So a couple of weeks ago me, the male companion person (MCP) and the MCP's sister (let's refer to her with the code name 'Sarah') met up in London for a spot of food and culture. Due to my passing interest in food blogs I was allocated the task of identifying a few options for a relatively inexpensive and informal central London lunch venue. And the recent birthday boy MCP plumped for Byron in Covent Garden.
Now I don't eat meat (not for any strong ethical or religious reasons, I just find it easy to do without it) so lots of the blog posts I'd read singing the praises of Byron's burgers were a bit wasted on me. But I did notice that there were a lot of excellent sounding side dishes mentioned, and having established that there was a vegetarian burger option, I was pretty confident that I'd be happy eating at Byron too.
We ended up having quite a late lunch so despite it being a Saturday afternoon in the middle of Covent Garden, we pretty much had our pick of tables at Byron. The decor is all quite modern, with an open kitchen, some small booths along the walls and lots of utilitarian tables. There's also a basement dining area with additional seating.
And so the food- well as expected there is only one main vegetarian burger and a salad on the menu. I do eat fish, but in this case being pescatarian didn't increase my options. However pretty much all the sides and starters were vegetarian- huzzah! We kicked off with some olives and tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. Both these dips tasted fresh and zingy, the chips were not of the 'straight out of the catering pack' variety, and the olives were pretty nice too.
And then onto the burgers. The veggie option consists of a grilled portabello mushroom with roasted red pepper and goats cheese. All this was topped by some salad-y stuff and a lovely aioli. It's not exactly an original combination, but it was done very well, with quality ingredients, and therefore was very tasty. In fact looking at the menu again now, I see that pretty much all of those items can also be added to a regular burger. I think this is actually reassuring, as these are obviously ingredients that are used regularly and not things that have been sitting in the back of fridge waiting for a random vegetarian to turn up.
All of the above vegetables were encased not in a doughy mass, but in light and airy bun that was well grilled for a slightly charred edge. My side of fries were hot, crispy, and importantly oil free. I also snaffled some of the MCP's giant onion rings which were also very good. I showed great restraint by not completing a triumvirate of fried things and ordering the courgette fries too, but would happily return to try them.
The others seemed very satisfied with their non-vegetarian orders too. Sarah declared her eponymous Bryon burger a big success, and the MCP's giant cobb salad was rapidly devoured.
With all our sides and nibbly bits we did seem to get through quite a lot of food, and I was very disappointed to find that I was too full to fit in one of the delightful sounding Byron milkshakes. So with friendly service, very reasonable prices (all of the above with some non-alcoholic drinks was somewhere around the £50 mark for the three of us, not including service), and tasty food, I would happily return to Byron again. It's obviously not somewhere that's particularly aimed at vegetarians but there's plenty for non-meat eaters to enjoy. And I am intending to enjoy some courgette fries and an oreo milkshake as soon as possible.
33-35 Wellington Street
London WC2E 7BN (and many other London locations)