Monday, 14 April 2014
Dirty Burger / Vauxhall
Who are they?
Dirty Burger are a notorious place for burgers in London, always popping up on a top-10 list, yet up until recently they actually hadn't registered on my radar. So when Mr Hazeel suggested a little outing down south, I jumped at the chance to take a look at what all the fuss was about.
Taking a quick hop over the river and down towards Vauxhall, these guys are a small, hole-in-the-wall kind of place located under the railway arches a stone's throw from the station. Dirty Burger are quite so small in fact that we had trouble finding them initially (I say we, I of course mean me and my missus): a place with a few seats along the walls and some small tables out front. In fact, the appearance is such that it belies the food itself, though the snaking line of people waiting for their orders inside was a dead giveaway that this place has its fans.
Food and drink is a simple affair - a cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger and a veggie option, plus their take on onion rings and crinkle cut chips. Drinks consist of some choice beers and softs, whilst the freshly made milkshakes seemed to be popular, so we ordered a liberal selection of sides and burgers to see what they could do. Don't expect stellar table service, as food is served across the counter on trays, but wait times are mercifully short and the banter with the staff while you wait more than makes up for this.
The first thing you realise when you open up the wrapped burgers is their size: they do come up quite small in comparison to the fare on offer at other establishments. But put this into perspective; their price is close to a fiver than a tenner per patty, so it's fairly reasonable when you think about it. Add a serving of either chips or onion fries and it's creeping towards the sweet spot of under £10 a head - a la Tommi's Burger Joint - with very little to complain about.
But the question of money aside, this is a tasty little burger indeed. A well rounded piece of beef, cheese and tomato sauce packed into a soft brioche bun, together with a token bit of lettuce and tomato. One of our party commented that they were reminiscent of a more upmarket McDonalds burger, a sentiment I do agree with and goes some way to describing what you get. As for the sides I suspect that they chips are just bog-standard frozen crinkle cut chips (nothing special there), but by deep frying them to a crispy finish, they are a real delight to eat. If only the same could be said of the onion fries, which seemed like a case of too much batter and not enough onion, leaving lots of pieces of crispy batter everywhere.
Short verdict: you're not going to have any trouble devouring one alongside one of the liberal portions of crinkly fries, but it's likely to leave you wanting more. This was definitely the case for us, hence we went back for one of the monthly specials with chorizo and a special cheese, making for a more sloppy experience and well worth trying. However, it did also highlight the lack of these distinct flavours with the bog-standard cheeseburger and perhaps the label of "more upmarket McDonalds" instead contributes to its downfall. It's a better than average burger, make no mistake, but it lacks the refined flavours of other places or even a distinct sauce that marks it as "THE Dirty Burger Burger" or anything more than "better than any other high street chain."
As they are open until 2am in the morning, I can definitely see this as a haunt for the late night crowd coming out of the pubs around midnight and fancy something to soak up the alcohol that isn't a dodgy kebab. In fact, I would say that at least half the people in the dozen people queue were takeaway customers. Just don't expect fine dining or something absolutely breathtaking for either the money or the location, though as always you can do a lot worse elsewhere.
Where can I find them?
A quick shifty around the corner from Vauxhall Station, or Kentish Town