Having spent the bank holiday weekend climbing mountains in Wales, it only felt justified to stop off on the way home for a big meal. Although it feels as though Smoke Stop is in the middle of nowhere (plonked on long road home), it looks grand, appealing and modern.
Plain and Keeping it Sane - Maybe I was playing it too safe with this option but I will explain later. 100% Angus quarter pounder, served in a brioche bun with all your normal frills, it was a good burger. However, it was slightly on the dry side and the patty a tad overcooked. And this is where I feel I played it safe (next time I will definitely experiment with more flavours).
I upgraded to sweet potato fries for an extra £1.50, and they were wonderful. The perfect mix of crisp yet fluffy, these could be some of the tastiest sweet potato fries I've had in a long time. I also had slaw served with my meal, but I passed that onto my friend. Although I don't have a photo, I also got Mac 'N' Cheese Balls to start, which at £5.50 for 3 seemed a bit expensive, but they were very nice indeed.
For a bank holiday afternoon, I thought it may have been slightly busier than it was, but this just meant the service quicker for us. Our hostess (most of the staff appeared to be young women) changed halfway through our dining experience, which meant we had a quick succession of 'how is your food?'; just let me eat please! Overall though, everyone was very friendly.
On first appearances, this place is a grey and black, isolated building which doesn't strike you as a restaurant. However, when you enter, you're greeted with wooden decor, retro wall art (I think Spongebob might have been playing on one TV), sporting memorabilia, and there was a clean, modern feel to Smoke Stop. No complaints here.
The burger was £11.50 (which includes the additional £1.50 to upgrade your fries), which is superb value for money. A lot of places I go to will charge at least £13 just for the burger, with fries on top. However, as I said earlier, a few more M&C Balls might have been better.
Venturing up North for a dreadful afternoon of football, I stumbled across Fat Hippo. First impressions were similar to that of Dirty Bones; a small door with a big adventure inside. Neon signs, wooden décor and a wonderful, inviting smell of burger juice, this niche looking place looked right up my alley.
Texas - A double 4oz patty, topped with streaky bacon, cheese, onion rings and BBQ sauce, the Texas was bloody delicious. It was juicy and succulent, with a lightly toasted brioche bun, served up on a metal school-like tray. The onion rings had to come out though as they were humongous but they worked well as a side. A real nice burger which made being up North that extra bit sweet.
With lightly salted medium fries complimenting the meal wonderfully, there was perhaps no need to get any extras. The Mac n’ Cheese Balls though sounded delicious. I’m a sucker for mac and cheese. In a lightly fried crumbled coating, they were melt in your mouth. Literally. Topped off with a South West Orchards cider, it was a cracking meal and I’d highly recommend the Fat Hippo branch to anyone who dare venture up North.
Despite being a busy Sunday afternoon, the waitress set up a table in a back room for our party (there were 6 of us) which was ideal, and meant we didn’t have to wait for a table. The staff in general were friendly and attentive, even when they did forget to bring out the cheese balls.
This place just oozed class, yet portrayed a casual, youthful appearance at the same time. Red neon lights and wooden furniture. Bricked walls and low lighting. It felt like you were eating in an underground cavern, which in effect is exactly what was happening. It was so niche and cool. Being sat on a long table in the back room was also ideal.
Now I’m not saying this place is expensive by any means, but considering the location (up North), you might have been forgiven for thinking the prices would be a little cheap than down south. £9.50 for a burger, £4 for the cheese balls and £5 for a cider still makes for a well-priced meal (and you certainly get what you pay for). All in all, I’d definitely recommend Fat Hippo. Top stuff.
‘This will be the best burger you ever have; this will be your 10/10’. I’ve heard that before, but I had to check out Patty and Bun with claims like this from peers. With five London locations, Patty and Bun is slowly growing into one of the most sought after burger joints. I went to the James Street location, just off Oxford Road, knowing it was near to Regent’s Park.
‘ARI GOLD’ Cheeseburger – So it wasn’t quite 10/10 but my word, this burger was succulent juiciness at its best. A medium-rare beef patty, inside a brioche bun with all the normal insides, including a smoking patty and bun mayo, this burger was almost melt in your mouth. The only reason I knocked half a point off was due to the messiness of this burger, thanks to the juices spilling over the packaging. This was a cracking burger.
Although P&B’s range of sides are fairly limited, the chips with garlic chicken mayo and chicken skin salt were divine. The mayo just added to the flavour of the already medium cut, crispy yet soft chips, served in an overflowing pot. I also got a can of Coke, which was fresh but a cider would have been even better. Paying £1.75 for a can is also a bit much, but London.
Although the restaurant was busy (including the outside as London was having a surprisingly sunny afternoon), we didn’t have to wait long for a table. It got cleaned up fairly sharpish, and the service was fairly swift too. Maybe a little too rushed? The James Street crew were a happy bunch, bouncing around, taking orders and cleaning up. No real complaints here.
