At the age of 14 I was already a liberal New Yorker precociously attuned to injustices in the world around me. It’s a shame, I recall telling my father, that the American big band vocalist Jo Stafford (above right) did not have the flawless curves of Hollywood actress Ava Gardner (about left) nor Ava, Jo’s sultry voice. My father laughed, then, recognising a life’s lesson moment, turned sympathetic.

“Sorry, kiddo,” he said.”You can’t have it all.”

I had similar thoughts this past Wednesday, lunching solo at the Covent Garden location of the fine London steakhouse Hawksmoor. It’s a shame, I thought, the Hawksmoor burger (below left) did  not have the flawless curves of the Bar Boulud burger (below right) nor Bar Boulud, the Hawksmoor burger’s sultry high notes.


The upright burger at the London location of Bar Boulud looks like it could topple at any moment, yet it’s an idle threat: The thick patty sits snugly beneath a thick layer of toppings inside the domed bun. It’s as if the bottom of the bun has a contoured seat, like an Eames chair. A marvel of burger construction, the Boulud burger’s thoroughly pink meat is contained in a charred shell of caramelised beef. It eats beautifully. Regrettably it’s almost too safe, too secure. There’s no danger, no explosion of flavours & juices, no OTT factor.

The Hawksmoor burger patty sticks out the sides of its bun on an untidy raft of lettuce interruptus. Bad tailoring. Messy and squashed, the patty’s fatty juices grease your hands and breach the bottom of its bun even before you’ve taken your first bite. But, oh my, what a first bite! Danger. Implosion. It’s all there. But just as I can imagine my father relishing this burger I can also hear him shifting into life’s lesson mode: “Hey, Hawksmoor, tuck in your shirt.”