Monday, 16 January 2012

Burger & Lobster, Mayfair


As a child, starved of entertainment on long car journeys through France on family holidays, I would often find myself flicking through the Michelin Guide. And much like the way I occasionally now browse the Foxtons website for the most expensive properties on their books, just for the sheer masochistic delight of discovering what £32 million can buy you in SW6 (come on, I can't be the only one), I would find myself drawn to the flashiest places in the Red Guide; the 3 star restaurants and the 5-red-tower hotels, strange make-believe places like the Crillon (Paris) and the Carlton (Cannes) that existed in a glittering parallel universe I could only dream about being a part of.

Our own evening meals on the road, needless to say, generally consisted of a 70F set menu in the nearest cafe to whichever prefabricated chain hotel we found ourselves in, but the details I soaked up from the short descriptions underneath whichever gastronomic temple was top of the list that year led me to a lifelong obsession with lobster. They seemed to be everywhere in that book, and always at the most expensive places - lobster, along with a couple of other ingredients (caviar, truffle), was shorthand for glamour and decadence, and as I was (still am) desperately superficial, I was hooked.


As for burgers, that's a little easier to explain. My parents, with only the best and very sensible intentions I'm sure, refused to take me to McDonalds, and the only times I ever managed to breach this embargo was when children of slightly less neurotic families would invite me to sit in the plastic boat upstairs at Southport branch, wear a little cardboard hat and eat cheeseburgers and fries until I was sick. There's something about McDonalds that hits every single pleasure spot in a child's brain - it's crack for the under 12s - and these rare occasions burned so bright in my formative mind that even to this day there are few more sinful pleasures I indulge in than the occasional Quarter Pounder. I don't care who knows it - it's salty, greasy, packed with evil chemicals and everything that's wrong with the way people eat in the 21st century but I bloody love it. Also, anyone who thinks McDonald fries aren't the best are snobs. So there.


So, there's a new restaurant in Mayfair called Burger & Lobster and it's as if my whole life has been leading up to this moment. It serves, at £20 per item, a whole lobster, a lobster roll, and a burger. Each come with salad and fries. The burger is rich and bloody, the umami hit of the aged beef strengthened with (so it's rumoured) a splash of Thai fish sauce, though not enough to be distracting. The lobster steamed or grilled (your choice) to perfection, presented in neat halves so you have all the joy of extracting the sweet claws and meaty tail section for yourselves. And the roll, with its sweet toasted brioche bun and carefully balanced lobster meat and mayonnaise filling, is a thing of wonder too, packed with silky fresh seafood and perfect dipped in the lemon herb butter. Even the fries are fantastic - golden and crunchy, aggressively seasoned and generously numerous.


The question is, of course, and it's one that might have occurred to you already, is why on earth would anyone pay £20 for the burger, no matter how good it is, when an entire fresh lobster is the same price. It is a fair question, but whether or not you think burger addicts should subsidise the crustacean fans there is a certain pleasing aesthetic to a menu where everything's the same price and at least you know (barring anyone going too crazy at the bar) approximately how much the bill's going to be before you sit down. It's an incredibly attractive way of doing things - I'm a huge fan - and I hope they don't cave in to any accountant's suggestions of adding a few quid onto the lobster and shaving a few off the burger. Lobster, or burger. £20. Simple. Perfect.


Oh, there's the no-reservations thing I suppose but that's just the way things are going at the moment so you may as well just get used to it. Here's a tip from me - if there's a queue, put your name down and hop over the road to the upstairs bar at Tempo. You can enjoy some of the best drinks in this part of town while you wait for your table to be ready. They'll even call you on your mobile when it is - surely that's no real hardship?


Either to blame or thank them for the way I've turned out, I brought along my parents to Burger & Lobster on Saturday. They loved it - how could you not - and we talked about old holidays and great meals the way you do when you're enjoying yourself. Mum said that she remembers a conversation with a friend when I was quite small, and how she told her that I wasn't allowed to start on dessert until I'd finished off every bit of my main course. "Aren't you worried that might make him a bit greedy?" was the friend's response. I suppose it had never occurred to her. And thank God for that.

10/10

Burger & Lobster on Urbanspoon

14 comments:

Simon said...

Had the same conclusion on the way out, it's the ultimate Take Your Dad restaurant. Can't wait to take him there.

Kavey said...

I've not been yet, I must visit. I adore lobster, and although Pete doesn't, the burger will keep him happy, I'm sure. Even at £20!

I really liked your trip down childhood memory line...

steampie said...

I always look at the £30million+ properties online, love it.

Dying to finally try B&L, as I've been reading/hearing about it for seemingly months now. I think I'll have to bring one other hungry diner in order to get a lobster + lobster roll + burger. Too much?

Pavel said...

We popped down on Sat after watching the Iron Lady (Worst Marvel comic spin-off ever) sadly we timed it wrong and had to go away... Went to the Ad Cod to get my burger fix but I am dying to come back here to give it a go!

Gregory said...

Q. am I a snob if I prefer Burger King fries over McDonald's ?

Also loving the reserve your table and have a beer or drink over the road. It was one of the things I loved about Mohr Fish, which was an old fave place in Sydney some 20 years ago. Their chips weren't bad either.

Gavin said...

Only downside to B&L is that if you go as a lone diner then brain will explode trying to decide on burger or lobster. Go as a couple and share is my advice (unless you are a seriously greedy bastard).

Loved the place, heard they were getting through over 500kg of lobster/week.

Chris said...

steampie: I guess it depends on your appetite, but be warned: it's a LOT of food!

Gregory: God I think Burger King fries are AWFUL, not even real potato, something called reconstituted corn starch. Each to their own though!

Lizzie said...

I also loved Burger & Lobster, and I can't understand why you'd order the burger. There were plenty who were doing so though when I went.

Gregory said...

Chris, while I haven't tried either for eons, the BK always used to seem crisper. Then again, if your BK @ main line rail stations is the source of your emotion, I understand totally.

on the ingredients and fake potato.. both are as bad as each other. Just looked it up.

Laurie said...

Ten out of ten?? If that burger didn't have fake plastic cheese on it - and any reference to it is conspicuous by its absence - I DEFY you to give this place a ten Christopher.

mealandashow said...

I love this idea - will try and check it out later in the week (have a couple of theatre evenings and it sounds ideal for a quick bite after). My wife's on the Dukan diet atm which makes dining out tricky - however here she can have the lobster, and I can have the burger and nick her chips, which also solves the cross-subsidy problem!

Gastro1 said...

I have to agree 10/10 and hats of to Misha for the idea and to George ,David and John for the execution.

Restless Native said...

Are they Canadian Lobsters?

Paper Heart Girl said...

I absolutely cannot wait to go here! xx