Monday, 2 May 2016

Bar Boulud - Knightsbridge

Bar Boulud burger

Sometimes, you just have to treat yourself, don’t you? Lording it up in the smarter parts of town: brogues polished, trousers pressed, shirt ironed, notes spill like rain from your solid gold crocodile clip, while the largest, pimpinest cubic zirconia, sparkles atop your walking cane.

Or, you can lord it up in a slightly different way. A clean-ish pair of trainers on your feet and a £19 shirt hidden beneath your least stained sweater, you jump from the bus, sweeping through the doors before anyone can turn you away, passing a host of mid-ranking celebrities, before talking a table for two and pretending you might consider ordering something other than the cheapest item on the menu - the burger.

This isn't any burger though: it's the burger at Bar Boulud in Knightsbridge. A burger that many/some have named the best in London.

Now, I've ranted with the rest of them about how good a burger can realistically be. Mashed mince, seasoned, grilled, and slapped in a bread bun will only ever attain a certain level of excellence and is never going to be the sort of food that reduces all others to ash.

Disagree? Okay, answer this: steak or burger? Yeah, thought so. Argument over.

My, this is a tasty burger, though. Not cheap at £17; but, when the next cheapest main course on the menu is almost twice the price, you can't complain. Seriously, you can't. You're eating in Knightsbridge, in a restaurant where they offer you a £24 glass of wine on arrival - which, you obviously say no to - where the service is impeccable, the toilets clean enough to eat off, and the napkins more luxurious than your own bed sheets. Around the corner, about ten doors down, President Obama is dining with the royals. Crane your neck and you might see him through a window. Yes, all this for just £17!

For those who still have their eyebrows raised at the price; drop them, immediately. Think about it, a fantastic burger, splendid service, and two hours renting a square metre of Knightsbridge real estate, all for just £17. You can’t - legitimately - park your arse in such an exclusive part of London for less £. It's the deal of the century.

The Yankee is the only £17 burger on the menu (£18 with cheese). It's a tall stack of a burger, with a serious slice of pickle and thick rounds of tomato, perched upon a solid inch of beef that sits on the rare side of 'medium-rare'. The bun, perfectly toasted. No hint of stale bread, no touch of a burnt edge. Slice it in half, squeeze, lift, and eat with your fingers, watching as the ooze of meat juice and ketchup dribbles dangerously close to the cuffs of your white shirt.

Again, do I need to spell it out? You're eating in Knightsbridge with your fingers, surrounded by people wealthy enough to drink wine at £24 a glass and there’s juice dribbling down your chin, all for just £17. This is the culinary equivalent of manning the barricades - a big meaty middle-finger to the establishment. All for just £17.

And then we have the chips. Sure, some people don’t put much stock in fries; a carbohydrate filler, playing second fiddle to the main act. But, honestly, how disproportionately disappointing are rubbish chips? Or, worse still, rubbish chips served in a miniature frying basket or fake newspaper cone? There’s many a chef and/or restaurant manager out there, who thinks the sophistication of a chip can be increased by the receptacle it’s served in. These people need to leave the business, now.

The chips at Bar Boulud aren’t served on a plate. Instead, they’re served in a small metal bucket. But, wait! Here it makes sense. Here the bucket is hot, so the chips stay warm well into the second half of the burger. Genius! Take a bow. This is what a novel receptacle is for - function, not an awfully misplaced attempt at ‘style’.

So, finally, this is what you get for your £17 - perfection. A perfect burger, in a perfect bun, served with perfect chips, in a perfectly warm bucket, by perfect staff, alongside a scattering of celebrities, piped piano music, and Obama eating next door. Did I mention, all for just £17?!

Go on, find a better meal in London, for the money, and I’ll eat those clean-ish trainers of mine.

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