Posts Tagged With: Oxford Circus

It’s a new day, it’s a new burger: BRGR.CO throws its hat in the ring

Copyright of BRGR.CO. Sourced from BRGR.CO website

Copyright of BRGR.CO. Sourced from BRGR.CO website

Cuisine: American

Address: 187 Wardour Street

Area: Soho

Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road/Oxford Circus

Tel.: 020 7920 6480

Website: http://www.brgrco.co.uk/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Sinful snacks, Friendly conversation, Filling meal, Good sides

BRGR.CO first appeared on my radar courtesy of my brother pointing me and his friends in the direction of an offer of a free burger to the then-unknown BRGR.CO’s first 500 Twitter followers. “Who were these guys?” was my first question. “When shall we collect on our free burger?” was my second.

So, having followed them and then having rounded up a posse, we hit BRGR.CO to see how one of London’s newest additions to the burger scene was doing.

In light of some of the pretty savage reviews we’d been reading in the days immediately after its opening, I was somewhat nervous about what to expect – but in the end, I was pleasantly surprised by BRGR.CO. Not amazed, but just surprised.

Our waitress was a delight – all smiles, friendly chatter and helpfulness. Even as our group expanded from 3 to 5, she was obliging enough to scrounge around for other chairs and tables in order to accommodate us all. Nothing could flap her; thankfully for her, all we needed was for her to note down our food.

An order of onion rings went down quite the treat as my brother and I waited for our friends to turn up. Nice and crunchy, full of real onion flavour (I’m looking at you, Burger King, even if I do love your onion rings so), and not overly greasy, it was a shame that there wasn’t more to the serving.

Fries fries fries

Fries fries fries

We were excited by the number of fries options on offer, and proceeded to order enough to feed a small army – regular, truffle parmesan, chilli and chilli and cheese. The chilli was suitably meaty and messy and imparted its saucy flavour well to the fries, but I must say that I very much enjoyed the truffle parmesan fries, even if the topping resembled some sort of gloopy béchamel sauce. What sort of parmesan – and truffle ‘sauce’ – are they using that it melts like that? No matter, I would have gladly had another bowl of it.

Now on to the main event – the BRGRLICIOUS burgers. I had ordered the 6oz. (it being the biggest option in the freebie deal), which they recommend having medium rare to medium. So as to “preserve the juiciness and the flavour”. The burger comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and dill pickles on the side, so you have to pay a bit extra for things like cheese and bacon. I opted for the provolone, as it’s not something you see in a burger that often.

The 60z burger. Maybe I should have put the toppings under the burger?

The 60z burger. Maybe I should have put the toppings under the burger?

The provolone didn’t really add much to the burger. Additionally, when I took the burger apart in order to put the greenery inside, the provolone really didn’t make it look great. My brother and friends were similarly puzzled by this assemble-it-yourself set-up (maybe we’re just a lazy bunch who need our burgers spoon-fed to us).

The burger itself: there was a pleasing char-grilled flavour, good meatiness, some juiciness… but little else. The burger tastes a bit flat; it feels a bit flat. Maybe it’s a lack of compelling seasoning, or maybe the thinness of the patty reduces the burger’s impact. When compared to the bog-standard fast food burger, it is much better, but when lined up against the best that Soho has got to offer – Patty & Bun being a good example of a stellar recent opening – it falls rather short.

Considering the time and effort they’ve taken to put this whole operation together, and the pride they take in their ingredients, you would expect something a bit better. So perhaps BRGR.CO hasn’t quite hit its stride yet. Let’s hope that they do.

VERDICT – An okay experience. They’ve done a good job with the space, and they’ve definitely hired some great people to take care of customers. But the burgers themselves were not awe-inspiring. If BRGR.CO are going to pitch themselves in the top league of burgers in London, they need to do more to create a compelling patty. They definitely have the potential for it.

Currently listening to: Gojira – Into the Wilderness

Categories: American | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steak is what we wanted, and steak is what we got: Flat Iron sets up shop in Soho

Copyright of Flat Iron. Sourced from Flat Iron website

Copyright of Flat Iron. Sourced from Flat Iron website

Cuisine: Steak

Address: 17 Beak Street, W1F 9RW

Area: Soho

Nearest Station: Oxford Circus/Piccadilly Circus

Tel.: N/A

Website: http://flatironsteak.co.uk/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Friendly conversation, Quality meat, Smart-casual dining, Carnivorous eating, Good sides

Once upon a time, there was an outfit offering steak in a tucked away room above a quaint ickle pub called the Owl and Pussycat, hidden away down a small alley in a distant neighbourhood called Shoreditch. This outfit called themselves Flat Iron, and marketed themselves around a relatively unknown cut of meat called the, er, flat iron. The perfect recipe to remain off the radar and continue in relative obscurity.

