Boyfriend Steve secured an invite for ‘the Coronation of the Juicy Bastard Burger as London’s Reigning Burger‘ by direct messaging Burger Craft on Twitter. All the invite gave away was that it would be a ‘right royal night of beer, songs and handcrafted burgers‘, so we weren’t sure what to expect but, especially after sampling the Juicy Bastard at Burger Fest, we were looking forward to a tasty night.
Having found our way to The Crown pub on Lavender Hill, from Clapham Junction, we were greeted by a very friendly man who we presumed was the pub landlord. To our delight, he asked us what drinks we’d like and promptly handed Steve a large bottle of craft beer and poured me a glass of fruity, Sangria-like ‘Coronation Punch’. He welcomed us to come back for more once we’d finished, completely free of charge! A musician was competently playing new and classic pop/rock songs in a corner, so we found a seat and table within earshot and sat for a while enjoying our drinks and the music. Scattered around the room were plastic stands displaying photos of Burger Craft’s different burgers, complete with their names and descriptions. All of this ramped up our anticipation for the burgers we’d been told would be brought to us, eventually!
The Juicy Bastard
After what felt like an age, eventually we saw halves of Burger Craft’s signature Juicy Bastard burger — that being ‘crowned’ as ‘London’s reigning burger’ that night — emerging from the kitchen on small paper plates. Like hungry dogs we stopped mid-conversation to fasten our eyes on the burgers being brought towards us by a waitress. However — disaster! — two of the three burger halves she was holding went to the couple sat in front of us, leaving only one half for Steve and I to share! We were grateful for it being a generously sized beast.
Contents: Two thick and flavoursome beef patties, luxuriant melted American cheese, a slightly sweet BBQ sauce, lambs lettuce and sliced tomato.
So hungry were we that we’d demolished this burger before really stopping to note what we were eating! Nevertheless, we couldn’t help but notice its lovely juiciness and sauciness, thanks to the melting together of the cheese, BBQ sauce, tomato and meat juices. This made for a very messy but completely pleasurable few bites.
Crowning the burger
After some more waiting and another glass of punch — though unfortunately no second burger half — suddenly the lights dimmed and a fanfare began to play. It was announced that everyone should gather round to watch the Juicy Bastard burger be crowned, and so we joined the crowd of people (and one dog) gathering around the stage area formerly occupied by the musician.
The landlord swept in from the side, wearing a gold cloak and holding a perfectly assembled Juicy Bastard burger that he placed on a stool. He then produced a plush cushion on which sat a tiny crown, which he then placed on top of the burger, declaring it the best burger in London as the crowd clapped and cheered!
We were then given an even better reason to cheer — when the landlord declared that there were sliders (miniature burgers) of Burger Craft’s other burgers on the way. We returned to our seats in hope of finally having our bellies filled!
At long last, adorable little sliders began to emerge from the pub’s kitchen and this time we were determined not to let them pass us by! We grabbed one each of the first and were told it was ‘The Farmyard’.
Contents: one thick beef patty, slow-braised ham hock, fried duck egg, lambs lettuce and wholegrain mustard mayo.
As you can see from the photo, the chunks of ham hock were a central feature and they added satisfying chewy texture and flavour to the burger. The rich and creamy flavour of the duck egg really came through in every bite, in a way that I don’t think regular chicken egg could have. These two elements combined with the beef patty to produce a wholesomely meaty taste, but compared with the Juicy Bastard I thought this burger a little dry due to having only scant mayo and no cheese. The tasty seeded bun was a really nice touch.
The sliders were now arriving at our table thick and fast, much to our relief. At first glance, all we could see in the patty with the ‘Sombrero’ slider was salad. But turning it around revealed a gorgeous ooze of chilli-flecked cheese and ketchup that I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into.
Contents: one beef patty, fresh jalapenos, stilton, watercress, tomato, red onion, mayo, chipotle ketchup
This burger’s sauce didn’t disappoint. The jalapenos and creamy stilton melted into the chipotle ketchup to create an unctuous, mildly spicy sauce with a lovely sweet-chilli kick. The chunky tomato, tangy onion and attractive green leaves added a welcome, contrasting freshness. Sweet, gooey and lovely.
Our next slider was — shock horror — a chicken burger! Certainly a clever move by Burger Craft to break up the stream of red meat we’d had up until that point. I love chicken burgers, so I couldn’t wait to see how it compared with my favourites.
Contents: two deep-fried chicken breast pieces, buffalo mozzarella, crispy parma ham, fresh basil paste, blushed tomato mayo
The chicken pieces, though quite small and thin, were nicely done — crisp and golden on the outside, soft and white on the inside. The mozzarella was pleasantly stringy and a great match for the chicken. The basil paste imbued each bite with a strong pesto flavour that, although nice in itself, rather overwhelmed the more delicate flavours of the burger’s other contents. The parma ham tucked underneath the chicken, for example, was barely noticeable. Another drawback was that my particular slider didn’t seem to have much of the mayo promised, leaving it rather dry.
Bacon BACON Bacon
Yes, that really is this burger’s name! Named as such for containing three different forms of bacon… needless to say, we had been looking forward to this one.
Contents: one beef patty, sandridge streaky bacon, crispy bacon dust, homemade bacon jam
This was my favourite of all the sliders we tried! Meaty, cheesy, saucy and containing a variety of textures and flavours. The best part was the bacon jam — like a sweet, sticky and tangy chutney. The bacon bits atop the patty were meaty and chewy, the American cheese unctuous and sinfully delicious. It had almost everything I want from a burger — all except salad, which would have played a slightly redeeming role amid this carnival of fatty goodness!
I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, so I wasn’t too upset when I thought we might miss out on the Truffle Shuffle due to it being served last, by which time we were pretty full. But I was glad when it appeared at the last minute, giving me the opportunity to at least give it a try.
Contents: one beef patty, roasted flat mushroom, gruyere de comte cheese, water cress, black truffle mayo
Immediately I noticed that this slider had quite a pungent ‘fungusy’ smell, whether from the mushroom or truffle I couldn’t tell. It tasted very mushroomy too! But while the flavour wasn’t to my personal taste, the plentiful gruyere cheese was deliciously creamy and gooey. I’m sure it would be an amazing burger for a mushroom lover.
Drunk on burgers
Four hours, six burgers and much free booze later, we decided it was time to make a move. Sliders we’d tried already were now coming round for a second time and at a faster rate than before, but by this time we were just too full to accept them! At one point during the night Kelly, who runs Burger Craft’s Twitter account, sat down to speak to us so we made sure to thank her again for an amazing night before we left.
We’ve never had such a fantastic time without spending any money, so here I’ll say it again — thank you Burger Craft! We will definitely be paying one of your pubs a visit very soon, this time buying our own burgers and drink. 😉