This is a burger review with a side of Billy Elliot.
Jen and I made a rare jaunt to West London today to brave the men who wear shirts on their days off and women for whom blonde is a religion. We were tempted there by the Darwin Cocoon at the Natural History Museum (fascinating and resplendent respectively) and a detour to the Victoria and Albert Museum for the new Medieval and Renaissance Gallery (makes one proud to be the descendant of the world’s first modern Empire which gave it the chance to steal the best stuff).
Whilst being trapped way out West we thought that it would be worth giving Byron hamburgers a go as I had read and seen reviewed that they were amongst the best burgers you will ever try. Having been there I slightly worry that those reviews were written by people whose taste is to be as trusted as an Orthodox rabbi running a bacon review site.
This might be too ominous as the burgers aren’t bad and the meal as a whole was enjoyable. However, this is no Hawksmoor, you aren’t going there for a chunk of unmolested pitch perfect beef and the menu is honest about this. Whilst Byron may rabbit on about using good quality beef and cooking their burgers “medium”, this is not a pure burger joint. This is a place to get the sides and the menu lists them expansively; slaw, mac n cheese, shakes, floats, malts, chips etc.. And Byron is all the better for it.
The branch we went to in Kensington High Street was a refined piece of franchising. Nice black enamelled tablewear, black tables, efficient but forgetful service, high turnover. Check, check, check, check.
As mentioned the service was forgetful; the slaw was left lost in the ether, my chocolate milkshake sat lonely on the side for ten minutes whilst I gazed at it. However, all was forgiven when they deposited our two burgers, thin chips and a mac n cheese.
The mac n cheese was unexpectedly a small pot of glutinous joy. Creamy, piping hot and demanding to be eaten first. The chips were the style I prefer. Not the triple fried Heston Blumenthal inspired pretentious bits of over handled potato (as emulated by Hawksmoor) – just thin cut fried chips. Spot on.
The burger was, as said above, not a spot on Hawksmoor. It wasn’t even playing in the same league. This was a medium cooked beef patty with some nice salad in a bun. It was not and didn’t pretend to be 100s of grams of premium meat, dripping blood in centre and cooked to perfection in a one off quite special homage to American burger joints (hint to Hawksmoor again). Byron is a franchise at the start of its career (remember when Wagamama first came to in Soho) where the quality is good but not revolutionary.
All in all the meal was good and I will definitely go back again (though likely to the Wardour Street branch).
Finally, as mentioned the side of Billy Elliot (at the Victoria Palace Theatre). I cannot emphasise how much you should avoid this. It takes what was a sensitive film which dealt with a localised community being ravaged by the frictions of a globalised economy and made it a pastiche. What I learnt from the theatre version is that Northerners swear, the whole time, irredeemably. They also like to hit their kids, brothers, wives. Gay people cross dress. To be working class is to be stupid desperate and damned.
- Price – £30 for two for a very full meal
- Address – everywhere in London