Saturday 26 June 2010

Byron - London

It would seem I’m quite possibly the last food blogger in London to eat at Byron, I’ve no idea why I haven’t visited before, but the opportunity just seems to have kept eluding me. What makes this apparent oversight even more surprising is the fact that Byron is extremely well regarded for their burgers, by those ‘in the know’, with even such luminaries as Giles Coren among those heaping plaudits upon it, and as regular readers of this blog know… I love a good burger.

Byron appears to punch well above its weight. Although price wise it inhabits the territory of more mundane high street chains, its burgers are often compared favourably to more premium priced offerings such at Hawksmoor and Goodman. (Incidentally, I consider Hawksmoors burger to be the best in London).

So, just a bit of a reputation to live up to then.

I rocked up on a beautiful sunny lunchtime to the most recently opened Byron outpost, located in Covent Garden and took some time to admire the shopfitting, it appears to be an old pub, and its quite obvious some serious attention to detail has been lavished on the place with the awnings and old fashioned signwriting on the windows.
The interior was equally impressive, with high ceilings, leather clad booths and the inviting smell of grilled meat wafting from the open kitchen area running along the back.

Taking a booth seat, I already knew what I wanted to order…once again I’d picked the brains of my Twitter pals, and ‘knew’ that the general consensus considered the ‘Byron’ to be the burger to order, the courgette fries were good, as were the onion rings…. oh and the Oreo Cookie milkshake was excellent. Purely in the interest of research, I decided to order all of these things.

My milkshake arrived first residing in a large stainless steel beaker, frosted and glistening with condensation, the butter coloured ice cream spotted with blitzed Oreo cookies. I had a sip, and yeah, the recommendation I’d received was spot on. It was bloody good, really rich and thick. Great stuff.

Everything else arrived all at once; ignoring the side dishes for the moment I surveyed my ‘Byron’ burger with a critical eye. As mentioned previously on this blog, there is some debate within the food blogger community about what constitutes the perfect burger bun. There seems to be a general agreement that a Ciabatta bun (as preferred by Hache) is bad. A Brioche style sweet bun, as favoured by a few of the more premium purveyors of burgers (including Hawksmoor) is considered to be the best. A floury soft ‘bap’ falls somewhere between these two extremes, and this is what I saw before me sandwiching my burger.

As well as the obligatory slice of tomato, some red onion and lettuce my ‘Byron’ came graced with melted cheese, a crisscross of rather good bacon and a slick of ‘Byron Sauce’. The burger itself looked suitably juicy, chargrilled and thick – time for a bite.

All Byron’s burgers are cooked medium as standard, and it was nice to see a pink interior as I took my first chomp.
Yep, no doubt about it – Bryon do a cracking burger, rich meaty and moist, as evidenced by the juice dripping onto my plate which had somehow managed to evade the soft bun, nevertheless it was doing an admirable job of soaking it up. Although I think I'd prefer to see a brioche style bun instead, I just think it tastes better.
All of the other component ingredients did their parts, contributing to the whole, no complaints.
I liked the Byron burger a lot.

A quick word about the sides,
The Onion Rings looked like very good examples, being ensconced in a very light, crisp looking batter and puffed up nicely, and yep they were good as they looked.

The Courgette fries were pretty good as well, and made an interesting diversion from the standard fries, which if I’m honest were a bit of a weak point when stacked up alongside such a well-made burger.
They were slightly limp, and just a bit ordinary, perfect fries in my opinion need to be really crisp, and these didn’t quite cut it.

Overall, I’d say Byron does an extremely good burger, and it does fare well against some of the better offerings in London. It's Burgers certainly aren’t as good as Hawksmoor's, Goodman's or Bob Bob Ricard's, but the quality isn’t that far off, and considering it comes in at somewhere close to half the price, I’d say that’s pretty damn impressive. Certainly just the job for anyone looking for a more readily accessible, quality burger fix in London at a more affordable price.


33-35 Wellington Street

Tel 020 7420 9850


The Grubworm said...

Good write up of the burger - i actually prefer the ones i've had in Byron to Goodman's pricier option. Partly due to the fact that Goodman's do theirs a little drier (and use a brioche bun - i'm gonna have to disagree with you on this - brioche is my least favourite bun - to many sharp edges and not a easy to hold, and it doesn't soak up juices as well).

What Byron do well is the whole burger eating experience - the right sort of ambiance, the condiments are spot on, the burger itself is quick to arrive and tasty.

Grumbling Gourmet said...

