Burgers are big business. From street vendors coming in from the cold to little independents growing into massive chains, it seems that if you serve burgers, you are looking at success. Hache Burger is one of the big winners of our new-found love of the patty-and-bun, and their ever-growing empire now includes a trendy east London addition.
Hache Burger isn’t quite the same as some of its burger-worshipping competitors – they want to fancify the burger-scoffing experience. And, although the Shoreditch venue is a little more stripped back with simple wooden tables and glimpses of exposed brick, it’s still elegant. It’s similarly sized to their Clapham restaurant with enough covers for around 70 people, which is rarely enough given this chain’s popularity. The branding is what is key here, and the sleek exterior and strong white-on-black logo works particularly well in Shoreditch and stands this place apart from its surroundings (although some will no doubt lament the gentrification of the area, which Hache seems to be buying into).
While many of its competitors have gone for the edgy street vendor appeal, Hache Burger is smartening up the burger-eating experience. For a start, you can book a table, so the annoying trend of standing out in the cold for up to two hours at a time just to be seated is out of the window. Phew. It also means you don’t have to eat dinner at 5.30pm just to ensure you avoid the crush. Once in, the service is pretty slick and although this couldn’t be called fast food, you can certainly squeeze in an easy dinner before heading off for drinks or the cinema. As far as the clientele goes, most of the uber-trendies have moved on so skinny jeans and crazy haircuts are only observable some of the time, and you won’t feel out of place heading here straight from work.
Hache Burger sits somewhere between Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Byron. The menu isn’t as inventive as the likes of MeatMission but they have certainly taken it beyond the humble cheeseburger (although you can have one if you really want it). The prices also aren’t the cheapest but they are fitting given the setting. Burgers cost between £7 and £11 for just the burger so you will need to splash out on the little extras.
The burgers themselves don’t go all out with exciting new flavour combinations but they do mix up the regular choice of toppings with different cheeses and some slightly unusual meat combinations. A great example of this is their Steak Louisiana (£8.95). This burger is covered in (the admittedly decidedly disgusting-sounding) American crunchy peanut butter but it is surprisingly delicious. Served in a slightly sweet brioche bun, the creamy peanut flavour mixes well with a strong mature cheese for a strange but tasty sweet and tangy combination. The beef is famed at Hache Burger for its quality and it does live up to its reputation. The thick beef patty is cooked medium-rare on request (this isn’t Westminster, after all) and is juicy, well textured and perfectly seasoned so it doesn’t get lost amongst the strong toppings. This is especially true with the powerful flavours of the Steak Catalan (£10.50), which is served with peppery chorizo, hot fresh chillies and a tangy tomato jam – a great combination of complementary flavours but one that could easily overpower the meat. It doesn’t.
As for the sides, there is a lot from which to choose but chips are a must, and the skin-on chips are substantial, freshly cut and slightly salted for that real junk-food taste that we all secretly love. For £3.25 the bowl is a little small so for two hungry bellies it won’t be enough to just get a burger each and one side to share.
The drink menu at Hache Burger is a little unimaginative. There are a few bottles of commercial wine, bottled beer (including Corona, Hoegaarden, Peroni and Budvar) and a couple of milkshakes, smoothies and soft drinks. It’s a shame that they have ignored the craft beer trend especially as there are some great American beers emerging that are the ideal accompaniment to burgers.
The Last Word
It’s easy to see why the Hache Burger chain caught on. They were one of the front-runners in the ‘posh burger’ movement that has since gone on to be something of a revolution. There is a lot more competition now so it is to their credit that they continue to grow their empire.