Volcanic Grill, Dalston, London
The crowd erupts into applause. We were promised the best bacon cheeseburgers in town and boy, did we get them. Volcanic Grill is a six week old pop-up kitchen residency specialising in a South African-barbecue style of cooking. They’re located in the very hip neighbourhood of Dalston, and the equally cool Farr’s School of Dancing. By the way, this isn’t an actual dance studio anymore. It was back in the 1930’s but today it’s a classic Hackney pub and all round hang out space. And as we found out, packing some seriously kickin’ burgers.
Volcanic Grill is brought to you by two besties, Ted and Jamie, and we found a surprising number of antipodean connections. They met in Australia. Jamie’s wife is from a town in New Zealand. Jamie and his wife owned a Hurricane’s Grill restaurant that was one of our favourite picks in Sydney. This got us excited already as the standard was high. And also, what a small world we live in.
The menu at Volcanic Grill is also small, but selective. They’ve chosen dishes they can do justice on, so it’s a burgers and fries affair, and we’re no lesser for it. We would love to see some more range in the future. What’s here is already fantastic but we would have enjoyed seeing their play on desserts or other meats. Fried chicken would be welcomed. And also, I’m greedy. We all tucked into the bacon cheesebugers (£12) along with pulled pork-topped fries (£6) and slaw (£3).
When the food arrived we were presented a giant roll of paper towels. We soon understood why. These were the juiciest burgers ever. The burger blend is a mix of chuck steak and rib cap and these make for some mightily amazing patties. It does mean there becomes a pool of meat juice so it does become a bit of a messy eat. There is some help though. The bun is a rich mix of the usual bread ingredients, and… mashed potato. This makes it perfect for absorbing some of these delicious juices. And the towels.
With a name like Volcanic Grill we were wondering how spicy this sauce might be! Fortunately, the flames are all on the meat, and only in palatable amounts in your mouth. The burgers come with a version of a South African prego sauce. This is a spicy mayo type affair, perfectly creamy and making for a rounded, very rich burger. We thought to ourselves, are these the best burgers we have ever had in London? Honest Burgers isn’t too bad, but we think these do top them. They are a messier eat, but the medium rare patties are kinda otherworldy and then you have the luscious sauce, the cheese, the hellishly crispy bacon. And that sauce. Yum!
There were sides too. But we were really all about the burgers. The fries with pulled pork is a neat twist, only thing is the juice from the pork makes the fries less crisp in the centre. It does absorb the meat flavours which is a worthwhile consolation. And it felt like almost a full on meal in retrospect. We see that familiar tasty sauce and the fries almost take on a nachos-like quality when they’re so loaded like this. We didn’t take too much of the slaw, the massive burgers pretty much took us out and well, it’s slaw.
We’ve heard Volcanic Grill have started expanding to a Sunday roast. That’s makes for a win-win any day of the week. We were impressed with the quality of the burgers, especially for such a new establishment. There’s some funky ideas here and were keen to see where the guys take it to next. Go check them out.
Note: Author dined at invitation of the restaurant