Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Serendipity and the Magic Roundabout

Chance, fate, destiny, karma, whatever you want to call it, I'm not really one to subscribe to cosmic intervention. As Arnold Palmer said; 'the more I practice, the luckier I get'. However, even for the most grounded of us (or anyone taking part in a spelling bee), sometimes serendipity is a very useful word to have in your vocabulary.

Case in point came on the day of my trip to the Statistical Society for geeky Census-type things. Being by the Barbican it seemed like the perfect chance to try out the Burger Bear pop up, if not for the meat and beer then for the novelty of being slap bang in the middle of Old Street Roundabout. 

I also had my Kickstarter voucher, procured when Tom Reaney, AKA Burger Bear Tom, had first pitched his idea of a east London-based double-decker container diner. The project was successfully funded, but various hold ups and hassles meant that (although you could redeem vouchers at Stoke Newington's Stokey Bears spin off) my postcard was tidily 'filed away' until the project (and the patties) were back cooking on gas. 

Of course, when attempting to finally unearth the postcard from it's safe place, I managed to find everything but the one thing I was looking for. And, after an evening of fruitless rifling through various piles of papers and in various nooks and crannies (and various fingers pointed at various family members...), I conceded it was gone. C'est la vie, the burger would still be mine, voucher or not. 

Then - like my very own scene in a bad b movie based on a film staring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale - as I grabbed my book on 70s politics I was determined to finish, I found it contained not one bookmark but two. Alongside the the Katz's Delicatessen business card I had been using was the missing Burger Bear postcard the Ewing had deployed. 

Some people may call this fate. Other, less charitable ones, may see it as your wife starting to read the book your currently reading, using your postcard to mark her place and then putting it back on the shelf and forgetting about it (oh you live with such a rogue - TE).... Either way, my crowdfunded lunch was back on.

With my voucher safely stowed and my stats all safely collated (who knew data collection could spark such drama), all I had to do was navigate my way through the blazing streets of the Barbican, through the hustle of suits in their summer shirts on Whitecross Market and up Old Street. Luckily the chalk board positioned in the middle of the Old Street Station underpass gave the final neon clue that even I couldn't miss. 

Up on the roof, the roundabout vibes are suitably hip; there's Relax, a bar, offering coffee and cocktails, running down one side. The Prawnography hut - offering, amongst other fishy fare, spider crabs smoked on the big green egg and the eponymous crustaceans with szechuan butter and beer bread - tucked around one corner; and Burger Bear - pumping out tunes with your fumes (the whole place feels remarkably tranquil and green, considering where it's situated) tucked around the other. 

My burger - the Grizzly Bear with cheese bacon and bacon jam - was without superlative. An offering that along with P&B and Bleecker, make up my top three London examples of beef in a bun. This one, dare I say it, may have been the best; shiny buns, 'merican cheese glazed on to the flattop-fried patty, topped with crisp shards of pig and nestling on a bed of red onion and iceberg.

Alongside were some fiendishly garlicky fries, cooked fresh to order and a frosty pint of Bear Hug Brewing's Spirit pale ale. Salt smoke, fat, hops; the perfectly balanced meal. I even got to sit next to Mr Burger Bear himself, as I made the futile attempt of trying to wrestle with my burger and keep the grease splodges from my book. Sometimes I feel the payoff for pleasure is worth the congealed cheese in your margins.

And then it's over. The most fun I have (legally) had on a roundabout since Becky Fair 1996. Although this time I managed to keep my dignity and my lunch. Get down there before the fleeting summer's through.

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