Monday, 2 June 2014

Sticky Fingers / Kensington

Who are they?

Sticky Fingers is a US-style American diner owned by former Rolling Stones member Bill Wyman, so in keeping with the owner the restaurant is suitably decked out in plenty of memorabilia - very much like other places in London. Through no fault of its own, this review also works as a comparison piece to another notable establishment in London - namely Hard Rock Cafe - AKA "how to do an American diner properly". 


I don't think it's fair to call Sticky Fingers a place off the beaten path, given its place just off the pleasant Kensington High Street in West London, but it is one of those places that you might miss if you're not looking for it. Even at 7pm on a Friday night, it was looking fairly full but without seeming rammed - a far cry from the overpopulated, tourist-trap of HRC and all the more welcome for it.

But no matter the clientèle, this is an unassuming American style diner with black awning outside and dark wood with deep crimson cushions inside - wherever there isn't rock n roll memorabilia. One of the nicer pieces is the original Rolling Stones electromechanical pinball above the basement entrance amongst an excellent collection of posters, photos and signed flyers - a feast for the eyes providing you like the Stones, of course.

As with the decor inside, Sticky Fingers matches the American diner feel in grand style with the menu - plenty of ribs, burgers, fried chicken and all other items reminiscent of America. The same I'd true of the drinks menu, with some American and European beers served in lovely, pre-chilled glass jugs - perfect given the hot weather we had in May (though currently it's a world away from what we have now). 

Burgers at Sticky Fingers are comprised of a bog standard burger, which steadily adds more toppings like additional cheese, bacon and the like, with the price steadily going up to match. Strangely, all burgers come with double 3oz longhorn beef patties rather than a single 6oz one, with the option to add another as you see fit - of course, I went up to 9oz just to see how it went, with the standard fries rather than the optional potato mash and of course bacon and cheese. 

On first presentation the burger itself is a lovely example of the form, with patties piled with plenty of cheese and some of the largest, crunchiest bacon slices, nay, thick slabs I have laid eyes on. Add a brioche bun, a special house gherkin mayo and plentiful chips and it's clear that Bill Wyman is on to a good thing - the mayo in particular showing that they are more than happy to add something unique to the mix.

Taste-wise, the patties themselves are on the well done end of the spectrum and seem to have more in common with a sort of bog standard catering grade party. So far so normal, however, one major difference between this burger and Hard Rock Cafe is while the HRC goes for size over substance, Sticky Fingers' is more manageable by its size and also manages to retain a juicy texture rather than a salmonella-killing "well done" dry husk of a patty that can be found elsewhere. 

Any fool can overcook a frozen burger, but at least here there's a slight discernible difference here over the run of the mill beef burgers, though I do have to add that any subtlety in flavour was lost when you add the flavours of the mayonnaise, bacon and cheese mix. This isn't to say that the overall taste of the burger is bad, far from it, only that the extra ingredients and sides do overwhelm any special flavours that the meat is meant to have. Speaking of special flavours, the house gherkin mayo is rather reminiscent of the dead hippie sauce, sans mustard, and adds something moist to a burger that is otherwise going toward the drier side of things. Definitely an acquired taste if you don't like either a gherkin or vinegary flavour in your burger, but as with those who don't like tomato in their burgers, I'm sure this can be removed to taste, but overall it's good to see them trying something different, rather than schlocking out the same old recipe.

Despite my remarks about size over substance, looks certainly can be deceiving here - I found the 9oz / three patties a little overkill and the bog standard 6oz with the cheese/bacon trimmings would probably have been more than enough for most hungers. Indeed, this would have left plenty of space for one of their knickerbocker-style desserts, but then again dessert does go down into the pudding stomach and I can thoroughly recommend this also.

I definitely get the impression that Sticky Fingers is what Hard Rock Cafe used to be in its heyday - a nice little bar / restaurant around a rock and roll theme with decent food at a reasonable price.


Having gotten over my phobia of heading to West London at Bar Boulud, it is gratifying to find that there are other great places to try in this side of London that offer a great meal without breaking the bank and here it's a decent price for the quality of food served. Pair this with some decent service, a tasty burger and enough other options on the menu that would be worth going back to and this is clear winner over other pretend Amero-diners, though not enough to place it any higher.



Where can I find them?
A five minute walk from London Bridge station (Northern, Jubilee, National Rail).