Monday, 4 March 2013

Tommis Burger Joint, Marylebone

As much as I love the wave of, Stateside inspired, 'comfort' food that's sweeping our shores, I don't often find it particularly comforting. Yes, there's the soporific effect of ingesting huge piles of refined carbs that leave you slipping into a food coma before you've even left the table, but, delicious as it might be, this food doesn't taste like my youth.

As a girl growing up in the Home Counties in the 80s, my memories of fast food are more about a blackened sausage in a finger roll at the school fete; followed by a fairy cake topped with water icing and hundreds and thousands and all washed down with a warm Rola Cola. Maybe's there's a gap in the market?

On this particularly frigid February afternoon it was comfort I was seeking. It had started as a Very Bad Day, and while the vast amounts of wine we had drunk over a lovely lunch at the nearby Vinoteca had helped, I still craved something simple and satisfying to soak up all the excesses of the afternoon. After enduring the hell that is Selfridges luggage department, the Ewing agreed we could walk the few blocks to Tommis, the most Northerly point of Marylebone's Burgmuda Triangle, for a pit stop.

While we went looking for stripped back burger satisfaction, it's not just the food that's pared down at this bijou Icelandic import with the interior bringing to mind a strange hybrid of Manhattan's Burger Joint mixed with my old room in student halls. The counter is liberally papered with handwritten signs, and the walls are covered with a mix of cult pop and film posters and a, rather imposing, picture of founder Tomas Tómasson himself.

The whole look is finished with a spattering twinkling fairy lights strung across the windows and ceiling, that just manages to successfully straddle the line between knowingly artful and twee.

The menu is also cheeringly simple; ham, cheese, veggie or steak burgers; fries; and a selection soft drinks that, rather trustingly, you help yourself to from fridges halfway down the bijou dining space. You can also add bacon, Tommi's cocktail sauce or bearnaise to your basic burger. And that's it.

Above the drinks cabinet you will also find one of my very favourite things, seldom seen on these shores, a condiment and pickle bar. Here you can stock up 'til your hearts content on mayo, mustard, sliced cukes, horseradish sauce, tomato relish, seasoning salt and vinegar (very British). There's even some little pots with lids available for takeout. A nice touch that really lets you have things Your Way (to quote another famous burger chain).

The Ewing's, ambitiously titled, Offer of the Century featured a cheese burger, fries and soda for just under a tenner. It was perfect. Not because you couldn't find a better burger - there are several I have tried within striking distance - but because it was simple and satisfying. The patty was grilled so it was smoky on the outside and pink within, and finished with a solitary lettuce leaf, slice of tomato and a neat little square of processed cheese melted on top. Just like the burgers I remember.

In this confusing world where everything seems to be about double patties smothered with toppings so sloppy that cutlery (or a straw) seems the only way to take your dinner down, this was a  simple revelation. There were no bun crumbling issues, or fillings that turned to soup and ran down your sleeves; the patty was the right size for the bread and the toppings didn't overwhelm the meat. In short it was everything the Ewing wanted, and comforting, too.

My steak burger, a premium mix of rump, rib eye and fillet, was no less tasty, but slightly more underwhelming as it cost nearly twice as much. I also found the brioche bun - usually my favourite vehicle to transport patty to mouth - a little too sweet; possibly as it wasn't overwhelmed by drippy, grease slicked, fillings.

The saving grace was the bearnaise sauce, the nectar of my gods and the perfect dip for both the burger and the excellent, Mcdonalds-esque, hot and crunchy fries.

While it may not win Best in Class, Tommis would certainly be in line for a Highly Commended ribbon; which, in a over crowded burger market, is not as much of a back handed compliment as it may seem. Sure, you may not leave thinking the burgers have changed your life, but you'll also leave happy, without indigestion, and dare I say it, actually comforted. And there's a lot to be said for those simple things in life.

Tommi's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog Amy! I'm so inspired to expand my own waistline in these places despite all best intentions for the NY!!! Have you tried Launceston Place, The Ledbury or Tom Aitken or Tom Kitchen. Top Tips...stunning. Also La Gavroche may require a remortgage but it oozes accomplishment and sexy charm.