The Otherside Magazine was a online and print based London lifestyle magazine. Under their banner I have written many food related articles, with my main feature being an ongoing search for the best burger in town. The Burger Hunter ran for the whole period I wrote for them. I have still not found the best burger in town. Keeping my eye on the new up and coming establishments in town was my second passion. The final quest, at my time with the Otherside was finding hidden gems that might have slipped by the big guns in the London food establishment. Unfortunately the Otherside magazine seize to exist, here a few articles I have written for them.
The night had turned into an unforgiving beast. He was lost down the back streets of Marylebone. Winter was on the approach, the early sunset had led him astray, he was not dressed for the cold chill that wrapped its icy cloak around him. In this district all the buildings look the same, the streets intersect and a network of similar squares leave you entangled in a complex web of Imperial construction.
After Dark, your eyes start to fail you. After dark, your surroundings become outlines and silhouettes. Eyeballs scan, taking in less information, your brain compensates and fills in the gaps. Your survival instinct peaks, the element of fear is justified. As you step deeper into the night, the possibility of an unknown fate increases your lust for life. Do you curl foetal or look towards a last meal? Turning a street corner, and from the black of night to pure brilliance. In the distance, lights burn neon and on the nose comes the heavy and sweet smoke of shishas.
His stomach rumbled audible, he was just off the Edgware road. A place that at no matter what time still rang with chatter and the chance of a night feed. Crossing the grand boulevard, he headed straight towards the light,and into the shawarma oasis, Ranoush Juice. Overwhelmed by the brightness, the warmth in character and the contrast to the bitter darkness that he had just come from, he got in line and leaned against the produce stuffed fridge counter. Above shelves of pineapples and bananas promised fresh rejuvenation juices. The revolving spits of chicken and lamb sent out mouth watering signals to his taste receptors. Further along the counter, a production line shawarmas were in the process of being constructed. With a final twist of the wax paper these tubes of slow cooked marvels were ready to be eaten on the go. Picking up his fruit cocktail shake, he headed back out into the night.
The element of fear was satiated by the nutrient charged delivery of the wrapped shrine to life, light and moist, seasoned chicken. The first bite neat and precise. A little trick to eating these things, is to keep them wrapped and peelas you eat. If not, the pitta bread attempting to hold back the wetwork carnage, will breech and once in the light you will notice that you have a new set of stains for your troubles. This is a two sauce and dripping chicken, face mess fiasco.
He was sucker-punched by pickles and slurped on some shake, bursts of berry and banana brought him back on track. As he walked, the warm scents of Edgware road receded, he was still busy, occupied by the unravelling shawarma. Bits of tomato and lemon scented chicken spilled out into the great beyond. He crammed what was left into his mouth. The garlic sauce elevated his mood and shone light where there was none, the sesame sauce energised his body, uplifted, he powered his way through the dark zone. Soon he could see the end of this particular tunnel. He shot out the other side and on to Baker Street, belly full, the darkness behind him. His brush with doom was a light sprinkling of mortality, a dash for the divine and all its rewards. A pleasure push in the right direction, food with a sense of adventure and atmosphere.
Make your meal a thrill and little bit of a chill.
by Greg Nay.
43 Edgware Road W2 2JE
Tel: 020 7723 5929
Days of being cooped up in the house have left me all cabin fevered, and before I get a case of the 'Shining', trapped in the last days of Christmas sentiment, I must escape for a pint. Breath in the crisp outside air and brush off pine needles that are stuck in devious places. I want to wash the festive season from my mouth, have the bartender pour me a pint of the New Year. Not any drink will do, no badly piped sewer brew, but a beer that's like a hopped up jack-rabbit, getting randy with your taste-buds.
Lucky for me, Brewdog has rolled its way down from Scotland and planted roots in Camden. The brash anarchic boys of brewing(Martin Dickie and James Watt), enjoy using an over-kill of heaving hops and a fine blend of intense malts, which makes their beers stand out from the crowd of subtle, low-key and just ticking over beers served in most pubs right now. I can't tell you how many times I've been to a pub and really tried to like the ales and the bitters, only to find them soapy, limp and needing some kind of energising. Maybe I have a juvenile tongue, a superficial taste construct, built on the bold and the brash, on Kool-Aid and Marmite; overpowering in nature and divine in execution. I save my little whims for red wine that lasts on the nose and mouth, but if I want a brewski, I want to be slapped in the face, and made to quiver, I need a beer that will rinse you out.
