Over 2012, it can definitely be said that burgers have completely taken over London. I even found myself at the end of an epicurean Twitter rant as I speculated that 2013 might see the burger market reaching saturation.
Put burgers together with another 2012 trend, Nordic food, and you get Tommi’s – which conveniently popped up around the corner from my old office in affluent Marylebone.
London is the first international outpost of this small five-strong chain of Icelandic burger joints, Hamborgarabúllan, owned by Tomas ‘Tommi’ Tomasson. Their influence is so strong that their presence is even credited as one of the reasons that McDonalds closed all three of their Icelandic branches, when their economy went tits-up in 2009.
All the staff in the London branch are Icelandic but that is where the Icelandic vibe ends. The walls are adorned with American drawings, film posters and other American styled art.
Bang on trend, there’s no prebooking and the small (25 covers) joint is always full with people so when you walk in, don’t worry about sharing a table. Just grab a spot and then send somebody to the counter at the back to order and pay for your food. Once cooked, one of the staff will bring out your meal served in a basket.
The whole venue, in fact the whole place has a back-to-basic ultra casual New York feel. A hell of a lot more than Brooklyn Bite. Soft drinks come out of a fridge in the restaurant (you have to pay at the counter) but free coffee is available for those why fancy a caffeine boost whilst waiting for food. Something that I thought only happened in the movies. Alcoholic beverages are BYO at the moment but it is something that they’re looking into getting in-house.
Anyway, burgers. There are three varieties available – veggie , beef and steak, along with a variety of toppings to choose from. Meat comes from H G Walter, the best small butcher shop in Great Britain and the best butcher in London. All burgers come wrapped in paper in a little basket and served in a glazed soft, fluffy bun with red onion and salad. Cheese is optional. Interesting food snob point, the buns are made by Millers, who also supply the likes of Byron and Hawkesmoor.
The chips were tremendous. Thinly cut, they are almost McDonalds-esque but less salty.
Friends advised me that the béarnaise sauce is what makes the burgers work, so definitely give it go.
We were in and out within 45 minutes and the bill came to £19 for two burgers, chips and drinks.
Iceland’s population is only 319,000. To put that into context that’s about a quarter of London’s population…. Either way, this little joint is showing some promise. But I fear that it’s just too close to MeatLiquor – the godfather of burgers to create its own identity. But then you have to queue for 45 mins to get into MeatLiquor…
That said it’s substantially smaller and a lot more chilled than MeatLiquor so get out there and enjoy it. Just don’t expect the best burger you’ll ever eat. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes for them in the next year or so.
*Please note that if you have come from the map page, Tommi’s is now a wider chain. This review was based on their initial pop up in London.