Helen Wilcock heads to BAO + BURGER + BEER for a meal focused around London’s favourite street food
Bao and burgers are the king of street food, and what could be better than washing them down with an ice cold beer. The creators of BAO + BURGER + BEER think there is nothing better, so they’ve created a restaurant designed for customers to enjoy exactly that.
BAO + BURGER + BEER is situated in Haymarket, close to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. A central spot means it’s the ideal location for tourists and locals alike looking to dine before or after enjoying a theatre show.
The restaurant is easy to find – definitely a plus, nobody enjoys being lost and hungry. Inside, rustic interiors offer wood-cladded walls and a bar where guests can watch their cocktails being conjured.
With such a cool setting, you’d expect a lot of ambience. We found it rather strange that there was no music when we sat down – which made the atmosphere slightly awkward – but this was rectified later on in the evening when the music started playing.
The name of the restaurant makes it clear the type of food to expect on the menu and as a big fan of the three B’s ( I mean who isn’t) we were excited to try out the much-loved. dishes.
One thing to make clear is that a lot of the dishes come with coriander. Lashings of it. And, as someone who has a disliking for the herb I made it clear when ordering that we wanted everything without it.
Unfortunately, when the dishes arrived they were all covered in the stuff. Although the waiter offered to have the dishes replaced, we had waited quite a while for the food to arrive so made the decision to attempt to remove it ourselves.
This operation proved unsuccessful, as the chef (who was clearly a fan) had smothered the dishes with it.
From the bao section of the menu we chose the Roast Pork Belly Bao with cucumber, hoisin sauce and peanuts (£5) and the Chicken Karaage Bao with coriander, sriracha mayo and sesame seeds (£5).
The marinade gave the roast belly a lovely Asian flavour but pork itself was quite fatty. The chicken was wonderfully crispy and had a touch of heat from the sriracha, the bao buns themselves were soft and fluffy.
Our favourite dish on the menu was the Chicken Wings with gochujang sweet ‘n’ spicy sauce, peanuts and coriander (£7). They had a really great flavour and it was type of dish you can’t help getting in a mess when eating it but are too busy enjoying the food to realise.
We also enjoyed the Tempura Broccoli with sweet ‘n’ spicy dipping sauce, nori seaweed and coriander flakes (£5.50). Ideal if you are looking to add some greens to your meal and they are in no way bland, the light batter created a crispy exterior and the dipping sauce added a touch of spice.
We couldn’t visit without trying the Wagyu beef burger with bacon, tomato, lettuce, red onion, cheese and house burger sauce served in a sesame seed bun (£11).
The burger was cooked medium which is great but having tried Wagyu before it didn’t feel of the same high quality and the bun really let it down, brioche would have given the dish the lift it needed.
The Wordrobe Verdict
Although I’m bao obsessed, BAO + BURGER + BEER didn’t quite hit the bullseye. A lack of staff meant long waiting times and incorrect orders – as well as an overdose of unwanted coriander.
The restaurant is in a great location making it perfect for tourists visiting London but the food was hit and miss. Hopefully these are just teething issues that will get resolved, as the dishes we did enjoy were great.
Make it happen
Where: 66 Haymarket, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4RF, UK
How: Click here to find out more and make a booking.