This new kid on the block comes courtesy of Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, who have left cheffing duties to brother Paul. Anyone who’s come in search of a bro-tastic version of Planet Hollywood won’t be disappointed: the walls are covered with pictures of the boys growing up in Boston, as well as Donnie in his NKOTB heyday, Mark in Lone Survivor and Ted, plus a black ceiling tile chalked up with the names of the brothers’ films and songs (we can’t help but hope that the restaurant’s location in a Grade I-listed building attached to the Royal Opera House is a nod to future musical ambitions).
Compared to some other US burger chains which have recently crossed the pond, Wahlburgers is slightly more formal, with waiter service at tables and chairs available as well as counter service and takeaway – though bright, bleak lighting is unlikely to make you want to linger. Reasonable prices, meanwhile, are on a par with other gourmet burger joints.
Nine types of Wahlburger range from a classic house burger (also available in double- and triple-decker versions) to a vegan option, though anyone following Mark’s punishing routine of two workouts a day may prefer the lean-protein Thanksgiving Turkey Burger with roasted butternut squash.
We stuck with the house version – a juicy blend of brisket, chuck and short-rib Angus beef as good as you’ll find anywhere on the high street for £7.95, with the extras (tomato, onion, lettuce) wedged underneath the patty so none of it falls out – a genius idea.
Elsewhere on the menu are chicken sandwiches, salads (Wahlbowls) and kids’ portions (Smahlburgs), though our non-burger items weren’t worth the calories which the menu helpfully displays. Smoked bacon mac’n’cheese was in fact penne, arrived lukewarm and tasted of almost nothing. ‘Thin crispy onion rings’, meanwhile, turned out to be a tangle of fried sliced onion – very tasty, but nowhere near as easy to eat with your fingers as a proper onion ring.
To finish, there are cupcakes and ice cream, though sugar-rush frappés and floats are a more all-American (Wahl-American?) way to go. And to drink, what else but a Wahlbrewski, an unfiltered Pale Ale from Boston’s Harpoon Brewery on tap in the bar?
This is the 31st Wahlburgers the brothers have launched and the first outside North America, though it’s unlikely to be the last: other sites are planned for London, with mainland Europe to follow. If you want to fully immerse yourself in all-things-Wahl ahead of your visit, there are eight seasons of the Wahlburgers reality TV show to binge on before bingeing here.