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Spielburger, Hampstead

Bank holidays are all about eating, drinking and chilling out in my book, so that is precisely what I did for the whole of the long weekend. Despite being a piglet at the fantastic Pizarro on Thursday night (read my fairly gushing post here) I was more than ready to recognise Good Friday with some kind of commemorative feast, and particularly a burger based one. We headed to Spielburger, the burger bar offshoot of the Everyman cinema in Hampstead with big expectations and even bigger appetites. (I've actually been before, but me and my friend Lucy had a few too many in The Flask so memories are hazy).

All of London was dead all weekend thankfully, so us four and toddler were easily seated in the exposed brick faux industrial style restaurant - filament lighting, some retro posters, you know the one. Staff were all full fledged Trendy Wendys but very friendly smiley ones who we ordered our bottles of Camden Hells from (it's everywhere now, isn't it!) and made our burger choices. The menu is pretty good; more choice than the purists at Honest Burger but less than the crazy combos at somewhere like GBK.

They say: "Our patties are a coarse ground mix of chuck and 28 day aged rib cap from pure-bred Aberdeen Angus beef, hand selected and traditionally reared on open pastures in Ayrshire" which is to be expected at any decent burger joint these days. All are served on brioche buns which are baked daily. I know the consensus in burger circles is that brioche is the only way, but I do sometimes long for some variety in my bun choice. It would be great to have something less sweet from time to time. All the same, Spielburger clearly know what they're doing here.

We started with some chicken wings which were in a sticky sweet glaze with a cool blue cheesy type dip. They were ok. Nothing special.

The burgers came and spirits lifted. The title shot shows the Hot burger (guacamole, jalapeno sauce, pickled jalapenos) which looked impressive. I'm always wary of guac in a burger in case of lethal levels of sogginess, but this wasn't a concern here and Gary seemed happy enough with his choice.

There was also a pulled pork burger at our table (controversial) from my friend Hannah. I had this one last time and from hazy memory it was nicely flavoured, smokey and soft but whilst the crunchy slaw goes some way to help I missed the contrast in textures that you get from a properly chargrilled beef patty - especially with the cloud like brioche bun.

Rich and I both opted for the Smoked burger (smoked cheese, jerk sauce, smoked bacon) as I struggle without a good bit of crispy bacon in a hamburger and he is a very very bad Jew. The quality of the beef shone through even with the strong smokey flavours and made for a very satisfying lunch. There could have been more cheese, but otherwise the balance of components was spot on. A squirt of habanero mustard proved an inspired choice too. We weren't actually asked how we wanted our burgers cooked, but they got it bang on with a happily blushing interior. Here it is:

It's not the best burger I've ever had - I think I'd reserve that honour for one of The Spaniard's, and our dates reckoned Patty and Bun is up there, a sentiment I have heard a lot but sadly not experienced myself - but for £8 on my doorstep I'm happy with it as an easy rival to Byron, Honest and the like.

The sides were sad though; truffle fries that had zero discernible truffle flavour, and limp sweet potato fries. The 'onion rings' were shoestring versions which I thought were quite interesting, but then I don't like normal onion rings and this viewpoint was not shared by my fellow diners who do.

All in all we left happy, very full but ever so slightly underwhelmed. I'll go back but I wouldn't make a special trip.

Send me your superior burger reccs please!

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