Located five minutes from Angel tube station, Radicals and Victuallers could – as its name suggests – be a hotbed of rotund, well-fed revolutionaries.
Despite the unusual title, it’s most definitely a burger bar. And one with a few surprising twists.
The décor won’t shock you (not that anyone said it was trying to). It’s a mixture of leather upholstery, the sort of ambient darkness that – when combined with alcohol – can make people look more attractive than they would in the harsh glare of cruel daylight, and a few pockets of subdued ultra-violet lighting at the sides of the room. There’s also some lively background music, which – thankfully – is pitched at about the right level: loud enough to fill awkward silences, but quiet enough so that you can easily hold a conversation.
Basically, it’s a bar. But a little word-picture never hurt anyone.
The innovations come in the food and drink. After foolishly waiting five minutes at the table before realising we’re meant to order from the bar (not a mistake, but a hallowed protocol of our evening meals) my companion and I received our first bevies.
I plumped for the ‘Hibiscus Rum Buck’: an intriguing blend of Bacardi, sour cherry, red grape and hibiscus, topped off with Fever-Tree ginger beer. The gamble paid off, and in style. This sweet, refreshing and fruity drink is delicious, causing a pleasant tingly sensation at the back of the throat. I’d recommend it to anybody, not something I often do with drinks.
Next up was the starter, the less-intriguing but still appealing Nachos grande (£9.75). The usual suspects were there: melted cheddar, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, but with the added accompaniment of a bed of burnt-end chilli lying underneath. All of this was very tasty and artfully presented, but unfortunately, no knife and fork were supplied with it, making the chilli tricky to eat. An oversight, but one easily remedied.
Now came the most daring moment of the night. A less intrepid reviewer would have settled for something more ordinary. Safe. Even cowardly. But inventive burgers is Radicals and Victuallers’ specialty and, unwilling to let the side down, I opted for the fried egg & peanut butter burger (£10.95).
And do you know what? It works. The thick peanut butter is overwhelmingly the main taste to hit the palate, but the hint of flavour from the warm, runny egg and the weighty fillingness of the beef do complement each other nicely. It’s not mind-blowing, but it does provide a genuinely imaginative and enjoyable alternative in the already-crowded burger market. Plus, it’s all encased in a crunchy bun and served with a generous portion of fries, so you definitely get your money’s worth.
In fact, the food was so filling that – even as someone with a large appetite – I wasn’t certain I could handle a dessert as well. But, like a reporter in a war zone, I braved the potential danger to bring back the information you crave.
The salted caramel & chocolate cheesecake (£5.00) was a rich, pleasingly heavy treat. If the bulk of my blood hadn’t been rushing out of my brain and toward my digestive system, to deal with the vast quantity of calories I’d already ingested, I’d have happily gone back for more.
If you fancy a hearty meal at a reasonable price, Radicals and Victuallers delivers this in an unfussy way. It may not be a revolution, but their experimental range of handmade burgers should tingle your tastebuds in a way that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
Review by Josh Spiller