Taking a bite of an Honest Burgers hamburger changed my life. It’s been over five years since UK’s best burger chain rocked my world, and I’m still dreaming about the succulent delicacy in every bite.
It was my first trip to London, and I was traveling with a dear friend, chef Katherine Frelon. Katherine is a Brit, living in France, and we were in town for a cooking class she was giving in the city. Katherine is an incredible tour guide, and she insisted there was one stop we had to make. Honest Burgers in Brixton Market. Forget Big Ben or Buckingham Palace; neither made as much of an impact on me as did my Honest Burger dressed with bacon, pickled cucumbers, lettuce and ketchup sauce. Yum! To be clear I was struck by how small Buckingham Palace seemed in person compared to its appearance on the tele, but we’ll cover that another time. For now, it’s all about burgers…and did I mention the fries?
Food rarely inspires me. It is a means to survival. Over the years I have learned to enjoy good honest cooking. My work takes me to places that encompass world-renowned chefs, Michelin-starred restaurants and lots of delicious eats. Nothing prepared me for the meal I had at the Brixton eatery.
The Honest Experience
We snagged a table for two outside the restaurant just as two diners were leaving. Like vultures circling in search of fresh kill, people were hovering around looking for available seating both inside and out. Katherine managed to order: two Honest burgers with rosemary salted French fries on the side and two Ossie’s Fresh Ginger. We asked them to hold the onion on my burger. The anticipation was building. Katherine had been raving about their burgers on our drive up from her French getaway, La Ferme de La Lochere in Marigny-le-Cahouët. The Ossie’s Fresh Ginger is seasonal soda that is locally produced by Brixton residents, Ossie and Lilith. It’s made with fresh ginger root and appeared to be a favorite beverage selection by guests at surrounding tables.
The overall feel of the burger destination was “hotspot,” with a dash of “hipster,” in an unassuming setting. The menu is quite humble. Nothing too fancy. There are three burger options, a chicken sandwich and vegetable fritter for the non-meat-eaters. Sides are limited to fries, coleslaw, BBQ chicken wings, onion rings and their “Little Gem, Rocket, Fennel & Radish Salad.” The restaurant offers a simple breakfast menu, including old-school British fare like Bubble & Squeak and their Honest Brunch, which includes; smoked bacon, Cumberland sausage, black pudding, fried egg, garlic mushrooms, Bubble & Squeak, honest beans and sourdough. Lighter bites like avocado and granola dishes are a bit more modern in taste.
The Mint Julep, Karma Libre and Margarita adorn the limited cocktail menu; non-alcoholic drinks include mint lemonade, iced tea, Coke and still or sparkling water. At Honest Burger, they keep it simple and focus on quality ingredients.
Not too long after we placed our order, the food arrives. My mouth is watering. While we were waiting, I ordered a Coke to ensure the best possible carbonated beverage experience with my meal. I didn’t want to take any chances messing with an Ossie’s Fresh Ginger. No offense to the Ossie folks, but there is no room for error. Lifting the burger to my lips the aroma is overwhelmingly grill-like. The fragrance of the meat laced between the soft sweetness of the roll, meshed with bacon is intoxicating. As I take my first bite, it is heavenly. Katherine and I look at each other and start laughing. It’s so delicious! Just as she said it was, but even better. The second bite is not too far behind, and then I grab a French fry. Wow! The rosemary salted fries complement the burger nicely and could easily stand on their own. A sip of my Coke, and my world has been changed forever.
At this point I realize I need to take a photograph before there is nothing left. “Click.” My finger presses down on the camera and I document the best hamburger I’ve ever had with a photograph. It’s not the best photography work I’ve ever done, I typically take a series of pictures and then select from the best shots. Not that day. I wipe away the grease smudge I’ve left on the button and move in to complete my beef patty sandwich. Not one fry was left, nor one crumb of the bun. I’m utterly and completely satisfied.
Katherine and I don’t dawdle too long after cleaning our plates; there are hungry people waiting for their own Honest experience. We spend some time walking through the market before heading on to Notting Hill.
The Linger of the Honest Burger
A few days later, on our drive back to France, we’re still raving about the burgers. Though Katherine is a chef, she has been unable to replicate the incredible flavors Honest Burgers delivers. By now we’ve been on the road several hours and it’s lunchtime. We pull off at a motorway service area to refuel–and notice there is a Burger King inside. Katherine mentions they’ve just started popping up all throughout France. We look at each other.
Did we dare order a Whopper? What do you think?