“Wow!” said Adam, wiping the inevitable dribble of juices from his chin after a big mouthful of Ari Gold burger during our rapid lunch at Patty & Bun‘s outlet opposite Liverpool Street station in the heart of the City of London.
Burgers nowadays are precariously and vertically constructed more like Sloppy Joe than the simple sandwich they once were; the impact of American culture on our British tastebuds maybe. Eating them without said burger collapsing into separate piles of constituent parts requires dexterity on the part of the diner – and even then your cardboard box or, more likely, greaseproof paper will act as a drip tray for the liquids. But even then, expect your clothing to bear evidence of lunch too – so not a good venue for a first date with his next girlfriend, as my son had reckoned.
Following on from recent gourmet burger house reviews (Loaded, Honest Burger, Five Guys etc.), Patty & Bun has earned a good reputation after first appearing as a pop-up. London is now packed with small burger chains emerging from the tide of pop-ups, so there is no room for complacency – but confidence in their product and in the efficiency of the service operation is high, with good cause.
For such a small outlet throughput is high, helped by a smooth and slick fulfilment process from a well-staffed kitchen – with everything thankfully done in-house. Service is with a smile and in close evidence to ensure everything meets quality standards.
Of the burgers themselves, I am assured that they are made from a mix of chuck and 35-day-aged, rib-cap, grass-fed Aberdeen Angus meat, and come by default at a perfect medium-rare – an improvement on the inconsistent cooking at Loaded. The mix was well-seasoned and included sufficient fat for the finished product to be tasty and succulent, and thankfully to stand out in its own right from the accompaniments piled atop.
For Adam’s burger these included: Red Leicester, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, plus smoky P&B mayo (homemade to a “secret recipe” in a ploy favoured by all fast food joints, though this is truly excellent) on a brioche bun, with crispy bacon a worthy 50p supplement. I went for the special and therefore got Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, pickled jalapeños and BBQ slaw, along with the usual salad garnish. I’d have to say that it hit the spot, including the brioche buns to soak up at least some of the juices without breaking up into soft pappy lumps.
The rosemary salted fries were at least as good as those found in Loaded, which is to say very good – and a welcome change from freezer-to-frier culture. They had substance, texture and flavour, for which grateful thanks are to be offered.
Our drinks included a pricy (£4.80) can of one of London’s fashionable beers, Neck Oil Session IPA, certainly a worthy pairing with the burger. The other beer offering is Purity‘s Longhorn IPA – so you’re well catered for, so long as IPA is your thing.
The downside to all this efficiency and rapid service is that you are in and out of P&B in no time flat, which might be self-evidently the objective of fast food though when you are at a gourmet burger venue where a modest lunch for two is pushing £30 a little more time to appreciate the grub would be very welcome. The turnover of service meant we moved on without time to digest.
Still, a successful sample meal – and my quest for the perfect London burger moves on. Clearly the winner can’t be announced until I’ve tried the lot! Honest Burgers is still the benchmark, though if a visit to P&B tells me anything, it’s that the differences are pretty minimal between the best of breed.