The Advisory

The Easter weekend brought a momentous occasion for the relationship of my girlfriend Rach, and I, as finally after over two years together our parents finally met. Another momentous occasion for the both of us, and one which I was slightly more looking forward too was the end of lent and with it, the end of our bread sabbatical. Keen to show Rach’s parents a piece of the local culture, we decided to have our meal at one of Hackney’s many burger joints causing a stir – specifically The Advisory – on Mare street. The Advisory first peaked my interest when I saw it on a list of Time Out’s best burgers in London, but I’d never had a chance to try it out – until now.

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The Advisory’s location on Mare Street is fairly unassuming, away from the main hub around Hackney Town Hall and nearer London Fields station, nestled amongst a few other restaurants and pubs. The restaurant itself is fairly small and, as a result, it’s probably wise to book in advance, which we did. Before we turned our attention to the food menu we had to decide on some drinks. Aside from the beer and wine menu, you are presented with a cocktail menu, and a list of alcoholic shakes. The Vanilla White Russian immediately caught my eye.  A chance to have one of my favourite cocktails in an even more indulgent form, was to good to pass up on. I went for the one veggie option the menu – the sweet potato, halloumi and avocado burger – whilst ignoring the spicy bean burger on the specials menu and, due to their being six of us, went for a selection of the sides including poutine, fries, onion rings, and mac and cauliflower cheese.

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When the burger arrived my first thought was: ‘have we ordered too much?’. This was one of the biggest burgers I have even been served. The fat homemade sweet potato patty with a thick slice of grilled halloumi and a few slices of avocado (as well as the other burger filling usuals) inside a thick brioche bun was certainly something to behold. With my plate filled with sides – minus the poutine, which sadly was made with a meaty gravy – it was time to get stuck in. The patty actually didn’t offer much resistance against my mouth, with the halloumi and gherkin offering a little. What this meant – also partly due to its sheer size – was that the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hand. Flavour-wise the burger was pretty tasty, the sweet potato delicately spiced, with a mixture of seeds and herbs running through, adding a bit more depth to the patty. In terms of sides, the onion rings where made in delightfully light batter, whilst my favourite – hands down – was the mac and cauliflower cheese, if not a bit gluttonous.

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Our family get-together meal was ultimately a success, parent and food-wise. The advisory didn’t quite live up to it’s top burger moniker but it’s certainly not anything to be scoffed at. My dad is a vegetarian too, and he went for the spicy bean burger special, but I think I made the right decision. The end-of-lent-nature may have got to me a bit making me go slightly overboard with food. In fact, I was probably even full by the time the food arrived, having necked half of my deliciously boozy – yet very filling – milkshake. In the end I had to sacrifice something and ironically, after more than a month of craving it, I took the bun off my burger and left the bread on the side as I polished off the finer elements on my plate. There’s always next time, eh?

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VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 7/10

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

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Yeah! Burger

For what is my last burger (probably!) before Christmas, I decided to finally get over to The Star by Hackney Downs to sample the Yeah! Burger special festive menu while there was still a chance before they moved residency. As luck had it, the day my friend and I decided to go just so happened to be Yeah! Burger’s own farewell Christmas party. So some fun was there to be had, with 2-4-1 cocktails, free sliders, and DJs spinning out some tunes throughout the evening.

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With the promise of trays and trays of free sliders being brought out soon, my mate and I decided to go for a couple of sides as appetisers. We shared a plate of special chilli chestnut brussels sprouts as well as a portion of Yeah! fries off the normal, non-festive menu. Those who aren’t a fan of brussels sprouts on their Christmas table would be swiftly converted by this dish, both nutty and spicy in equally subtle measures, with the sprouts fried to give them a crunchy edge and take away from their inherently mushy nature. The Yeah! fries were also easily devoured – slathered in ‘Yeah! sauce’ (essentially burger sauce) – and fried onions. With both of us being vegetarians though and none of the trays of veggie sliders on the horizon it became apparent that we would have to try the full-size burger.

