London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tommi's Burger Joint at the Princess of Wales

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Primrose Hill

High quality burger joints have been proliferating London in recent years, thanks in no small part to Adam Richman’s antics on Man vs Food. Whereas four or five years ago you'd be lucky if the best burger you could find in the city was a Big Mac. Nowadays, names like MEATliquor, Patty & Bun, Lucky Chip and Bleecker Street are on everyone's lips. Or at least they are on our lips at every possible opportunity…

So, good burgers are in fashion, but one of the things that doesn’t seem to have made the leap across the pond in the high popularity stakes are the eating challenges that accompany this sort of diner food. They do pop up occasionally; take Hoxton’s Red Dog Saloon for example, but it is with some rarity that they do, and it certainly isn't guaranteed when a new place springs up. So, when we heard that as part of its monthly residency at The Princess of Wales in Primrose Hill, Tommi's Burger Joint would be offering a 'Man vs Food' challenge, we felt obliged to check it out.

Tommi's has been in residency at the Princess of Wales for a while now, popping up on the third Thursday of each month. We arrived at 7.30pm on a Thursday night and it was already full: a testament to just how popular this residency is. We sat down and enjoyed a couple of delicious cocktails; a Ginger Ninja and a Breakfast Margarita from the frequently rotating menu of unique cocktails, to ignite our Dutch courage and got ready for the challenge.

Once we had built up the confidence, we prepared ourselves. The burger that we had to consume consisted of three 7oz patties, each separated by a bun, slathered with homemade horseradish mustard and topped with pastrami, Monterey Jack cheese, deli pickle and onions. We thought, 21oz of beef doesn't sound that much (it's 'only' 1.25lbs) and when you consider that the majority of the challenges undertaken by Richman consist of upwards of 3 or 4lbs of beef, this challenge sounded like it would be a walk in the park.

It wasn't.

The rules of the challenge state that you have to eat it ALL in under five minutes. So, imagine having to knock back a quarter pounder burger (not forgetting the toppings) once a minute for five minutes. We girded our loins as we were seated at the special challenge table. The burgers were put in front of us, and the timer was set off. We went out of the blocks like a shot, separating the layers into three. Burger one was down in under a minute, but burger two really took its toll, and we spent most of the remaining five minutes on it. Our companion on the other hand took a more measured approach. If we were the hare, he was the tortoise, and we’ll spare you the gory details and simply tell you that in this case, the tortoise won and the hare did not.

The burger itself was good. The beef was good quality, and the bun was nice and light. The toppings for the challenge were unusual. It is a scaled-up version of Tommi's special; the New York Burger, and it really made for an interesting flavour. Overall, it was very good, but frankly, we have had better burgers in London. This is a very subjective statement, and the circumstances of our eating it were admittedly unusual, but we would certainly be very interested in giving it another go under slightly less stress.

The Princess of Wales is really a great setting for the residency. Pubs often work well as bases for pop-up burger joints and this is no exception. Like the pub's cocktail menu, Tommi’s Burger Joint keeps a rotating menu of specials that change regularly (the New York Burger is not on the standard menu) so the two seem to be a dream partnership. They'll be back working in combination on 20 March, so start building your appetite.

The Princess of Wales, 22 Chalcot Road, NW1 8LL

Average price of main course: £9 
Average price of glass of wine: £4.50 
Food/drink: 4/5 
Service: 4/5 
Value: 4/5

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