(This review also appears on Hoxton Radio)
When it comes to meat, the pig is the most versatile of animals. Chop, steak, bacon, hock, cheek, belly, rib, shoulder, knuckle, trotter, the list goes on. But what about bacon jam? Has anyone ever heard of that? I certainly hadn't, not until a blogger on Twitter sent me in the direction of Burger Bear.
Appearing three days a week at the #R3D Market, just off Rivington Street, Burger Bear is another of the many many burger stands in London - someone should really create a map. However, Burger Bear stands out from the crowd, sitting as it does in ninth place in the revered Young & Foodish Top 10 Burgers list, and based on my sample of the Grizzly it's worthy of its place.
The Grizzly is a fat piece of meat, charred bacon, and a melted cheese slice, topped with bacon jam, and sandwiched in a no-nonsense bread roll. I've probably forgotten one or two ingredients, but the essence of a great burger is in the flavours merging together so well that the components can't be easily distinguished, just a hint here and a hint there. There's nothing worse than biting in to a burger and tasting the separation between dry meat, cold lettuce, and sickly cheese. It's the only thing a bad burger does well.
The exception to the flavour rule comes in the form of the bacon jam. Such a strange, smoky yet sweet substance - a bacon chutney almost - the taste of the jam is distinct from everything else within the bun and is moreishly delicious. What else would you expect from what is essentially distilled bacon?
Competing in the fourth round of the London Burger Bash in early November, head to Burger Bear soon, sample the bacon jam, and you'll understand why they should make the finals.