The Restaurant: Tommi’s Burger Joint, 30 Thayer Street, London W1U 2QP
The Hungry Ones:
Gemma and Claire ordered: Burger with cheese and bacon, fries, Diet Coke
I am never happier than when I find a good lunch spot within walking distance of my office. As I am a fast walker and happy to cover long distances this thankfully covers swathes of Soho, Marylebone and Fitzrovia, which have an abundance of restaurants and cafes on every street. When there is a burger on sale at any of these establishments, I am even happier, for who does not love to spend an afternoon at their desk happily full? I have been trying to get over to Tommi’s Burger Joint for ages, not least because I was so intrigued by the concept of an Icelandic burger restaurant. They initially started as a pop-up following the success of several sites in Reykjavik, and within months moved to a permanent site on a busy Marylebone intersection. My knowledge of Icelandic food is limited to a trip I took there in the winter of 2010. The sushi was good, the pizza excellent, the hakarl more than a little smelly and the sheep heads in the supermarket freezer sections, terrifying. Being in my last year of University, I had not the means to try other delicacies such as whale and puffin – Iceland is an expensive place, even after the financial crash they suffered a few years ago. Luckily, my lunch buddy Claire lived in Reykjavik for a while, so has a far more extensive knowledge than I.
There is no fermented shark meat or pickled fish at Tommi’s Burger Joint, in fact the menu barely sets it apart from other London burger joints, but in such a crowded market, that is probably just as well. It is one of those grab-a-seat-and-order-at-the-counter places and with no front of house direction, there a lot of frantic eye-darting among competing groups looking for a table. Luckily, there were only two of us and we managed to grab a seat within minutes. Most people in the restaurant seemed to be opting for the lunch deal, which is a burger, fries and a can of soda for £9.90. You can then pick your optional extras from a list – I went for cheese, bacon and a little pot of bernaise sauce. There was something about adding bernaise sauce to a burger that had me salivating all morning. Speaking of sauces, one of the best features of Tommi’s Burger Joint is their array of free sauces and toppings that you can just go and help yourself to. Like kids in a toy shop, we filled up the little plastic pots with onion chutney, ketchup, BBQ sauce, pickles (YES), jalapenos and ‘cronions’. If you have not had the pleasure, cronions are little freeze-dried pieces of onion that look a little like croutons. Icelanders love them as they top the wieners at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, Reykjavik’s most popular hotdog stand , who count US President Bill Clinton among their die-hard fans.
The burger itself was very good and ticked all of the boxes: soft brioche bun, flavoursome patty cooked medium-rare and crispy bacon on top. A little spread of the bernaise sauce made it extra special. Unfortunately, the fries were another story. Did you ever play Theme Park when you were a kid? I actually didn’t (I was always terrible at computer games), but I can recall it well. For those of you that didn’t grow up in the mid-90s, Theme Park is a little piece of genius where you design and grow your own theme park with the sole intention of making money. It was a little bit like Transport Tycoon but more fun. One of the most tried-and-tested ways of making money was to increase the amount of salt added to the fries. In doing this, you would make your virtual punters so thirsty that they would spend more money on drinks. Simple, huh? I think that *might* be what has happened at Tommi’s Burger Joint, as the fries were the saltiest I had ever tasted. In fact, the Theme Park comparison came from Claire who said that she hadn’t given the game a second thought in at least a decade until trying those fries. Seriously, when I left, my lips were like raisins. And I did buy extra drinks in the office that afternoon.