For every new burger joint that opens, it serves as a constant reminder that times are tough. Cameron’s Britain. As London continues to act like some kind of surrogate mother to souped-up American fast-food, the market veers ever closer towards saturation point. In doing so, cracks are beginning to appear with sub-par offerings spawning in the wake of their progenitors, *cough* BRGR.
For those who’ve seen and had enough of a patty in a bun for one lifetime, the definitively named “Patty & Bun” may come as an agonising new addition. It’s everything that once had many of you foaming at the mouth, that now has some of you clenching your fist: The Spartan interior, the mismatched chairs that belong in a classroom, tables so tightknit you and your neighbour could well be viewed as congenital twins.
“Ari Gold” cheeseburger £7.00
The staff are enthusiastic and very laid back, but none more so than owner Joe Grossman – a flimsy and dishevelled, beanie-wearing humanoid who you could more easily picture in a smoky room with his mates than running a restaurant. He’s not hard to spot, just look-out for the guy gallivanting around from customer to customer with about as much rigidity as Mr. Soft from the 90’s Softmints commercial.
The menu isn’t complicated. On one side are the drinks which include three different beers, and a limited selection of wines and spirits. On the reverse are the burgers of which there are six. Three of them are beef and named after famous singers. Redefining “messy” for the 21st century is the “Ari Gold” which weeps tendrils of deeply tangy orange cheese into its paper wrapper, which gets all over your hands before you’ve even handled the contents – at Patty & Bun, napkins are your friend. Housed in a lightly toasted brioche bun is a beef patty of what is likely a lattice of overlapping rods of mince that yields an oozing, pink cross-section that is so textured yet soft, it almost crumbles. There’s lettuce, pickled onions, ketchup and their homemade “Smokey P&B mayo” glooped in with the cheese. Much of which will end up on your hands in a manner that closely resembles a doctor’s in the moments immediately following an afterbirth.
There’s the “Smokey Robinson” which follows the same format but includes bacon by default and switches out pickled onions for caramelised onions. And thirdly, the “Jose Jose” which is an “Ari Gold” with an additional chilli chorizo relish.
There’s an admirable attempt to have a lamb burger compete with the beef in the form of the “Lambshank Redemption”. It packs coriander & chilli, lettuce, braised red cabbage, cumin aioli and feta onto an above average lamb patty in a brioche bun. The result is something worth having but my loyalties lie with the beef. The “Hot Chic” is a chicken burger that comes with bacon, lettuce, tarragon mayo and pickled onions. And rounding out the burgers is the vegetarian “Dig It”, which comprises Portobello mushrooms, garlic parsley butter, cheese, slaw, buttermilk baby courgette, pickled onions and tarragon mayo.
“Winger Winger Chicken Dinner” £5.00
The chips are seasoned with rosemary salt and more than adequate, but it is the “Winger Winger Chicken Dinner” that wins ‘best supporting role’. They are smoked confit chicken wings drenched in a BBQ sauce and sprinkled with spring onions. The meat disengages from the bone as if they had no affiliation to one-another. How the chef does this I do not know, but I am fine with blissful ignorance.
The way bloggers tend to throw junk food under a microscope these days is really overkill when you think about it. Our minds slowly swell with useless information which largely misses the point, which is to laugh with your friends whilst ramming life’s simplest pleasure down your throat. As a consequence, if you’re going to step into the burger arena, you leave yourself wide open to the charge of food nerds who collectively wield the power of social media to drastically affect your business for better or worse.
Luckily for Patty & Bun they’ve done their homework. At the time of writing I’d go as far as saying there is no better burger joint in the city, but with the imminent arrival of the American big-hitters, who knows how long that statement will ring true. This is the era of the burger. It’s not going to last forever, so we may as well ride it until the wheels fall off.
food : 8/10
service : 7/10
ambience : 7/10
value : 9/10
Patty & Bun
54 James St, London W1U 1HE
020 7487 3188