This time, your friendly neighborhood burger club got in on the ground level. Before the joint hit the wider burger circuit at large – there’s still hardly any mention of the place online; and no phone number. I walk through Highbury practically every day. And when a new burger restaurant popped up, a local branch of Harringey’s Bun & Bar, I suggested we check it out. Two of our burger munchers rave about the Green Lanes spot, so it made sense on every level. And besides. Burgers. Walking distance. Booze.
It’s a Tuesday night, so you can imagine the kind of dedication and attention a table of 12 attracts at a new burger spot still trying to get the word out. It turns out the place has only been open for four days, and we get the impression that our group is its first horde of London-wide burger connoisseurs. Needless to say, they’re desperate to impress. Brewdog Punk IPAs on tap get the juices flowing as we check out the menu.
There’s a nice homemade feel to Bun & Bar. The lighting’s a bit too bright. The staff look a bit too keen. The menu’s not quite as stylised and self assured. The artwork’s not as cool. And the slick, ultra-contemporary music you usually associate with hip burger joints has been replaced by classic rock bands like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, AC/DC and Quiet Riot – which I really like (I even catch a few people singing along, and spot some air guitar jamming later on).
Still, the people behind Bun & Bar have paid attention. The burgers sound great. Imaginative and exotic, in fact. Usually, a burger jumps out at me right away but I’m torn. The “chorizo spread” sounds a bit like Stokey Bears’ bacon jam and EVERYTHING comes with FREE rosemary fries – £1 extra for sweet potato.
But as usual when trying out a new place for the first time, I order a cheeseburger with extra bacon. The B&B Cheese Burger, with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, ketchup and smoky mayo in a brioche bun. And of course, I upgrade my fries to sweet potato. The burger sounds a lot like Patty & Bun’s. In fact, the subtle difference between the B&B Beef Burger and the B&B Cheese Burger sounds a lot like the Patty & Bun Ari Gold vs Smokey Robinson dilemma.
When the food arrives, finally – they do take a while (then again, they are cooking for 12) – the presentation’s really impressive. Usually, the lighting’s so dim and the buns are kind of squished down to keep the juicy burgers together, so a phone photo never really does them any justice. This time it’s almost too bright, as I surreptitiously sneak my phone out and take a shot.
Everything seems so clean and fresh as well. The sweet potato fries are some of the best I’ve ever tasted; light, crispy and delicious – I can’t really remember having rosemary salted sweet potato fries before either. And when I sink my teeth into the fluffy looking brioche bun the burger’s juicy and perfectly cooked. The well seasoned patty gives way to the taste of smoky, caramelized bacon. Simple, with a twist. The secret to a good burger’s all in the seasoning. And Bun & Bar know exactly what they’re doing.
Still eager to impress, the waiters and waitresses – and even the owner – come over to check if everything’s okay twice every 20 minutes. But it’s a friendly atmosphere. And everyone’s raving about their burgers. The two Green Lanes fans do say that they prefer the burgers down their local, but I can’t see how they could be much better.