It was July 4th yesterday and my second adventure with pop-ups took place at a suitable place for Independence Day: Joe Allen’s in Soho. I can safely say that the company was just as good, if not better, but the burger and the service, well I think Fred Smith’s at Andrew’s greasy spoon was the Djokovic to Joe Allen’s Nadal. They were both great but one has to be the winner. It was a good cheeseburger but not a brilliant one and after last week’s it paled in comparison. The cheese was Monterey Jack and Bermondsey Frier beats that any day, the meat was good but a tad too healthy and lean and the fries in Andrew’s were better, and hotter. Nothing can out-chip a greasy spoon chip. Also the cheesecake for dessert was good, but Bea’s brownies last week were exceptional.
This time we shared a table with six others, not just two: two women from CSC (bet you didn’t know that we only have, I think, 3 sq metre of retail space per capita compared to a whopping 16 sq metres in the States and that it takes 15 years, 15!, to get a centre from conception to consumer; no, me neither); someone from the Telegraph and from the Guardian and two housing officers from Camden, one of whom is also a DJ. Everyone was really friendly and up for trying and tasting everything; Daniel of young and foodish was charm itself but, well, the Joe Allen service started off brilliantly but ended a little sourly. There are two sittings and, as we ordered more fries to go with our burgers we were asked/told ‘are you having dessert? Well you only have ten minutes before you have to eat it all and leave the table’. Not quite so charming. And the barman looked as if he’d much rather be playing Titus Andronicus than serving some pop-up plebs.
Having said all that, most of the service was charming, the buffalo slider (a mini-burger for a starter) and buffalo wings were just perfect, best you’ll get this side of the Atlantic and yet again I was inspired by the idea of using a brioche bun for a savoury sandwich. It stays in one piece despite all the juice and is just the right combination of soft and crusty. I might try it with something else. So, though the burger was not as beautiful or as juicy as Fred’s from last week, it was up there in the top seeds; it just wouldn’t win the championship.
Back to recipes, and decent photos, again tomorrow!