Tuesday 19 April 2011

7/10 - Grand Union, 55 Charterhouse Street, Smithfield, City of London

Location: Down towards the more dilapidated end of Charterhouse Street, Grand Union's black facade stands out against the old brick of smithfield market. Situated at the end of a long line well known establishments (think Fabrik, SOS, Comptoir Gascon, Beduin), Grand Union is one of the most recent additions to the GU Group family (which now has 12 bars across London). The decor inside is...quirky. Over the course of my meal I developed a love/hate relationship with the pink-horned bull's head diagonally across from our table. Our visit was on a Tuesday lunchtime, and the place was relatively quiet.

£7.95 for the burger (I went for the Bacon and Cheese burger), fries were £2.65, and onion rings were £2.95. Other burgers on the menu were in the £6.95 - £8.95 range, there is also the carnivorous sounding Gigantor (a massive 14oz of meat, double bacon and double cheese!) which I'll be sampling at some point soon.

Good. The presentation at Grand Union is all about the burger. Sitting on its own in the centre of the plate, like a meaty leaning tower of pisa, the burger is as tall as my hi-ball glass, speared with an even longer burger spike. Each layer clearly defined as your eyes roll up the burger - bun, patty, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, relish, and bun.

Bacon and Cheese. The burger appears almost dipped in melted cheddar cheese, and topped with lashings of bacon, both are salty, oozing that intangible umami flavour. Two things slightly let the toppings down - the thick wedge of beef tomato that dominated the rest of the filling, and the 3.5 gallons of tomato salsa that was sloshed between the tomato and the bun.

Ok. This is not a bun fail, but neither is it a bun win. My dining companion commented "how on earth do I eat this with my hands?", addressing the lid of the bun which topped the burger like a jaunty bowler hat. In order to wrap hands, let alone jaws, around this bad boy, some crushing was in order, and this is where the bun fell down - it was too crispy from being over toasted and so, when the *squash* came, a dramatic splitting of the bun occurred. The result: topping tsunami, especially where the dollop of tomato salsa squirted across my hand, the plate, and the table. In fairness to the bun, it did retain it's shape around the burger, post squash, but it was a cracked affair, riddled with dangerous salsa-filled cravasses.

Very good. A single, 7oz ground beef patty was cooked rare, to order (hear that Goodman!). The beef was roughly ground, and clearly handmade - a big, chunky, crumbly patty with plenty of flavour. 

Plate Accessories:
None. Nada. Nothing at all. And that would be ok if the burgers didn't look so lonely on their big plates, all on their own, like gastro pub rejects. Chips and onion rings came in separate bowls and were uninspiring. French fries were overcooked and so small that you had to take a handful to fill the mouth, and each onion ring clearly had to meet a standard size and shape before being allowed to join it's companions, but they were tasty enough.

Overall rating: 7/10
There is a lot to love about this burger (and the quirky Grand Union experience), but with a couple of important elements to resolve, namely bun and and over zealous addition of tomato salsa, this could be a great burger, and not just a good burger.

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