Well hello there, Mr Flat Iron

Well hello there, Mr Flat Iron

Pffft. Yeah right. When I did go with friends, it was the last week of their residency at the Owl and Pussycat, and although we were able to waltz in just after 6pm for a table, by the time we left the queue was IMMENSE. Flat Iron had hit upon something golden: a tender, delicious steak at very affordable prices (nearly everyone in our group had the wagyu special, for only £16), in one of the most happening neighbourhoods in London (yeah, I just said happening, urk).

But I’m not here to talk about days of yore. I’m here to talk about Flat Iron’s new base at 17 Beak Street. They quietly opened last week, see, a bit earlier than expected, so I thought that it was the perfect time to rally the troops and organise an outing for some meaty tenderness. One of the troops had been so eagerly awaiting Flat Iron’s opening that he replied to my text before I even had the chance to put the phone down. Expectations were high; Flat Iron had better deliver!

The good delivery started as soon as I walked in the door: with a smile and a warm welcome, I was ushered downstairs to the bar to await my friends and a table, and was pleasantly surprised to find it quite spacious. I hate being asked to wait at the bar for a table, only to find that I am scrunched between the bar stools, the small packed-together tables and busy wait-staff carrying precariously perched plates of food around. Not so at Flat Iron, where I was able to prop myself up at a table and enjoy my negroni and the popcorn that had been popped in beef dripping, all in relative peace and comfort.

It wasn’t long before the others arrived. When Hungry Friend (she’d forgotten to eat lunch – how, I really don’t know) plonked herself down at the table, her eyes popped at the thought of beef-dripping popcorn; and into her mouth they all popped. Thank heavens they’re free and all-you-can-eat, as we must have polished off three cans whilst down there. A friendly note for the Flat Iron crew: starving girls need feeding, and some bar snacks would not have gone unappreciated that night.

But no matter, for even though there were five of us our table was ready within ten minutes and we were guided back upstairs. I suppose the short wait was a result of it being only their second day of being open to the public (and the fact that they have two floors of dining now), but I felt particularly blessed after the queues I’d seen at the Owl and Pussycat. Just as short was the time it took for us to order – with only one main course on offer, do you really need to spend ages deliberating? – as well as get more popcorn for our ravenous Hungry Friend. The amount she devoured was scary.

We tried to take her mind off the wait for our food, but Hungry Friend’s situation was not helped when the kindly staff accidently brought someone else’s order to our table (the spectre of my experience at Patty & Bun back to haunt me?). Although they were quick to realise the mistake, it was still enough time for some salt to be added to one steak, rendering it useless for its original dining destination. So, it had to sit there and wait for the rest of the dishes, taunting Hungry Friend and making the minutes stretch into days. More popcorn and the sympathetic attention of the staff could not ameliorate the situation enough.

Look at those beauties - medium rare flat iron, crispy fries and aubergine bake

Look at those beauties – medium rare flat iron, crispy fries and aubergine bake

So we were thankful when the rest of the food did come. I was concerned that my first dream-like experience back at the Owl and Pussycat would have spoiled my expectations, but I needn’t have worried, as my medium rare steak was glorious: the tender, pink slices that were meltingly soft were full of flavour, so much so that I didn’t feel the need to use any of the sauces our table had on offer. It combined very well with the crispy fries, and even better with the aubergine bake (I forget exactly what was in it) that was juicy and delicious. It was a perfect reflection of that taste experience earlier in the year.

VERDICT – Highly recommended. It is a quality steak; it is served at a great price for what it is; it is centrally-located in Soho. Surely that’s a tick list for success? All five of us thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and left satisfied with the experience, even if there were a couple of service lapses (especially painful for Hungry Friend, as she stared down that lonely, mis-ordered steak that was not hers). These slight lapses, however, I can forgive as ‘early days’ problems needing to be ironed out (maybe with a flat iron?? HA). But with a staff that friendly and attentive, I’m sure Flat Iron will go on to do good, very good. Get in there before the queues build!

Currently listening to: Dem Brooklyn Bums – Guido Slouch

Categories: Steak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Stones, One Dog: The Dogfather at The Sun & 13 Cantons

Copyright of The Dogfather. Sourced from The Dogfather website

Cuisine: Hot Dogs

Address: Usually North Cross Road Market; two-week residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons, 21 Great Pulteney Street, W1F 9NG (NOW FINISHED)

Area: The Sun & 13 Cantons – Soho

Nearest Station: The Sun & 13 Cantons – Oxford Circus/Piccadilly Circus

Tel.: The Sun & 13 Cantons – 020 7734 0934

Website: http://www.dogfatherdiner.com/, http://www.sunand13cantons.co.uk/

Pricing: The Dogfather – Medium, The Sun & 13 Cantons – Cheap-Medium

Good For: The Dogfather – Lunchtime fix, Filling meal, Interesting toppings. The Sun & 13 Cantons – Loitering over drinks, Friendly conversation, Victorian setting, Natter with mates, After-work drinks

Some time ago, in the not-so distant past but still beyond the mists of memory, I’d heard tales of a brilliant hot dog dispenser going by the name of the Dogfather, who based himself in the relatively unknown – to me, at least – market of North Cross Road. Not being a Londoner at the time, the thought of making a trip into deepest and darkest South London was a bit daunting for me. Now, as a South Londoner, the thought of making a trip into deepest and darkest Dulwich is still just a bit daunting for me. So, when the Egg Boss tweeted that his good friend, the Dogfather, was just about to set up shop for a couple weeks’ residency in November 2012 at the curiously-named Sun and 13 Cantons pub in not so deep and not so dark Soho, I realised that this was my shot for glory.

