Everyone can remember the first time they came across an exceptional burger. A life-changing burger. A burger that simply altered one’s very perception of burgers, and made us understand what it is that a good burger should be. For myself, that burger, was a Red Iron burger. As a once naive and oblivious young man, my first experience of a real, gourmet burger was at Red Iron – a longstanding veteran of London’s gourmet burger scene. My first visit to Red Iron Burgers can only be described as a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, which set in motion a fatal destiny of binge-eating, restaurant-hunting, and eventually, food-blogging. Of course, my relentless desire to explore restaurants and eat away at my life expectancy had already taken hold long before this trip, but when it comes to my burger timeline alone, Red Iron was the place where it all began.
For residents of the East-End, travelling to Uxbridge is not a task to be taken lightly. You must carefully pack an adequate amount of supplies, check that there is a plentiful store of fat within your body to sustain you for the trip, and ensure that your will is in order – just in case you die of old age before you get there. For these reasons and more, returning to Red Iron has never been at the forefront of our minds. But, as Steak began preparations for a quick trip to Bangladesh, I found a rare, empty Monday afternoon on my timetable, and thus, we decided to head over and see how they were getting along.
Note: All the meat served here is halal.
As Steak and I settled into familiar territory, we expected a fairly smooth and uneventful meal. Unfortunately however, nothing goes smoothly when I’m around. If a rabbit’s foot is considered “lucky”, then I am the rabbit that lost the foot in the first place. In true Steak and Teeth style, my bad luck had hobbled into Red Iron alongside me, causing the diner to experience a power-cut shortly after we had placed our order. Either that, or the manager at Red Iron had seen me walking in, and rapidly took evasive manoeuvres to ensure that the other diners did not lose their appetites. (Severing the electricity line certainly wouldn’t be the most extreme step someone has taken to avoid looking at me). Thankfully, the grill was still hot, and the chef proceeded to cook up as many orders as he could, using the torchlight on his phone to vaguely see what he was doing. A long journey, a power-cut, and a meal in the dark. All that remained was a herd of roaming cows, a couple of fishermen and perhaps a few demolition charges to bring the build-quality of the surrounding buildings down a little – and Steak would have practically been in Bangladesh already.
Steak had ordered the signature Red Iron burger, and to our delight, it was just as fantastic as we had remembered it to be. The thick patty had retained its juices, and carried a deep, inherent flavour that combined well with the helping of sauce, cheese and jalapenos. The thick brioche buns also had plenty to offer, with a dense, layered texture, and a surprisingly strong sweetness that enhanced the contents of the burger. The accompanying chips however, were not quite as rustic as we had hoped.
The Red Iron burger *Must-Eat* (£9.50 w/ fries)
I had opted for a 10oz ribeye steak with sweet potato fries, which arrived with a medium-well cook instead of the medium-rare I had ordered – a likely result of the chef’s attempt at blind-cooking. However, even if the steak had been cooked to medium-rare, I doubt it would have helped its cause. The steak was of a rather average quality, and though it remained fairly soft and tender, it lacked an adequate amount of seasoning, rendering it somewhat bland. The beef’s weak inherent flavour – which lacked substantial depth – could not compensate for this either. The garlic and parsley butter added a nice, moist, greasy coating, but it too failed to add significant flavour to the dish, – (as did the weak peppercorn sauce), whilst the large, random mushroom that somehow found itself on top of my steak was moist and firm, but ultimately felt a little out of place on the plate. The sweet potato fries however, possessed a crispy coat, and delivered a perfectly smooth, sweet flavour.
Yet again, we had ordered the Oreo milkshake, which was as thick and dense in consistency as it has always been. On this occasion however, the ice cream within it could have done with a little more thawing.
Oreo milkshake – “regular-sized”
Just as we were about to finish our meal, our waitress unexpectedly swung by our table and dropped off a large, complementary brownie sundae to make up for eating in the shadows. The brownies were fairly soft, with a thick core and a crispy, outer coating, which contrasted well with the accompanying vanilla ice cream – but, much like that within the milkshake, needed a little more time to thaw.
Brownie sundae (complimentary)
Value For Money: 4/5
The red iron burger cost £9.50 with fries, whilst the ribeye steak cost £16.95 with sides. The Oreo milkshake meanwhile, costs £3.45 for a “regular size”, or £5.90 for a “man-size”. Across the rest of the menu, burgers cost less than £10 – (with sides), whilst wings cost £4.95 for a portion of six, and desserts cost £4.25. Generally, the prices at Red Iron are very reasonable, and you certainly get your money’s worth in terms of both the quality and quantity of the food that arrives on your plate.
When it comes to service, we have experienced a great deal of variation over the years – ranging from “excellent and efficient” to one occasion where we were told to hurry up and order or we would be kicked out – (yes, really). Fortunately however, the waiting staff on this occasion were very friendly and welcoming, and – given the situation, service was relatively speedy.
Decor / Ambience: 3/5
Like many a gourmet burger restaurant, Red Iron goes for a worn and rustic look, and sadly, the years have not been kind. Much like my own facade, the decor is starting to look a little bit tired, and could desperately do with a fresh lick of paint – (or several). This mute point aside, the dining space is well suited to a casual lunch or dinner with friends and family. The restaurant can be found a short walk away from Uxbridge station, and parking opportunities can be found on nearby roads, or at the nearby multi-storey car park.
For years, Red Iron has been at the forefront of London’s halal gourmet burgers, and there is no denying that they have earned a strong cult-following in the West-End and beyond. But, with the recent explosion in the number of halal gourmet burger vendors in London, it’s clear that the gourmet burger sector is moving forward and becoming saturated – fast. I’m a strong advocate of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” lifestyle, but as the competition continues to grow, I can’t help but feel that the team at Red Iron need to slowly evolve and stand their ground. With a new menu in the works, it certainly seems as though they are taking the necessary steps towards this much-needed renovation, and if all goes well, they may just hold on to their crown as London’s most formidable gourmet burger establishment.
Originally published: 12/12/14
Red Iron Burgers
Address: 280 High St, Uxbridge UB8 1LQ