Friday, 5 August 2011

Hache: I got no beef

At its heart, the burger is a trashy concept. When a group of friends decide to pop out for a cheap meal, they may rack their brains for an interesting idea, but somewhere in the depths is a voice that constantly whispers: ‘A burger. Go for a burger’.

So we swallowed our pride and hunks of reconstituted meat at McDonald's or, if we felt particularly daring, a Burger King.

But suddenly we didn’t have to, because some bright spark dressed up the burger in a floury artisan bun, put a real tomato in it and put the word gourmet in the title. A few years later, London’s best burger restaurant was born.

Hache is a small, dimly lit cove on Inverness Street, just within hearing distance of the teeming millions at Camden Market. Stepping inside at lunchtime is like putting ear plugs in, but the effect is quite to opposite in the evening. The small, lino-floored restaurant has a buzz that makes you forget the sometimes slapdash service.

The best thing on the menu has to be the Indian burger, which cleverly combines two comfort foods by adding spices to the beef, mango chutney instead of relish and a crispy (not to mention oily) onion bhaji on top. Impossible to eat with my hands and too delicious to waste time with a knife and fork, I ended up eating it in just six mouthfuls (surely a restaurant record) before sampling my companion's duck burger. Such a dish sounds ridiculous, not to mention strangely cruel (as if the cows deserved their sticky end), but ducks and bread go together right to the end. They also go well with the spring onions and hoi sin sauce Hache put on.

I have been three times now and am still to make a dent in the menu, which consists of no fewer than 15 beef burgers. If you are not a fan of beef I don’t know why you would go to a burger restaurant. However, Hache does not judge is patrons, and has graciously supplied variants from chicken and lamb burgers of several varieties, to avocado salads and falafel burgers.

In fact, the only place where choice is limited is the drinks menu, particularly in the beer section, which sticks to standards such as Becks and Corona. It may be a little over-fashionable at the moment, but the addition of some US craft beers or real pilsners would complement the heavy cuisine and myriad flavours much better, and be in keeping with the ’gourmet’ styling of the food. It would also be interesting to see more precise beer and food matching, such as having a Kingfisher to go with the Indian burger.

Despite this missed opportunity you’d be hard pressed to leave the restaurant not promising to yourself to go again, even if it can be a little pricey (the duck burger is around £12 without chips). But next time you hear that persistent whisper in your head, remember everyone is thinking the same thing – and go to Hache.

24 Inverness Street, London NW1 7HJ
020 7485 9100 

Hache Burgers on Urbanspoon   Square Meal