Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Hot Box / Spitalfields

Who are they?

With National Burger Day this Thursday, I thought it would be a good excuse to finally check out Hot Box and enlisted the help of a workmate to join me. I had been meaning to try Hot Box for a while, especially as the last times I had been there the wait time had been an hour minimum. This owing to their surge of popularity following a Time Out Magazine piece of them - a double edged sword for anyone who wants to try them out.

Thoughts

Located half way along Commercial Street, Hotbox straddles the trendy Shoreditch and grimy Whitechapel districts of London, with well-to-do city slickers from Aldgate and Bishopsgate only a stone's throw away. This may go to explaining why the facade and decor is rather smart in its greys and blacks but retaining an edgy feel to the menu and layout of benches in lieu of formal tables. And of course, advertising the fact that you have a meat smoker makes this establishment a potential goldmine for decent burger eats.

Speaking of menus, theirs comes on a raggedy clipboard that might be more suitable for a butchers or a slightly less upmarket establishment like Honest Burgers, who I had seen recently for one of their specials. The choices are fairly straightforward if not down right Spartan: a few burgers, a few steaks and quite a few sides to chose from gave me the indication that what little they offer, they ought to do well. 

Based on recent top 10 lists and the recommendation of a friend who happened to be finishing up when I arrived, we opted for the Smokey Bandit; an aged beef patty together with some smoked short rib, jalapeƱo and red cheddar enclosed in a brioche bun. Rather than ordinary potato fries or chips, as you would expect, Hot Box only offers sweet potato fries, which seemed to be a decent alternative based on the ones I saw on other tables (the mac & cheese looked enticing as well, but as it was only lunch there wasn't much space).

Which brings me to the only downside I can find with this establishment; wait times. Either owing to lack of staff for lunch times or an underestimation of how popular National Burger Day has become, being served (either at all or in a timely fashion) at busy times can be a challenge. Therefore, if you are strapped for time, perhaps you might reconsider your options!
As you can tell from the cross section, Hot Box's offerings are marvellously decadent in their size and come with plenty of meat; both in the patty and short rib. Interestingly, the jalapeƱos come both as chopped on top of the short rub as well as in the green chilli relish on top, with some well chopped onions and gherkin providing a bed underneath the patty - it's a nice alternative to the usual lettuce and tomato that you might expect to get (which don't usually add much to the experience either).

We were warned that the burger was hot and were not disappointed; the chilli relish counterpointed a very juicy bit of beef, with copious amounts of smoked short rib to boot, providing a piquant and pleasant experience indeed. Where other burgers add heat with sauces, it's great to see Hot Box add heat by just adding chopped chilli instead and there's plenty on offer to satisfy even the hungriest diners for a lunchtime.

Plus, the sweet potato fries were some of the best we had tried. Well cooked and crispy, yet full of flavour from the sweet potato and cracked salt, these formed a rather indulgent portion of chips and, like the burger they accompanied, in large enough amounts that we struggled to finish them off.

Conclusion

An amazing burger with some excellent sides; a fitting entry to celebrate National Burger Day 2015. Roll on next year!

Score

9/10

Where can I find them?
Close to Aldgate station (District and Hammersmith & City Lines)