Who are they?
Marks & Spencer are a beloved retail institution on England's high street, at once a bastion for quality goods and customer service that represent one of the longer-standing retail chains. Little did I realise that in an effort to capture the market of hungry office workers that M&S have plenty of places in the city of London that offer a counter where you can order hot food instead of settling for a boring sandwich. Let the lunchtime revolution commence!
Despite it being a weekday other than Friday, the queue at the downstairs food area at the Cheapside Marks and Spencer was bustling. Despite a queue of about a dozen people, the line moved remarkably quickly and in less than five minutes I was able to place my order and get a food ticket at their Hot Food to Go counter. While there is quite a lot of variety on offer in terms of soups etc, their burgers are more or less a straightforward affair, with the option of cheese and bacon plus chips for either a beef or chicken burger.
A short five minute wait later, the pause giving you the opportunity to grab the necessary condiment sachets, plastic cutlery and napkins, my food appeared wrapped in a bag and ready to roll with. Getting even a simple order of burger and chips out in five minutes is a pretty good turnaround for me, meaning that in a quarter of an hour I was back at my desk and ready to tuck in.
For a fiver, you certainly can't expect great things, but I was pleasantly surprised with Marks and Spencer's offering here. The burger is not that much smaller, if at all smaller, than those that you could find at Spuntinos or Tommi's, with a decent-sized slim beef patty covered in a generous amount of cheese together with a thick slice of bacon and token salad pieces encased in a soft brioche bun. A portion of large chips also doesn't disappoint and while these do look suspiciously like oven chips, I think this can be slightly overlooked given the speed at which the service is achieved. After all, these are likely M&S chips - not just any other food.
The burger tastes great as a takeaway, with the burger remaining juicy despite being well cooked and the cheese and bacon being more or less essential additions. The oven chips well cooked and taste more or less as you would expect them to, though they are a bit tasteless if you do forget to pick up the salt sachet at the store. Plus, I would advise speed being of the essence as they do get a bit limp as they get colder, but given the fact that you have hot food on your plate for lunch I doubt this will happen.
As a lunch time offering that can be had quickly and affordably (where a fiver barely gets you sandwich and a drink at Pret a Manger in London these days), M&S have got an excellent racket on their hands. I mean, why bother waiting in line upstairs for the best part of half an hour for Byron to get a seat or service when you can sort out a burger for desk or al fresco and still have time to watch YouTube / read this blog etc?
Burgers for lunch anyone?
Where can I find them?
Loads of places everywhere!