“I don’t want a burger”. The first time these words left my mouth, I was rather taken aback. Am I ill? Have I been drugged? Am I a victim of vegan-brainwashing? Indeed, such a statement borders on outright blasphemy, but with the excessive surge in so-called “gourmet” burger establishments, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be excited about them. After all, once you’ve had one mediocre burger, surely, you’ve had them all?
Of course, I knew that I could not allow this sense of disillusionment to continue, as a single step away from burgers is a single step towards a healthy and prosperous vegan lifestyle. (*Shudders*). Joining forces with the man behind Keep It Cake, I headed over to Moor and Hitch – a fresh-faced smokehouse in the midst of Queensway. Hopefully, just maybe, I could find a remedy to my skepticism.
Halal status: All the meat served here is halal.
For the team behind Moor & Hitch, inspiration lies with the asado culture of Argentina, where copious volumes of meat are smoked over large open pits. As you’d expect, this is reflected in the menu, which sports a number of burgers, steaks, and smoked meats – all of which look appetising enough on paper.
To begin, I ordered the seemingly intriguing “Matador” burger, composed of a 6oz beef patty and a combination of caramelised onions, monterey jack cheese, salsa, chorizo, and sour cream. Naturally, I expected a combination of heat and vibrancy, and a firm kick to the face that would be representative of the Spanish bullfighting culture for which this burger is named. Alas, I encountered nothing of the sort, and was instead greeted by a dense, dry patty, and a dull set of flavours, which was salvaged only by the zest of the interspersed jalapeños. This was compounded by a lack of sufficient sauce and a dry, dessicated mergeuz sausage, which disintegrated into a chewy rubble. Though sufficiently “edible”, the lack of love invested into this burger was enough to declare it an overwhelming failure.
The Matador (£10.50)
Fortunately, I had also ordered a smoked beef rib – although, this did not fare that much better. Though reasonably tender, the beef lacked all trace of seasoning or flavour, and the barbecue marinade in which it had been glazed was about as “sweet” as a bar of soap. With no real depth or body, it failed to conceal the rib’s shortcomings, and as a result, the dish as a whole failed to leave a lasting impression.
Smoked Rib (£11.50)
Value For Money: 3/5
Across the menu, burgers cost between £8 to £10, steaks range from £21 to £27, and all other mains come in at £10 to £17. Relative to other smokehouses, these prices are certainly in line with expectations, but given that the calibre of the food is average at best and poor at worst, there isn’t much justification to part with your precious pounds.
Staff members on the other hand, are perfectly courteous and welcoming, though it must be said that service can be rather slow. Our own food took just over 45 minutes to be served, which did seem at least a little bit lengthy for a table of two in a restaurant that was practically empty. Still, it gave me time to pester Keep It Cake about the possibility of a 20-tier cake, which he outrightly refused. (So much for ambition).
Decor / Ambience: 3/5
The restaurant itself sports the usual rustic decor that has come to be a staple of the gourmet burger scene, with an open space filled with brown wood, bare bulbs, and industrial piping. The main dining area also features a high ceiling and a plentiful amount of natural daylight, thanks mainly to a large skylight. Needless to say, you should be cautious of this fact if your dining companion is as aesthetically-challenged as Mr. Keep It Cake. The restaurant can be found a short walk away from either Bayswater or Queensway underground stations, and a limited amount of paid parking is available nearby.
Despite its good intentions and sound conceptualisation, Moor & Hitch ultimately fails at execution. The greater tragedy however, is that Moor & Hitch is not alone in this all too common state of affairs. Amongst the recent wave of halal American restaurants, few have managed to create something of sound substance, and rather than fuelling the passion for halal gourmet burgers, many have started to smother it out altogether. As much as I would hope for Moor & Hitch to improve, the sad reality is that it, and others like it, are unlikely to do so, because without the passion and the drive behind the food, there is simply no recipe for success.
Moor & Hitch
Address: 96 Queensway, London W2 3RR
Telephone: 0203 220 0082