Everyone has waited too long for a burger, only to find it looks nothing like the pictures and the review is nothing like the experience they had.
Burger reviews are filled with such verbose terminology as describing burger buns as ‘stout, oily, seeded classic that defies meat juices’ which are ‘clinging to the ample curves’ of beef (no, really, we just cut and paste that from a burger review).
Nonsense to those sorts of reviews, we say.
We’ve spent countless hours, literally, sat in cafes and restaurants and bars across London to find the data behind the food.
How long do you have to wait? What’s the cost per chip? How much does the whole burger weigh?
We then had mathematical proof about the best burger. If you can find better, show us the numbers (our full methodology is at the bottom of the article).
We’ve chosen five out of a hat from all the major ‘craft’ burger providers but if there’s one we’ve missed, get in touch.
We’ve measured the time it takes to get seated and to get a burger, the cost per chip, the cost per gram of a cheeseburger, the decibel level, the number of people there and even the number of sauces available, as well as the number of pickles (love them or hate them),
We think knowing how many chips you’ll get, how loud a place is, and the actual weight of a burger is more important than what the reviewer makes of the ambience
Data is great isn’t it?
- Byron, Gloucester Road, SW7
- Meat Liquor, Bond Street, W1
- Honest Burgers, Liverpool Street, EC1
- Patty and Bun, Soho, W1
- Lucky Chip, Dalston, E8
First things first, how long does it take to get a seat?
There’s nothing more infuriating than getting to a venue really hungry and being made to queue. We timed 10 different sets of people from the time the joined the queue and/or entered the venue to the time any waiting staff said ‘your seats are ready’ and walked towards them.
Zero seconds means that it was just walk in and sit down without any delay at all.
We visited each restaurant at 7.30pm on a Sunday evening over consecutive weekends to make sure the comparisons were as fair as possible, avoiding any major events that would skew the figures (a burger in a Notting Hill restaurant during Notting Hill Carnival, for example).
There’s a clear loser here as the queue to Patty and Bun went quite a way out of the door. We were told the wait would be 20 minutes and it turned out to be nearly 30, on average.
What about the people there and the noise?
Now that we’ve got our seat, a ‘craft burger’ can’t be a ‘craft burger’ without a good atmosphere. Too quiet, it feels like a morgue. Too busy and you firstly can’t get a seat then secondly can’t hear the person across the table.
Here are the number of people in each venue:
Number of customers in restaurant
Meat Liquor67Lucky Chip34Byron33Honest Burger31Patty And Bun23
And the second is just how loud/quiet it was
And the wait begins
Ambience is good, we’ve looked through the menu and ordered. But the wait could ruin it. Too quick and we assume it’s just come from the microwave, too long and we get impatient (we only got impatient once, you’ll see where).
We timed the exact moment the waiting staff member collects the final menu from the guests until the last plate of the order is down.
Average time waiting for food (min:secs)
Lucky Chip22.14Honest Burger16.31Byron16.15Meat Liquor16.12Patty And Bun10.42
How much does it cost?
While you can pay up to £250,000 for a burger in London, chances are your rule of thumb is that if a burger and chips is below £10, it’s cheap, above £10, it’s expensive.
Honest Burger has the huge advantage here of bundling chips in with the cheeseburger. If you don’t want chips, it makes the burger expensive but it’s the cheapest overall.
Cost of cheeseburger and chips
Meat Liqour£11.00Lucky Chip£10.95Byron£10.90Patty And Bun£10.20Honest Burger£9.00
And what do you get for your money?
This is vital. No-one wants to look at the picture, pay £15, then a slider arrives that you finish in two bites.
The burgers here are all pretty weighty but there is a 75g difference between the lightest and the heaviest.
A quarter pounder burger has a pre-cooked weight of 113.4g, though that wouldn’t include the bun, salad, cheese etc and is measured before cooking.
