Bangers. Mash. Soccer. High tea. Chocolate. What Kate Middleton is wearing. Burgers and lobsters, also apparently HUGE IN LONDON. On a recent trip across the pond, we were taking a stroll through Soho around lunch time hunting for food, obviously, when we happened upon an unusually large crowd. At first, we thought it was a theatre, or maybe a sneaker drop, or maybe they were giving away something awesome. Nope, it was just the average lunch queue at Burger & Lobster, the UK mini-chain of hip restaurants that just serves two different delicacies: burgers and lobsters. Duh. We popped our head in just for fun to see how long the wait was. In addition to the 40-50 people mulling on the skinny Soho sidewalk out front, another 20-30 were jammed into the waiting area at the front of the restaurant. It was 1:30pm already, too (sorry, 13:30), and the wait was an hour and a half. PEOPLE WERE WAITING A MINIMUM OF AN HOUR AND A HALF FOR A BURGER AND A LOBSTER ROLL. F*ck me.
New Yorkers now have the same opportunity. Burger & Lobster has landed on 19th Street, and is one of the hottest UK imports since, what, the Spice Girls? Burger & Lobster only serves three things and they’re all $20: a burger, a grilled or steamed lobster, and a lobster roll. $20, not a bad deal for either a massive lobster roll or a big-ass lobster. In this day and age, it isn’t bad for fully stacked burger, either. Neither their burgers (Nebraska), nor their lobsters (Nova Scotia) hail from London, thankfully, so don’t worry about that. And don’t worry about waiting, either. This restaurant is absolutely massive, with nearly 400 seats, which means it has restaurant game gigantism. It kind of feels like some strange food baby of Hillstone and Red Lobster. And, yes, that’s a compliment.
Is it worth the hype? By New York standards, that’d be a negative. The burger is impressive, and worth a trip to check out on its own merit, but the lobster isn’t exactly as exhilarating as we had hoped it’d be. That being said, we can certainly understand why people would freak out for something like this in London. It’s a great concept, and while the UK food scene is certainly evolving, this is super unique for their current restaurant landscape. Here in NYC, it just doesn’t stand out as much. We’re the mecca of burgers, have plenty of urban fish shacks, and stiff competition when it comes to lobster rolls (Luke, Mary, Pearl). Ultimately, if we want to get our surf on with a little bit of bunned-up turf, we’d rather spend a bit more money and go have a more New York restaurant experience at a place like Lure Fishbar.
We may not go out of our way to eat your lobster, London, but we’ll wake up at 6am to watch the Arsenal game.
The burger is what impressed us the most at B&L.: It’s a 10oz LaFrieda custom blend patty, obviously, and comes on a nice, big, toasted kaiser bun with your choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and optional bacon with no extra charge. It also comes with fries, which is nice. Restaurants charging for fries with your burger is happening way too much these days. It’s got a deep beefy flavor and drips with meat-juice, yet it keeps its composition and goes down smooth. We’d go out of our way to eat it again, and if this review rating was just for the burger, it’d get an 8.0.
Simply put: TOO MUCH BUN. Like, way, way, way, way, WAY too much bun. And it’s not because they are skimping on the lobster, that’s not the problem. The problem is that the bun is simply too thick, and completely swallows and overpowers the lobster, instead of complimenting it, which it’s supposed to do. Plus, their lobster salad recipe is a bit on the bland side. It tastes like refrigerator and ocean. This was a bummer.
A really generous serving of lobster. Happily cleaned our plates, but it wasn’t a home run. Not because anything was obviously wrong with it, it just didn’t give us the F*CK YES I’M EATING LOBSTER FEELING we usually get when we crack open a lobster claw and remove the perfect piece of flesh, dip it in butter, and mount it between our teeth.