Living in Clapham often feels like a bit of a waste of time in culinary terms. Aside from Trinity, Four O Nine and Breads Etcetera, you’re most likely to find dirty takeaways and high street chains like Strada.
What makes this doubly apparent is the high calibre of exciting little offerings springing up just around the corner in Brixton. With just a short stroll around Brixton Village and the market, you can barely turn around without bumping into Franco Manca’s tasty pizza, or Federation Coffee’s snazzy beans.
Honest Burgers dropped onto my radar when it entered YoungandFoodish’s top ten burgers in London last week and you only need a quick glance at that list to realise it’s in some heavyweight company. But how does an £8 bring-your-own-booze Brixton burger place hold up to the likes of Hawksmoor, Bar Boulud and Byron?
We wandered over from Clapham in time for the 6pm opening and got a table easily but by the time we finished, there were a number of larger parties eating in, which might hint at a likelihood of queuing on busy days. The branding is really nice, simple and clear – reflected in the menu handed to you when you take a seat.
The special on the day featured something of an Italian spin – the usual burger accompanied by mozzarella, basil, sun dried tomatoes and a fennel salami. Sounds like it’s on for a week or so which suggests there’ll always be interesting varieties to sample on future visits.
The Honest Burger
But what about the standard burger? We went for two “Honest Burgers” – that’s red onion relish, bacon, cheese, pickled cucumber and lettuce, served with rosemary-seasoned triple cooked chips (£8).
First up, those chips. In truth, they’re more like crunchy irregular tasty (but skinny) roast potatoes. It’s refreshing to get such a strong alternate flavour in what can sometimes be a neglected aspect of the burger experience (looking at you, MeatEasy.)
Also, great to see a little theatre as the chef whips them around in a big white bowl with the seasoning as below:
As a mouthful, the most striking element is the relish. It’s like a sweet red onion marmalade and perhaps the biggest identity for the burger in my mind. Competing closely for second place is the crunchiness of the cucumbers – and their saltiness resonates through the bacon and cheese in a really nice balance.
The meat, served pink was very tasty too. A nice little hockey puck, neither it nor the bun were oppressively big and you get the feeling that some thought has gone into the balance of components within it. There’s maybe a glimpse less juiciness in it than the old MeatWagon classic but there’s definitely nothing to be sniffed at here.
Honest Burgers is fast, affordable, tasty food. Considering you can bring your own drinks, and (the divine) chips are included, you can easily head away satisfied and impressed for £15 or so and the specials mean there’s always likely to be something there to tickle your fancy.
In the mean time, my main concern is their takeaway option. It’ll be interesting to see if short cycle ride to pick them up and back home entirely counteracts the calorific heft of eating them…
However, it’s my duty to science to find out. Tough work but I think you’ll agree, someone’s got to do it.