Last Thursday was National Burger Day, my absolute favourite day of the year where greasy-chinned people of all ages gather together to pay homage to the humble cheeseburger. Then eat a shit-ton of them and get a bit fat. (Sounds like my average Friday night! Fnar!)
To celebrate, we went down to the National Burger Day Party at Hawker House, Canada Water, where 18 of London’s best burger vendors were ready and waiting to serve up new variations on their classic burgers to the crowds.
It was an insanely hot evening (about 30 degrees) which was probably not helped by the 18 grills pumping out even more heat, and unfortunately there was a powercut mid-way through the night which left a handful of the vendors without electricity for a good hour or more. Despite these setbacks, it was a cheery atmosphere and everyone happily chowed down their own bodyweight in burgers.
Each burger on offer was a smaller, slider-style burger so try not to judge me for managing to get through seven of them! These are also listed in the order we ate them in rather than by score.
Anyway, enough jabbering, let the burgerfest commence…
Mother Flipper: The Candy Bacon Flipper (£7)
First up was the Candy Bacon Flipper from Mother Flipper which consisted of a beef patty topped with ketchup, mustard, pickle, American cheese, and maple syrup fried bacon. The USP with this one was clearly the maple syrup fried bacon which was really good – like a bacon flavoured boiled sweet. On first bite, the juice ran all down my arm which I took as a good sign. It was delicious, like a fucking awesome Big Mac! Good squishy cheese, great pickles, juicy patty, awesome bacon. This was the first time that I had eaten a Mother Flipper burger but I was really impressed. Will definitely be back for more!
Score = 4.8/5
Dip N Flip: Green Chilli Cheese Soaker (£6)
Next we had the Dip N Flip cheeseburger but today it was topped with lashings of fried green chillies and then finished with a good slosh of their infamous gravy poured all over the bun. It also came served with it’s very own blue plastic glove, either because the chillies were super hot or simply because of the volume of gravy. Despite the masses of chilli it actually wasn’t too spicy and you probably didn’t need the blue glove, but it added some nice theatre anyway. Some good oozy cheese – I even got some on my nose, that’s how oozy it was – a tasty patty as always from Dip N Flip, and of course, excellent gravy. Really good. I liked it a lot, but probably not more than their regular Dip N Flip burger.
Score = 4.2/5
Nanban: The Down-n-Out Burger (£6)
Taking inspiration from Nanban‘s Japanese roots, the Down-n-Out Burger was a beef patty topped with a whole host of Asian influences such as a dashi salt hash brown, spring onion kewpie mayo, tonkatsu sauce and pickled ginger. There was a lot going on here and it was so teeny that you were surprised they could fit it all in. It may have looked delicate but it exploded in your mouth like a grenade of tasty burger! Very different from any of the other burgers that night with a perfect umami flavour and every element could be tasted individually. One of the first times I’ve ever enjoyed a hash brown too.
Score = 4.5/5
Up In My Grill vs Prawnography: Debbie Does Dallas (£7.50)
This mashup from Up in My Grill and Prawnology was a beef patty with American cheese topped with a barbecue tiger prawn, black garlic aioli and what I believe was a crispy prawn cracker. It was pretty massive and even after squishing the prawn cracker a bit flatter it still took some logistics to fit it into your gob. When you succeeded it was pretty tasty though! Personally, I didn’t super care about the prawns on top (I am not a big prawn fan) but the black garlic aioli and the pickled shallots really made it. Plus the addition of the prawn cracker gave it some good texture. Definitely interesting (and garlicky) if not the best we had that night.
Score = 3.5/5
Bleecker Street: Philly Cheese Bleecker (£4.50)
From the team who normally bring you one of the very best burgers of London, Bleecker Street offered us an aged beef patty, oozy British cheddar AND American cheese topped with bacon shards. It was only a tiny burger but at £4.50 it was also the cheapest of the day too. It was a fairly nice tasting patty but a bit dry and lacked the wow factor I was expecting. Overall it was just ok but nowhere near as good as their standard burgers. It was surprising really as Bleecker Street is normally my absolute favourite! A shock result from the team today!
Score = 2/5
Busan BBQ: Kimchi Smash (£6)
This baby from Busan BBQ contained all of your usual burger ingredients but with an added Korean twang of charred kimchi, mustard onions and samjang mayo. It was a good-sized burger for once, like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, which made a nice change from the teeny sliders we had been seeing. Overall it was ok but considering all of the punchy ingredients involved I was expecting more flavour from it. The kimchi wasn’t very prominent and easy to miss, but then maybe I was expecting it to be like the awesome kimchi burger from Hawksmoor too much? All in all it was a bit under seasoned, a bit under flavoured, and a bit… underwhelming really. Shame.
Score = 2.5/5
Lucky Chip: Dirk Diggler (£6)
After a long wait for the power to come back on and then for the grills to heat back up again, finally Lucky Chip reopened! Their offering of The Dirk Diggler was a beef patty topped with braised beef shortrib, American cheese, pickled coleslaw, Siracha kewpie mayo and Cream Soda BBQ sauce. (Mark Wahlberg’s 14 inch cock didn’t make a surprise appearance at the end). It was really good; a great juicy patty, good cheese and crunchy slaw, and the braised shortrib was a real treat when you came across it. The whole thing was quite sweet because of the cream soda sauce but it was really, really tasty. You come to these sorts of burger events because you want to taste something different and this delivered on all fronts. Definitely worth the wait.
Score = 4.5/5
So there you have it. We came. We saw. We ate a load of cheeseburgers. There were some surprise results but I’m glad I came away discovering some new favourites too. Roll on next year.