Yes, I’m totally late onto the whole burger craze in London. Yes, there’s some kind of new burger establishment opening up roughly every 45 minutes these days. Yes, this place has been round for a while and it’s only now that I come to frequent it. (When, I suppose, I should really be heading to try out some of the more recently opened burger restaurants. Oh well.)
I’d been to Chicken Shop, in the same premises (or thereabouts – read on) as Dirty Burger Pizza East before, sampling their tender rotisserie-cooked chicken. At that time, I’d actually wondered where Dirty Burger actually was. Chicken Shop is in the basement. Pizza East – the other eatery of this trio – is located in the large, ground floor premises. Where be the burgers?
Turns out, they’re in a shack round the back, practically located in a car park. Not actually, for the “shack” is attached to the back of the building housing the above restaurants, but at times you do feel a little like you’re sitting in a car park. I suppose the feel they’re going for is road-side shack on some dusty road in middle-America. Turns out you just get a view of what must be one of the strangest looking LA Fitness gyms in the country. (It’s like a portacabin! Where can the actual fitness equipment be located?)
You turn up to Dirty Burger and there’s a ridiculously simple menu – unlikes some other “joints” (it sure feels appropriate to call this place that) it’s cheeseburger or nothing. For the slightly more adventurous amongst you, you can take a good few seconds pondering whether to have crinkle cut or onion fries. There’s a slightly more varied drinks menu (soft drinks, beers, milkshakes), but it really takes barely any time at all to place your order and then take a perch on one of the stools set around the one large table in the centre, or by the countertops next to the windows. (I should point out that there’s three – that’s right, three! – options on the breakfast menu that’s served until 11am.)
Two Camden Pale Ales were swiftly dispensed to us over the counter – it’s kind of a self-service sort of place – before our order number was called out. It immediately became apparent that two portions of fries was too much for two people; that aside, these large, crispy fries had that McDonalds kind of taste to then. The burger, with the patty very nearly spilling out of its bun (as it should be) had only a light coating of melted cheese, which meant the overall cheesiness was rather on the light side; whether that’s good or bad depends on how you like your cheeseburgers, I suppose. The salad components of the burger – lettuce and a tomato slice – were a little low-rent looking (though, I suppose, how high quality can these items ever be?); all of this combined meant a very tasty though not epically mind-blowing burger.
As posh as these fast food places are, you still take no longer to eat your food and depart than something on a high street. We couldn’t quite figure out whether we were supposed to dispose of our own rubbish or whether someone would clear up after us, as both seemed to be happening around us. As tasty as Dirty Burger is, it’s a a bit on the pricey side for what it offers and that includes the whole sit down restaurant experience. If it was larger and provided more of an opportunity to knock back some more beers (or, ooh, cocktails!) before/during/afterwards, then perhaps a more positive impression might be left than the fact that you’ve just spent almost £15 for a burger + chips + beer. It feels a bit like a hip “try-once” kind of place…although I might have to take away that hip tag seeing as a Level 42 song was playing whilst we where there.
All in all, Dirty Burger leaves you hanging with two questions:
How can anyone work out in that tiny LA Fitness across the way?
And do Level 42 still exist?
79 Highgate Road