One London food trend of 2012 which shows no sign of disappearing is the appallingly-named "dirty" or even worse "dude" food. This is, for anyone happily ignorant of London food trends, the sort of American-style fast food that foodies usually deride made acceptable by careful sourcing, good cooking and social media buzz. Fried chicken, burgers, ribs and fries topped with all manner of extras.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of chicken and burgers and fries, especially when made from high-welfare meat. What I object to is adding value judgements to food - I don't like "naughty" or "guilty pleasure" either and as for the implication that this food is not for girls... well just don't get me started. Anyway, the "dirtiest" food I know, from the point of view of dripping down your elbows, is a beautifully ripe mango which hardly fits this trend.
Most of the places that specialise in this food don't take bookings. So what with one thing and another, aside from a quick solo lunch at Pitt Cue Co I haven't tried any of the new-wave luxury junk food.
Then an old friend came to town. I suggested a couple of lunch location options and The Old Crown got his nod. I've been following @burger_breakout on twitter for a while, so I was very much looking forward to trying their food.
I knew that with only two of us we wouldn't be in a position to try the pig in a pail, but I had hopes for burgers, a few side dishes and possibly one of their boozy milkshakes. Unfortunately Kendal was in recovery from eating way too much cheese and sausage on a ski trip: he shuddered at the prospect of deep-fried pickle spears and was faintly judgemental about the size of my beer. He restricted himself to the Camilla burger (chicken, of course) and the accompanying fries.
With a limited number of seats and the lunch time rush, the staff were pretty keen to get people fed and out (not unpleasantly, though) so I didn't get to consider the menu in quite the leisurely way I prefer. I ordered the first thing I saw, the Bambi Bought It - a thick venison patty, Tunworth (a Camembert-style cheese from Hampshire), beetroot pickle, chocolate & quince BBQ sauce. I also ordered the deep-fried pickles.
As soon as it hit the table I knew I was going to have to cut it in half. There was no way I could approach the monstrous mound of ooze any other way. The bun was good, although I had to turn the burger upside down to eat it - the bottom layer was pretty well saturated and soggy with juice. The lettuce and tomato were redundant as to flavour, but I suspect did help prevent the total collapse of the bun. The patty itself, whilst having a pleasing pink middle and good venison flavour, had spent a little too long on too hot a grill and featured a bitter and crunchy layer of char on the outside. The beetroot pickle could have been a little more assertive to stand up to the sweet barbecue sauce, but the soft cheese was just the perfect thing.
The skin-on fries were just how I like them, although I couldn't detect any horseradish in the salt. The deep-fried pickles were the best deep-fried pickles I have tried so far, with a good, crunchy layer of batter keeping in the explosive juices. I couldn't possibly eat the whole portion myself, sadly.
Kendal said his burger was among the top burgers of his career - pipped by one he'd had in New Zealand. Mine, although flawed, was still excellent and the best burger I've had for ages. I will happily go back to try more of the menu. Next time, though, I have to take a girl with me, because I want a witness for the eccentricity of the ladies' room. I ducked in before we left and was confronted by two toilets occupying one long cubicle. Fortunately I didn't have to share.