The Restaurant: Burgers and Cocktails, 35 James Street, London W1U 1EA.
The Hungry Ones:
Gemma ordered: Sloppy Joe burger, onion rings, margarita
Madeleine ordered: Mac Mountain burger, sweet potato fries, mojito
So here’s what happened at the weekend: After a long afternoon of shopping with my friend, we ended up ravenous near Marble Arch. My excitement that Roti Chai was a mere five-minute walk away was short-lived as she declared that she did not want Indian food. Fine. So instead we walked towards James Street and Patty & Bun where there is a damn good burger and not a thali in sight. There was, however, an enormous queue. Just as I contemplated joining it, the heavens opened into a monumental thunderstorm that sent us running into the nearest restaurant that looked like it might have a free table. This, inevitably, was where it all started to go wrong. The place we ran into was Burgers and Cocktails.
Despite having a well-researched wishlist of burgers in both London and the UK, I had never heard of Burgers and Cocktails. Had some unknown gem somehow escaped me? Not exactly. Firstly, the place was full of children and, consequently, a chorus of screams. Secondly, the waiter was darting around the restaurant with such speed that it took us a while to get noticed for a table and even longer to get a menu. To be honest, this was all forgivable as I was grateful to be somewhere dry with a drinks menu, but what followed was another story.
The margarita I ordered was unceremoniously plonked on my table in a glass beaker. With ice. I get that restaurants are trying out new ways to serve their alcohol – cocktails in jam jars and wine in whisky glasses etc., but is it too much, once in a while to get the right glass? Also, I’m pretty sure margaritas aren’t supposed to be sweetened with agave. Not great for a place that has ‘cocktails’ in its very name. Madeleine’s mojito was acceptable. I ordered the Sloppy Joe burger (mixed cheese, chipotle beef chilli, jalapeno relish and sour cream) which arrived medium-rare and pink in the middle, as ordered. Actually the burger itself was not too bad. I could not detect any hint of chipotle in the chilli, but the generous amount of jalapenos made up for it by giving it an enormous kick. The bread was dry and unappetising (yawn). Madeleine ordered a Mac Mountain which came with the most curious of toppings: a mac ‘n’ cheese ‘wheel’. This was a portion of mac ‘n’ cheese, shaped into a disc, dipped in breadcrumbs and fried. When eaten alone, it was actually not that bad, when eaten with the burger it was a little disastrous. The onion rings and sweet potato fries we ordered on the side were surprisingly alright.
I later discovered that the restaurant was owned by the chain Giraffe, which went some way to explain the abundance of children despite having a name that was 50% booze. It is obvious that the chain is aiming to make a bit of extra cash by jumping on the gourmet fast-food bandwagon – if they brought something new to the market, fine, but this is a rip off of every other place in town. The strategic positioning across from Patty & Bun, one of London’s most celebrated burger joints, is presumably to pick up its queue-weary diners. My advice: if you’re ever in James Street and can’t be bothered to queue at Patty & Bun, walk the extra five minutes and go to MEATLiquor.