Review: Spielburger, Hampstead

An inspired name. But are we talking Jaws? Or Men in Black 2?

Artfully distressed: interior, Spielburger. Photo: PR
The luxury Everyman cinemas in Hampstead and Belsize Park are always a treat. And yet, a couple of tickets can still scale eye-watering financial heights. (Throw in a fancy NW3 dinner and it’s a resounding ouch.)

So it was with interest that we spied Everyman’s new “gourmet” fast food offshoot. Its witty name, just about on-trend menu, and artfully distressed interior – exposed brick, slogans and pendants – posed one question: why hadn’t the movie chain done it earlier? Spielburger must surely have been a high-five marketing moment, right?

As we took our seats, memories of another upmarket group (Purl, the team behind the Whistling Shop) and their short-lived NW3 burger bar came flooding back. The quite lovely Dach & Sons closed quietly last year, but no such fate will await this place, with its prime location in the flickering Hampstead dining scene.

So, any surprises in the food department? Not really: pulled pork, beef, chicken, fish and so on all feature as you’d expect, with the “house” cheeseburger and chips a respectable £10.

Good-looking: a Spielburger.

Yet despite a decent glazed brioche bun and apparent mix of Aberdeen Angus chuck and 28 day aged rib cap, the actual patty was a well-done grey, and rather forgettable. Chips – sorry, skin-on hand-cut chips – were pretty good however, and ‘slaw OK. A chicken burger was a surprising hit, free from the weight of any kind of burger-obsessed cultural expectation. And it was all served on 1940s tin trays.

Service? Friendly and lovely, with our waitress explaining that the rather invisible sauce was a “secret recipe from the chef at Belsize Kitchen”. Nope, we’ve never been there either, although we’ve heard good things.

Best of all, the meal proved enjoyable people-watching: Hampstead matriarchs spoiling cherubic grandchildren, well-heeled teenage dates schlurping on Cokes, middle-aged couples searching for conversation and gaggles of post-work poshos whopping it up. And the cost was £30 for two, including a glass of wine each, so hardly a heinous extravagance.

The last brilliant burger I can remember was from Mother Flipper, the streetfood boys who have a regular Friday set-up at Camden Town Brewery: juicy, pink, and packed with a real depth of flavour.

So: if the Flipper are Back to the Future, and reliable micro-chain Honest Burger is Gremlins, what movie’s Spielburger?

Why, Batteries Not Included, of course: fun, safe, a bit well-trodden – and not in the same league.

This is box title
Spielburger, 37 Heath Street NW3. We paid £30 for two burgers, one chips, one slaw and two house glasses of wine (£4.50 each).

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