Bukowski Grill / Shoreditch, London


Rob

Oh my giddy aunt, where to start with this one.

Trust the entrepreneurs of Shoreditch to create a pop-up mall from things:

a) Michael Bay blows up in an average action sequence.

b) The unscrupulous use to move illegal immigrants about.

Shipping container locale aside, the feel of Bukowski Grill is weird: it’s got hints of a classic muted diner (the low hanging lamps, the Americana-heavy musak), but oddly crossed with a rustic feel. It was as if someone had bunged a short order cafe in the middle of the woods. Of Shoreditch.

Anyway.

Now, regular readers will know our opinions on the Open versus Closed bun issue. Well, when the cheeseburger arrived, we were confronted with a burger prep paradox: it was a closed bun. BUT, the pickles were on side AND there were no condiments inside. Completely unsauced.

Bukowski Cheeseburger
Bukowski Cheeseburger Cut

As for the burger itself, the meat was pretty good, interestingly seasoned with what we though was a hint of porkiness. Bun was crunchy, and perhaps over toasted. The double gloucester cheddar was far too overbearing in the burger and overpowers the subtle flavour of the burger entirely. All condiments are hand made, and the mayo has a nice garlicky finish to it, but the only mustard on the premises they had was a pungent Dijon-esque horseradish variety. Odd choice for a burger joint that doesn’t serve roast beef.

Also slightly unsettling are the strange deli nuisances about the place: they offer a foccacia burger bun, which they’ll probably find doesn’t get ordered much at all. At least we hope not.

As for the other burger we ordered. Oh dear.

This motherfucker (legitimate swears, it’s called the Mother F) cut in half looked like a prop limb from a Saw movie.

Dead Meat

We like our burgers rare to medium but one of these patties was raw to the point that it was still cold in the middle. You could see the fat. Despite some reservations, we persevered, under the impression that this was how was supposed to be. We stopped when nearing the middle. It was cold.

Now, disclaimer time, it was only their second day of opening. BUT, it was hardly super busy and they weren’t rushed off their feet (we were there around 3pm). The sous chef was eager to replace the burger for us, but due to time constraints, we had to leg it. So they were very kind in taking 50% off the already discounted bill (20% off for an introductory period). The service was great. The chips were nice.

Simon

What more to say.

Well, the boxes in the BOXPARK itself are adorable. Super cute.

As for the Bukowski Grill itself, the key point Rob hasn’t touched on, and one that is not apparent until you get into the place itself, is that this is a Spanish Burger Joint.

Iberico lardo

I have had one memorable Spanish burger, and that was at a branch of Ferran Adrià’s maladroitly named Fast Good in Madrid.

Once you embrace the Iberian heritage, a lot of the operational choices seem to make some kind of sense. At least a little bit.

The tomato on the burger is dehydrated (oven dried they call it). The brioche bun (I also balked at the focaccia option) is perfectly fine, but arrives completely unsauced. The mayo is an a squeezy bottle. The homemade ketchup is in a Heinz bottle. The aforementioned mustard is completely unsuitable and in a jar. There was also some chutney or something, for no discernible reason.

Now, the cheeseburger itself was perfectly satisfactory. Relatively unfussy. A solid C+. The beef is cooked in a baby Josper grill. An adorable thing itself, but not particularly well suited to cooking a burger. You get better results from a flat-top, and considering they’re not serving steaks, this seems like an expensive and unsuitable arrangement. It also means the cheese can’t be cloched. Combine that with a dense, heavy cheddar and a burger already lacking in wetness, it doesn’t come together well.

I won’t labour further on the poisonously undercooked Mother F. They were apologetic enough at the time and I’m sure they’ll sort their Josper timings out.

What with burger competition increasing week to week in London, I don’t think we’ll be back.

Afterword

Charles Bukowski is one of my favourite authors, and as a result I was hoping that the style and ethos of his work would be reflected in this place. Apart from the old school typewriter font menus (Bukowski fact - he used knackered portable Underwood typewriters in his early correspondence and writing), it isn’t. At all. Sad times.

  • Rob.
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