Burger Bear / Old Street, London


If you’ve hit Red Market on Old Street in the last couple of weeks, apart from a jumped-up Wendy house, some hammocks and a constantly busy table tennis table, you may have also spied a tent with what looks like a Rolf Harris drawing of a slow loris on the side, wafting out some enticing meaty whiff.

Don’t be fooled though. It is, as the scribble underneath the drawing suggests, one of the newest burger vendors on the block, Burger Bear.

Like, we thought bears plucked salmon from waterfalls, stole picnics and put out forest fires, but whatever…

The first time we hit up the Bear, we were greeted by grill boss Tom, sporting one awesome beard and offering forth shots of the Jäger. Dude. Despite being at the tail end of some gnarly hangovers, you don’t turn down a free shot, so we skål-ed our liquor and let Tom and pals get on with the task of prepping our burgers.

Notice anything? Yep, they look awfully similar to the offerings from Mother Flipper - from the glossy bun, through to the slivers of red onion peeking out behind the lettuce and the condiments. And yes, the make up of the cheeseburger - with latticed American mustard and American cheese - is similar. But, it’s a classic American burger set up, so they’re going to really aren’t they?

The meat in these burgers is great: smashed patties with deep pink innards. The classic cheese, the “Burger Bear”, had a ‘nice bit of skirt’ in it we were told, and scooping up fallen chunks of patty proved it to be tasty and well seasoned. The lettuce and red onion added the requisite crunch, and the mustard and ketchup do their thing. Not too much, not too little.

But, while the sweet brioche-like buns looked impeccably shiny, with a fine set of bubbles, they were a tad disappointing. The crust broke too easily, with the insides crumbling away on to the table. Quite dry and almost too bready for a burger bun. A lack of good toasting led to condiments soaking in and the not-quite-properly melted cheese sticking, easily stealing the focus of the bite. It was a pity, as a bit more time under the cloche could’ve probably improved most of it.

The Grizzly Bear added some crispy bacon, throwing in a smoky crunch to the chew, and the bacon jam, which that day had been pimped with a generous dose of Jack Daniel’s, was a touch too sweet for our booze-ravaged palates.

With all the obvious visual (and construction) parity to the Flipper, it’s hard not to compare. And in this current tête-à-tête, Mother Flipper serves up Bear’s furry behind on a paper plate. But initial issues are easily addressed. Bear in mind as well, what Tom serves now isn’t too shabby. At the more respectable end of the pricing spectrum, if you find yourself near Old Street, deciding whether to get one of these will be as easy as asking if it’s picnic time in the woods.

Despite being at the tail end of some gnarly hangovers, you don’t turn down a free shot…

Burger Bear Tent
Burger Bear
Burger Bear Split
Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear Split

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