In this review, the burgers are weighed in their entirety as served (so including buns, salad, etc). We weighed two from each place to take an average.
Weighing the burgers (we tried to be as sneaky as we could but we got some funny looks) meant we could work out the exact cost per gram of a burger.
Here’s how you know if you’re getting value:
Cost of burger per gram
Honest Burger£0.04Patty And Bun£0.03Byron£0.03Meat Liquor£0.03Lucky Chip£0.03
Honest Burger was always going to struggle here with making the burger inseparable from the chips though it only adds 1p per gram.
So we worked out what sort of value we were getting from the chips. Just how many chips should you expect when you order from these places? The average across all of them is 52. As a guide, a McDonald’s large fries packet contains around 85 chips.
Average number of chips
Meat Liquor73Honest Burger52Byron51Lucky Chip42Patty And Bun42
And the value is where Honest Burger gets its own back.
By not charging for fries, we can only mathematically count them as costing nothing. So free chips, basically (yes, we know that’s not how it really works).
Cost per chip
Patty And Bun£0.07Lucky Chip£0.07Byron£0.06Meat Liquor£0.04Honest Burger£0.00
Now to the nitty-gritty: pickles
Pickles make the burger for some, ruin the burger for others. But it’s a lottery the first time you visit a new burger venue. We’ve picked off pickles in all the venues and done all the hard work for you.
Number of pickles in each cheeseburger
Meat Liquor4Lucky Chip2Byron1Patty And Bun0Honest Burger0
With all that knowledge, you’re nearly ready to make a decision, but there are a couple of things that could still sway your opinion.
The first is the number of mistakes made by staff with order. You order the vegetarian burger only to have a lump of meat put in front of you, for example.
Here we only counted mistakes where something was missing from the order (and inquired about) or something was delivered to the table incorrectly (and mentioned by the customer). We couldn’t count mistakes made if the customer was the sort of person to grin and bear it.
Number of visible mistakes made
Lucky Chip7Meat Liquor1Honest Burger1Patty And Bun0Byron0
And finally, sauce
The racket of charging for posh sauces drives me mad. But if there’s a way to make more money, then a lot of venues will charge for them.
Some, you could argue, if they’re made in house and specialist, are worth the extra 50p or a £1 – but paying for Hellman’s or some mustard is pretty bad form.
Number of free sauces
Patty And Bun4Byron4Honest Burger4Meat Liquor3Lucky Chip2
Number of total sauces
Byron9Honest7Lucky Chip7Patty And Bun4Meat Liquor3
So what is the mathematically best burger in London?
This is a difficult decision. If you don’t like waiting, discount Patty & Bun. Half an hour will make impatient people furious.
If you’re looking for a quick, cheap burger, Honest Burger comes out on top as the least expensive and the quickest from trying to enter the establishment to being served food.
If you’re looking for a weightier affair, Meat Liquor has both the heaviest burger and highest number of chips but it is the most expensive and you are dealing with the most pickles (love them or hate them).
Lucky Chip is let down by its mistakes and wait times and Byron performs pretty much averagely at everything except the number of sauces it charges for.
There are of course other none-mathematical reasons to choose a venue: If you’re not fond of chains that help the Home Office deport their workers, don’t pick Byron.
Method – show your workings
- Each restaurant was visited at 7.30pm on a Sunday evening, over consecutive weekends
- Data was collected from 10 different covers from their entry to their meal being delivered for both time to be seated and time waiting for food
- The weight comes from an average of two burgers rounded to the nearest gram, taken on a weighing scale as a whole without wrapping
- The number of people was taken at 7.35pm on the day of attendance and was double counted to check accuracy
- The decibel level was calculated at three separate times around 30 minutes apart
- Chip count was an average of two full portions of chips, and discounted nibs of chips or chips split in two
- Visible mistakes count as a service person having to either take part of an order back or add to an order after the usual delivery of an order had been completed
- Pickles were counted as slices of pickle, regardless of size