Tuesday 2 December 2014

[Review] Vivat Bacchus Black Label Burger

Vivat Bacchus is a bit of a city institution. The wine bar slash restaurant opened in Farringdon back in 2003 and whilst run by restaurateurs from New World wine nation South Africa, it takes its inspiration from the Old World with a rustic feel with stripped wooden floors, and an open, airy restaurant.
They've recently put a new burger on their lunch and dinner menu, and so when visiting for a swift lunchtime warmer of red, I decided to give it a Hamburger Me! once over.


Black Label Burger - £12.50, extra cheese - £1.70


The old 'serve it on a board' concept is still alive and well, and living in Farringdon, apparently. I don't think it's a bad look, per se, and it fits with the rustic style of the restaurant, but what I do have an issue with is the buffet-style offering. At its core is a very simple burger, topped with cheese and placed on a toasted bun. Then there's a couple of sticks of gherkin. And a wedge of baby gem lettuce, rings of red onion, and oven roasted cherry tomatoes. And a pot of relish.


To be honest, the toppings are a bit of a cop out. From the selection of ingredients scattered about on the board, I added relish and pickles. Luckily this was a good choice. But what if I'd made the wrong choice? My burger could have been ruined by my own idiocy and the product of a chef who isn't willing to commit to a burger experience. I'll save you the full rant here, but I feel it's a real cop out to present a burger this way. I want to be surprised and delighted by a burger, and this did neither.

One thing to think about, if you are going to have this burger, the pungent garlic aoili is liberally applied to the bottom bun, and means you're radioactive for anyone you're catching up with later in the afternoon.


"I'm sorry, sir, due to health and safety we can't cook our burgers medium rare. They're done medium/well." The air of deflation I feel when I hear those words is palpable. When you're serving a beautiful rare breed beef like Shorthorn, from which this burger is formed, and aging it for 35 days it's super disappointing to hear that I can't have cooked to order. What I get is cooked pink in the middle but the dense grey sides show inconsistency, and the beef is ground to finely, coupled with pre-salting, which means this is far from a meat win and has destroyed any complementary flavours the beef might bring.


Bun Win. The Viennese bun used for this burger is pretty darn good. These milk-based buns are light and buttery and beautifully toasted.


Triple cooked chips. These are really rather good. Crisp and fluffy at the same time - they're cut quite thickly but have been crisped up nicely with fresh oil. They're unsalted as well, so you get to add your own to taste.

Overall rating: 6/10

Sorry, Vivat Baccus. Your wine may be great, but your efforts with the burger are not - from the DIY approach to building the burger, to the cooking of the beef, and the pungent garlic aoili - the chefs need to go back to basics and make that rarebreed beef sing and have confidence in constructing the burger rather than leaving the toppings on the plate.

Vivat Bacchus on Urbanspoon


  1. Not being able to cook burgers rare, medium rare or any other state has absolutely nothing to do with health and safety legislation its actually food safety legislation.

    It all stems from one case around a hygiene improvement notice from Westminster council which was withdrawn, see article below for more: http://www.artisanfoodlaw.co.uk/blog/meat/davy%E2%80%99s-put-rare-burgers-back-on-menu

  2. I also heard this ridiculous sentence:" Sorry Sir, we can make it only medium or well done" lately in Hawksmoor Seven Dials. Luckily, mine burger arrived a bit below medium and the done-ness was consistent across the patty. It is really annoying when some bureaucrat idiot destroy all the enjoyment from burgers. I would like to have explained why the hell they consider steak tartare safe but are targeting burger patties.


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