It was therefore very fortunate that I’d chosen the first Tuesday of the Dogfather’s pop-up to be suit-shopping day on Oxford Street with mia madre. Keen to get more freebies out of her (what a son I am), I suggested that maybe we re-visit her childhood memories of eating copious amounts of hot dogs back in the Philippines by, well, eating hot dogs in Soho.

Now I’d never heard of the Sun and 13 Cantons pub before, but I think that they now have a new customer – thanks going to the Dogfather for getting me through the door. It feels like a typical London inner-city pub, what with the big windows, wooden flooring and high tables and chairs in the main bar. But it’s the addition of a ‘dining area’ of sorts at the back with lots of mirrors and marble-top tables makes this place stand out a bit in my mind. Not only does lots of places to sit = good place for a natter with friends, but I like the Victorian vibe this room really gives off. Should I mention the decent range of beers and the cute bar girls who are happy to chat? Think before I speak? Oh, too late…

The haute dogs on offer

Mia madre chose the Dogfather (chorizo clices [sic], grilled onions, melted mozzarella, roasted red pepper marinara, chopped jalapenos, grated parmesan and a beef dog). I wanted the Slum Dog of which I’d read much about on the internet, but as it was not available that day I settled for the Snoop Dog (streaky bacon, BBQ sauce, cheddar slices, grilled onion, cream corn mayo, green onions, chopped jalapenos and a beef dog). It took some time for them to arrive, even though we were one of the few dining groups there. And when the dogs did arrive, the accompanying fries were just warm and unremarkable. I attributed these timing issues to the teething problems of settling into a new residency i.e. still getting used to a different kitchen/staff etc. (things that a residency is valuable for teaching) but we were still a bit disappointed.

Mr Snoop Dog and his friends the Fries Gang

Now as for the dogs… curiously enough, mia madre declined to offer me a bite of hers, which suggests that she enjoyed it enough to not want to share (more on that later). I similarly enjoyed my Snoop Dog, as all the flavours melded together pretty well, demonstrating excellent teamwork and maximising of strengths. However, the melding also helped to hide the fact that some of the individual components were not quite there in terms of quality: the streaky bacon was the right level of saltiness but not crispiness (my ex was adamant that the only reason streaky bacon existed was to be fried into crispy crunchiness); the cream corn mayo was, in my opinion, rather lightly applied, and by itself did not distinguish itself from any other mayo I’ve had; the bun did the job adequately if not spectacularly; but most importantly, the beef dog in isolation was… okay.

Snoop Dog lookin’ right at ya

By no means was it bad (I can think of many, many worse examples… don’t make me go there), but in the face of competition from the likes of the Big Apple Hot Dogs, I just felt that the beef dog just didn’t really hold its ground. There was just something lacking, a particular spark that would motivate me to make the trek to the Dogfather’s spiritual home in North Cross Road. I would happily have the Snoop Dog again if it were given to me on a plate/camping tray/plank of wood, but if you just handed me the beef dog by itself… oh, I’d still eat it.

Mia madre, after some reflection, came to a similar conclusion, and as an out-of-towner she is even less likely to want to make it over to Dulwich. Which is a bit of a shame, as I wouldn’t mind having her along as a companion for when I try to hunt down the renowned Slum Dog, and see if the Dogfather is really in his prime on his home turf.

VERDICT for The Sun & 13 Cantons – A good place.

VERDICT for The Dogfather – An okay experience.

I enjoyed my lunchtime in the Sun and 13 Cantons, and if I am in the area again I will readily go back there for a drink. As for my first experience of the Dogfather? I did enjoy it, but the hype I’d read about it had given me extremely high expectations which were unfortunately not met; whilst some of it may be down to the teething problems of setting up a residency (but hey, these things are not just great business opportunities but also valuable learning experiences), at the same time the individual ingredients in the Snoop Dog did not wow me. Still, the man has built up enough of a positive reputation, so he must be doing something right. Maybe one of these weekends, when I have the time, I will get down to North Cross Road to dine on the Dogfather’s own terms, on his own turf.

Currently listening to: La Ruda Salska – Du rififi chez les branques

Categories: Hot Dogs, Pub | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments