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Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Grand Union @ Camberwell Grove
I love burgers. They are up there amongst my top three comfort foods. Recently I felt I should venture out in search of burger heaven. Following the footsteps of my London bible “Time Out”, I decided to go on my own personal quest to find the BEST burger in London, or at least have a pretty good go at it…
I was recently approached by the PR machine of the Grand Union group to visit their newly opened branch in Camberwell Grove.
Having lived in South East London for eight years before returning North of the River, I used to cycle through Camberwell Grove to my then home in Dulwich. I enjoyed cycling down that beautiful street (one of the very few places worth visiting in Camberwell), and with that in mind, I decided to accept GU’s invite and down memory lane I went.
Unlike other burger joints such as GBK and Byron, GU’s new branch has been designed as an historic but rather funky Victorian pub, with beautiful wood panelling and green leather U-shaped sofas resembling those of an American diner.
I liked the décor and the antique furniture, particularly the chairs and the gorgeous tables. Other nice touches included table football, the DJ turnstiles, and an area for drinking & relaxation in their conservatory. This is a place I would not feel rushed with my food, a place to relax and enjoy the company of friends.
We were soon greeted by the lovely manager Rose and her staff and seated in one of their green sofas. Beers in hand, Dr G and I perused the menu and noted a certain resemblance of some of their “Gourmet Burgers” to GBK’s. I had never been to a Grand Union before but had been recommended to try their “Fired Earth Burger” @ £7.95 while Dr G ordered GU’s version of “Avocado & Bacon Burger” @ £7.95 (my own GBK favourite).
Both burgers looked very impressive as they were brought to our table – nicely toasted bread from Rhodes Bakers, stacked up salad greens, tomato slice and other trimmings. The burger itself was, however, disappointing. The meat had been too finely minced resulting in a homogenous and over processed patty. Moreover, the patties had been overcooked, and were on the tough side. My heart sank as I munched through my burger...
The “Fired Earth Burger”, a 7oz beef patty spiced with chilli powder, peppered cheese, sliced jalapenos, fresh rocket and secret spicy sauce, was (as it says on the label) incredibly hot! Dr G’s “Avocado & Bacon Burger” was spot on except that the burger was as overcooked and over processed as mine.
To accompany our burgers, we ordered a portion of their chunky chips @ £2.95 (fresh Maris Piper potatoes, highly rated by Time Out) and a portion of French Fries @ £2.65. These were both delicious, and perfectly cooked. I would heartily recommend them.
I would personally like to return to Grand Union Camberwell Grove once the patty is improved. This is a place that has nearly all the elements for a great burger joint – a warm welcome, unhurried service, stylish and comfortable settings, and among the best chips in town.
Verdict – Good value venue, perfect for families and lazy Sunday afternoons. Serves one of the best chips in London but the patties were disappointing.