Yoyos, Tamagotchi, Pogs. They all have one thing in common. They were a passing fad. They made millions of people happy. And they made millions.
There is a fad in the food trade at the moment, but whether or not it is passing remains a question. These booth seating, American food serving, truck stop diner reminding, junk food haunts are here in force.
That description sounds negative but it really isn’t. I love the ideas that are coming out.
Burger and Lobster, Patty and Bun, Duck and Waffle. Basically the key seems to be get two base ingredients, stick ‘em together and add frilly bits.
Simple but effective, and on the most part, bloody delicious.
I have been to Bubbledogs in Fitzrovia. It is genius. The simplicity, of putting a frankfurter in a bun then covering it in varying toppings making it a Mexicana, or a New Yorker is so simple. And it tastes good.
Stick a glass of Champagne in someone’s hand and it feels glamourous. Make them queue in the street and it feels exclusive. Execute the service well and the customers will relish the experience (excuse the bun, er pun).
A few years ago I ate at one of the originals, MeatLiquor, pointed out to me by someone with their hipster finger on the pulse. (Just to point out the same friend now has a really long beard, but I still love him).
Again MeatLiquor executed their no plates, finger muching, rough and ready occasion with class.
But there are only so many burgers you can eat in one life time and so picking up on the good fad restaurants is very important. Don’t waste your weekly carbs and meat allowance on one of the sh*t ones.
Unfortunately, this week I did. And I hope it wasn’t the moment that the fad reached saturation point.
I have heard so many good things about Byron Burger. In fact they must have been doing fairly well because they can boast 36 diners across London with a 37th soon to be opening in Holborn.
Popping out for a spot of lunch I used the website’s “nearest Byron” locater which lead me to Kensington High Street.
With the sniffery infused West London clientele to satisfy, I figured that this was probably going to be one of the better of the chain’s locations. It didn’t have the lights and whistles of the Hammersmith branch just up the road, but I wasn’t going to walk the extra mile for what should surely be the same offering.
It didn’t start well. Craft beers are all the rage, and places like Bubbledogs have tapped into that market, offering beers that are hard to track down anywhere else. So I chose the in-house Byron Lager.
“We don’t have the Byron Lager”, she says. I didn’t want to go all Larry David and so held back from asking where else I could possibly get a Bloody Byron Beer if not from Bloody Byron Burger.
I took on a small Peroni instead. Out comes a large one. Normally I wouldn’t quibble, but I was working and had to drive later.
They took it back.
The second attempt featured a small Peroni with a glass tumbler. The tumbler was battered and scratched to within an inch of its life. I actually don’t mind that, it shows use and character.
However, I don’t particularly like my tumblers with a side order of mayonnaise, despite its beautiful nouvelle cuisine-style smear down the side. Well at least I hope it was mayonnaise.
The home of the “proper burger”. A great sound byte. I am not sure if you can sue under the trade descriptions act, but there was nothing “proper” about it, unless by “proper” you mean proper similar to Wimpy.
To be fair, the actual meat patty was cooked well. But the refrigerator tinged bun, stalk end of a lettuce leaf and token tomato and onion slices were pretty pathetic. Oh and there’s the mayonnaise again.
Are they trying to fob hipsters and fad chasers into thinking that it’s just really trendy to be crap?
“Oh you will love it Gilligan, they serve it up on an already greasy piece of grease proof paper and there is open plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs carry a dirty table outside before picking up your plate and handing it to you. It’s just sooooo Shoreditch!”
From the picture you can also see a lonely gherkin, quartered length ways, (I guess that is arty), stuck on the side of the plate looking very sorry for itself. I was just grateful it didn’t have mayonnaise down the side of it as well.
I left there genuinely wishing I had got a Burger King. It would have been half the price and at least there, you already know that once you’ve ordered and eaten there will be feeling of melancholy and regret.
As I unchained my penny farthing, tied back my hair and put on my Morrissey record I couldn’t help but ponder – “Oh well, only 253 burgers left to eat then.”