Monday, April 14, 2014

Burger Tour: Afternoon tea at BRGR CO

I had all of two burgers the entire time I was on holiday in Cape Town, which means I have a lot of catching up to do.

Things are already looking up, as my crew and I headed to BRGR CO (apparently being sparing with vowels is quite an American thing?) in Soho for a belated birthday celebration this past weekend. We tried their American afternoon tea, which comprises a Bellini, iced tea, three sliders (beef, chicken and lobster), small fries, mini vanilla milkshake, chocolate brownie, sugared doughnut hole and strawberry cheesecake, all for a very reasonable £17. Doing afternoon tea is what my friends and I generally like to think of as us being extremely classy, so a burger-themed one does seem a little odd, but bear with me! I think I'll have you converted by the end...

The drinks

To start off, I liked the Bellini - ours had what I think was a raspberry puree. The iced tea was a good pairing for this meal - cola or another soft drink would be too sweet on top of everything else. It would have been nice to be offered a choice as the menu mentions a "selection", whereas ours was brought to us without asking which we'd prefer, but I'll let that slide :)

Whoomp, there it is.

The food

I started with the Chicken Caesar slider (left), which was very enjoyable, but the Butcher's Cut beef and cheese slider (centre) totally stole the show. It was done on the pink side and extremely juicy. The Lobster Blat slider (right) was my least favourite, as the filling was served cold and didn't seem to mesh that well with the meal in general. Consensus at the table was that something warm and crisp, such as battered soft-shell crab, would be a much better choice. My preference these days is for fat, twice- or triple-cooked chips, but BRGR's fries are perfect if you like skinny fries, and the dinky portion size was just right for the tea.

Onto the sweets - I would never order a vanilla milkshake (always, always, always chocolate) but I did enjoy this one and the shot-glass portion was quite enough given the array of other treats to enjoy. The doughnut hole was wonderfully fresh, although the salted caramel accompaniment promised by the menu was nowhere in evidence. To be fair, I wasn't aware at the time that it was supposed to be there, and it didn't bother me then, but still an irritation to discover an element missing after the fact. The chocolate brownie bite was disappointing - it tasted good but the texture was very dry and not brownie-like at all. The strawberry cheesecake was my favourite dessert! Sweet strawberry coulis, soft cream cheese and crunchy biscuit layers, all good things in a shot glass with teaspoon that literally JUST fits inside. I loved it.

The verdict

I loved the concept of a burger-themed afternoon tea and elements of it were pulled off really well. If BRGR CO considered changing the lobster slider and improving the brownie, I think they'd be onto a winner. I have visited the joint before for a full-size Butcher's Cut burger and really enjoyed it - my only quibble was that the bun, sides and toppings were a little uninspired - excellent patty though. If you're checking out BRGR CO for the first time I'd highly recommend the afternoon tea option for a little taste of everything.

BRGR CO, 187 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 8ZB, 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring things

Having just returned from a glorious three-week visit to Cape Town, revelling in sunshine and catching up with family and friends, I am pleasantly surprised to find London well into spring. I had suspected that our miserable, sorry excuse for winter (exceedingly wet, windy, snowless, FOR SHAME) would result in a half-assed spring, but I am happy to find myself mistaken.

First morning back in London - sunshine and blossoms everywhere.
Disclaimer: this has (obviously) been Instagrammed.

What does spring mean to Londoners?

I feel the arrival of spring in London in a way I never experienced in Cape Town. Something about months of prolonged darkness, drear and mandatory coat-wearing primes you for a heightened appreciation of this season. I don't hate winter - it is the season of Christmas cheer after all - but it almost always overstays its welcome. The contrast between winter and spring is that much greater here - plants and trees appear literally to die in winter, only to burst back into life in the spring, all colours and textures and scents, and it is MAGICAL. 

Add to that the end of daylight savings (which, counter-intuitively, actually means more daylight for us), the promise of bank holidays, picnics, open-air concerts and theatre, lazy long evenings with jugs of Pimms, coat- and scarflessness, braais and general summer joy, and you begin to understand the significance of those first crocuses pushing up through bare soil. 

Summer, I am excited for you. Don't you dare let me down!

In other news, stuff to look forward to on the burger side of things (that's why you're here, aren't you? More food porn on the way, I promise): reviews of Tommi's Burger Joint in Marylebone and a new spot in Hout Bay, Cape Town, called Ragafellows. Spoiler: it's awesome.
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