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London Unattached In Chains – Gourmet Burger Kitchen Covent Garden
Who says food writers don’t do chains? Well, this one does, with no worries. In fact for certain types of foods I really can see why a chain could do it better. Here’s a few thoughts. A chain has massive purchasing power. It can buy basic menu items for a fraction of the amount a small independent will need to pay and in theory deliver superior quality at a lower price. And, it has the benefit of central kitchens to develop the perfect menus. In a good chain there should be a consistency of product and service that means whichever branch you go into you can be sure your meal will work the way you expect. And, that too is a real benefit.
So, for the most part I am quite happy to be invited to review well respected chains. And GBK definitely falls into that category for me. I last went to a GBK about eight years ago with a group of friends and I seem to remember having a great time. The Covent Garden Branch is in Maiden Lane, near Polpo and Rules. The interior is now quite ‘shabby chic’ with distressed wood and faded wallpaper. And a fun Scrabble theme running throughout.
The menu is fun and a lot more varied than I expected. There are of course, the regular burgers, but in addition there are some really interesting options. You sit down and choose from the menu then order by going up to the bar. So, given all the choice, you’ll need a good memory!
We started with olives and chicken skewers. Olives were great and nicely dressed. The chicken skewers were nicely cooked, but the smoked chilli mayo didn’t quite work for me and perhaps a choice of dip would have been good. I almost hesitate to suggest it because everything else on the menu seems to come with a million variations.
On to mains. We did probably over order. Again.
I was amazed to see buffalo and wild boar from Laverstoke Park on the menu, along with a Persian Lamb burger and various other interesting burger dishes. And, very pleased to hear that they not only have a few veggie burger options but even a vegan burger.
My go naked buffalo burger was very good, slightly gamey and beautifully cooked, with a generous mixed slaw and a healthy bowl of green salad. I did rather spoil it with fries. But, having given up my bun I thought I was entitled to a little self indulgence.
And, I yearned for my dining companion’s Wellington – a perfect burger with a large portabello mushroom and a very generous dollop of horseradish sauce.
We drank wine and the GBK pale ale and after all those fries neither of us wanted dessert.
Burgers range from around £6 to over £10 for some of the more exotic variations. And of course if you add extras, the bill goes up. It’s still a relatively good value way to eat though and at the time we went (mid week, mid afternoon) it was relaxed but not empty. Service was friendly if a little variable, at times we felt the entire staff were asking in succession how the meal was whilst at the end our coffee went for a little journey before it made its way over to our table. But, of course it’s not a place with michelin ambitions and the prices reflect that.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and will happily go back again when I get burger cravings. And next time I’m going for the Persian Lamb with Harissa Mayo.
GBK Covent Garden
13-14 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E7NE