We’d like to say it’s a refreshingly British take on a burger.
Honest Burgers is part of the expanding mini-restaurant movement in Brixton Village (aka Brixton Market). You know immediately from the zeitgeisty ‘Inspired by Great British Produce’ sign on the window the kind of burger experience you’re going to get at Honest - none of your processed twaddle here.
It’s also super tiny, similar to Franco Manca, but there’s room outside and they provide blankets if you’re al fresco and it’s a bit nippy out.
We cracked into the cheeseburger first. The meat was cooked spot on medium but was (oddly for Ginger Pig fare) gristly, causing one tooth-shuddering bite. We chalked that down to bad luck.
What wasn’t luck-based, however, were the other ingredients.
The red onion relish mainlines a very strong balsamic flavour which was lip-curlingly sweet, dominating the mouthful and rendering what ‘pickled cucumber’ was there as redundant. You’d think a relish like this would compliment a full-bodied cheese, but paired with a rather sour red leicester, the two tasted uncomfortable together.
It’s worth noting this is the first time we’ve seen Red Leicester as a cheese option. Seeing how it melts, we’re hoping it doesn’t get trendy.
The Honest burger next, and it’s the most successful incarnation; the bacon being the real deal: crunchy and sweet whilst maintaining a soft chewiness. Again though, the relish makes an appearance, and the mature cheddar, whilst less offensive than the Leicester, is still unsuitable.
The fries are moreish as hell, doused in what looks and tastes exactly like Aromat, the low-grade crack of the seasoning world, with some rosemary lobbed in for good measure. They taste good, artifically-manipulated-good. (Seriously though, buy Aromat, you can throw that shit on anything and it tastes better, ain’t bad when you rubs it on your gums either).
We’d like to say it’s a refreshingly British take on a burger. What we will say is it’s a British take on the burger. Sadly, what it isn’t is refreshing. Or even novel. Much of what saddens us about the trend of the British burger can be read on our review of Byron’s short-lived Uncle Sam.
It’s question of taste at the end of the day. While we understand what Honest Burgers are trying to achieve here, it feels a teensy bit pretentious.
We wanted to love it. We just can’t.
And while the well-dressed South London urbanite crowd waiting outside suggests it’s pretty successful, as does the 100% score on Urbanspoon and bullshit takedowns on contrarian write-ups, it’s just not for us.
It’s all a bit too Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
One more thing: being in the market, HB has to open and close alongside everything else. This sucks really, especially when I go to Brixton regularly on Tuesday nights. It’s not open on Tuesday nights. Or Wednesday night. Or all of Monday. Or Sunday night.
In fact, if you are planning on going, then you’d better check if they’re open; otherwise the shutters to the market will be down and you’ll have to console yourself with some KFC and the fishy stench that pervades Atlantic Road after dark.