Wednesday 14 December 2011

Hawksmoor Seven Dials Burger Wars: Classic burger vs Kimchi burger

Just off Covent Garden, at the bottom of Langley Street (a New York-style alleyway, only lacking subway steam and a nunchuck weilding gang) sits Hawksmoor Seven Dials. Just as you get to the bottom of the alley, when you think there couldn't possibly be any kind of thriving business, save one of the less than salubrious establishments Soho is famed for, let alone one of London's pre-eminent and widely praised meat restaurants there it is. This is one of London's worst kept secrets, and a meat shrine at which first timers and regulars alike, worship.

The heavy, black wooden doors swing open to reveal a low lit reception, and a bevy of 

MaĆ®tre ds efficiently deal with coats, bags and lead you down to the bar for drinks and a wait until your table is ready. It's dark, luxurious and just the sort of place to gain the reputation it has.

The scene is set for Burger wars. The classic Hawksmoor burger, and the Kimchi burger.

I was here dining with some great people from Twitter @queenofmarkets, @alligood77, @natanyaabrahams, who shared a fantastic 1.2kg bone-in prime rib steak with a pile of sides (as well as indulging in smoked salmon, oysters, and some cracking Chilean Carmenere). 

Contentder 1: Hawksmoor Burger, Ogleshield Cheese or Stilton, triple fried or beef dripping chips - £15
Contentder 2: Kimchi Burger, Ogleshield Cheese or Stilton, triple fried or beef dripping chips - £15
Round 1 - Presentation:
Hawksmoor Burger - This burger was served bun-on, with juicy, cheese-covered patty sticking out the edges, and a run of beautiful burger juice seeping out onto the plate.

Kimchi Burger -
The Hawksmoor Kimchi burger was also served bun-on, and had a spattering of bright red kimchi dripping all over the lettuce and plate.

Both are big, solid, manly-looking burgers, buns glistening in the flash of my camera. At this stage, they're equal on points.

Round 2 - Toppings:

Hawksmoor Burger - I choose to have my burger topped with the delicious Ogleshield cheese, a creamy mildly astringent cheese, expertly coated the patty. Other toppings included a slice of completely forgettable beef tomato, and underneath rested a couple of leaves of lettuce, some rings of raw red onion, sliced pickles, and the hint of a thousand-island/mustard mayo sauce. 
The Hawksmoor Burger - a classic burger with Ogleshield cheese
Kimchi Burger - Again topped with Ogleshield cheese, this had been melted over a lump of smoked pork rib which rests on the patty. Underneath the patty, sits the spicy red kimchi, resting on top of lettuce leaves. 

I had previously drawn some criticism from Twitter about Kimchi having no place on a burger, so I wondered how it would fare. The answer was bloody brilliantly. It turns out Kimchi goes incredibly well with smoked pork and Ogleshield cheese, and the separation between the kimchi under the patty, and the cheese and pork above make for a wonderfully deep and spicy/smokey flavour. Somehow the Kimchi *works* and I found myself cramming it into my mouth to get more of the moreish flavours.

Hawksmoor Kimchi burger.

Kinchi beats classic on toppings in Round 2, hands down.

Round 3 - Meat:

Meat Win. The Hawksmoor burger patty is a proprietary patty seared together with chopped bone marrow. It is a perfectly seasoned burger patty with a deep beefy taste and wonderfully juicy. Hawksmoor offer to cook it pink or done and mine was beautifully medium rare. Just the kind of good quality meat you expect at Hawksmoor (and hope for, for £15).
Hawksmoor burger cut-through
Kimchi burger cut-through
Even points again on the meat in Round 3.

Round 4 - Bun:
Both the Hawksmoor burger and the Kimchi burger share the same bun. The origin is from the ubiquitous Miller's Bakery in Wimbledon that are also used in the Bread Street Kitchen Burger, and the Admiral Codrington Burger. This brioche bun has been proved time and again that can soak up everything that is thrown at it, and that's right up to a point. And whilst the bun took everything the Kimchi burger threw at it, unfortunately it wasn't man enough for the regular burger and the bottom had disintegrated by the time I got to the end. I should have been upset, but instead I licked the juicy goodness off my fingers and then licked the plate clean.

Bosh. Same bun, different technique which ends up letting down the classic for another points victory to Kimchi.

Round 5 - Plate accessories:

As I ordered two burgers, I had the pleasure of receiving two portions of chips. One were triple cooked, the others were cooked in beef dripping. The ones that were worth eating are photographed below, the beef dripping chips.
Beef Dripping Chips at Hawksmoor
Unfortunately the triple-cooked chips were dry and chewy where they should have been crispy and crunchy. We ordered a whole world of other sides including bone marrow, mac 'n' cheese, and sprout tops among other things, but the beef dripping chips won hands down as best side.

The judges scores:

Classic Hawksmoor burger - 8.5/10
Kimchi burger - 9.5/10

Whilst the classic burger fought well, there are a couple of technical errors in style that let it down - the bun disintegration, the raw red onion, the dry triple cooked chips. The Kimchi burger is the clear winner on the night - great composition, complementary toppings and a great smokey, spicy flavour, and the beef dripping chips are pretty special too!

Hawksmoor Seven Dials 
11 Langley Street
Covent Garden

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

Square Meal


  1. Great review Nick, kimchi and cheese, who'd have thought?

  2. Thanks Cheryl, it was a cracking burger. I was nicely surprised that it was better than the classic!


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