Burger & Lobster Mayfair: Nice concept, pity about the price (December 2013)

Viewed objectively, if part of the reason behind eating out is being able to choose ‘something different’ from a potentially inventive and intriguing menu, then surely a restaurant offering just three choices must be destined to struggle? On the contrary, Burger & Lobster was buzzing when two colleagues and I visited on a recent lunchtime. Three choices – as the name would suggest, burger, lobster or what is effectively a lobster burger – works perfectly for the indecisive or for restaurants seeking to turn their tables quickly. The no-bookings policy at Burger & Lobster would also seem to support this latter theory and is a generally objectionable principle, speaking to a certain conceit on the part of the establishment. But while the restaurant was full, we were pleasantly surprised that neither the serving staff nor the diners appeared to be rushed. The operation runs slickly and efficiently, helping sustain a lively atmosphere, aided by a good musical soundtrack (think quite a lot of retro soul and disco) and pleasant décor, we being seated in a red leather corner banquette. Onto the food, and the three of us each went for a different dish, allowing for all of Burger & Lobster’s wares to be sampled. There were thumbs-up from each of us for our selections, and in general, the portions were generously-sized and well-presented. My lobster brioche was tender and juicy and the accompanying wasabi mayonnaise a nice touch. Being able to drink a pint of hand-pulled English real ale (Harvey’s) with this was an additional positive, and something more restaurants should really consider. While full of plaudits – for concept, atmosphere and food – it does, however, remain the case that a burger (or lobster) really needs to be pretty amazing to justify a £20 price tag. Fair enough to the restaurant for sticking with the simple formula of pricing all their dishes at the same level, and there clearly seemed to be no shortage of people willing to stump up, but my sense is I could spend the same amount on a better main in many other restaurants, or indeed spend roughly half of this on a superior burger elsewhere.