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The Holy Mary – Yeah! Burger’s veggie christmas option – consists of a few chunks of celery granola-topped, slow-roasted beetroot on top a fat slice of baked camembert and lettuce, inside a brioche bun, finished with a fine mist of Negroni spayed over the burger on serving. For inventiveness, this burger scores 10/10. Inside the bun were some flavours, and flavour combinations that I’ve never tried before, let alone inside a burger. For me, though, the burger was lacking smething. Perhaps there wasn’t enough cheese, although my friend’s burger probably had too much cheese and was breaking apart. The reality was that the burger – for want of a better phrase – was just not meaty enough. The beetroot and cheese would have worked great on top of a christmas  flavoured patty to bite into. Everything in the burger worked, and worked together – the celery granola, for example, was delicious – but in the end the burger just needed something more.

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Ultimately, though, I enjoyed my evening. Aided by the 2-4-1 deal on cocktails, me and my mate made our way through the list of celebrity-named drinks whilst the music got better and better – we were even plied with a free glass of rum punch. To cap it all off the the tray of veggie sliders finally came out and we got to try the miniature version of the burger we had already eaten. The additional mini round of burgers, coupled with the extra sides we also ordered, meant that a fun time was had, and it certainly was a great way to cap off the festive burger season. The Christmas menu may be over for now, but I’ll definitely be trying out Yeah! Burger at their new residency at The Star of Kings and look forward to what they’ll be coming up with in the new year.

 

VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 7/10

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

Follow me on Twitter: @LdnVeggieBurger

Honest Burgers

If you ask people who like burgers to name their favourite burger restaurants, Honest is always one of the names mentioned.I have tried to go to Honest a few times before, but due to ridiculous waiting times – and one time even a power cut – I have never actually eaten there, until now. Date at the cinema with the girlfriend to see Nightcrawler preceded by some delicious burgers – I was excited to say the least.

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Even on a Thursday night at one of their more out-of-the-way restaurants on Pentonville Road in Kings Cross, there was a wait (this time ‘only’ 20 minutes). We used the opportunity to get some drinks and I decided to try the house lager – Honest British Steam Lager – one of only two beers on tap. It’s a good, dark, hoppy lager, the kind you’d expect to get served in such a burger restaurant.

On to the burger, and deviating away from the norm, the Honest vegetarian option is advertised as a fritter rather than the usual patty or bean-burger. The fritter consists of spiced cauliflower, sweetcorn and shallots, and resembles a large vegetable pakora. Presumable made in the same way as a pakora (deep-fried), this delectable delight was neither too dry nor too oily, and was served with a raita-esque sauce – which I felt there could’ve been a bit more of – continuing the asian theme.

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The burger is served in a brioche bun which was a bit on the thick side. Quite often a bun is too small for a normally oversized, and easily broken up patty. But, with the light nature of this fritter, this bun went the other way. The burger comes with rosemary fries included, which were delicious (if not initially a little salty), and cost only £7. On top of that Rach and I shared some smoky-flavoured onion rings and some dilly coleslaw – both slightly different to the standard, but both definite improvements.

One last thing to try was the Honest Cocktail. I’d drank half of my beer in the wait for the table so needed something to cut through the burger and fries towards the end of the meal. This gin, apple juice, cucumber and lemon puree concoction seemed to perfectly fit the bill. Personally, though, it wasn’t to my taste. The cucumber was too overpowering and the drink overall was far too sharp – like taking the subtle parts of a G&T and amplifying them ridiculously. It grew on me as it went down but I’d attribute that to the dilution from the ice.

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What is clear about Honest is that although they experiment with new flavours and ideas, they keep everything simple. Keeping things simple means that they can focus on what they do well and they certainly achieve that. From the stylish decor, to the delightfully light veggie fritter, to the delicious beer, it’s clear why they are always packed out.

VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 7/10

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10