Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Bleecker St Burger, Old Spitalfields Market
As a sort of comfort food double-bill with the excellent Sticky Wings, I thought I'd put down a few words on the equally excellent Bleecker Burger, veterans (I'm sure they won't mind me saying) of the streetfood scene, who are currently pitching up at Old Spitalfields Market from Wednesday to Sunday.
You'd think after all these years of Burgers In London that there wouldn't be much more to say about the subject. After reading this post you may still think the same. But though we may very well have reached market saturation in many respects, there is equally no reason to ignore, or even loftily dismiss, anyone as accomplished, talented and committed as Bleecker Burgers just because they have a lot more competition these days. So I'm sorry if you're sick of hearing about burgers, but if that's the case a) you really have come to the wrong blog, and b) plenty of people haven't. Including me. So there.
What we have here is the "Bleecker Black". Two medium-rare chunks of lovely, crumbly loose-minced beef, either side of a puck of rich black pudding. Seasoned and softened by a slice of melty yellow cheese, a touch of mild mustard and inside a good firm seeded brioche, this is a burger-lover's burger, the result of a true expert knowledge of what works and what doesn't when it comes to beef in a bun. Contrast, for example, the decision to use black pudding here (a departure from generic norms but one that only makes it burger with a twist, not transforming it into something else) with the bizarre selection of ingredients thrown together by some bandwagon-jumpers who had no interest in burgers at all before they realised there was money to be made. Mentioning no names.
I also tried these Angry Fries - chips (and very good chips at that) soaked in hot sauce (possibly Frank's but don't hold me to that) and a marvellous creamy blue cheese concoction of some kind. After finishing off two rounds of beef and a black pudding I'm afraid I hardly had room for more than a mouthful, but they were still memorable, the blue cheese flavour in particular having none of that disturbing staleness that seems to afflict cheaper versions.
I'd last tried a Bleecker Burger a couple of years ago when street food collective Kerb were still on that gravelled path between Kings Cross station and the canal. I remember being impressed but not besotted; the bun was a bit crumbly and the flavour of the beef a bit thin. But the joy of independent operations like this is that they're free to experiment with their butcher and baker and other suppliers; they aren't forced to nail down a recipe so the "concept" can be inevitably "rolled out". So Bleecker have tweaked their mince ratios, improved their buns, and over time ended up with this, surely one of the best examples in the city. And if you still can't bear to be anything so mainstream as a burger-lover, well, that's just your loss.