Nice review to start a Saturday morning. I've also failed on the Byron Burger front. I think i got to a point where I'd eaten so many of the things I was starting to look like one.

Proper little chain now, so really no excuse for not. Let's just hope that the quality stays as high as it sounds here. I'm with you on the brioche BTW... It's why for me the Joe Allen burger always ranks quite highly


Dan said...

The Grubworm - Thanks. That's interesting, I really liked the one at Goodman but agree it's probably drier than the Byron one. As for the Brioche bun, I think it's unusual to come across one that has sharp edges - the ones I've eaten are normally quite soft. But I agree with you about Byron doing the whole burger experience well, and quickly.

Grumbling Gourmet - Thanks very much. Agreed, Byron really is shaping up to be a proper chain, so it will be interesting to see if they can retain the quality they're established. I've had the Joe Allen burger, and yep I agree - It's a good burger.

Kavey said...

Am in agreement about the brioche bun, though no sharp edges, that would presumably be a toasted brioche bun - I don't like my burger buns toasted!

So far, I'd rank the burgers I've had as BBR, closely followed by Hawksmoor, then Goodman and Byron at about the same, though I only had a bit of someone else's Goodman so not as fair to judge, perhaps.

Haven't been to the fabled Meatwagon (I don't do queueing, certainly not for hours and never for a burger, no matter how good).

I must admit, I'm giggling at the description of Giles Coren as a luminary... but maybe that's just me.

Slow Food Kitchen said...

Interesting, I have never tried Goodmans or a brioche bun so that will be on the list.

I like Byron's chips too and it's always a good overall experience.

Dan said...

Kavey - I'd agree with your rankings pretty much, although I'd swap BBR for Hawksmoor at the top.
Yes, the meatwagon, I'd like to go - but like you, just dont think I have the patience to wait.
Giles Coren - hahaha I used it in the sense that he's celeb reviewer more than anything else.

Slow Food Kitchen - Have to try a brioche bun at some point, if you havent tried it yet - I'd suggest trying Hawksmoors burger, its awesome.

Anonymous said...

I think I may be one of the only ones but I like the bread buns at Byronm, not a big fan of the brioche ones.

laissezfare said...

Hey Dan,

Nice little review you have there. I have not been impressed by Byron at all on the three occasions I've gone there. Their burgers have been mediocre at worst, okay at best. Plus, on the last occasion I visited, the place was totally filthy and my wife's salad was full of wilted, brown salad leaves (which they cheerfully served to us...). Yum...

I think they may have been okay at the start but they've certainly got some expansion / quality control issues.

That said, possibly I am a bit contrarian in the London food blogging community, as I do like Hache's burgers (God forbid!) and think they're very consistent (they only have 2 branches thus far) and good at what they do. I have yet to try the Hawksmoor and Goodman burgers, which do look appetizing from the photos I've seen and the descriptions I've read, and I did really like the cheeseburger I recently had @BobBobRicard with your good self on the #HCMT. But for me, the best burgers I've had are still in the far. Overall standard is just higher - more experience I guess?

Hope all is well.



Dan said...

Mathilde - Interestingly, It seems that more people have held their hands up as being fans of Byrons soft bap style buns than have people for the Sweet Brioche style buns. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in declaring Brioche the choice of the majority.

Laissezfare - Hello Mate, Thanks very much. What a shame you haven't been impressed by Byron. That's quite a damming verdict, I wouldn't have been impressed with that experience either.
I like Hache's burgers as well, but not the ciabatta buns. I really like the Hawksmoor burger, and the Goodman example was great they are both fairly comparable with the BBR burger.
I'm not entirely suprised the best burgers you've had are in the US, but despite that, we're slowly getting there!
Likewise, Hope all is well with you and yours.

Northern Snippet said...

Hmm. So indulgent to be able to debate the qualities of the "best" burger bun.As a person who cant eat anything other than gluten free bricks, any would be delicious.Envy..I'm struggling to comprehend anything other than wanting "standard" fries with a burger!By the way-what was the price?

Dan said...

Northern Snippet - Us Essex folk are incredibly indulgent dontcha know.
Price - well, the Milkshake was £3.50. Byron Burger was £8.50. French Fries and Onion rings were both priced at £2.75, and Courgette fries were £3.

Helen (Fuss Free Flavours) said...

I possibly really am the last London blogger not to have been to Byron. but I did notice one on High Street Kensington yesterday (where ASK or Pizza Express used to be) so may well go and try it out.

Dan said...

Helen - hahaha, so I'm NOT the last food blogger in London to try it. Amazing ;)