London’s Master of Burgers – Burger Me! interview
Searching for London’s best burger is no easy task, and unfortunately there is certainly a lot of chaff out there! But Nick has made it his personal mission to find the capital’s best burgers by putting his gut on the line so that you don’t end up wasting your time munching on a greasy rock-hard bun with a rubbery patty, all topped off with (horro of all horros) 3-day old salad…
We sat down with Nick to hear all about his love of burgers, alongwith his thoughts on why Britain’s burgers can smack down anything served up by our American cousins!
hungryhouse: London is awash with burger joints, and searching for the city’s best burger is no easy task, so what first inspired you to take the plunge and start the Burger Me! blog?
Nick: It started, as all good stories should, with a couple of lunchtime pints and a burger. I was waxing lyrical about the burger and my dining companions jokingly suggested that I should blog about it. So I spent a bit of time researching and realised there was no-one on the UK blogging scene specifically focusing on burgers – this was back at the end of 2010 – and so Burger Me! was born.
hungryhouse: What do you love most about food blogging? (Aside from the mountain of burgers you’ve been lucky enough to taste on your travels of course!)
Nick: I get great satisfaction from eating, analysing and writing about my burgers. I’ve built up a great body of burger tasting experience over the years, and so discovering a new burger gem is pretty exciting. I’ve also built up a great social following on Twitter and Facebook, and interacting with that community is fun.
A little less Gourmet, a little more burger please
hungryhouse: When reading the Burger Me! blog, it feels as if you expose yourself to the good, the bad and the ugly of London’s burgers so that we (the reader) don’t have to. Is this because you think the term ‘Gourmet Burger’ gets misused too much nowadays and regularly leads the typical punter into throwing their money away on a really poor burger?
Nick: My goodness there are some bad burgers out there!
I’ll admit it pains me to know that people are throwing their hard earned cash away on burgers that don’t hit the mark, but on the other hand, I’m constantly impressed by the number of places upping their game and producing some really great burgers. ‘Gourmet Burger’ is a term that’s banded around a lot, but to me sums up the image of Delia Smith mixing up breadcrumbs, egg, Worcester sauce, and ‘spices’ into her burger patty. *shudder*.
My aim has always been to be a source of reference that anyone can turn to in order to check whether the place they’re about to eat at does a great burger, or where the nearest great burger is – in fact I created London’s first Burger Map in 2011, and have recently added an interactive element which you can check out here.
I also update my list of the Top 10 Burgers in London twice a year, so your readers can check that out too.
The good, the bad and the fugly
hungryhouse: Now walk us through the rating system, you award points for all aspects of the burger including the bun, presentation, toppings plate accessories (sides) and meat. Do you review the ‘whole package’ in order to sort the chaff from the truly awesome burgers?
Nick: So I score out of 10. Technically speaking that’s 2 points per area, but there are burgers that are greater than the sum of their parts, and those are the ones that are in the 9+/10 point range. They’ve got the Burger Me! factor.
hungryhouse: How do you decide which burger joints are worth a visit? Do you take personal recommendations from friends or readers via social media, or do restaurant owners actively contact you and ask for a review from you?
Nick: I’m happy to check out a burger joint from most sources – I get a lot of PR agencies inviting me to launches and for reviews – but I prefer recommendations from my network, and buzz from social channels – they tend to be more authentic. Currently I have over 20 places on my hit list – so many burgers, so little time!
hungryhouse: Have you ever had any restaurant owners write to you after you’ve given a poor review begging you for another chance at a review?
Nick: I often get contacted after good and poor reviews, with those restaurants who aren’t serving a good burger falling into two camps. The “there must be some mistake” group, and the “thanks for the pointers” bunch. The former tend to be in denial, the latter are encouraging as they want to improve their burger experience.
Britain’s got salad
hungryhouse: Gourmet Burgers are big business in London, but how do London’s burgers match up to the traditional burgers you might find in the USA?
Nick: That’s tough. In general they tend to be very different, but a fair few burgers in London doff their caps to their cousins across the pond in style and taste, while others are staunchly British affairs. I think London holds its own in comparison.
hungryhouse: There’s a Burger Me! clothing line, and you’ve been featured on the BBC and CNBC…did you ever imagine when you started Burger Me! back in 2011 that the blog would take off in the way that it has?
Nick: And don’t forget my custom burger cufflinks! No, not at all, I’ve had such an amazing response – a few months ago I passed 1.2 million page views and my audience is still growing – it does put pressure on for even more content though. Maybe I’ll need an assistant soon!
hungryhouse: Do you have a fitness regime that helps your body to cope with the mammoth amount of burgers you munch away through each year? (Note: It’s over 80 a year readers!)
Nick: I’m relatively lucky that my commute into London gives me just under an hour of cycling a day, and I play 5-a-side football twice a week – so I get a decent cardio workout most days. This is a good thing or I’d soon be looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
hungryhouse: What’s next for Burger Me! Do you think your body could handle you reviewing the capital’s best big burgers?
Nick: Oh god, no. I find quality tends to compromise quality. I’m working on a few things – some video content, more infographics, as well as tracking London’s best burgers, so plenty to keep me busy!
hungryhouse: Last but not least, what are your favourite food blogs?
Nick: When I started out, I used to read a lot of food blogs, but as time has gone on I only dip into a few that I know share my taste in food, and who’s writing I enjoy. They include How Not to Do a Food Blog, The Picky Glutton, and fellow burger bloggers Burger Anarchy, whose video recipes are legendary
Thanks Nick for taking the time to speak to us.
All about Nick: Hello, I’m Hamburger Me, and I like burgers. A lot. I author London’s pre-eminent burger blog, the eponymous Hamburger Me, which provides news, reviews and updates on the best burgers across the capital.