Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Ben and Howard over at Food and Drink in London are on an on-going quest to find the best burger in London. Diligently and objectively they rate each example from outlets as varied as Ed's Diner and Joe Allen, but still their favourite is that served at Haché in Camden - it gets 14/15, which I'm guessing is pretty hard to top.
Well, I'm not as diligent or objective as the Food and Drink in London boys, and I'm not going to waste my time traipsing around London eating mediocre burgers when all the hard work has been done for me. So on Saturday afternoon, dodging the pouring rain, I walked over Albert Bridge to Haché in Chelsea, the second outlet in the capital after the wildly popular Camden branch.
I have often railed against restaurants that try to be all things to all people, and end up being nothing to anyone. You can spot them a mile off, with their huge yet strangely timid menus, dishes plucked seemingly at random from all corners of the globe with nothing connecting them except a total and spectacular failure in execution. And here, delightfully, at the other end of that scale is Haché, unapologetically selling nothing but burgers and burger accessories. A hundred different types of burgers, sure, made out of anything from venison to lamb to tuna (oh and beef as well of course), but still recognisable as burgers, tasty thick patties inside a toasted bun.
I was just on the verge of ordering the classic 'Au naturel' when the Catalan variation caught my eye, topped with chorizo and spiced with fresh red chilli. And here it is, in all its greasy glory:
The beef itself was rich and flavoursome and cooked perfectly medium-rare. The chorizo added a lovely crispy layer, and although I could have done with a bit more of a chilli hit this was quickly rectified by dropping in a couple of the tiny red birds-eye chillies that came with a halloumi side. There's absolutely nothing better than the first bite into a huge tasty burger, as you work through the crusty bun, past the crunchy topping and deep into the glistening, moist meat. Add in the extra note from the fiery chillies and this becomes pretty much the best burger I've had in London. Which is pretty much what I was expecting, so it was just as well.
From what I can gather, the variations on the theme served to my fellow diners were just as successful. We were particularly amused by the "low calorie" version which came with just as much gorgeous fatty meat but substituted the top half of the bun for a green salad. I'm guessing the brains behind Haché have decided that if you can convince the local Sloanes that swapping a bit of bread for dressed rocket counts as the healthy option, even if you sneak through just as much of the good stuff, you're on to a winner.
In the same corner of the city that Tom Aitken has decided needs somewhere you can buy a mediocre fish and chips for £25, it warms the cockles of the heart to discover there are people willing to serve the best hamburger in London for a measly £6.50. As you can probably gather, I really loved Haché, with its straightforward hearty food, sparkling friendly service and bright and trendy dining room. And if you have any sense of what's good for you, you'll love it too.