Friday, 19 February 2010

Intern Eats Free: Guerilla Burgers

Ok, so technically my blog should be work-experience-related, but as I am an undeniable foodie, and as I have had an experience interesting enough to blog, I thought, "What the hey." It's my blog, so I get to make up the rules.

Working for no pay, I clearly have no money. Neither did most of the friends who came with me last night to the launch of Guerilla Burgers in Marylebone, who included 1 law student, 1 MA student and 1 Mphil student. Hence, the free tit bits offered to us were like manna from Heaven.

And the place wasn't too bad either.

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of burgers. I don't eat red meat. Just the thought of McDonalds brings me out in hives. I don't do fries.

But, in the interest of all things new and shiny, I decided to give Guerilla Burgers a go. And reader, I'm glad I did.

Having spoken to the lovely Vikki via Twitter, I secured a place for my nearest and dearest at 8pm. I know, I know, what has the world come to when we meet people online before face-to-face (indeed, this was how my father ended up having an affair, but that's another story for another time).

As soon as we opened the doors to Guerilla Burgers, we were hit with a blast of atmosphere. The red, white and blue graffiti-d decor was fun and so new you could smell the paint, and the 'choons were so loud you could barely hear yourself think. In a good way. In true burger-shack style, much of the seating was booth style, and the tables were set with cute condiment-filled buckets. I felt like I'd been transported to some beach-side dive in Southern California, and kept expecting to see surfers coming in covered in sand, which is an indication of how good the "theme" was, as I was in the middle of London and it was pissing it down outside.

Indeed, our waiter seemed like he'd swallowed a good few mouthfulls of seawater in his life time - an ageing hippie type with a top knot and bushy ginger beard. And of course the requisite surfer dude accent (I'm hoping this wasn't just put on to fulfil my fantasy). We were immediately offered drinks - a fair choice of beers, cider, wine and soft drinks which I was more than happy with, having expected it just to be beer, and I still can't get over the fact that beer tastes like wee.

On to what I'm sure the bit you're all waiting for: The Food. I had been prepared not to be able to eat anything due to my fries and red meat aversion, so was pleasently surprised to be offered a turkey burger alternative, as well as the choice of both sweet potato and crinkly fries.

For the meat eaters at the table, a plate of "skaters" arrived: mini burgers with a choice of spicy tomato or tarragon dressing. I personally think skaters are a fab idea and a unique selling point: they go with the fun, laid back attitude of Guerilla Burgers, as well making the experience very interactive. The crinkly fries arrived, fat and piping hot, and I was assured by all that both they and the burgers were "eeexcellent" (said in Bill and Ted voice).

Obviously, I can't vouch for these, but what I can tell you about is the turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. Served in a little metal dish, the burger meat was juicy and tender, and I loved the seeded-ness of the bun (I'm sure that makes it healthier, right?). But oh my goodness, the sweet potato fries! I think they were on our table for about 5 seconds before the table devoured the entire bowl and begged Surfer-Waiter for seconds. They were un-greasy, well salted and thick, with just the right amount of crunchiness to them. Just thinking about them is making me hungry, which is surprising, as I've just had breakfast. The salad that came with the burgers didn't go down as well as the others, possibly due to the conncotion of ingredients: beetroot, tangerine, apple and walnuts seemed an odd combo. If we were paying, I probably would have sent it back, but then I probably wouldn't have ordered it in the first place, so no harm no foul.

The whole experience was fun: we definitely outstayed our welcome and were in danger of eating them out of house and kitchen, as we kept ordering more food until we were gently and politely told by Mr Surfer that it wouldn't be fair to the other customers if they gave us more than anyone else.

The best thing about Guerilla Burgers, aside from the food, is its strong brand identity, which is full-on without becoming gimmicky. Everything fits from the menu to the decor to the music, which is so important in a market so saturated with mundanity. The one comment I would say is that not all of us were big fans of the "House Rules":

Obviously just a bit of fun, but one friend pointed out that it's not great to have negatives like this on a menu.

Having said that, we left feeling sated and happy, with the definite promise to come again to try their whole menu, and this, I can safely say, makes Guerilla Burgers a success in my books. Maybe now I'll be a burger convert...

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