Our first international AHT reader recommendation comes from Ibrahim Salha, a 21-year-old in London who blogs about food at Will Eat For Money. You can also follow him on Twitter @ibzo. Thanks, Ibrahim! If anyone else wants to share some burger intel, here's how to do it. —The Mgmt.
97 Wardour St, London, W1F 0UW (map); 020 7297 9390; byronhamburgers.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: London's best widely available burger gets even better, but the bun is still an issue.
Want Fries With That? Not really, but the zucchini fries are delicious
Price: 6-ounce. hamburger, £6.25 (add American cheese for £1); courgette fries, £3
Burgers in London aren't the best. I know it, you know it, most people who care about hamburgers in this city know it. Heck, even those who don't read about beef blends and cheeseburgers in cities they'll never visit every day know it, but things are getting better, and Byron, a small chain of restaurants serving "proper hamburgers," is leading the line.
The freshly ground patty (rump, chuck, and brisket blend) weighs in at a reasonable six ounces, though you can double up for an extra £3.50. Grilled to medium as standard—though cooking temperature can be altered on request—the beef is loosely packed and well seasoned, but the grilling gives an uneven exterior; ultimately you give up a crunch for the smokiness drawn from the grill. Newly available at Byron is the option of "American" cheese, though word on the street is that this is a gourmet and less fake slice than a Kraft Single. The cheese makes a good burger even better, adding creaminess and combining the fresh crunch of the rabbit food with the meaty and juicy patty to a cheeseburger that is easily beyond anything else as readily available across London.
There are two issues with the burgers offered at Byron, though, with varying degrees of importance. The first (and less important, I suppose) is that the pickles come in the form of spears, disqualifying the possibility of them being in your burger without being severely awkward. The second, more pertinent point, is that the bun is shoddy. Truly shoddy. A soft, white bun that is overly floury and incredibly mealy, it is toasted on the grill but holds the burger back from being sensational. One way of overcoming this would be to steam the rolls, or to replace them with something better suited for the job, such as a brioche bun.
The french fries are not worth bothering with, and neither are the homemade skin on chips, but the courgette (zucchini) fries are a revelation. Crispy and well-seasoned, they're a more than capable side dish, but beware that they do tend to become greasier and more stodgy the longer you leave them; they need to be eaten whilst hot.
The option of "American" cheese at Byron makes it, in my eyes, the best fast food-style burger in London, and it's decent value for money. If they can sort out the issue with the bun and the pickles then London will have a truly great burger on its cards. For now, we have a very good burger which is being stunted by a poor bun, though the general outlook for hamburgers in London is considerably more positive than it once was. —Ibrahim Salha
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