Monday, 8 October 2012

Dirty Burger: worth its salt

Trashy as hell. Tasty as heaven.

I haven't taken a picture of the outside of Dirty Burger. It has to be seen to be believed, and it's very important that you don't quite believe in Dirty Burger. The reality is less satisfying. It's an ideal; a dream; a craving. 

It's also a shack, attached to the back of Pizza East in Kentish Town. It forms one corner of the kind of car park you don't expect to see outside of a Swindon industrial park. It's artfully designed to look like a cabin in the woods, and does so very well until you walk in and everyone's got thick-rimmed glasses and their polo shirt buttons done up so tight they are struggling to swallow their burgers.

But they have to swallow, because Dirty Burger burgers are so salty - so lip-wrinklingly salty - that you're addicted after one mouthful.

Given that they appear to have been assembled and then dunked in the Dead Sea, they are still damned fine burgers. The patties aren't a patch on meatLIQUOR, and nor is the sauce, but they don't insist on using American cheese which is a relief. Instead you get sticky, stringy, non-luminous cheese that sticks gleefully to the paper the burgers come wrapped in. You also get a slightly damp bap, which should be a let down, but it actually it helps the defiantly dirty textures as it all combines into one filthy, glorious cocktail in your mouth.

By contrast, the chips were crispy. So crispy. It was brilliant - almost like eating crisps - except for the bizarre lack of salt. It was as if the chef had lined the burger and chips up, seasoned the pattie, wondered off, come back and forgotten which one he'd seasoned. Still, those crinkle-cut fries were excellent, as were the unforgettable onion fries - essentially onion rings fried to within an inch of their lives in oil so thick even Michael Phelps would drown.

So I wasn't completely sold on the food, and my vanilla milkshake was a little sweet too - I say this knowing it's as banal as going a Mika gig and saying it was a bit camp. Somehow I still loved it all, like someone clinging on to a relationship despite all the bad parts: I LOVED that the food took 10 minutes to arrive despite being a fast food chain; I ADORED the fact that there were no seats and we had to sit on the fire escape stairs outside; I MISS the way it fell apart in my hands. The dream was nothing like I thought it would be, but it was still a dream.

Like the best rock stars, Dirty Burger is brilliant and flawed, cheap and nasty, and a slight disappointment when you meet it in person.

Dirty Burger on Urbanspoon   Square Meal

You can also read my review of Pizza East, which Dirty Burger is attached to the back of, here

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