your telling me. Now I've eaten one of the burgers, know what they taste like - I have to go again. It was so bloody nice.

ak said...

I am also a burger addict, and I enjoyed this post.

I have tried Automat, and I agree it is solid and safe, but nothing you would go out of your way to try.

I can agree with the friend about the Burger Joint in Meridien/New York - it is amazing!

Also good if you find yourself in NY is "JG Mellon", on 69th street. Amazing burger, and a true american dinner.

And of course the amazing Shake Shack!

The burger at Pastis/new york meat packing district, is also juicy and good - not as good as the other two, but the place is really hip.

David said...

I would never pay £15 for a burger. Up here in Yorkshire we can get a nice fillet steak with home cooked chips for that sort of money ! (although as a big burger fan it looks great!!)

Luiz Hara said...

Well, I am booking Hawksmoor for lunch tomorrow! Wow, great posting. I was not aware it was only a weekday/lunch time thing, so thanks for the tip.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Chris said...

Just to make it clear, the Parker Meridien burger is not upscale. I've been, it's in the hotel but the restaurant itself (Burger Joint) is really basic. $8 cheeseburger, it's amazing.

But next time I'm in London, I'll have to check out the Hawksmoor.

Anonymous said...

I must say , my favourite burger joint ( and I have tried quite a few) in London is by far Automat in Mayfair !
the burgers are amazing , and you just can't beat that atmosphere !

Anonymous said...

Great posts Guys, I am a junk food addict and i did read a while ago that Automat staff are very rude so i didnt ever go there. I would have to say that the Best Burger that i have ever had the pleasure to taste is from Byron, But the downside was, Their chips and onion rings were too greasy. A complete meal for 2 with soft drinks came to about £35 which was quite fair.