People have been raving about Tommi's, the new Icelandic burger joint in town and while I shared my thoughts on its wares in a news post in Burgerapp the day it opened, I thought I'd share them here on the blog too...
Burgerac's New York correspondent, Colonel Mustard, dined at Burger Joint in Reykjavik back in March this year, and reported back to the effect that there wasn't much to report. Well, she's a New Yorker and a burger has to be hella good to impress her. Some readers might recall that she controversially gave Shake Shack only four out of five Burgerac stars last year. Anyways, we both headed to Tommi's at 58 Marylebone Lane the day it opened (on the 6th August) to check it out.
Tommi's is a cosy 25-seat diner with exposed brickwork, lit by lamps and fairy lights. I actually love the premises and the vibe. And to be able to see the chargrill / deep fat fryer action happening just inches behind the guy taking the orders is pretty cool. Burgers start at £5.30 and a basket of fries will set you back £2.90. There's no booze license but there are cans of soft drinks or milkshakes.
But whilst I've since read various rave reviews about Tommi's burgers, mine and Colonel Mustard's first impression was that the burgers were a bit... well... basic.
The buns are lovely and soft – but so is everything else: an accompanying squirt of ketchup and American style mustard (I'm pretty sure they inadvisably use a French's wannabe rather than French's), a frugal slice of tomato, a few scraggly bits of iceberg lettuce and a very thin slice of completely tasteless cheese (optional) make for a somewhat underwhelming burger experience. Tommi's burgers just don't compare to either the well constructed burgers at Honest Burgers which has opened it's second restaurant (in Soho) recently, or the sloppy indulgence of MEATliquor's fare just around the corner.
Tommi's fries are OK in terms of texture (think Maccy Dees) but they taste slightly more of spud than of fried spud. I'm pretty sure they're cooked from frozen and I'm guessing ours were slightly undercooked and under salted.
The promising news, though, is that Tommi's course ground beef patties themselves are remarkably good, very tasty indeed, and ours were perfectly cooked on the rare side of medium.
It seems a shame, then, that Tommi's burgers are thrown together as they would be at a back yard barbecue – there's no real finesse and so the experience hinges on the quality of the beef patties (which, admittedly, are excellent) rather than on the ensemble as a whole.
Above: my second Tommi's burger
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I hope Tommi's will start to show the patties a little more love and put some more thought into the construction of their burgers, because at the moment I wouldn't go out of my way to go back there. There are street vendors serving burgers that are way better put together than these and which cost less. Mother Flipper and Burger Bear (review coming soon) are cases in point.
Mabye I'd be raving about Tommi's if I'd never had a burger before in my life, but I have - and some ruddy good ones at that. For me, Tommi's doesn't compete with London's best burger vendors but because their meat patties are so awesome, I'm not writing them off just yet. I just hope that they realise that in a crowded market place, they're gonna have to do more than simply cook a mean patty.
Tommi's Burger Joint
58 Marylebone Lane