Honest Burgers is rapidly becoming a London institution when it comes to finding…well a good burger. From its humble beginnings as a Brixton shop, the franchise has exploded across town with locations in Soho, Camden, KX, and Portobello. The menu is fairly simple with 3 main burger options (and a veggie one too) plus a special with changes on a near monthly basis and a slowly expanding range of sides. Each shop is quite small and cosy but it’s worth the wait to sink your teeth into their meat. At £8-10 for the burgers (including chips), the price is pretty damn awesome too.
In the Portobello branch there is almost no room to wait either in the restaurant (or even outside it on the weekends when the market is in full swing). Your best bet is to hole up in a pub or try a bar such as Trailer Happiness down the street. HB will take your name and number down and give you a ring when your table is ready so don’t wander too far and make sure you have signal!
What to eat?
Well presumably you’re here for a burger, and my personal preference is for the special. I’ve had the Honest Burger which is the beef patty with onion relish, bacon, and cheese and it’s a good option but I find the specials to be creative with well balanced flavours and exciting combinations. The Louisana Special (aka the True Blood Tribute burger) with bloody mary ketchup was so damn good I almost ordered another one right then and there.
This time the special included comte cheese, smoked onion rings, and pickled green chillies. It was good but left hanging by a poorly toasted bun.
The patty is sourced from the Ginger Pig with their own special cattle and there was never any fear about the quality of the meat. For my tastes, the patty is a bit dense but it retains enough juice for beefy flavour and maintains a good level of tenderness so no real complaints there. On both the standard burgers and the special, the toppings provide a good sideshow that complement the burger without overwhelming it. That’s just what you want as otherwise you might as well aim for a mixed salad with some meat on it. I particularly like the bold flavours the special burger tends to exhibit but then again I crave chilli in everything. Finally the bun – now normally I think the HB bun, while nothing special, does an excellent job holding the burger together. In this case, we were let down by a bun that had got to know the grill far too intimately and the end result was a blackened base that crumbled after a couple of bites. If I wasn’t so hungry, I’d have risked the wrath of the grill guy and sent it back – yep it was that bad.
And yet, despite the quality of the burger, the main reason I keep going back are for the rosemary chips. I remember my first visit where the smell of rosemary saturated the air and that scent comes back in spades each time I’m there. The chips are perfectly cooked with crunchy skin and fluffy cores and the seasoning makes them even more moreish. At times we’ve even ordered extra chips at the risk of eating ourselves into a food coma.
How about a drink?
There are a few craft beers on offer but my personal favourite is the homemade lemonade (actually cloudy proper lemonade and not Sprite). It’s a brilliant counterpart to the burger with its light refreshing flavours with just enough acidity to cut through the richness of the meat.
Worth the dosh?
Usually yes. Two burgers and two lemonades came to £25 which is pretty good for a Nottinghill lunch (or really lunch anywhere in the City). I’d have preferred it if we had grabbed a booth rather than a table by the door (it was a sunny day!) and combined with the burned bun it left a slightly sour taste on the experience. Still, I’ll definitely be back but I think I’ll stick with the Soho branch as that’s always been spectacular.
Find Honest Burger Portobello here
189 Portobello Road, London, W11 2ED
020 7229 4978