19 July 2012

A Two-Trick Pony: Burger & Lobster Review

I've been wanting to check Burger & Lobster, W1's surf 'n' turf two-trick pony, since it opened in Mayfair last year. Somehow, though, I never made it, in part because I'm not in Mayfair very often. This week, a second branch opened on Dean Street in Soho (a third will open in Clerkenwell later in the year), and as it was BB's birthday yesterday, she, my NoMaRo buddy MM and I decided to go for dinner.

Some of the reviews of the original branch suggested we might be in for a long wait--naturally, B&L is one of the growing body of no-bookings eateries in central London--but we crossed our fingers and hoped that the Soho branch wouldn't be too busy early on a rainy Wednesday evening during its opening week. At 6.30, there were plenty of tables available but BB and I had to wait for MM at the bar because the staff won't seat you until your whole party has arrived (fair dos). It was only from about 7 pm that the restaurant really started filling up, and by the time we left at about 8.45, a lot of people were waiting by the bar. Despite some initial hurrying, the wait staff were pretty good at not rushing us, waiting a good 20 minutes after we had finished eating before politely asking us if we would mind moving on.

The bar (top) and booths (bottom) at Burger & Lobster 

As for the food, well, the options are almost as simple as at Le Relais de Venise. For £20, you can have a burger, a one-pound lobster or a lobster roll, all of which come with a generous portion of fries and a salad. The burger comes with cheese and bacon if you want it (I should think so too at £20) and the lobster comes either steamed or steamed-then-grilled and with a choice of butters. Larger, pricier lobsters are also available. Clearly, the lobster is the better-value dish, but regular readers will know that I'm a bit of a burger buff and as I was already fairly certain that I would be back, I decided to order the burger (medium rare with the cheese and bacon). My friends both went for the lobster.

B (top) and L (bottom)

The burger was really good. It was close to medium rare and very juicy and tasty; it was also really big and even though I left the bun, I was still very full when I had finished. The bacon was also crispy and flavoursome; the cheese tasted a little pre-packaged, and some good-quality cheddar would have been much better. The fries were nice, but nothing special, and the salad, complete with croutons was a nice touch. I only tried a small morsel of the lobster but my taste suggested it was worth a return visit to sample B&L's crustacean offering.

Dean Street Breeze (L) and a birthday cheesecake (R)

The cocktails are labelled either B or L (guess why), but I ordered an L cocktail, the Dean Street Breeze, to go with my B main course. Made from gin, mango, cucumber, lemon and soda, my cocktail was very fruity but not particularly strong. As it was a school night, I didn't really mind this, but I might object more for a £9.50 fruit-juice-with-a-slight-kick at the weekend. BB told the waiter it was her birthday and we were rewarded with a pudding with a candle in. They gave us an unbaked cheesecake, which was delicious, even though I was far too full even for one-third of a dessert by this point.

B&L feels like an American restaurant. With its oak tables, chic red leather booths, and sleek silver bar, it wouldn't be too out of place in the other SoHo or TriBeCa. Maybe as the word gets out, the wait time at B&L will get longer and longer, but to be honest, it was the best burger I've had in Soho--not in the whole of London--and where else in the city are you going to nab a pound of Canadian lobster with sides for £20?

Burger & Lobster. 36 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PS (Tube: Tottenham Court Road). Website. Twitter.

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