London needs another burger joint about as much as it wants a race riot or surge in cyclist deaths, but that’s not to say that worthy new arrivals should be sneered at out of principle.
Slinging from The Green Man pub next to Edgware Road station, Burger Craft could be mistaken for another pedestrian venture looking to squeeze on to the crowded bandwagon. The bad news if you were hoping for a vitriolic rant is that it’s actually pretty damn good.
The pub itself is fairly unremarkable but drew an interesting crowd, no doubt due to its novel combination of being a station pub, burgeoning foodie hotspot, and housing a backpacker hostel all at once. Some effort had been made to stock the fridges with a decent if predictable selection of craft beer – Brew Dog, Brooklyn, Anchor Steam etc – but the taps were the usual identikit collection of bland lagers.
The star of the show, then, is the Burger Craft kitchen. I threw back the Sombrero, a bit of a renegade number that saw melted blue cheese and fresh jalapenos paired in a risky marriage of two classic additions that usually stand alone. Given that a good burger is so satisfying in itself, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this kind of experimentation to many chefs, but these guys pulled it off.
The patty itself was juicy and expertly seasoned, the only potential quibble being that the kitchen was reluctant to cook it to medium-rare. That said, its stab at medium was very acceptable and featured the odd fleck of pink. At the end of the day, I’ve come to accept that it’s a tad unfair to be too down on an eatery for attempting to stay on the right side of the health inspectors, even if the nanny state laws being enforced are thoroughly ridiculous. The other sampling was the Juicy Bastard, a dirty double cheeseburger that also impressed and won the evening’s amateur photography competition. A tasty squishy bun held together both efforts admirably and correctly restrained salad portions completed the package.
Only sides stood a legitimate bone of discontent: hash brown bites weren’t nearly as fluffy as they should have been, coleslaw suffered from an overly enthusiastic application of mustard to the dressing, and the homemade chipotle ketchup was watery and lacked smokey flavour. Onion rings, however, were much more successful and benefitted from a superbly crispy batter.
However, these are relatively minor protestations when the main event was as accomplished as it was. We’re probably not quite in top 10 territory, but Burger Craft was hugely enjoyable with the odd interesting twist and represented good overall value.
Outside of the local kebab scene and the bizarre but wonderful Heron, the Paddington/Edgware Road area has traditionally been a bit of a dining wasteland. Now that #BBQWhiskeyBeer has upped sticks (and will no doubt look to re-home itself in East London when it returns to town), Burger Craft’s arrival is one to absolutely welcome and, yes, it’s even worth making a trip for.
Got a tip for London’s best burger? Know a great place to eat around Paddington or Edgware Road? Let me know by leaving a comment or trolling me on Twitter.
N.B. While I can’t attest to their performance, Burger Craft also operates out of two other pubs, the Great Eastern in Docklands and the Crown in Battersea.