Mildred’s

Half days are great. If you only work the afternoon, then you get a lie-in. If you only work the morning, you get a free afternoon. A free afternoon is made all the better when a couple of your mates who also have a free afternoon, are just around the corner, and the weather is warm and welcoming. To top it all off they fancied a burger at the new Mildred’s by Kings Cross, and it just happened to be #NationalBurgerDay.

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Weirdly enough. I am not much of a fan of vegetarian restaurants. Growing up in a world of restaurants providing one, maybe two, vegetarian options I have become accustomed to the lack of choice. Also (not naming any names) I have found that the food on offer is just not as good as the vegetarian option would be in a great restaurant. Therefore, having never been to Mildred’s, I was intrigued, I had heard good reviews from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends and, finding myself there on NBD, meant I had to try sample one of their strengths – the burgers!

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The very non-showy menu offers up a mix of salads, small and large plates, as well the burgers of which there are three. As it was my first time I felt I had to go for the ‘Classic’ – which boasted a tantalising blend of smoked tofu, lentil and piquillo peppers – over the other two options: the ‘Polish’, made of beetroot, and another filled with halloumi and aubergine [NB the first two burgers are available as vegan too!]. I again went with my trusty side choice of potato fries, that came with a choice of basil mayo or chipotle ketchup (we managed to get both for the table), as well as bottle of Black Isle Goldeneye organic pale ale.

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The burger itself was a sight for sore eyes (and empty stomachs!). A massive patty on a bed of red onions, oozing with relish and melted cheese, and topped with tomato and rocket inside focaccia bun. All of which could barely fit in my hand. The burger did break apart as I bit into it, but what it lacked in structure, in made up for in flavour. The tofu/lentil/pepper patty was both smokey and spicy and the combination of mayo, cheese, tons of relish and peppery rocket meant that not a single tastebud was left unaccounted for. Even the focaccia bun offered something different from the usual brioche or sesame bun. On top of that, the sweet potato fries were not the standard, more akin to sweet potato wedges, and therefore gave me a real taste of juicy sweet potato flesh with every bite, complimented lovelily by the two sides on offer. The pièce de résistance was the Goldeneye organic pale, which was refreshing and crisp, went great with the burger and fries, and also kicked off what turned out to be a relatively boozy afternoon in the sun.

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Overall, my lunch at Mildred’s was great. Having put it off for so long due to my sometimes unfounded dislike for veggie restaurants, I was pleased to have finally made it there to try out one of their signature burgers on none other than #NationalBurgerDay itself. I won’t have to thin twice about going again, probably to try another one of their delicious burgers!

[Mildred’s also have a rather tasty Christmas Menu available at the mo!]

VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 9/10

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

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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

Giraffe Stop

As selections for a quick dinner on the move go, the recently renovated Kings Cross station has a few of my absolute favourites. Ignoring the likes of Wasabi and Leon for an quick pre-alcohol stomach-lining dinner – mainly for the sake of this blog – I opted for Giraffe’s fast food restaurant option, Giraffe Stop.

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I used to go to Giraffe quite a lot with my family when it first opened up about 15 or so years ago, and the felafel burger has been etched in my memory as an old favourite, and one of those choices one makes before even setting eyes on the menu.

Much to my joy, the felafel burger was still on the menu, called the ‘Felafel Deluxe’, so I duly ordered it. The Giraffe Stop has a sign outside it promoting ‘Fabulous Burgers!’ and have a whopping 9 variations on the menu. However, the Felafel Deluxe was the only veggie one (there’s a fish finger burger on the menu, as well, for those that way inclined) so not much deliberation was needed, which is never normally the case anyway.

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I’ll hold my hand up here, I fucking love felafel – I’ve probably had more felafel than veggie burgers in my time – so I’d like to say that I know a thing or two about them. The flavour and taste of these were unfortunately rather bland and fell into the all-to-regular trap of being quite dry. What was odd as well – and different to the heavenly Giraffe felafel burger of those halcyon days – is that instead of a felafel-formed patty inside the Felafel Deluxe they use individual felafel, which in my eyes defeats the point in having it as a burger in the first place. Needless to say, a fair few soldiers were lost in the journey from bun to mouth.

The rest of the burger itself was a pleasant surprise, aside from the bun, and the red pepper hummus particularly worked well with the felafel. A welcome and unexpected treat (I didn’t full read the menu) was the halloumi which added some much needed saltiness to the burger. The dill-infused pickle also burst with flavour.

To wash it down I got a bottle of the Peruvian beer Cusqueña – a pilsner-type lager similar to mexican beers like Pacifico and Modelo – which went down a treat under the eerie, blue Kings Cross lighting.

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Food and drink aside, with Giraffe Stop being a majority take away restaurant I didn’t expect the best of service, but I felt the guy who served me was strangely robotic to the extent of being rude, and my burger was served in a take away wrapper, rather than a burger basket, even though I told them I was sitting outside.

All in all though, it was a fairly pleasant burger, but I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to eat here again, especially when a Wasabi tofu curry is waiting for me next door.

VEGGIE BURGER RATING: 6/10

OVERALL RATING 4/10