Another burger joint with a DIY feel to the interior, decked with chip board and handmade art on the walls, with wooden furniture, the interior was fairly basic. It had that hip feel to it though, with a laid back vibe, nothing too spectacular but clean and nice.
£7.50 for a burger. In London. What. A. Bargain. And this isn’t just any old burger, this is one of the nicest burgers I’ve had. The chips were £3.70, and the Coke was, as I said earlier, £1.75 so for a meal, £12.95 is a steal. There was no compulsory service charge either. I’d highly recommend patty and bun, even just for the burger if you fancy a quick bite to eat for lunch. Top class.
With a presence across Europe, Belushi’s is a renowned bar chain, with a popularity amongst tourists and students alike. Often situated alongside St Christopher’s Inn hostels, I stumbled across their Hammersmith bar by mistake, simply looking for a bar to watch football in. I wasn’t expecting to come out of this reviewing a burger.
Smokin Cheese and Bacon – I was very impressed with this burger, the minute it arrived on my table. Branded with the bar name in the bun, the patty was cooked to medium, and was a great mix of juicy and flavoursome, which you rarely find with a medium burger. The cheese oozed off the burger, and the rashers of fatty bacon complimented it well (normally you get minimal crispy bacon in burgers which you can hardly taste). For a bar, this burger was very good.
As I was watching football, the main accompaniment was cider, which at £4 a pint, served in a plastic cup wasn’t great. However, that was made up for by the fries served with my burger; skinny fries with a unique taste which I’ve never experienced before. They were delightful, and in plentiful portions.
With a distinct help-yourself vibe you get at most bars, it’s almost incomparable to all the other reviews I’ve done so far. However, everyone was very friendly and polite, and I’m pretty sure they all had an Australian accent which was cool. The food came out quickly and the empty plates were taken away quickly too.
It’s quite hard to judge this ranking, because as a football fan, I love immersing myself with fellow football-mad, anthem-chanting fans. However, on any other day, the demographics within this bar would probably be very different. As somewhere to eat, the majority of people I’d imagine wouldn’t enjoy the sporty atmosphere, but then again, why would you come here in the first place? The bar itself was a little outdated, but comfortable none the less.
Ignoring the price of the cider, the burger was a fantastic £9.50 (which included the chips). Considering Belushi’s is in Hammersmith, very near to the centre of London, the price was very reasonable indeed, and the quality was reasonably proportionate also. Should you happen to stumble across a Belushi’s (or a St Christopher’s Inn), then I’d highly recommend the burger.
Having ventured down to the south coast, this restaurant was jumping out at me. It was a lovely summer’s day and I’d never even heard of C2C. A UK-based American chain established in 2011, with a focus on American food, Coast to Coast have over 20 restaurants in the UK so it seemed a great time to check it out.
Classic with Monterey Jack Cheese – Two 4oz patties in a sourdough bun, with fries on the side, this burger looked pretty appealing on the menu. Sadly, it was the opposite. Described as pink in the middle, this burger was anything but. Juicy? No. Flavoursome? No. Just a slab of dry, dire meat between a very dry bun, a bun which at one point started to crumble in my hands. The bun was almost too big for the burger, with minimal mayo chucked in. My fault for thinking a burger from a generic restaurant could do the job.
Fries on the side, which were similar to TGI’s, skinny-medium; they tasted good but they went cold after a few minutes, and I wish I was exaggerating. I also got a vanilla milkshake, served in a steel cup, which was average. Bit of a let-down really but it was never going to beat niche burger joints.
It was a warm day, so the outside seating area was bustling with people. We were greeted and seated fairly sharpish, and the waitress (who was wearing sunglasses and looked as though she’d been hand picked out the 60’s) was friendly enough. When my partner’s burger came though, she turned into a stubborn one. She insisted his chilli burger was in fact that, even though it was evidently clear no chilli was in his burger. She also rushed us into paying the bill, which was annoying as I had half my average milkshake to drink. Maybe the heat got to her.
Despite the food being distinctively average, the restaurant itself looked pretty impressive. Shining in the coastal sun, the front dining area was full of sun-loving customers. Smart, modern décor, planters, comfy seats and a stunning view of the channel, it was a clean, smart restaurant. Although fairly empty, the indoor seating area had a traditional American feel, with wooden/ leather décor and sport on TV.
Coming in at roughly £15 for the meal, and a bit more for the drinks, it was borderline London pricing, which sadly did not reflect the enjoyment of the meal. This reminded me a lot of TGI’s, and although similar in pricing strategy, TGI’s feels worth it. Sadly, Coast to Coast (who are owned by the same company that run Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s) doesn’t give me the same feeling. Maybe next time.