Liam Rudden: Return of the humble Hamburger

Byron hamburger bar on North Bridge
Byron hamburger bar on North Bridge
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REMEMBER when Wimpey opened their flagship burger bar on Princes Street in the 80s?

You’ll have to be of a certain age to recall the excitement, or that the establishment traded in hamburgers, not beef burgers, not chilli burgers nor Big Macs, but plain, good old-fashioned hamburgers.

Back then, any round slab of meat served either with gravy from a tin, or in a roll with fried onions was a hamburger. Now, burgers are served in buns and the humble hamburger consigned to the past...

Not any longer, now that Byron Hamburgers have opened their first restaurant in the Capital. An invitation to sample those self same hamburgers was one I couldn’t refuse.

It proved a slightly surreal experience as Byron is situated in what was the old RBS North Bridge Branch. Not that you’ll recognise the place. It hasn’t so much undergone a makeover than a complete transformation into a comfortable, welcoming burger joint.

Chatting with owner Tom Byng, who had just endured a bumpy flight into the city to be at the launch, it quickly became clear the welcome comes from the top down.

Tom opened his first Byron in London eight years ago and now has 57 UK-wide. Number 58 opens on Lothian Road shortly.

‘Proper Hamburgers’ as he tags his wares start at £6.75 and peak at £12.50 - for the double bacon cheese burger, which include two 6oz hamburgers and all the trimmings. The eponymous house special comes in at £9.50, and features bacon, cheddar, iceberg, red onion and Byron sauce.

Reinforcing the American diner feel, you can wash down your food with Brooklyn Lager or a Popcorn and Maple Syrup Milkshake. Both hit the spot.

With top notch service, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a hamburger as much since dining in Rolling Stone Bill Wyman’s famous Sticky Fingers burger bar, and that wasn’t yesterday.