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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review: Byron Burgers arrives in Greenwich

'I'll have a gherkin with that..'
I have long thought that the humble burger is the most aesthetically beautiful of foods. The alluring rounded bap top, bulging filling of fresh green lettuce, shiny red slice of tomato and a juicy brown burger is just so tempting...and that's coming from a vegetarian! I have a burger obsession. Maybe it stems from the fact my favourite book as a child was Alexander McCall Smith's The Perfect Hamburger.
(I'm proud of this photo!)
When I heard Byron Burgers was coming to Greenwich I was intrigued as many a meat loving friend has told me how good their burgers are...trouble is, if I'm out and about with a burger eating pal I need to know that I won't go hungry too. Ever since Gourmet Burger stopped making their giant portabello mushroom, things have got tricky, their attempt at falafel is truly dreadful, so would Byron fare any better for the non-meat eaters?

Food for friends
The restaurant itself overlooks the River Thames, on the brand spanking new pier. A contentious issue amongst many Greenwich folk. We used to have a beautiful, simple, traditional pier and now it looks more like a fairground. To be fair though I have always thought central Greenwich lacks in places to eat. The fact they have squeezed in several new chain eateries is actually quite impressive.
Airport runway?
There are two floors at Byron. I opted for upstairs and the best seat in the house; the one that overlooks the centre of the pier, out to the Thames and directly facing the towering lights of Canary Wharf. By night is was spectacular, by day it's going to be the most popular seat in Greenwich,with ample opportunity to people watch.
The Perfect Veggie Burger?
Hopefully this shot puts it into perspective, you can see all the boats arriving - infact it's the first thing travellers see when they disembark from the boat. I was sitting there thinking wow, Byron have the primest location; their burger joint is the first thing you lay eyes on when you get off the boat - the best publicity ever... no need to write a blog post about it!
Sign shortage
And yet there was no signage outside facing the pier...maybe it's coming later? 
(The chap standing in the window upstairs is where I was sitting.)
Slice of life (the plant variety)
Ok, back to the burger! I was promised a chargrilled portabello mushroom, with goats cheese, red peppers, spinach and tomato and was very pleased it turned up in one of their signature squidgy buns.
Thrice bitten
Having watched the video on their website that afternoon I was determined to eat the burger properly - after all their slogan is 'proper burgers'

Burger eating the posh way
But alas, I was defeated, After three bites I couldn't do it and proceeded to eat with a knife and fork! 
Salted by not shaken
I didn't regret my decision. It made my side dish of courgette fries taste better. I could appreciate the individual flavours more like noticing the garlic mayonnaise which previously had been masked by the heavy layer of goats cheese. All in all the veggie burger was alright. I did feel their was way too much cheese - goats cheese is so overpowering you could barely notice the mushroom which is insignificant in comparison. The fries were a nice concept but were drowning in salt - I think they should stick with the KP Salt & Shake crisp theory and let you season them yourself. The other sides sounded appealing too, I'd be well up for coming back and sampling the macaroni cheese.
The Byron Bill
The bill arrived with a badge and a sweet, perfect to eradicate the aforementioned garlic mayo.
Washroom wonderful
The loos were very impressive; the square sinks and mosaic tiles had a holiday charm about them. Though the yellow & blue colour scheme is a bit bizarre, it's very seaside like even though the establishment is on a river.

So, to round up. Byron Burgers opens to the public today at midday (I managed to test it out the night before!).  Although the building itself is a little clinical (I'm not sure about the wooden panelling and the staircases feel nothing like an eaterie), it has an outstanding location. There is also a roof garden - and there's not alot of those around in this area. The opening has been delayed by two weeks since work on the Cutty Sark is behind. The pedestrian access to the area is still restricted and their neighbours aren't yet functioning but come summer, I'm sure it will be heaving with locals and tourists alike. 

I can't comment on the meat, but I live in hope that one day burger joints will realise that veggies don't just eat veg, as nice as the mushroom was, we'd much rather have a filling soya burger for a more authentic experience. But hey ho, the concept is about the all-American hamburger and in that respect, Byron seem to be doing the right thing.

 Byron Burgers, East Pavilion, Greenwich Promenade, London, SE10 9HT
Open 3rd April 2012, midday to late seven days a week.

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