In his book Notes From A Small Island, Bill Bryson celebrates the unique British queuing culture as a benchmark of civilisation.
I can understand his admiration for the orderly manner in which people in the UK approach mundane errands, like politely waiting for your turn at the post office, or using public transport without pushing and shoving.
However it feels far from civilised to line up outside a restaurant in the freezing cold, fighting the urge to press your nose up against window and drool pitifully in the direction of the smug gits seated cosily inside, unwrapping their burgers in a warm glow.
Four of us arrived at Patty&Bun at 7pm on a recent weeknight to find the queue already snaking around and doubling up on the pavement outside the small restaurant. We took our places at the back like dutiful Brits, buoyed by the knowledge that this place comes very highly recommended – I had heard the words “best burger in London” from several sources.
The off licence down the road should give a cut to Patty&Bun; they’re doing well out of the situation judging by the number of tinnies being clutched by frostbitten fingers in the queue.
By 8pm it was our turn to be seated and it was all we could do not to high five each other and bellow “in your FACE suckers” to the remaining forlorn queuers as we crossed the threshold.
The feeling of victorious achievement didn’t last long before it was replaced by a new, different kind of queue stress. It’s impossible to ignore the hungry, cold, miserable crowd watching us through the glass, mouthing “come the fuck ON!” every time we dared to linger over our ordering and eating. It reminded me of the scene in Shaun of the Dead where the cast takes takes refuge inside their local pub, with the zombies on the outside scratching at the windows to get in.
Part of me wanted to run outside and share our order with our former queue comrades. Instead, I did the other very British thing of turning a blind eye and getting stuck in.
The burger was gloriously, filthily, eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-the-head gorgeous.
The sides were not the lazy afterthought many places bosh out without care; Patty & Bun’s salad included some interesting morsels like shaved yellow courgette and a punchy dressing which lightly coated every leaf. The slaw was decent; crunchy and moreish. The rosemary and sea salt fries were flavoursome without being perfumey or gimmicky.
So thanks for a great night Patty & Bun, but I fear I may not see you again until the weather becomes warmer/ you get some outside heaters/serve hot toddies to the queue of diehard burger fans outside/take bookings!
Lucky the burger was good enough that the memory may just see me through to next spring.
PS: cute detail on the stairs on the way down to the loo…