My brother, being an expat, often found himself craving a proper hamburger. Which is difficult, since Britain is notoriously bad for their burgers (doubly-so since the Mad Cow period, since most burgers here are cooked to oblivion). But in the interest of keeping my brother from going crazy, I asked around, and several reliable sources of mine (primarily from SeriousEats) recommending Byron Proper Hamburgers.
So he went. He tried the burger at Byron, and he determined it worthy. So this time when we came to town, we decided to go with him this time to see how well Byron fared. Looking over the menu, I settled for their version of a classic, the “Byron Burger”, with bacon, cheddar cheese, and “Byron Sauce” (basically, your standard Thousand Island style burger sauce, although I learned in the ensuing conversation that “Thousand Island Dressing” isn’t well known in Britain, at least by that name).
This was indeed a proper burger. Good beef. Not compressed during cooking, so it’s still juicy. Cooked medium, with a still slightly pink interior and a good crisp on the outside. Nice, fresh toppings, and crisp bacon. Overall, this is about a 7 or 8 out of 10 on my burger scale for any situation. And it’s definitely the best proper hamburger I’ve had in the UK, although I’ve got several other places I really need to try as well (Hawksmoor, which was booked solid; Meatwagon, which had their wagon stolen; and even the Queen’s Arms down the street from the flat, which has always done well by me on their other menu items I’ve tried).
The one real mistake I made at Byron was ordering chips instead of fries (they have both UK-style chips and US-style fries). Big and fluffy, these just didn’t have quite the kick to them that the burger did.
Don’t get me wrong, these were really good chips, but the fries were great (due to the ol’ “leftovers in the basket” effect, I had a few fries in my order as well as chips). Next time I’m getting fries, making it a proper combo overall. The other sides sampled by our table (onion rings, and zucchini (errr…. courgette) chips) were quite nicely done as well, so they’ve got the burger accompaniments down pat, too.
Finally, Carol and my brother both decided they wanted to try the shakes, so a chocolate malt and an Oreo shake were procured. Both were good, nicely thick (I hate runny milkshakes), made with good ice cream, and for the chocolate malt they didn’t skimp on the malt powder. And they served it in the mixing can, which is always a good touch (those that know me well, know I’m still bitter about the time the St Clair Broiler in St Paul stiffed me on a third of a milkshake since the waitress didn’t want to bring out the can).
So, while it’s a bit of indulgence to go out for what’s basically “American” fare while in London, Byron did indeed do a good job, and is a really good place to go for both Londoners and expats looking for a real American-style burger experience.