Tuesday 26 June 2012


With the burger assault on London clearly not abating, I visited another semi-permanent, fully trendy burger bar in Shoreditch. Box Park, straddling Shoreditch High Street station, is a long term, pop-up shopping mall and food court, with those involved given solid, compact and unglamorous booths to strut their stuff. Downstairs is top end high street fashion; upstairs is a collection of cafes and restaurants, mainly small chains and independents. In amongst some appealing places to eat is Bukowski, a burger and fries joint that sticks to the brief – no messing around with fancy sides, no desserts, quick service and cheap prices.
         I say cheap – the ‘purist’ burger is £5.50 and well worth it, the large chips (£2.50) are both actually large and fantastic. None of the burgers break a tenner, most quite comfortably, and all are of good quality. Some may still find the prices steep at what is essentially a glorified Ikea cupboard serving fast food, but compared to prices and standards further west, this seems accessible and fair.  
          Triple cooked, beef dripping chips are the highlight of a menu which is high on flavour and a little way short on texture. The straight up ‘purist’ burger was meaty and rich, and the flavour of the beef was dominant as you would hope, but the meat was a tad dry and too compacted, the bun too reminiscent of a dry cake. A £9.50 rib burger was tasty, but the smoked cheese overpowered the meat and there was not enough of the promised maple bacon jam. The accompanying Waldorf coleslaw was delicious but little consolation for those expecting burger induced fireworks for their tenner. A Mexican style pulled pork bun was big on flavour, but too uniform in texture, depriving us of the pleasure of chewing on dry, charred bits of pig for the sake of easily swallowed but easily forgotten tenderness.
So to the beer. 3 different bottles of Hopdaemon as the only options is a pretty odd choice, but actually not a bad one. They clearly like these beers and it is easy to see why – the Green Daemon lager is a brilliant, refreshing and quenching accompaniment to salty, rich food, and mine was gone in minutes. Bigger and bolder is Shrimshander IPA, its dark amber depths delivering punchy, slightly sweet citrus upfront with big amounts of hop bitterness and alcohol at the finish. This is great with the pulled pork and with the cheese on the rib burger. A slender list it may be, but far superior to the macro lager most chain restaurants will offer, and at £3.60 for 500ml bottles it is really good value. Cocktails are a fiver and very decent, but again only a few options are offered. Bukowski is yet another quality, affordable place to eat with craft beer on the menu, and although not the best burger in town, this is something to be happy about.

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