Seven of us braved the Stoke Newington side of Kingsland Road last night. I say braved, but a gaggle of seven screeching women was probably a far more terrifying prospect than anything else down the high street. Kingsland Road always scares me a little bit, despite growing up around the corner, and nearly moving off Ridley Road Market a couple of years ago (rat burger reviews ahoy!).
But every time I go back – when I’m sober enough to notice at least – it seems to have got more and more gentrified. I don’t know if this is a good thing for everyone – I’ve watched Top Boy, ‘kay. But what I do know is that there has been a damn fine spate of restaurants and bars cropping up, especially towards Stoke Newington. And that’s a good thing for me, at least.
Psychic Burger isn’t so new – I first ate there with the boy in June. I’m not sure why I didn’t review it then TBH. It was pretty good. We had the Psychic Burger and Soft Shell Crab Burger, fries, deep fried chicken wings and the chocolate brownie and blueberry cheesecake. The wings were good quality meat but they weren’t greasy enough – there’s no point eating something deep fried that tastes baked. Someone must have agreed because they’re off the menu now.
The Psychic Burger was good, but I seem to remember a little on the small side and that old adage – not a Lucky Chip burger (why haven’t I reviewed Lucky Chip? Why don’t Christians review the Bible?!).
The Soft Shell Crab Burger was great, and so were the fries – skinny, long tendrils of potato, golden, crunchy and perfectly greasy. I have a weird thing with soft shell crab where I think it’s utterly delicious but I can’t spend too long thinking about the fact that it is, in fact, an entire crab. It just makes me feel a bit funny, like when you think about the fact that an egg is actually an embryo. The crab here was giant – I mean I’ve never seen one so big – squatting in between two slabs of bun, its little crunchy legs poking out sadly. It reminded me of this giant brown spider that had crawled up in our bathroom to die and freaked me out so much I couldn’t bear clearing it up. Then I got the boy to do it.
Anyway, looks aside, the soft shell crab was YUM, perfectly complimented by sticky sweet chilli sauce and a smooth hit of garlic aioli – with the crispy crunch of the fried crab backing up all that flavour. Sweet chilli and garlic aioli shouldn’t work – but it does. I’d recommend.
But the brownie was the star winner back then. A huge slab of chocolate concrete, warm and melting in its own molten pool of sweetness. When you cut into it, more chocolate gushed forth, like some sort of confectionary oil rig. Aaaaaaah it was good. I can still taste it – the cold ice cream (I swear it was ice cream then – it wasn’t this time round) cutting through that rich gooey goodness. I don’t even like brownies. The cheesecake was perfectly fine – but I mean come on! It was all about that bad boy brownie. It could have fed four. We couldn’t finish either dessert – and this is the boy we’re talking about. He doesn’t admit defeat easily.
Which takes me neatly on to this time round. With a review in mind I took it upon myself to try (mostly) all new things. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. I went for the chicken burger, because the boy has officially got me ‘into’ chicken burgers now. This one comes with garlic aioli plus spicy BBQ sauce and Monterey Jack cheese – HUZZAH! Not to get off topic again but – chicken burgers and cheese. This should be mandatory. I had the best deep fried chicken I’ve ever eaten anywhere ever at Mother Clucker off Brick Lane recently. They served a chicken burger which was 0.01% away from perfection – but there was no cheese. What you need is melted American cheese over the chicken, sticking to the batter crevices and permeating every mouthful. OhMyGod. Why wouldn’t you have a chicken burger with cheese when it tastes that good? Getouttahere.*
Anyway, so you can imagine how pleased I was that Psychic Burger had their shit together and had sorted out some good cheese for their chicken. And it was a damn great chicken burger. Served on a metal tray – which I don’t trust for its mere wipe-down-ability – it had it going ON. The chicken coating was crisp, not too thin, not too thick – the flesh firm, white, with that great carnivorous rip when you bite. The garlic aioli and spicy BBQ was a hit, a creamy tang that lingered pleasantly in the mouth from the garlic. I’m gonna just put it out there and say it was my favourite chicken burger, like, ever. Better than The Rotary. Better than Lucky Chip.
Next, the chilli cheese fries. My friend O highly recommended these – so much that I had to forcibly persuade her to share a portion rather than have one each. They were really good but – and I see the irony of saying this after my last paragraph – there was TOO MUCH CHEESE. Fuck off, I hear you cry. There is no such thing as too much cheese, you heathen. And believe me, I once thought the same thing. But there was WAY too much cheese. The chips at Psychic Burger are great – like, stand alone, order an extra portion for the heck of it delicious. They don’t need no sugar – or in this case, cheese – coating. But this was a cheese massacre. A cheese-acre (I’ll stop now). I couldn’t really taste the chips: they’d gone a bit soggy under their cheesy blanket. And there were some big rings of jalapeno in there and a few bites of chilli con carne but it was mostly CHEESE. EVERYWHERE. CHEESE. I still ate it all though, naturally. But I’d just stick with good ol’ chips next time.
Oh, I also got these weird little pork skin popcorn bite things. They arrived in a tumbler with the burger. They were completely flavourless. I emptied half of the salt cellar over them before giving up. Don’t bother with those, although my friend M weirdly liked them and finished them off. I don’t think she saw how much salt I poured over them or she might not have braved the heart attack.
The brownie was probably the biggest disappointment of the evening. I made everyone order a portion to share. Two of my friends even trusted me so much they ordered one each. But it was rubbish. It arrived not as a concrete chocolate slab but as a perky little pudding – easily demolish-able by one, with a little quenelle of white chocolate cream on the side. And – it was dry and hard. We all thought it might have been left-overs from the day before, reheated in the microwave. It had that weird, crisp, overcooked crust and cold interior you only get from microwaving. It made me really, really sad. One of my friends didn’t finish their portion. I wiped away a tear while finishing it for them. Oh, Psychic Burger, you let me down! No one will ever trust my food recommendations again. It is officially brownie-gate. I’m ruined.
One last little moan. It was Tuesday night, right, 7.30pm. And the music was DEAFENING. IT WAS SO LOUD. One of my friends had been away travelling for a year – we all just wanted to catch up and have a proper natter. But it was SO LOUD. So being the granny of the group, I asked if maaaaaybe they could turn it down a smidgen. Well, I shouted it in the waitress’ ear. And she totally agreed and said everyone complains about it but they’re not allowed to turn it down because it has to be that loud in the ‘drinking’ area – which is on the other side of the room, about two feet away, with all of three people sitting in it. Ah ok, that makes sense then. We just left and went to a bar across the road instead.
A total shame, because I really, really like Psychic Burger and would come back again and again. But not with that bloody racket. Now where are my slippers?
PS Sorry for the shit photos. Was hungry.
PSS I also just remembered – there were no onion rings ontop of the burgers like last time and in the pictures. Where’s my onion rings at, biatch?!