Burgers at Berwick Street Market
Some of the best things happen when you’re least expecting them to. Like last Thursday, when a cancelled lunch meeting threw up an accidental London street food opportunity.
This one wasn’t anything new. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. And it certainly wasn’t planned. But it just happened to slot in rather nicely as a break between jobs, so really it had everything going for it.
I’ve recently started working in a shared office space in Soho, which other than completely transforming the structure of my working life as a freelancer, has also led to something rather dangerous – the simple fact that I now work in the middle of a food playground, something which I’ll have to keep tabs on, if my bank balance and I are to remain friends.
So anyway, last Thursday.
In this workspace is a lovely new friend of mine called Daniel who recently moved to London from the U.S. to live with his girlfriend (they met in Madrid, but that’s a whole other story…) And last Thursday Daniel wanted to eat lunch from somewhere that I recommended.
We could have gone anywhere, of course, being in the centre of a thousand bowls of ramen/soup/burgers/sandwiches etc, but being a crisp, sunny day we decided to troop off to Berwick Street Market, which is two minutes from our office.
We walked past the monumental queue attached to Savage Salads, we looked at Freebird Burritos, peered in to Chipping Forecast, lolled at Jimmy’s Old School Rolls and stood next to a Spanish tortilla stall.
And I was just about to settle on a tortilla thing when I spotted Cristiano Meneghin hanging about behind the red canopy of his nearby Tongue n Cheeks stall, which I hadn’t yet shown to Daniel. So for the sake of burger tourism, and possibly to have a chat with Cristiano (but almost certainly not to have a burger), we wandered over.
As I said, I wasn’t planning to have a burger, because after a week of eating well it was meant to be a salad day. And even when I said hi to Cristiano I still wasn’t planning to buy one. Daniel, meanwhile, had struck a deal with his girlfriend Phoebe that he’d give up meat for the month of February. So he wasn’t planning to dip in either.
But, then, Cristiano did something that all burger masters should do if they’re trying to sling a few extra sandwiches that day. He started to fry up some patties on the grill for another customer.
So suddenly we found ourselves unable to tear ourselves away from the smell, and the thought of what eating a burger might do to improve our general sense of wellbeing. And that was it, really. We ordered, we handed over the cash before we could change our minds, and the deal was sealed.
For five minutes we waited and talked and got used to the feeling of having been disloyal to salads.
And then for about 3.5 minutes after that we stood in a sunny patch on the side of the market and stuffed our faces – me on my favourite, a simple Original (beef patty, cheddar, spicy chimichurri sauce, water cress, sour cream), Daniel on the Piccante (beef patty plus, Nduja (spicy Italian soft salami), smoked provola cheese, Kewpie mayo, pickled red onions, gem lettuce).
And the burgers were perfect; the best kind of guilty pleasure.
So thank you Paul for cancelling that meeting last week…