Joe Allen – Lots of history, little taste

Epic burger fail! Intrigued by the great experience Dan H has with the BurgerMonday event hosted by Young & Foodish at Joe Allen, I added it to my burger shortlist. And when the Champagne & Fromage Elite event was right around the corner, this seemed like a perfect time to give it a go.

Interior of Joe Allen

Interior of Joe Allen

I ducked out of work early, sped over to Covent Garden, and within 15 minutes I was the proud owner of a brand spanking new bacon cheeseburger from Joe Allen. The sun was shining on a convenient spot in Covent Garden market with some pretty decent live music and the friendly hostess had thrown in a quarter full bottle of Heniz ketchup to go with the fries. Life was good. Well until the first bite at least.

The burger in its "to-go" box

The burger in its “to-go” box

To be far, the bun is decent and the cheese tasty. Overall, it’s a tad on the small size but filling enough especially with the large portions of fries. But it’s when you get to the meat that it all goes to hell in the breadbasket.

First off, the patty is about 2 inches think and about that in diameter so rather than the typical burger shape you get a cylindrical lump of meat. And it’s dense. How dense is it? Well it’s denser than your stereotypical line backer after a 3 day bender. It’s so dense that I didn’t bite into it so much as gnaw away at the edges. And as Dan H has mentioned, it’s dry. And given I had ordered it medium rare (to avoid just that) and it was very pink, that’s a damn impressive feat of cooking.

Too much meat, not enough flavour

Too much meat, not enough flavour

The fries were alright but nothing special. They are medium-thick cut with moderately fluffy insides but severely lacking in crunch factor.

On the plus side, the interior décor is pretty cool and the hostess was uber friendly and helpful. In fact, I liked almost everything (well prices were a tad high for the quality but not for the location) except the burger patty. And since that’s what I specifically came for it was a bit of a letdown. I can’t say I won’t ever return, but it’s definitely not going to be high on my list. Given you have a Byron and even MEATMarket just around the corner, Joe Allen’s will need to up the stakes in the burger department if it wants to compete.

13 Exeter Street
London WC2E 7DT
Area: Strand
020 7836 0651

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