Tommi’s Burger Joint

Around Christmas time one’s appetite gets a little bit out of hand. The endless Christmas dinners, the ridiculous amount of boozing, and the general increase in the consumption of all things sweet, all add up to one big festive period of gluttony. With a friend coming to Town for our annual Christmas get together I thought I’d add my own touch to this yuletide gorging by having two burgers in the same day. The first burger I had was my Obama-dedicated burger at Kua Aina, the second – and originally the only one I had planned for the day – was at Tommi’s Burger Joint on Thayer street in Marylebone.

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I had been to the Burger Joint a few year’s back in my pre-blogging days and was enamoured by it’s no nonsense approach to serving up burgers. The location had changed since the last visit, but the feel was still the same. As you walk in there is a small queue of patrons ready to order at the till off the black board above. The menu is simple, with four burgers on offer, one veggie, which I duly went for as part of the ‘Offer of the Weekend’ (a special version of their ‘Offer of the Century’). A deal which includes burger, fries, and a bottle of Camden beer – all for £12.90. The trend is continued as you go to sit down, most of the seating is on industrial looking bar and stool set ups. It being a Friday night it was pretty full, with people sitting outside even in December, but my group of mates managed to find a 4 seater all to ourselves. One thing that Tommi’s does put a bit of fuss into though was the condiment bar. Right next to the collection point is a set of what must be well over thirty sauces and and extra burger fillings, which I rightly got stuck into in preparation of my burger.

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When the burger arrived (preceded by a ‘This is a veggie one yeah… just checking’ – people often assume me as non-vegetarian), it was as I remembered both proportion and flavour wise. The patty is veggie based, crispy and a bit spicy, inside a brioche bun with the standard fillings, and holds together pretty well. The additional cheese I got with it when I ordered was needed for my taste, as well as some gherkins which I got from the condiments counter. I couldn’t complain with the chips and the Camden Hells was as inoffensive as the rest of the meal.

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But that’s just the thing, whilst the no frills approach may appeal to eaters of beef, a veggie burger sometimes needs a bit innovation to separate itself from the norm. The burger was good, yes. But as I write this there is no overwhelming memory or emotion that I can recall from eating my burger. The place is cool, don’t get me wrong. Everything from the tunes playing, to the boardgames on offer, to the bearded, tattooed Icelandic burger chefs, makes it fun place to eat a burger on Friday night. All it needs is a slightly better veggie burger. Maybe I’ll leave it to one burger in a day the next time I consider doubling up.

VEGGIE BURGER RATINGS: 6/10 

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

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Chosen Bun

Friday night footy. Three words that, whilst seemingly very appealing, happen not very often, and when they do it’s usually in the Championship, the second tier of English football. I went to university in Bournemouth (not much of a veggie burger scene down there!) and one of the lasting remnants of my three years on the south coast is a passing enthusiasm for the fortunes of AFC Bournemouth. Whenever I can see them, I try to, and an away match in Fulham with it’s easily attainable ‘mixed-zone’ tickets meant a Friday night in West London watching the footy and drinking expensive pints. A burger was needed, which brought me to Chosen Bun.

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Chosen Bun advertises itself as a burger restaurant that mainly delivers but has a order for collection service too. The menu boasts a decent array of six burgers, with one veggie option. ‘The Edemamy’ (named after a Chosen Bun chef, apparently) has an originally composed patty made of a mixture of mushrooms (chestnut and shitake) and edemame beans topped with a slice of mozzarella cheese, red onion chutney, and aioli. Each burger allows you to customise your burger with over twenty added options. I went for some added Jalapeño Relish and, trying to figure a way of eating my burger with no bun (due to my breadless lent), I opted for extra lettuce. From the list of sides I went for for the triple fried ‘Belgians’ (fries), although the breaded onion rings and even more delectable sounding ‘Mark and Cheese Bites’ sounded a bit more tempting – if not frustratingly off limits.

