Burger entrepreneur and founder of pop-up Patty&Bun, Joe Grossmann opened his first permanent restaurant in Mayfair, London, in November (2012) and after hearing rave reviews I thought it was worth checking out. Burgers have taken the capital by storm. First it was steak, now it’s burgers. Everyone, and I mean everyone, squealed with excitement when Yianni Papoutsis announced that following the success of his street food venture, The MeatWagon, he was going to open a restaurant, MeatLiquor in November 2011. While most Londoners have a pretty strong opinion, one way or another, about the rapid expansion of burger company, Byron. Why are we suddenly barmy for burgers? The most common belief is that during tough economic times, people seek indulgent comfort food. Even fine dining restaurants, usually associated with the avant-garde, seem to be taking a less-is-more approach.
Patty&Bun is about as far away from fine dining as it gets. The floor is simple, just stripped back floorboards, while the tables, chairs and stools look like they’ve been reclaimed from a ’70s comprehensive school and lights dangle over diners from their wire. Despite it being a Tuesday night it’s packed tightly with famished faces, gorging on deliciously wicked burgers. If you don’t like waiting for a table, this place isn’t for you. Thankfully, Grossmann’s estimate of a 25-minute wait was pretty much bang on. A new establishment, albeit with a loyal following from its days as a pop-up, enjoying such success should certainly be celebrated by the industry, particularly given Britain’s current financial woes.
This is also not the sort of place to go if you can’t handle chaos. The staff are delightful but they are simply rushed off their feet. Nevertheless, we order quickly and after a short wait our burgers – mine, an ARI Gold Cheeseburger; my dining companions, a Smokey Robinson – arrive, alongside two portions of decadently salted chips with a hint of rosemary. The burgers come simply – wrapped on a tray – and the chips come in a polystyrene cup. Cutlery is present but these burgers deserve nothing less than getting your hands a little (or a lot) messy. The fat content is high and it’s fabulous. The structure of the burgers makes it a little bit difficult to share, so I rely on my dining partner for feedback on his Smokey Robinson. His silence, eager feasting and contented sigh when he finished, seemed to speak for itself. My burger was excellent. I’m drooling at the sheer memory. The meat was pink, the cheese oozed, the pickled onions were sweet and slightly crunchy. This burger was everything a burger is meant to be. The chips were great too, really salty, if a little void of the aforementioned rosemary. If I’m honest, having stuffed my face with a burger exploding with such incredible flavours, my taste buds were probably a bit off, and if they weren’t, I can forgive Grossmann that one, ever so minor detail.
I’m never going to take my parents to Patty&Bun but I’ll certainly go back with friends, mostly male as it’s definitely a man-friendly place. I hope Grossmann’s venture continues to be so successful, preferably so he expands to larger premises, in theory making it easier to get a table! The good news? They do take-away, so as long as you work or live nearby, you can even enjoy the sensational tastes of I’d argue the best burger in London, in the comfort of your own home or office, making it slightly less embarrassing when you manage to smear ketchup, cheese and beef grease across your face as you eat – well, in theory!
Patty&Bun 54 James St, London W1U 1EU