If we were to list all of the redeeming features of Essex it'd be a pretty short one: Southend has a fucking epic adventure golf course, and the county now boasts four Taco Bell locations. But while we have waited really impatiently for the purveyors of the Crunchwrap Supreme to open up a location in London, another food vendor with roots there has moved up town: From their beginnings as a van in Colchester, to a couple of pub pop-ups in East London, and now a residency in the Kerb-inspired reinvigoration of Camden market - Burger And Beyond has nuzzled their chair in at the capital's table of seared ground beef to a fair amount of social media hubbub.
We first checked their cheeseburger during their residency at the Star By Hackney Downs after an unknown quantity of beers, and most recently again whilst having a wander around the very impressive Kerb set up in Camden. Consistency is always a good thing, and despite differing kitchen set ups, the two cheeseburgers were hearteningly similar.
Visit #1: Star By Hackney Downs
The flavour combination is the key to a good 'classic' cheeseburger: You need a good balance of ketchup and mustard to provide the sweet and sour, but it has to be matched to a patty that has a decent intensity of taste coming both from the quality of beef and the inclusion of salt and a good seared crust. Beyond hits this combination well: The beef is soft and tasty, with a nice salty crust, and the 'American' cheese they use is brilliantly melted onto it, providing a great tacky goo in amongst the meat.
The medium-ness of the patty is hit and miss, possibly due to the 'hand pressed' nature of the product, but it remains decently juicy. We are totally into sesame seeded buns right now, there is something sensorily pleasing about feeling the seedy nobbles on the fingers as you handle it before the first bite, and Beyond's brioche is solid - soft, pliable, handles its contents and is not over-bearing in sweetness. With some slices of red onion and lettuce thrown in for freshness and crunch, the medley of all parts creates a pleasing handful.
Visit #2: Hyde Park
We stumbled across them slinging at BST Hyde Park and so grabbed a Cliff, a signature burger boasting an extreme 90 day dry aged beef patty. As with the cheeseburger, the cheese is perfectly melted onto a nice-looking charred patty. However, in the majority of bites the meat simply capitulated and all that could be tasted was an over-crispy crust. The addition of tarragon mayo to up the richness ante was slightly over powering, and the pancetta was crisp but lacked the meaty thump of a good couple of slices of proper bacon. Lots of crisp and very little squish between a good bun. Considering all the hype surrounding it, we were surprised.
Visit #3: Kerb Camden Market
Considering that decency of the B&B cheeseburger maybe we were unlucky with the Cliff we got, or maybe it was the curse of festival food, or perhaps the overpriced lager had jaded our tastebuds. We'll reserve proper judgement for the next time they pop-up in a proper kitchen. In the meantime, we'll happily gorge on the the cheeseburgers whenever we're in Camden early enough before a gig (Kerb Camden shuts at 6pm most days, which sucks).