London right now has a decent smattering of craft brew pubs, and Brewdog is a welcome addition to this scene. If you like their beers, you will be in a little drop of heaven, as they serve not just the regulars from their armoury, but a rotating selection on tap and bottled that you can't imbibe in anywhere else. Not stopping at just their beers, they want to share the love and have brought together a bunch of beers from brewers that share their passion. They are the only pub to sell Lagunitas , so if you dork out on American beers then this a definite pit-stop for you on your quest for another Yankee brew. From lambics to barley wine, you will find your tipple.
And, if you don't want a drink, or you have drunk too much, then soak it all up with some food from Masterchef winner Tim Anderson, who has designed some perfect beer drinking buddies- pizzas and burgers. As you might have seen from his slot on Masterchef, don't expect the food to be a festering insult to two of mankind's most humble foods, but more of a international safari of flavours and taste exploration.
What are you waiting for? Get your arse out the house.
by Greg Nay
113 Bayham Street, Camden Town London, NW10AG
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7284 0453
Whilst walking around Brixton Market, a truly Honest Burger was found…….
Everything about this place breaths new world order(not the Ronald Reagan bullshit), but a place where real people have tried to build their own identities. Through produce, attitude and delivery. From the reclaimed wood that has been sawn, hammered and nailed into tables and counter fronts.
This is a bare bones brigade production. Here the product is at the forefront. Horns mounted on a featureless wall give a simple nod to what we are about to receive, amen.
The burger brought out, sat in a shroud of butchers paper, accompanied by a batch of rosemary seasoned home fries. The tell tale slide of enamel against the smooth grain of a homemade table made the ritual devouring of another burger that much more endearing.
After the first bite, the bun spilt, stress tears, weakened by a combination of pleasurable juice
extractions and structural decisions. A red onion relish, stalwart of the British burger condiment regime, moorish, and not overly sweet and sticky like most versions served up. The onions provided the glide, the bacon rigidity, and the mild cheddar schmoozed all over the parade. Wondrous brown meat stains left on the white fluffed interior of my glossy puffed bun kept the action vivid throughout. The course Ginger Pig sourced beef gave way without much of a fight- which is the way it should be.
The sneakily hidden, low lying pickles of the rear guard lay under the meat, crunching with just a little pressure. Keeping calm and carrying on; the smart move of incorporating a wet ingredient on top and one down below, maintained an emergency supply of moistness incase the battle tank of beef dried up. Fortunately this was not the case and the patty held out till the end. The final intake, the beef quick to crumble and the victory was theirs.
This very British burger, survived my blitzkrieg bop of an attack valiantly. There is a burger for every occasion, if you want a yankee burger melt, don't come here. If you want an exceptional well balanced, composed bit of new Blighty, make your way to this establishment. This is the new frontline, the flagpole has been placed, the proper British burger has been born.
Unit 12, Brixton Village, SW9 8PR
-The Meat Easy-
I have ticket number 27. They've reached 13 and 14. The music is going strong. The first burger has been served to the most eager beaver. All eyes on him, or shall I say his burger.
Most people looking kinda serious, their ears pricking at the slightest sizzle of beef. The upstairs full, the downstairs a construction site.The Goldsmiths Tavern is having a refit, soon even the Meat Easy will be gone from its location above the pub.
Chalk letters on the freshly painted front door, the only sign that something's going down. A little like a speak easy, more like a meat easy. Tacky lines just a front for my brimming excitement.
While I wait for my number to be called there is plenty of time to check out the options. Standard cheeseburger,bacon cheeseburger, chilli cheeseburger and.. the dead hippie. Two mustard fried beef patties, cheese,lettuce and special sauce. Originally I was going to go for the classic, but Dead Kennedys are playingon the stereo and I'm getting punk bloodlust. So the 'Dead Hippie' it is. "California über alles" all the way. Number called, food ordered, another beer sunk and I killed the hippie. He was a soft burger thrill. Pillowy bun, mild meat, perfect
for the double dip. One mustard,one ketchup.
You can put burgers into two different categories. The brash n' bold, the taste of overkill. Meat for the sake of beef sensations. Ingredients to excite and ignite your imaginations . Buns to make a statement, to hold down the fort. The other, there to be a burger, to be that thing you see in a comic book. The one Jughead drools over. Not trying to prove anything, it just is what it is. Comfort food to help you along. A standard bearer for the iconic status of the burger. The Meat Easy burger proudly fell into the latter category.
Don't get me wrong, I love the wildcats, the too far out and the whacked, but the mythology of a burger is built on a solid foundation. It is something that comes without bells and whistles, that slides down a treat, accepts the ritual application of its condiment cousins and doesn't rejectthem as not worthy.
The burger that I just scarfed down, is all good in my books and even better in my stomach.
The Meat Easy closes down after tomorrow night. If they have escaped you this time don't worry because they are going to be back in one form or another. check out their website for future shenanigans.