Its Saturday and I am hungry, after all, all I have eaten in the last 24 hours is a banana, a satsuma and a packet of sour cream and onion crisps. Destination is Goldfish, a chinese restaurant in Hampstead which promises an unlimited Dim Sum buffet. Too good to be true?
Arriving at Goldfish, its still quite early and the place is empty. I found it slightly disheartening that Ping Pong next door was already filling up. The waitress gives me the menu but as I am dining alone, I'm not allowed to have the buffet. Err, ok then, I will order off the menu. She passes me the dim sum menu, only for another waitress to come over and snatch it off me, telling me that they don't serve a la carte dim sum at the weekend. Alright, I've had enough, I'm outta here.
What ensues next is what I can only call " a bit of an adventure". A few buses and a bit of walking around later (god bless maps on iphone), I end up in Camden heading for Haché.
Haché has a fearsome reputation on the London burger scene. I had never been and its about time I tried their chopped as opposed to minced beef burgers. The inside is quite dark and the dining room is much smaller than I thought it would be and its no surprise that it was pretty full by 1pm.
To drink, I ordered a Fruits of the Forest smoothie, a bit steep at £3.65 but very refreshing, with subtle honey undertones and a slight sourness from the yoghurt.
My chosen burger was the "Classique Anglais" with extra bacon and a side of french fries. Not sure whats that english about my burger, but the mushrooms and onions arrived piled high. The burger in front of me really is a thing of beauty. Deconstructing it bit by bit, the burger is pink in the middle but feels a little overdone. However, the taste is fantastic. Well seasoned, deeply beefy and full of flavour. The bun, often a bum note on many burgers, is soft and untoasted but is strong enough to hold the mountain of filling. Bacon was definitely overkill. Unneccesary and made the whole burger a bit salty. I took it out, but not wanting to waste it, I used a bit of the bun and formed a mini bacon sarnie. The french fries were a bit rubbish, to be honest. They were overdone and far too salty. Disappointing.
Was this the best burger I have ever had? No, not by a long way but it was very good and I would definitely put it into the "value for money" bracket. There is so much that is right about this place, but on the other hand, there is plenty which is quite wrong. It still has quite a way to go to meet the standards set by the New York burger joints (my favourite being JG Melon).
Is it the best burger in London? Personally, I wouldn't agree with that either. I much prefer Byron's brighter restaurants, simple approach and because it has an Oreo milkshake with a toasted and melted marshmallow milkshake in the works. I really can't wait!
Haché Camden, 24 Inverness Street, Camden, NW1 7HJ
I agree, I think hache is wildly over-rated. I do like their chopped meat approach with the burgers but that's it. That bun is simply wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The JG Melon burger is a juicy classic. Though it's not the best in New York, as a few claim, as a reader of your blog I am thrilled that you have it in your taste memory bank as a reference point when judging London burgers, like Haché's.
@helen I agree that I think that ciabatta is clearly the wrong choice for a burger. It's just not soft enough.
@youngandfoodish I have to be honest, there are so many good burger joints in NY, my knowledge is limited. What I do remember about JG was the ambience and the whole experience topped off by a very good burger.
Excellent breakdown. I ended up in Hache with the wife the other night and I would agree with you. It's all about the bun, and Byron wins.
Their customer service was exactly how it should be - I was offered a corked glass of Rose. I returned it and was brought a complimentary glass of the excellent Pinot Grigio Blush Lamberti - which I can heartily recommend.
Haven't had Hache yet but have been meaning to try...intrigued. I can't believe someone else living in London has even heard of, let alone been to, JG Melon, home of one of the most modest yet best burgers on the other side of the pond. It is a favorite of mine when I am in NYC!
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