Last week a friend and I met up for lunch at the Old Brompton Road branch of Byron, the American-inspired chain diner and home of the “poshburger”, (once famously patronised by George Osborne).
These days it has twenty-one branches; this one’s handy for South Kensington tube, and also of course for the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum. So at 12.30 mid-week at the end of March we weren’t too surprised to find it bustling with customers, many of them family groups enjoying an outing at the beginning of the school holidays.
A good use of space
The restaurant isn’t that large but has recently been refitted to make best use of the space—there are some tables outside now, screened off from the pavement by greenery.
Inside, a generously-sized open kitchen is in full view to the right, occupying nearly the full depth of the premises, while to the left booth tables with vinyl banquette seating abut a wood-effect and mirror-lined wall and more rows of smaller tables and chairs occupy the centre of the restaurant. All very much in keeping with the American diner ethos, as was the rather loud background music.
The new vegetarian burger
We both had good memories from a while back—certainly pre-pandemic—of Byron’s excellent quality classic ground beef hamburgers. Today however we wanted to try something different: the Easy Cheesy (£12.49), its new vegetarian option.
This turned out to be a somewhat formidably high stack of deep-fried halloumi, sliced American cheese, deep-fried onion ring, lettuce, pickles, red onion, jalapeños along with Byron and BBQ sauces, all inside a brioche bun. Not exactly a light lunch, but the texture and the richness of the halloumi worked well within this assemblage, with the assorted relishes providing the necessary extra bite. For vegans, we noticed that Byron also now offers the Plantastic (£11.99), featuring a ‘Beyond Meat’ plant-based patty.
On the side…
We really enjoyed both our side dishes—a portion of potato fries (£3.79), satisfactorily long and golden and crisp, and one of Byron slaw (£4.49), well-flavoured and with a nice dense texture, sprinkled on top with bits of crispy onion for some extra crunch.
…and in the glass
With my meal I drank Byron’s own-brand and very pleasant lager (£5.99) while my friend had a more than acceptable glass of Sauvignon Blanc (£6.79). Both came at the correct temperature, and the chilled glasses were a nice touch. The complimentary tap water too came chilled, and in good big chilled tumblers.
The menu only offers a choice of two desserts, a bit more choice would have been nice. Anyway, we tried both: the salted caramel brownie was well-flavoured and satisfactorily sticky, served with a ball of decent-quality vanilla ice cream. The lemon tart again tasted good but was rather dense and heavy in texture, and too cold (had it been recently defrosted?). A blob of aerosol cream felt like a mistaken addition. Both desserts £4.99 each,
Somewhat to our surprise Byron no longer offers coffee or any other hot drinks—only milkshakes. So, for coffee we adjourned instead around the corner to a pastry shop in Bute Street.
Service was cheerful and attentive, with care evidently being taken to keep hygiene standards high – we approved.
Byron: byron.co.uk. The branch we visited: 93-5 Old Brompton Road London SW7 3LD. Tel: 020 7581 6460.