Tuesday 11 June 2013

[Review] Giraffe Burgers and Cocktails, James Street, W1U

The first rule of James Street is: eat burgers at Patty & Bun.

The second rule of James Street is: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES eat burgers at Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails.
Guerrilla burger from Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
Guerrilla burger from Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
I found myself wandering up James Street, behind Selfridges, on a Thursday evening hoping to get a quick bit of Patty & Bun burger action in before heading off to North London to see some friends. As I approached I realised I was staring down the barrel of a MAHOOSIVE queue. 

The first mistake I made that evening was not sitting it out in the queue...
Big and bold and branded, Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails is positioned not 50 metres away from P&B.

"Hey," I thought, "a burger place I haven't been to, right by P&B. And it's nearly empty?! Well aren't I in luck." This was mistake number two. As it turns out, I wasn't in luck. 

Mistake number three was sitting down. 

Even as I squeezed myself into the corner of the restaurant and surveyed the cliched internal decor (low hanging exposed-filament lightbulbs, generic surf theme painted on the wall, 'feel good' messages dotted across the restaurant: 'great chefs make great burgers' [not here they don't]) done completely without any kind of feeling, I realise that I'm going to be taking one for the team. 

Oh well, onto the burger.


Guerrilla burger - two patties*, onion rings, bacon, braised onions, fried mushrooms, chilli relish - £11.95 
Mac 'n' Cheese Wheel - £3.50
Sweet potato fries - £3.10

* "We serve our burgers pink" (no, they don't)


Atrocious. The burger looks like it's been thrown together by a child. Barely balanced, the three buns are set a rakish angles to each other, onion rings spilling out like guts from the top of the burger. Two hockey puck-like patties were wedged in there as well with a pile of grilled onions slapped on top. I actually laughed when I saw it.
Slap dash presentation at Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
Slap dash presentation at Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails


No idea what they tasted like. I am seriously concerned that in-spite of the huge number of toppings included in/on/with this burger - count 'em: onion rings; fried mushrooms; streaky bacon; pickles; salad including red onion, tomato, lettuce; coleslaw; chilli relish - there was absolutely no discernible flavour to be found, save for a cloying sweetness to the pickles and coleslaw.

Tasteless middle 'goo' with bacon - Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
Tasteless middle 'goo' with bacon


These burger patties wouldn't have been out of place in a NHL game. This burger consisted of two rock solid, dry pucks of over-cooked beef leading to my first meat fail for a long time.

Hockey pucks in a dry bun from Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
Hockey pucks in a dry bun from Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails


Fail. A floured white bap that disintegrated as I squashed it around my burger. No excuse for this bun fail, especially when the rest of the burger was so dry. A good amount of my meal was finished off sans bun.


Ok. I ordered a 'wheel of mac 'n' cheese' - effectively a mac 'n' cheese patty with herb/breadcrumb crust - which was relatively good, if dripping with slightly old smelling oil. I also tried out a portion of fries which were ok. Saying that, comparatively they were the best fries I've ever tasted.*

*they weren't anywhere near the best fries I've ever tasted.

Wheel of Mac 'n' Cheese
Wheel of Mac 'n' Cheese

Overall rating: 1/10

Hamburger Me! is a public service. I eat all the burgers so you don't have to. So please, PLEASE heed my warning. If you are in the queue for Patty & Bun, and feel it's taking too long, just sit it out, it's totally worth it...

The P&B queue from out of my window at Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
The P&B queue from out of my window at Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails
..you will be MASSIVELY disappointed if you end up, like many people in the P&B queue did, in Giraffe Burgers & Cocktails.
These two were also pretty disappointed having not gone to P&B

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  1. Holy Jesus. Glad I didn't join you in the end ;)

  2. Ian James11 June, 2013

    This is the Burger off-shoot of the Giraffe chain right? I have an insightful story about Giraffe. So a few years ago they bought several branches of failing chain Tootsies. Of which there was one in Gunwharf Quays, the outlet shopping centre in Portsmouth in which our office is based.

    So, one day Tootsies is gone, and Giraffe is there. So, being curious we decide to give it a go, because apparently their thing is doing lots of different things (suspicious already). Any road we get down there and there isn't lots of things to choose from. In fact the menu is suspiciously similar to the old Tootsies menu. In fact it is the Tootsies menu, precisely reproduced with Giraffe branding on. So that's a bit weird.

    I quickly check the website to check I've not gone mad and no, the menu at the new Gunwharf Giraffe bears no relation to a Giraffe menu. So, my mind is racing now what's going on - did the buy out include 6 months worth of frozen stock that they have to get through. I decide to email Giraffe HQ and find out.

    And so I get a nice email from the Marketing person, I forget the exact words but the gist of it was this. They felt it was important to change from the failing brand Tootsies over to their successful brand of Giraffe, but in the meantime the branches they bought needed some kitchen mods and staff training programmes so for the short term, these new Giraffes would be serving the old Tootsies menu. They'd even printed Giraffe branded versions of the Tootsies menu.

    For me it tells you a lot about the mindset - branding is more important than product. It never entered their mind that the reason Tootsies failed is because of the product. You have to wonder if the people heading up these operations even like food, let alone burgers.

  3. vicentewakk15 July, 2013

    Not to mention most people go to the beach or go on vacation these months so it naturally makes sense to die.


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