BurgerFi — Eating like the boss
It’s not in my nature to let a new burger joint pass me by. That’s why I was surprised to see a flashy new shopfront pop-up on my commute down by Russell Square — “BurgerFi? What’s that?”
There never seemed to be many signs of life, but then all of a sudden BurgerFiUK started following me on Twitter leaving me to think I was really missing out on something here. That is until they announced on social media that they were going to be having a 50%-off event to celebrate their launch.
The good news was two-fold: I hadn’t missed a trick after all, and cheap burgers!
BurgerFi seems to be another American burger chain looking to break into the British market, à la Shake Shack (review coming soon!) and Five Guys, and with burger frenzy at its height in London currently who can blame them?
In fact BurgerFi is uncannily like Shake Shack in terms of its offerings — namely burgers, shakes and the frozen custard “concretes” — and price points a cut above more “traditional” fast-food chains.
I resolved to try an item from each of the aforementioned categories. Mostly because it was cheap but also because burgers, shakes and dessert are three of my favourite things and I love it when they’re served-up together.
Having had a quick glance at the menu online before trekking over to their new branch on Woburn Place, I already knew which burger I was going to go for. It had to be the CEO: double wagyu & brisket blend patties, homemade candied bacon and tomato jam, truffle aioli and aged Swiss cheese.
That list of ingredients just seemed completely incongruous with the setting. There were TVs on the walls showing college basketball for crying out loud! Such a concoction feels like it belongs in a much more upmarket burger establishment, and yet there it is in my hand — for a mere £4.75 (regular price £9.50 of course).
Where to begin? Well the first thing that struck me as I attempted to extricate my investment from its bag was the cheese. There was a heck of a lot of it and it was oozing all over the place, forming a spider’s web of stringy goodness between my fingers, the bun and the bag. And it was proper nice cheese at that; none of this “American burger cheese” rubbish.
It must be said that, despite their claimed wagyu pedigree, I wasn’t blown away by the beef itself. It wasn’t actively bad, as such things often can be at fast-food places, but I struggled to discern much flavour from it amidst the other components vying for my attention. The double patties did make for a good texture when biting into the burger though — why have just one burger when you can have two?
The unlikely star of the show for me, however, had to be the bacon and tomato jam sandwiched between the meat. The subtle sweetness is to die for and, despite there being relatively little of it, manages to permeate every mouthful. The bacon was the perfect texture — neither too crispy or too chewy — and it was a masterstroke to include a jam-like substance in the centre as without it the burger would likely have been a rather dry affair.
I walked away from the experience having chalked-up the CEO as a triumph of a burger. However I wonder whether I would have felt the same way if I had paid the full price for it. £10 can get you some seriously good burger action in London if you know where to go, and as fancy as the components sound or as much as BurgerFi push their “only the finest natural ingredients” line it just didn’t feel like it would warrant that price tag. Maybe it was the setting, or the fact that the whole thing was brought down by a bog-standard bun.
I wasn’t there just for the burger though, and as a self-proclaimed milkshake connoisseur it would be remiss of me not to mention the accompaniments.
For lovers of a good shake like myself, whipped cream with sprinkles on top usually spells disaster from a mile away, however thankfully this was not the case here. I opted for a “red velvet” shake as they seem to be all the rage these days and I was yet to indulge in one myself, and I have to say that it really did seem as if they’d blended actual red velvet cake into it. The texture was thick and cakey, and they avoided the common pitfall of making it overly sweet. Sterling effort all round, and a decent price too.
Alas I’m not the biggest fan of red velvet as a flavour, but now that I’ve established the baseline of quality I’ll be tempted to go back and try the more orthodox offerings. I did toy with the idea of picking up another shake then and there whilst they were still half-off, but I doubt I would have been able to make it home afterwards.
My only previous exposure to concretes had been at Shake Shack, so I suppose I was expecting something very similar to what I received there; incredibly dense frozen custard (basically ice cream) packed full of chocolate and various other sweet toppings in a Ben & Jerry’s vein.
As I tend to do whenever it is on the menu I went for the “sticky toffee pudding” option, whereupon I was asked if I would like my sticky toffee to be chocolate or vanilla flavoured… what? When I finally got around to diving into it I discovered that, contrary to any expectations, it was essentially a sticky toffee pudding in a cup that had then been flooded with chocolate ice cream.
And it was glorious.
The custard wasn’t as thick as my previous experience, but this was probably for the best as the pudding within was certainly dense enough. I don’t want to think about the amount of sugar I must have ingested through the concrete alone, but I sure as hell enjoyed it at the time. Usually a couple of pounds cheaper than Shake Shack’s equivalently sized double concrete, and needless to say a steal at half that price.
So is the new kid on the burger block worth an outing? I probably don’t have to repeat myself in saying that with 50%-off by all means it is. But despite the ingredients and the prices pointing to a more refined dining experience, a burger gourmet may well leave dissatisfied.
I think I might find my way back eventually to give one of the other shakes a try, as they’re some of the most reasonably priced items on the menu. There are also several interesting alternative burgers on offer, including the ‘breakfast all day burger’ which might be worth a look.
I visited the Woburn Place branch of BurgerFi on 04/03/2017 and paid £9.62 for the CEO burger, a red velvet shake and a sticky toffee concrete during the 50%-off launch weekend.
P.S. the best place to keep on top of my food adventures is now on my Instagram over at mikeeatslondon!