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Having ordered before I got on the tube for collection, by the time I arrived the burgers were ready. The woman who took our payment helpfully pointed out that the fries should have been included in the price of the burger, which was nice. Due to the fact that they normally deliver, the burgers came in very inventive packaging, obviously designed for transport. The burger itself (minus the bun) was delicious! The shredded mushroom – the shitake in particular – added a texture that I have never before experienced in a burger, a kind of chewy bite. The patty was a good size, nice and fat, and didn’t leave me wanting despite the lack of bun. Another thing the mushrooms provided was a moisture to the burger which – due to the beanie base – and meant the burger didn’t fall apart, even in my flimsily assembled lettuce package. A word out to the Belgians too. Chip shop chip size but with a beautifully crunchy, rosemary-salted exterior surrounding a delightfully fluffy middle. “These chips are outrageous”, proclaimed my mate Sam, understandably. I ordered a pot of Chipotle mayo which suited the chips perfectly and tied them into the rest of my meal.

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The Chosen Bun was a very pleasant surprise. Having literally never heard anything about it, taking a plunge into the unknown, away from some of the more prominent burger chains in the area, brought great rewards. As the burger scene has grown the restaurants with the best burgers have become chains so it has become increasingly more and more difficult to stumble across a one off store that sells truly tasty burgers, but Chosen Bun is one of them. I know for sure that next time I’m in Fulham catching the football, I’ll be sure to stop off, maybe have the bun this time along with some breaded sides. Oh, and Bournemouth won as it happens – 5-1.

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VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 8.5/10

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

BOOM Burger

Good friends of mine will tell you that my favourite time of year to be a Londoner comes at the end of summer, on the Sunday and Monday of the August bank holiday weekend. Over two days nearly two million revellers descend of West London for the biggest street festival in Europe. I am of course talking about Notting Hill Carnival. For me a time to don the string vest, drink copious amounts of Red Stripe and skank out to some bone-trembling bass, it is also one of the few times I truly venture into the W postcode. When I discovered that there was an opportunity to indulge in everything I enjoy over the August bank holiday – minus the string vest – but in the depth of winter (with the added incentive of a burger!) I decided it was probably best I made my way over to Portobello Road.

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Nestled under the Westway on by the covered market, Boom Burger is a cosy little place seating about 20 covers on a few bunkettes, and at the bar – from where you can sit and watch the kitchen do their thing. The colourful interior is backed up by the tunes that are playing out of the soundsystem up against the back wall, a playlist ranging from reggae to garage adding an extra dimension to the dining experience. The menu has six burgers to choose from, one veggie (also one fish) all offering up a varied range of west-indian flavours. With my ‘Veggie Boom’ I shared a bowl each of french fries and plantain fries. To drink, what else could I have but a Red Stripe.

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The burger consists of a spice-roasted sweet potato on a bed of zingy avocado, accompanied by a big bunch of rocket, topped off with some sweet-chilli jam – all in a toasted brioche bun. Even before eating it the burger is impressive, with the colours of it matching those on the shop front, almost as if to be intentionally on-brand. The first flavour you get as you bite into it is the citrus of the avocado, a real kick in the chops before the spicy sweetness of the main content of the burger – the sweet potato – takes over. The freshness of the rocket cuts through what would be an otherwise rich burger, and the subtle heat flavour of the chilli jam rounds everything off. Initially my burger was forgotten from the order so I had time to enjoy the plantain fries before it arrived on the table. On their own the plantain was quite dry and floury, but mixed with the house jerk mayo, and a bit of hot pepper sauce, they were transformed into something magical.

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I was happy that Boom Burger did not disappoint. This little spot is definitely worth the trek if you’re coming from anywhere outside of West London. The burger hubs of Shoreditch and Marylebone, whilst having some of the best burgers in the city, are all attempting to outdo each other at the same game. Boom burger, by offering up something different, provides a fusion cuisine that works, and deserves to be experienced. For me, being starved of Caribbean culture for 363 days a year isn’t the ideal and this certainly offers an outlet. The music, the food, and the Red Stripe mean that I might be making my way to this part of London much more than once a year.

VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 7.5/10

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

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