Friday, 8 November 2013

Slabs / West London

Another guest review this week, this time from a new reviewer who chooses to be Anonymous

Who are they?

Slabs is a relatively new entrant to the London burger scene and is clearly keen to make its mark as a venue for high quality processed meat. With “posh” burger joints springing up like weeds, Slabs needs to make a good case for itself, especially since old favourites Patty & Bun and Meat Liquor are both within staggering distance. According to the menu, the name comes from Steak Lobster And BurgerS. Unfortunately, the first thing that sprang to mind was Dr F N Furter who memorably said “So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab…” Time to see if it could relieve my tension.


From the outside, Slabs looks like virtually any other restaurant in London while the interior is… exactly the same. Certainly, there’s none of the “style” that characterises Meat Mission and Meat Liquor and one could be forgiven for thinking that it was slightly anodyne. That said, everything was clean, all the surfaces were well finished and generally gave the impression that someone had paid attention to what they were doing when they hammered things together.

The menu was fairly uncomplicated but in the starter descriptions lay an unpleasant surprise. The tiger prawns were served with a brandy jus. Mentioning jus on the menu at Le Gavroche is acceptable. At a gastropub it’s pretentious and at a burger restaurant it’s downright bizarre. Things became more ominous when I looked at the drinks section and found that there were as many options for champagne as there were for beer and that both were insignificant compared to the wine list. Whilst it’s certainly a personal preference, I enjoy burger restaurants that treat burgers for what they are – greasy, meaty, dripping, unhealthy food for the masses that should be shovelled into the gullet with hands, not knives and forks. Old grape juice is not the first drink I associate with that.

After I’d recovered from my shock, I chose the burger. Since it was my first time, I thought I should push the boat out and went for the wagyu burger (£16.00) with triple-cooked chips (£2.50). Although I knew that any menu outside of Japan that mentions “wagyu” or “kobe beef” should be treated with caution, my persistent belief that more expensive things are always better meant that I was confident with my choice. For the money I was expecting something the size of a curling stone but instead received something best described as “dainty”.

Nonetheless, I dug into the burger hoping that good things came in small packages. The patty itself was tasty, but for the price I’d paid for the burger I was expecting to be sent into an orgiastic state of bliss. Tasty wasn’t quite enough. It was also rather dry, despite still being pink in the middle, which made me suspect that it hadn’t been made with the fattiest, tastiest cuts of beef. However, things were improved somewhat by the shiitake mushrooms and “Asian slaw” on top of the burger which provided a rather nice counterpoint to the richness of the patty. The bun itself served its purpose admirably but since the burger wasn’t particularly juicy, it didn’t really have its work cut out for it.


All in all, I was left rather disappointed, something that I should have probably guessed would have been the result of ordering the most extravagant thing on the menu. If I’d had the burger for half the price it would have probably received a much better rating which, of course, means that I should probably return for a second review. 

It also makes me think that as burger restaurants are becoming more and more popular, care should be taken over their selling points. While expensive cuts of beef are easily distinguishable when served medium-rare on their own, when minced and topped with cheese, onions and ketchup, the difference becomes less discernible  SLABS should focus on a fatty patty made from decent meat, add some imaginative toppings and remember that they’re a burger restaurant, not a fancy bistro.


5/10 - Pisstake, not shiitake

Where can I find them?
A short stroll north from Bond Street tube station (Central and Jubilee lines).