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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Mission: Find The Best Burgers in London - The Diner

The Diner @ Islington

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… 

In my quest to find the “best” burger in London, Dr G and I went to The Diner on Essex Road, Islington. It was well after 10pm and only a day before New Year ’s Eve when we visited, but this newly opened American style diner was reasonably busy.

The decor recreates an American 1950s diner, with booths of red leatherette chairs and long formica tables. 


The menu looked impressive with a long list of all day breakfast items, costing between £6 and £8.50, like blueberry or banana pancakes, huevos rancheros, and eggs Benedict among others.



Drink choices were also extensive – The Diner sells beer by the bottle or on draught with a pint of lager costing as little as £3.20. Milkshakes are priced at £4.20 while “hardshakes” (alcoholic milkshakes) cost £7.


I ordered a “Creamy Nut Hardshake” (hazelnut and pistachio ice-creams with Baileys) @ £7. This took a little while to arrive but was well worth the wait as it was indeed very creamy, nutty and surprisingly alcoholic.

Soon enough the rest of our order arrived. I went for the “Californian Burger” (Monterey Jack cheese and Guacamole) @ £6.20. All burgers are served with tomato, lettuce, red onions, gherkins and relish.

It looked well presented and the 7 oz patty was quite chunky. As I bit into the burger my heart sank – the bread was not only cold but it was hard and stale; the meat was completely tasteless and overcooked (I had ordered it medium) and the guacamole tasted straight out of a jar.

Dr G had ordered the “Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich” (Swiss cheese and grilled onions) @ £7. Again this was disappointing – stale and chewy bread, gristly meat making the sandwich virtually inedible.

To accompany our sandwiches, we also made the mistake of ordering a portion of Diner’s “Chilli Cheese Fries” (topped with cheese and hot chilli beef) @ £3.50.

The fries were not only cold but were also hard, undercooked and greasy. I really cannot find anything positive to say about these fries and the greasy, synthetic orange cheese smothered over the most undistinguished chilli beef.


Verdict – one of the worst burgers I have ever eaten, stale bread, and under-cooked, greasy fries. Good “hardshakes” were the only redeeming feature. There are many better options for a burger in Islington and London. Stay away!

The Diner on Urbanspoon


  1. What a fab and thorough write up. That's such a shame about the burger - thanks for the review, I'll be sure to avoid! I've heard a lot of good things about the cheeseburger and triple cooked fries at Hawksmoor, have you been there? Really looking forward to seeing you both again on Sunday!

  2. OMG, this is really odd - I was just reading your blog (when I got an alert on my phone of your comment) and having just gone through Essex Eating's review of Hawksmoor's burger! Seriously considering booking it for either tomorrow or Thursday, it looks fantastic and I just MUST have it, I am a burger addict.

    Yep, very much looking fwd to seeing you on Sunday at Uyen and Simon's.

    Luiz x

  3. Agree that The Diner's burgers aren't the best but their milkshakes are wonderful and I'm a sucker for their diner fries. I've only been to the one on Curtain Road though, so don't know if the standard varies across the branches?

  4. Hi Fiona- thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean, the "hardshake" was the best thing about this meal, i actually enjoyed it a lot. I have never been to the one in Curtain Rd, but heard some good reviews about it which made me wonder whether i just had a really bad experience?? I should go to Curtain Rd to find out....

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  5. Love this review.
    I had a very disappointing experience at The Diner in Islington too. A dry patty on tasteless, slightly stale bread and boring chips brought to us by an unapologetic waitress, who was much more interested in chatting to the bartender than in serving her customers.
    On top of it, I had a soft drink so I missed the only good part!


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