London’s Top-Value Lobster Awaits at Bargain Mayfair Restaurant

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Source: ThomasBowles.com via Bloomberg

Burger & Lobster has a range of tempting, inexpensive cocktails and service is fast.

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Source: ThomasBowles.com via Bloomberg

Burger & Lobster has a range of tempting, inexpensive cocktails and service is fast. Close

Burger & Lobster has a range of tempting, inexpensive cocktails and service is fast.

Source: ThomasBowles.com via Bloomberg

A diner samples the lobster, which comes with fries and a side salad, one of only two dishes served at Burger & Lobster. Close

A diner samples the lobster, which comes with fries and a side salad, one of only two dishes served at Burger & Lobster.

Source: ThomasBowles.com via Bloomberg

Two of the best tables at Burger & Lobster are by the front window; the restaurant takes no reservations. Close

Two of the best tables at Burger & Lobster are by the front window; the restaurant takes no reservations.

Source: ThomasBowles.com via Bloomberg

Burgers are finished off in the kitchen before being served at Burger & Lobster. The new Mayfair restaurant is pulling in crowds. Close

Burgers are finished off in the kitchen before being served at Burger & Lobster. The new Mayfair restaurant is pulling in crowds.

There’s no menu. There are no starters. Your choice is limited to burger or lobster. Each costs 20 pounds ($31) and is served with fries and a side salad.

It’s my favorite new London restaurant.

Burger & Lobster isn’t in some distant suburb, where Oysters are Tube tickets and Chardonnay is what you call your baby girl. It’s in the heart of Mayfair, where 20 pounds is what you tip the coat-check girl and public transport is a black cab.

Not that burgers are unknown in this part of London: You can get one with foie gras and black truffles at 34, a smart new restaurant where roast lobster with sea greens costs 39 pounds.

Burger & Lobster is the new project of the team behind Goodman, which serves some of the finest beef in London at its three steak (and lobster) restaurants in Mayfair, the City and Canary Wharf. It’s no wonder everything is already so slick at the new venue.

You may spot some familiar faces among the good-looking staffers. This place isn’t so much for business dining though: It’s cramped and a bit noisy and there are no reservations. The longest wait time so far has been 1-1/2 hours, which you may while away in a pub until called.

The restaurant isn’t just a great idea: It’s a winner because of the quality of the food. Even the salad -- tomato, lettuce, onion, red and yellow peppers, pickled vegetables -- is special: The colors are so vibrant it looks like it’s been Photoshopped, while the dressing has just a hint of sweetness.

Air Miles

OK, down to business. The lobsters are from Nova Scotia. I’m assured they fly over first class and arrive refreshed. They hang out in a basement tank -- hundreds of them at the time -- and their journey from tank to plate is so brief, they never get the chance to spend their air miles. They go into an electric machine called a CrustaStun which shocks them into unconsciousness within seconds, the manufacturers say.

There are three deliveries a week. So the lobsters are fresh and you have the choice of plain butter or lemon-garlic butter on the side. They are steamed and finished on the grill, though I guess most people take the option of a roll.

If 20 pounds is cheap for a lobster, it’s expensive for a burger, and these are among the most expensive in London, outpricing the regular 16.50 pound burger at 34. Burger & Lobster uses a mix of Irish grass-fed beef from O’Shea’s of Knightsbridge and U.S. grain-fed from Nebraska.

The cuts are chuck, onglet and sirloin cap, and the seasoning is Worcestershire Sauce rather than pure salt. The semi-brioche rolls are made each day in the kitchens. The 10- ounce (283 gram) patty comes with the option of Mont Jack and Cheddar cheese and streaky bacon at no extra charge.

Spanish White

The wine list is short, ungreedy and very well chosen. Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne is 9 pounds a glass (10 pounds for rose) and 54 pounds a bottle. Among the whites, it would be difficult to go wrong with the Albarino A2O (8.75 pounds a glass) and the Garnacha, “Lagrimas” Lodono -- Navarra, Spain at 6.25 pounds.

The cocktails are among the best bargains in London, at 9 pounds a pop. There are 10 and I tried several on your behalf just to be sure they were as good as they sound. Anyone for the Jenner -- Jameson’s, lemon, apple, egg white, honey, Laphroaig?

I have no plans to try either of the desserts: lime mousse with gingerbread crumbs and chocolate mocha mousse.

Tamara Ecclestone -- “Billion $$ Girl” -- or a lookalike was at the next table when I ate there. She ordered the burger without fries or a bun. So that’s how people stay slim.

The Bloomberg Questions

Cost? 20 pounds.

Sound level? Above 80 decibels.

Inside tip? Get there before everyone hears about it

Special feature? Burger and, erm, lobster.

Will I be back? Yes.

Date place? Yes.

Rating? ***1/2.

Burger & Lobster is at 29 Clarges Street, London, W1J 7EF. Information: +44-20-7409-1699 or http://burgerandlobster.com/.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at rvines@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/Richardvines.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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