Richard Caring, the man behind Jackson & Rye, is pretty much ubiquitous on the London restaurant scene. His holdings range from Strada to The Ivy. Both very different, both very successful. Enter Jackson & Rye; completely different. Thoroughly enjoyable. The food’s instantly recognisable, but still a departure from what you might find elsewhere in London. It’s real down south American stuff with an east coast vibe; buttermilk fried chicken, shrimp and grits and steak and eggs. Then there’s the bar, stacked high with whiskies and ryes and with guest American draft beers on tap. Squint a little and you can pretend you’re in Hawksmoor, but with a much smaller price tag at the end of the evening.
Dark, noisy and inevitably rammed, this bolthole in Soho serves the best value steak you’ll get in London. A slab of meat will set you back the princely sum of ten quid, throw in another couple of pounds and you’ll get a side of fries/Aubergine parmigiana/fresh greens. Oh yeah, and you get to eat it all with a mini meat cleaver. Tables are for sharing so expect to jostle elbows with your next-door neighbours. It’s all friendly though, especially because most people are already well lubricated from a healthy wait for a table in the downstairs bar. Sneak back down for a donut for dessert; guaranteed to have you leaving happy.
OK, OK, there’s a lot of competition out there for best burger in London, but we think these guys are strong contenders. Operating variously from a pub residence in Hackney and the back of a food van in Netil Market, Lucky Chip is a no frills affair, but boy do they know how to make meat in a bun taste great! Of course, when it comes to burgers for the real deal, you have to schlep. By the real deal we mean real, hench, juicy gob-filling burgers. If that doesn’t tempt you, they have kind of a limited edition thing going on for that extra frisson. Mainstays like the bacon burger are always on the menu (because, like, what kind of self-respecting burger joint are you if you don’t do a bacon burger?), but specials rotate weekly and catching them can be like chasing gold dust and requires keeping a wary eye on their twitter feed. We always make a point of heading over when the Bill Murray’s on the menu. It’s a monster of a burger; a cheese-covered beef patty topped by deep-fried soft shell crab. It’s so wrong, but so, so right.
Burgers are busting out all over, not that we’re complaining, especially when we have our very own branch of Meatliquor that’s opened up just round the corner. Bring on the burgers, we say. Meatliquor lovers won’t be disappointed; all the classics are here, including the dead hippie (yes, it’s a burger, don’t worry and the green chilli cheeseburger), but they’ve added an east London twist with offerings like pastrami-topped burgers. Don’t want to overstate our excitement at this, but they’ll also be taking bookings in the new year, yep, that’s right, bye bye queues, hello instantaneous burger satisfaction. Not to brag, but we got a free round of drinks for pure volume of consumption on our last visit. It’s not a competition or anything, but go hungry.
So we’ve been suffering from a serious case of burger fatigue. Despite our solid levels of appreciation for meat in a bun, we were beginning to feel the deluge of burger places opening were verging on overkill. We were getting tired of it. That’s until we had the Ari Gold at Patty & Bun. Followed by every other non-veg burger on the menu. In one sitting. You may say greedy, we say revelationary. The hunky burgers in this diminutive Marylebone joint are just to die for; big juicy patties (cooked to perfection, might we add) daintily balance inside a delightfully airy brioche bun and topped with all sorts of naughty and wonderful cheesy and pickle-y things. It’s no reservations of course and titchy to boot so be prepared for a wait. Or if you live nearby (you lucky thing), cheat and go for the takeaway option. We didn’t have room for dessert (this time), but we hear the choc ices are ace. We won’t judge you if you make our mistake of overloading on burgers though – sometimes resistance is futile.
This chain of posh steak houses just keeps growing, with its latest offering just off Regents Street branching out from the winning formula of meat, meat and more meat to include a little bit of surf with that turf (still not suitable for veggies then). The place is massive but still packs out so book in advance. Expect the usual plush leather booths and ‘30s vibe as well as mean drinks to wash down all that food. The end result is “just perfect.” That’s a resounding endorsement then.
Right at the heart of foody hot-spot Brixton market, backed by one of the dudes behind Meat Liquor and tapping into London’s current obsession with all things chicken, it’s kind of hard to imagine this place being anything other than a wild runaway success. And judging by the buzz on a recent freezing cold Wednesday the odds are looking good. Ok, let’s break it down. You got a shop front in Brixton market (with scant heating so wrap up warm) and a simple menu of fried chicken and er, fried chicken. You can get wings, thighs or a sandwich (but stick to the wings and thighs). The(free-range) chickens are fried to perfection; reassuringly unhealthy, delightfully crunchy and in a delicious array of marinades with a variety of satisfyingly messy sauces for dunking. Wash it all down with the surprisingly classy (and really great) sours on offer behind the bar – with or without egg white. A word of warning: do not, under any circumstances take a date to this place. Eating here is one hot (delicious) mess.
We love the ginormous, juicy and inventive burgers Lucky Chip is churning out from their pub residency in Hackney. We don’t love so much the trek to get there. So of course we absolutely adore that the Player bar, slap-bang in the middle of Soho, has started serving up mini versions of the Lucky Chip boys’ irresistible take on meat in a bun. Even better, the mini part means you can eat more! Make sure you leave room for dessert though – a real, life ice cream burger – you know you’ve always wanted to give that a try. Brioche bun, choc-ice burger and apricot jam “cheese”; it messes with your mind in a good way.
A down and dirty burger joint in a corrugated iron shack in a car park is exactly, it turns out, what Kentish Town has been missing. This brainchild of the painfully trendy people at Soho House is a firm favourite with locals and is usually stuffed full of depressingly attractive young families and professionals clustered around the artfully-aged wooden table, elbows in and mouth open, or squeezed in at the bar. The menu’s minimal – it’s a dirty burger, or, um, a dirty burger. What that means is a giant gobstopper of a bap that oozes juicy burgery goodness. Cheese, American mustard and pickle top the whopper off. It tastes like Maccy D’s done posh, and it still only costs £5.50. Order with onion fries or crinkle cut chips and consume. It’s dirty and we like it! Oh yeah, we lied about there only being one thing on the menu. There’s breakfast too, obviously. Think sausage and bacon McMuffins, then elevate that to the next level. You’re getting there. Oh, and the best bit? It’s open ’til 1:30am on Friday and Saturday.
We were dubious about the kooky concept behind bubbledogs. Don’t get us wrong, we love a bit of bubbly and we LOVE a good dawg, but the two together? Messing with our minds a little bit. A few glasses of bubbly in, on the other hand, we just couldn’t get enough of the stuff. We were scarfing hot dogs like there was no tomorrow, and feeling gooood. Maybe the slick New York-style décor had something to do with it. The place oozes understated cool from the attractive bar staff behind the well-stocked bar to the exposed brick wall hung with dinky dog drawings and stripped down wood floors. Perched on one of the expensive-looking bar stools surrounded by a well-heeled Fitzrovia crowd, glass of bubbly in hand of course, it’s pretty easy to feel pretty good about yourself. The menu is written artfully on a blackboard above the bar; a choice of around 12 dogs (pork, beef or veggie), good luck picking just one. One word of warning, don’t go if you’re fed up of waiting for your food. The queue is as out of this world as the concept.