The City of London is a veritable bloody feast of ravenous moneyed sitting ducks. There are no end of sandwiches, salads and sushi to be had by those who work there. The Americanized burrito market saw the scope to unleash the guacamole-d Kraken of their speedy conveyor belt service and now it feels as if they are as prevalent as fucking Pret. There are five Poncho No.8 locations in the City.
So you'd think purveyors of burgers would be all over the area like buttercream on cupcakes. Not so. There have been minor incursions. Burrito masters Daddy Donkey attempted to emulate their construction methods in the pattysphere with Boom Burger, and despite it still being on Leather Lane, made no waves whatsoever.
Things are gradually picking up: in terms of the big boys, Byron, with a bunch ton of London locations sprouting up, has a few and Burger & Lobster have two, but what right-minded bonus bro is going to slum it with a burger in there?
Patty & Bun have this week just opened their second branch by Liverpool Street station. And Street Kitchen serve up their effort from their two epic Airstreams nearby, but only on Fridays. Other respected Burguosos are rumoured to be looking for space here but, pop ups and the Kerb market aside, the market is still relativity open.
City folk are a unique breed. They swarm in dauntless strutting rabbles of ill-fitting black, charcoal and questionable Prince of Wales check. You will observe their arrival by a raucous cluck of grandiloquent banter, the alpha of the group often proffering a garish statement silk pocket square of dominance. But they are delicate creatures - low on patience and easily distracted. A slow moving queue and the merest of suggestions will divert their meerkat-like attentions to another possible food source.
Cue Burger Pit, taking over an Italian Cafe on Leadenhall Street, the first to attempt to tame the flighty flock.
Whether dictated by deadline or deliberate design, the Pit is commonly simple in design. A blackboard painted wall hosts the menu. The serving hatch into the kitchen is surrounded by white tiling. You know the drill. It is also very basic: unceremonial squares of chopped laminate-covered particle board are tables, walls are predominantly grey, and one seat near the entrance is a couple of bare off-cuts of MDF nailed together. You get the impression it is less a stylistic choice and more of an expense sparing exercise.
We joined the queue, perused the menu and were greeted by a nicely dressed happy chap at the till ready to take our order. And then the chef walked out of the kitchen. Wearing *tattoo sleeves*. We kid you not. Burgers or not, we were a clipped toenail away from turning around and getting the fuck out of there.
Despite the generic appearance of the meal, first impressions of the burger were good. The reveal had distinct shades of Dirty Burger, a large tomato slice poking out from the bun and a legion of sticky Monterey Jack splattered over the meat and wrapping. The glistening bun looked great too, with an almost uncanny similarity to the ones at Tommi's. There is a distinct possibly Millers are in play again.
The eyes did not deceive, bun and cheese were predictably great. The bun was light, soft and durable and the cheese was stringy, oozy and plentiful. Sadly the patty was far from medium, rather dry and charred on the outside to the edge of burnt which the over toasting of the bun compounded.
The veggies were fresh, but there was way less of the mayo-heavy burger sauce than there should have been, even if the patty had been cooked properly. The addition of bacon was a legendary choice: thick, crispy strips had a tongue-banging flavour that brought back memories of that awesome crazy circular bacon McDonald's used to do, heightening the mouthful with aplomb.
The prices are obviously geared towards the City, as the size doesn't necessarily justify them. The meal deal is somewhat crock-ish as the drink is a can of softie and the chips are work canteen level. And if that is a crock then the steak burger, ploughing in at a wallet-fleecing four and a half quid more* is a piss take.
Firmly in room-for-potential category, you can't help be cynical in thinking the objective here is to exploit the captive audience. They will have to speed up their service to do it though. In the time we were there, groups of suits were leaving the static queue to find alternatives. It's early days though, more effective execution and they will make a killing.
*it has since been reduced by £1.50.