Monday, 29 July 2013

Honest Burger (Camden): Truly super

One of the best British-style burgers – honest

Just when you think the dude-food-burger craze can't get more crazed, something reminds you that people's appetite for it is insatiable. Last month it was the opening of the universally panned Five Guys and Shake Shack. Then it was the burger top trump cards and cufflinks (!). Now, apparently, people are doing burger crawls all the way from Five guys, through Byron, MEATliquor, Patty & Bun, Hache and on to the latest fashionable burger bar to make a bid for global domination – Honest.

Tucked away in the stables of Camden, the third Honest Burger is small, open and slightly weird. Separated from the street by a wooden fence you feel like you're eating in a pig sty. I find it suitable, although quite how you could pig out an Honest Burger after five other cardiac arrests in a bun is beyond me, especially since Honest's portions are by far the most generous of all of them. They were also, with the exception of Dirty Burger, by far the cheapest. £8 will get you the feast you see before you.

There are a couple of other things that set Honest aside from its many, many competitors. The burger itself is decent and flavourful, the bun passable, but it's everything else that matters. They use British cheeses to top the burgers, something I am all for. You have to be in the right mood for American cheese, which is more a pungency in the noise and a oil slick on the roof of your mouth than a flavour. At Honest you can get a mature Cheddar, Red Leicester or, joy oh joy, a Stilton. All of which would have worked a treat with their lovely red onion relish.

The chips were excellent too – the opposite of Bukowski's perfectly formed crunchy monsters, Honest's  rosemary salted chips are gnarly, deformed and utterly ridonkulous. They look like hand-chopped actually meant they had Jackie Chan in the kitchen, screaming as he karate chopped his way through tons of spuds for minimum wage. And goddamn it they were delicious. Again, I was let down by the presence of Heinz and Hellman's – both great sauces, but I always want more invention in these places. Once you nail a burger, you need to keep improving things.

I can't complain about the beer list though – Redchurch dominates and the Bethnal Pale a great choice, but we also really enjoyed the Big Wave – a Hawaiian golden ale we ordered out of sheer curiosity. The friendly waiter didn't even blink as we ordered 5 drinks for four people. He evidently knows his list is good. I liked him a lot until he persuaded us to play a game of credit card roulette, where you all put your card in the bill fold and the person whose card is drawn pays…

... but I maintain the food was worth the £60 I had to cough up. Honest Burger do great burgers, better toppings and even better chips, with a good beer list. Where else would you go when caught out drunk and hungry in Camden? I can;t think of a better idea. Honest.

Just make sure you're really hungry, and if you're burger-bar crawling have 999 already dialled out on your phone – Camden Lock might be a bridge too far.

Square Meal

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