Singapore may be small, but we are inundated with choice when it comes to eating out. Sometimes, this can lead to the first-world problem of CHOICE(!) ANXIETY(!!) If, like us, this leads you to becoming a sad creature of habit who keeps eating at the same old places, check out our bite-sized JUNK food reviews for what you should be eating next (or not!).
Burger & Lobster is a brand familiar to many, so despite it taking ages to make it here, we think most are going to pay a visit with their minds made up . We visited one of their earlier branches at Green Park in London back in 2012. There was hype and it was just about the time that birthed that wave of annoying small-plates, no-reservations dining. Burger and Lobster was hip, limited menu, no reservations, and more tellingly… full of Singaporeans and Malaysians. “20 quid for lobster? Don’t think, just go early and queue!”
With faithful pilgrims from our part of the world constantly filling seats, Burger & Lobster has stayed on the list of places to eat in London for quite sometime, even as its novelty has faded as it has spread across London and the globe.
Given the hour-long wait we bothered to put ourselves through at Jewel (again again!), we ended up ordering a bit too much for three. We ran our finger down the limited menu and went for the Artichoke Alla Giudia, The Mayfair Burger, The Impossible™ (yes a vegetarian burger), An Original Lobster roll and the Singapore special – The Sambal Glazed Lobster.
A special mention goes out right now to the personable service, and the efforts of the chef who came out to describe a vegetarian burger that he was willing to prepare for us in place of the Impossible burger as the ‘Impossible’ patties had run out. Turns out, people really love their future meat™.
The food arrived inconveniently at the same time (have you seen the size of the platters?) And after we had done a comprehensive relayout of the table, we attacked The Mayfair Burger first… and the news was not good. As our knife sank through the bun – a purported Brioche bun – the feedback was cold and hard and not encouraging. Squishing the lot together helped the overall mouth feel of the burger as we chomped on it. We all agreed individually all the bits and pieces were tasty, but all at the wrong temperatures, as the patty was delicious and beefy, but had cooled off considerably.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll simply say that the same issues seemed to crop up for the rest of the dishes. The chunky meat in the The Original Lobster Roll was not chilled enough, despite the promise on the menu. The lovely browned butter-basted bun was perfect in texture and sweetly aromatic but not toasty warm. Our Glazed Sambal Lobster had fresh, firm lobster dressed in a surprisingly sophisticated, sweet sambal (but turn up the heat a bit please, we are Singaporean!) but again the whole dish was A/C chilled by the time it arrived. Ditto the fries, crisp but cooled off. And the Artichoke Alla Giudia had gone from crunchy to al dente in its journey from the fryer to the table.
So, a frustrating meal. Individually, everything is within striking distance of being happy, satisfying, enjoyable food. But it all seems to be let down by the workflow of the kitchen… Maybe they need to crank up the warmers to “Hot As Hell”? We were actually seated with a view to the kitchen and we did note that the food seemed to be sitting longer on the the dish-out counter longer than ideal.
The other minor bugbear that we have, but we understand, is that the original concept of Burger & Lobster will get lost in translation as the brand travels the world and is subject to the vagaries of local sourcing. For the UK restaurants, the idea was and still seems to be – get either a lobster, burger or a lobster roll for around £20. In Singapore, the prices climb by three times from the burger to a full lobster, going from $20 all the up to $65. In that respect, maybe some of the charm is lost?
As it is, Burger & Lobster is a 3.5 wing meal going on 4 wings if they can solve their teething issues, and to be nice, we will give it a conditional 4 wings as we enjoyed the service and we see the potential in the endeavour. All the best to them!