It's a burger evolution
PUBLISHED: 12:59 15 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:11 14 October 2010
HOW the humble hamburger has evolved in recent years. I vividly remember being taken to see Return Of The Jedi at Leeds Odeon by my dad as a six-year-old followed by burger, chips and a chocolate milkshake at the nearest branch of now-defunct 1980s high
HOW the humble hamburger has evolved in recent years.
I vividly remember being taken to see Return Of The Jedi at Leeds Odeon by my dad as a six-year-old followed by burger, chips and a chocolate milkshake at the nearest branch of now-defunct 1980s high street chain Wendy's.
Back then the nutty sesame seeds that adorned my warm bun seemed positively exotic, but how times change.
Witness the rise of the "gourmet burger".
The ever-increasing speed of our daily lives means fast food just got posher, and a new culinary war is being waged on the high street.
Joining the likes of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Fine Burger Co. and Hamburger Union (whose former Upper Street premises it takes over) is the poetically named newcomer Byron Burger.
The staff are suitably young, modish and sexy, the burgers are "proper" with an array of blue cheese and bacon extras and
you can be in and out and fed within 15 minutes en route to the cinema, theatre or football.
So what exactly marks out Byron Burger as worthy of your attention in an increasingly crowded marketplace?
Well, for starters the food is pretty darn good, which always helps.
The hearty burgers are tastefully garnished with a piquant pickle and the obligatory slice of opinion-splitting gherkin thoughtfully served on the side of the plate.
The sides steal a march on many of their rivals, with fabulously chunky onion rings (room enough for several satisfying layers of onion inside) and fiendishly moreish courgette fries being particular stand-outs.
I did regret bypassing the French fries for some rather run-of-the-mill skin-on chips as recommended by our waitress, but you live and learn.
Wash it all down with the heavy-duty copper aftertaste of a couple of refreshing Brooklyn lagers and you're sure to be in a positively New York state of mind.
But what really sets Byron Burger apart from the crowd is the incredible décor - or more accurately the lack thereof.
The eight-foot high red lettering on the exterior is striking enough, but cross the threshold and it's like dining in a building site.
Cement, rockwool, Polyfilla and grouting abound, with a plethora of exposed air con pipes and dangling wires prompting my friend to question whether the Health and Safety Executive had been informed of this latest development in restaurant interior design.
It is, to quote the joint's namesake, "stranger than fiction" but if nothing else it must keep the overheads down and it makes for some lively conversation over dinner.
I'm not sure what my dad would make of it, though - you'd never have got that in a Wendy's.
- MATT HUMPHREYS
Mains: from £6.25
Wine: from £13.50
Children welcome: yes
Disabled access: yes
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box below for details.