This is the second burger that I had after moving to London the second time. IN my “meeting new people” phase of moving to London, I was recommended Dirty Burger.
“I spend too much money in Dirty Burger”, they said.
“I find marketing interesting”, they also said. I can’t remember much else of the conversation.
I like the name Dirty Burger, I suppose because I like the word “dirty”, so colour me intrigued, I thought. They recommended the Vauxhall one. I didn’t really take their recommendation to heart because of the whole marketing thing, but sometimes timing comes together just perfectly.
The following week I was going to a gig in Kentish Town and it was National Burger Day. I had arranged to meet Hans prior to the gig and to have a burger. In what I’m sure is poor form for my second week of a new job, I spent much of the afternoon Googling. The other options were MEATLiquor (Hans went and said that it was too greasy), Patty and Bun, and Honest. As we needed to be in Kentish Town anyway, I figured that it would be easier to be there, eat, then gig rather than going to Soho then rushing to the gig. You can’t put a price on not having to rush, or ambling.
I finished work late and ran much of the two and half miles to Kentish Town. I passed the hospital that I was born in. Ah the circle of life, and the run for burger.
I got to Kentish Town in 35 minutes then spent a further 15-20 minutes looking for the tube station. Google Maps will be my undoing. I was still 5 minutes early, so decided to do the exciting errand of attaching my Young Persons Railcard to my Oyster.
“Can I put my Young Person’s Railcard on my Oyster?”
“Fill out this form.”
“I think I’ve already registered my Oyster.”
“That was online. This is here now. I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”
This was the first unfriendly interaction that I since moving. Not bad for two weeks in.
Hans was 15 minutes late. A mildly annoying thing about London is that if people are running late on the tube there is no way of communicating this fact.
He arrived. I berated him for being late (jovially), we walked through that rain that’s only bad for straightened hair, and again relied heavily on Google Maps to find us the restaurant. Being from Kent, we also made terrible jokes of how similar and dissimilar Kentish Town is to Kent. Oh how we laughed and talked and laughed and realised that we hadn’t properly spoken in many months and this was how we were flimsily reconnecting.
“I don’t know if we’ve gone the wrong way,” I said, standing 10m away from the restaurant.
(side note: when looking up the restaurant that it’s next to, I saw that the description for the Bethnal Green outpost is “bustling hipster’s burger joint”, which I enjoyed reading. Side side note, if you were wondering, the Kentish Town description is “Simple shack for breakfast and burgers” and is Zagat rated for “Best Gourmet Fast Food”.)
If you too have a poor sense of place, the restaurant is located down the side of Pizza East and Chicken Shop.
It has an inviting exterior.
And an equally inviting interior.
Sure, it’s quite hipster, but I do like how rough and ready it is: the minimal, communal seating; the corrugated iron; the fact that they trust people with a drinks fridge and a coffee machine.
I was also impressed and surprised that we managed to easily get a seat and the food queue was only about three deep on National Burger Day. I suppose Kentish Town isn’t really the place to be at 7pm on a Thursday.
Dirty Burger possibly has the most minimal of all of the burger menus: Cheese Burger, Dirty Bacon, Dirty Cop-Out (vegetarian), with side options of Crinkle Cut Fries and Onion Fries.
Hans went for the Cheese Burger with Crinkle Cut Fries, I went for the Dirty Bacon with Onion Fries. Thus, between the two of us we tried pretty much the whole menu.
The food didn’t take long to come, but it did give me enough time to bore Hans with details of my work day.
Our ticket number was called.
It’s not the prettiest burger to look at. Or the biggest. It, and the whole restaurant, smelled amazing though and I couldn’t wait to try it.
I could wait to try it as I tried quite a few of the chips. Usually I’m not a big chips person but the crinkle cuts were good all round on taste and texture and the onion fries, which I only got for the sake of trying, were the best onion sides (rings, fries, whatever) that I have ever tasted. I’m usually very ambivalent to onion sides, but they managed to avoid the pitfalls of being too greasy, too heavy, or too oniony (too oniony? From a fried onion? Whatever next?!).
Then the burger.
Wow, the burger.
My goodness, the burger.
I wish I hadn’t waited to try the burger as they’re always best hot. But even after several minutes of chips eating, it was still the best damn burger that I’ve ever tasted.
Perfectly cooked meat. Flavours with a punch. Ideal texture. A brioche bun. Bacon. Listing ingredients. Yes.
Hans and I swapped burgers. Both are divine (divine I say!) but I would edge the bacon ahead, though maybe that is because I am an unashamed glutton.
“Oh, I forgot, I said I’d take a picture of this for my mum.” (Hans’ mum had recently been admitted to hospital for back surgery and at this point was immobile. Apparently she sought solace in pictures of her son’s food.)
Here is the picture:
“Utterly burgasmic” is what he captioned it. Just your regular mother-son relationship. They’re getting Mexican tomorrow. It’s good that she can walk again.
We ravaged the remained of the meal.
“You know, even if this gig goes terribly, I have still had a great night and am happy enough with that.”
The gig went well. All in all, it was one of the greats.
My only little qualm is that it’s owned by Soho House and really I do wish that I liked a group restaurant less, but they know what they’re doing and taste trumps my independent ideals. Better than Living Ventures I suppose.
I have since had at least one other person say that Dirty Burger is their vote for best burger in London, bringing the total to four people (myself included). That is a 100% hit rate as I do not trust anyone else’s opinion apart from those who choose Dirty Burger. Maybe that’ll change when I try Honest, Patty and Bun and Bleecker Street. But for now, Dirty Burger reigns supreme.
The Best Burger In London and in Life (so far). Dirty dirty thoughts about those dirty dirty burgers. Ooh baby.
Dirty Burger, 79 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5 1TL. Restaurants also in Vauxhall, Bethnal Green, Mile End, and (soon) Clerkenwell.