photo: The Royal Oak
This week Burger Club went upmarket, swapping the bearded, cartoon-creature-comfort of Stokey Bears, N16 for a swanky “Edwardian corner pub in the heart of Marylebone.” The “quality neighbourhood” pub in question is The Royal Oak, home to Burgerac’s Burgershack. And things didn’t start off well.
“Happy Hour Monday,” that’s what the menu says; “a burger, fries and any drink up to the value of a fiver, for just £10.” Of course, when we speak to our waitress the deal only includes plain burgers, cheeseburgers and veggie burgers. It also doesn’t include hot’n’blue fries, chilli cheese fries and all the best draught beers. As such, it as might as well not even exist.
Specific special specifications aside, the menu sounds 100% legit. My tongue unlatches itself from the sides of my mouth and starts to purr as I read through it. And instantly, words like “deep fried pickles,” “deep fried cheesy jalapeno bombs” and “skin-on fries drizzled with both buffalo and blue cheese sauce” need to be extinguished by a long sip of my Purity Longhorn IPA.
We order rounds of deep fried pickles, chilli poppers and chilli cheese and hot’n’blue fries for the table and I cast my eye to the burgers list. Instinctively I pick the house special, the Burgershack; a 6oz beef patty burger with “Keen’s cheddar,” smoked bacon, chipotle sauce and iceberg lettuce in a brioche bun. When in Rome…
The Burgershack, with a deep fried pickle, chilli popper and blue cheese sauce
When our burgers arrive eyes light up and conversation’s extinguished. I dish up a handful of hot’n’blue fries, which taste just as delicious as they sound, and a side-order of chilli cheese fries, which taste even better. The deep fried pickles are a bit of a letdown but the chilli poppers are out of this world; creamy, perfectly breaded, decadent.
As for the main event, the Burgershack bursts with flavour. The strong smoked bacon pops and the chipotle sauce kick is perfectly off-set by the sweet brioche bun and crisp iceberg lettuce. A high-quality production, indeed. But for some reason – perhaps I’m getting too spoilt – the patty itself lacks a bit of the magic dust some of my favourite joints sprinkle on/in their burgers. In truth, the sides steal the show, really.