Wow, what a year it's been for burger-lovers in London...
The MEAT franchise managed to open two new restaurants this year (MEATmarket and MEATmission), as did Burger & Lobster who opened their second restaurant in Soho, then a third in Farringdon. Honest also became a chain this year by opening a second restaurant in Soho and announcing a third to follow in Brighton, while Lucky Chip took over a revamped kitchen at Soho's Player Bar to form Slider Bar (just down the road from my office!)
Street food stalls and food trucks too have gone bananas this year with such stalls as Bleeker St. Burger, Burger Bear, Mother Flipper and Tongue'n'Cheek all creating offerings that are among my favourite burgers at the mo. Meanwhile various pub kitchens have been taken over by semi-permanent pop-up residencies such as Disco Bistro in the City and Burger Breakout in town – and in November and December alone some excellent additions to London's burger arena have arrived in the shape of Patty & Bun on James Street and Soho House's Electric Diner on Portabello Road.
And let's not forget the foreign interest London's burger scene has generated this year - with In'n'Out hosting a bizarre North London pop-up a few months ago around the same time Icelandic burger joint Tommi's opened in Marylebone. Just a few weeks ago Beirut's BRGR.CO opened a Soho branch while the news rung out that American burger meisters Shake Shack AND Five Guys are to open restaurants in London mid 2013. Who else will join them?
2012 has been a pretty awesome year for Burgerac too - with my iPhone app (Burgerapp) keeping me mighty busy - this month alone I've added several new listings including MEATmission, Patty&Bun, Electric Diner, Burger Bear, Bleecker St. Burger and Street Kitchen, (it's Crispy Chicken Burger is shown above) meaning there are over 65 burger joints now listed in the app. Oh, and an Android version should be ready by end of February!
Other burger-themed highlights of the year include the organisation of London's inaugural Burger Bash by Daniel Young of Young&Foodish - which was won by Fred Smith for his mind-bogglingly awesome Chilli Burger. Smith's wonderful Double Cheese Stack special which he served whilst still at The Cod back in April is also up there with my highlights of 2012:
Which brings me (almost) to the end of this little recap. In the last week or so a couple of friends have asked me what my top burger of 2012 has been and while I've had a few limited edition burgers that blew my mind (such as Fred's Double Cheese Stack) and despite being very recently wowed by the burgers at Electric Diner and Patty & Bun – there's a burger I've kept coming back to again and again this year whilst imbibing at the Sebright Arms: Lucky Chip's Royale With Cheese (pictured, topmost).
Inspired by McDonald's Quarter Pounder With Cheese and named to reference that scene in Pulp Fiction where Vince tells Jules about the "little differences" between America and Europe, Lucky Chip's Royale With Cheese has everything I want from a burger. Namely, an aged beef patty, American cheese, smoked bacon, thin cut red onion, shredded iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, ketchup, French's Yellow Mustard – not to mention lashings of perfectly pitched nostalgia. Five stars every single time!
Thank you to all the people that have served me awesome burgers this year. And a huge thanks to all of you who regularly read this blog – Happy New Year to y'all and best wishes for 2013!