It was some stuck up local denizens that turned me on to Byron. We were on Upper Street with 55 minutes until ‘Get Him To The Greek’ began (don’t bother) and looking for fast food fast. Following these basted turkeys trussed up in heels and halternecks we heard them dismiss some corner joint as “scruffy”, and when they’d tottered their bouffant abominations out of my field of vision there it was: a beautiful beacon of decayed walls and buggered up brick that sold burgers. The fact these clueless girls masquerading as aesthetes detested Byron was exactly what turned me on to it and we were plonked on some furniture seemingly reclaimed from a remote polling station before we knew it.
While its dilapidation was kind of contrived and the upstairs looked like some squatters had been freshly evicted, it felt comfortable and cool. The menu is American-influenced with some European twists; Elderflower pressé sits alongside A+W Root Beer and Fentiman’s Ginger, while milkshakes come chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or Oreo. Alcohol is a united nations of taste that offers Brooklyn lager alongside Peroni, Asahi, London Pride and Thatcher’s Old Rascal cider. Wine meanwhile is from the usual suspects and comes either Good, Better, Great, or Best. Nice and simple.
The namesake burger was a plump fistful of medium rare beef apparently ground that morning at 5am and topped with lettuce, tomato, crunchy back bacon and the kind of politely bland cheese and unassuming bun that purists assume are needed to allow the beef full limelight. Personally, I’d rather have every ingredient pulling their weight but I think I’m in the minority. Its namesake sauce was some homemade blend of ketchup, Worcestershire and blended gherkins and a slippery toad of a whole gherkin completed the plateful. A side of courgette chips were tempura tongues of unremitting temptation while a veggie burger conjured in five minutes as my date was late was an inspired combo of Portobello mushroom, red pepper, goat’s cheese and aioli. Our waitress was boundless joy and no service charge was added.
The anti-corporation Michael Moore part of my soul does worry about how fast this company is spawning chains (five minutes ago: none, now: nine), but for now, they’re A-OK.
Price per head: Under fifteen quid
Soundtrack: The hiss of the 341 bus and the ‘Spare Any Change’ song on repeat – we were eating on the pavement
Clientele: Upper Street meat freaks
Been there? What did you think?