Burger and Lobster

29 Clarges Street, London, England, W1J 7EF, United Kingdom

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Burger and Lobster is a venture from steakhouse Goodman, doing exactly what it says. There were only three menu options: burger, lobster and lobster roll, each served with chips and salad, and each costing £20 (plus service).  The premises are situated at the north-west end of Clarges Street in a converted pub, the dining room in three sections. The first two sections have a wooden floor, the final one a few steps up with a tiled floor. The room has wood panelling yet exposed pipework, a rather odd mix of styles: smart yet somewhat industrial, seating 65 at capacity. No reservations were taken.

There was a short wine list, with half a dozen choices of either sparkling, white or red wines. Irritatingly, the vintages are not listed; since the list goes from £20 - £120 in price, it is surely not too much to expect to know the vintage? The mark-ups vary substantially, with the relative bargain being the Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque at £120 for a wine that costs around £103 in the high street. Example wines included Newton Johnson Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc at £29 for a wine that retails at about £8, Chablis Cote de Lechet Domaine Jean Defaix at £50 compared to a shop price of around £16, and Malbec Catena Alta Mendoza at £120 for a wine that will set you back £29 to buy. The average mark-up of the champagnes and wines was 2.7 times retail price, which is quite reasonable for Mayfair.

The lobsters are flown in from Nova Scotia in Canada at least twice a week, though they are still alive and kicking after their journey (as you can see from one of the photos). This slightly curious arrangement is because the restaurant apparently cannot get sufficient lobsters of an adequate size in the quantities they need from the British Isles. They do need a lot: in the evening two-thirds of diners order lobster (for some reason at lunch the orders are more evenly split), and in the third week of opening the kitchen got through over a ton of lobster.

The lobster was steamed for 11 minutes, or alternatively, as in the version that I had, steamed for 8 minutes and then finished on the char-grill. A little dish of lemon and garlic butter was served with this, the lobster served in its shell, though with some suitably mediaeval looking utensils to assist you with extracting the lobster meat from the claws.  The lobster itself was good, cooked through but avoiding the chewiness that often occurs with lobster cooked in British restaurants. It is a pity they need to get the lobster from across the Atlantic, as I have never been convinced that the lobster on the eastern seaboard has quite the same flavour as that from, say, Brittany (the American and European lobsters are closely related, but are different species). However it was a well-cooked lobster, hard to get excited about but very enjoyable (14/20).

The burger was made using half American and half Irish beef (from Darragh O’Shea), with a mix of cuts used: chuck, short rib and onglet. The meat was served in a brioche bun (baked from scratch) with lettuce, tomato and red onion, and offered with bacon or cheese, as you wish, and cooked to order. The burger pattie itself was excellent, having plenty of beef flavour and good texture. The brioche bun was fine, and the pickles with the burger were also good; the bacon was reasonable, though not in the league of top-class French bacon, such as that from Alsace (14/20 pushing 15/20). This is up there with the best burgers in London. 

The lobster roll also had a brioche bun, the lobster arriving cold and flavoured with Japanese mayonnaise and lemon oil. Again the lobster was carefully cooked and there was a decent quantity of lobster meat, though a piece of lobster shell appeared in the roll we ate. Very pleasant (13/20). The fries were crisp but quite small, at one of my two visits I seemed to end up mostly with the little bits at the bottom of a pan, but on the second visit they were fine. However these fries were pleasant but no more; I would prefer triple-cooked chips to these (12/20). The salad was decent, with red bell peppers in amongst the leaves, and a reasonable dressing (12/20).

On my first visit I only had the lobster and tap water, so the bill came to precisely £22.50. Staff were friendly and efficient. Overall this was a very pleasant experience, and certainly popular: within just three weeks of opening the lunch service was busy, and they apparently were already doing about 150 covers in the evenings. I like the idea of a restaurant doing just a few things well, rather than trying to produce too wide a range of dishes, and clearly such a limited menu makes things easy for the kitchen. There were things that could be improved, such as the fries, but this is a well-executed menu, and a clever idea for a restaurant.

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    Great review! Am shocked you found it hard to be excited by the lobster though! Being the first time that I had ever had a whole lobster, I found the whole experience to be rather wonderful!