Bad planning means that we didn't get to sample the immensely popular Black Bear stall at the school yard market and Broadway Market in tooth-achingly current London Fields. One attempt had us turning up just after they had sold out, having the nerve to arrive at 1pm. On another we arrived to find they weren't even fucking trading that day. Big up to the equally lazy and social media incompetent out there.
The new permanent space at Boxpark in Shoreditch made accessing their goods near enough fail-safe. Although it has been eclipsed by its superior cousin in Croydon, this Boxpark has matured into a half-decent Essex day tripper hang out spot. It houses the excellent Voodoo Ray's, and has come a way since the days of Bukowski and Chop'd.
The Double Black Bear is the premium archetype Instagram material: The glossy reflection on the patties; perfectly melted yellow dairy; cute curls of crisp bacon; sauce almost impossibly maintaining its structure on the top bun; the unformity of sesame seeds - It is The Fighting Temeraire of burger #FoodPorn.
It tastes good. The beef slaps your tongue demanding an audience from every bud. It has depth, an inherent beefiness that must come from the ageing of the meat combined with the texture of both the charred outside and incredibly soft inside.
It is a dominantly savoury experience which pushes the other ingredients into sidekick cameos: There is the occasional hint of garlic in the mayo here and a vague recollection of onion in the jam there, but the beef and it's slick fat-laden juice kick it back into the wings. The bun is great, robustly bread-y and highlighting further the savoury nature of the sandwich. The pancetta bacon is too flimsy and nuanced in flavour to work in this burger for us.
It is a burger that reminds us very strongly of Bleecker, both aesthetically and in it's beefiness. But it has had the jeans rolled up, the beard grown nice and long, and the Patagonia t-shirt draped over it. Just as lattes no longer sate the appetite of the caffeine connoisseur, ketchup and mustard and burger sauce are too pedestrian. No longer just the remit of the 'fancy' restaurant, the new breed of casual burgers such as Black Bear and the Beyond crew infuse their mayos, producing ultra-rich concoctions to dazzle the palate. They are good, but there is still something to be said for the addition of sweet and piquant notes to a cheeseburger.
It'll be interesting to see how this trend progresses, and what the next one will be...