Sunday, 14 July 2013

Burger & Cocktails / St Christopher's Place

Who are they?

Burger and Cocktails are an attempt by long time bistro/restaurant chain Giraffe to get into the gourmet burger scene, with this as a sort of spin-off enterprise from the main brand. Having clocked the fairly recent opening of their place in James Street, near to trendy St. Christopher's Place in London's West End, I wanted a chance to see whether they could put together a good burger when looking for a place to eat after a gruelling opening day volunteering at Hyde Park.


Of course, being a Friday night, the restaurant was packed, but there were a few two person tables available. It also overlooks fellow burger establishment Patty & Bun as its neighbours, typically with an hour-long queue outside, and it was with some mirth that we were able to watch people mill about waiting while we ate.

The menu has a number of standard looking burgers and plenty of bespoke options as well, emphasising that you can go for different meats as well as a variety of extras in combination. As I was hungry and had not eaten all day, I went for the special of the day on the chalk board: The Guerilla burger, a two patty monster featuring coleslaw, salad, tomatoes, onion rings, mushrooms, jalapeƱo chillis and far more besides.

As far as service is concerned, Burger & Cocktails certainly weren't monkeying around with my order and within ten minutes the gargantuan Guerilla burger arrived - with so many extras that naturally some had to be served outside of the bun. As you can see from the photo, it's quite a mammoth size and I didn't expect it to be quite so big.

Before I get started, a bit of a rant. One of my pet hates in larger burgers is the completely unnecessary middle bun. In my mind, you are buying a burger for the beef, not the bread, and it reminds me a little too much of some burgers from other restaurants that I am not fond of (McDonalds, for example). A proverb that springs to mind is Life is full of entrees, so don't fill up on bread.

Anyway, the burger patties themselves were nothing special and more akin to something you might find in your average chain restaurant; Giraffe, for example. A telling point as to their origins as a disc of catering meat was the fact that the burger buns were sized as a perfect fit for the patties, almost surgically so. This is reflected in the taste, only slightly better than your average high street fast food chain, as well as the fries; merely oven chips and nothing of special note. I can see that this place is less of a place to go for an amazing, gourmet burger, but more of a hangout for cocktail fans that also happens to serve burgers.

The saving grace here is the coleslaw; a well chopped bit of cabbage and neither too dry or too wet and goes nicely to counteract the slightly dry bun. The little bucket of chopped jalapeno peppers is also a nice touch, but ultimately these are not the main attraction and do not affect my score of this offering too much. I felt that, unlike some of their other offerings, the Guerilla was trying to be all things to all men and perhaps a little restraint could have been used to hold back the number of ingredients. Less is more, and all that, though my girlfriend had similar thoughts on the taste of her burger when going a la carte, so this is not limited to the unique, chalkboard burgers on offer.


In a word: disappointing, especially for something marketed as a specialist burger outlet. As I am more aware that Giraffe are behind the scenes, this reminds me too much of their burger in a Giraffe restaurant and in my mind have not differentiated the food enough here to warrant it being anything special. It's an ok burger, don't get me wrong, but there's plenty of room for improvement.

If anything, my comments about at least being able to get served in Burger & Cocktails over Patty & Bun have come back to haunt me. If you want something special, I have learned here that you have to sacrifice something in order to get it; in this case time spent waiting in a queue.



Where can I find them?
In St. Christopher's Place, near to Bond Street (Central and Jubilee lines)