It’s a REALLY hot day and I’m en-route to new burger joint Grindhouse to see what they’re bringing to the Berlin burger scene.
Is that the perfect time to eat a burger, when you’re so hot that food is the last thing on your mind, let alone a huge, flame-grilled, dry-aged beef burger? Not really, but these are the sacrifices one makes for their passion. I ate for all of our sins.
Grindhouse represents a new level on the posh burger scene. Before, the burgers were made with whatever hackfleisch patties (frozen or otherwise) the guy behind the counter had lying around. Then came the bio options and meat from black Angus cows. Now, with Grindhouse, you get to choose if your local, bio burger meat has been dry-aged or not.
What started as a small group of friends running a little burger joint in Düsseldorf, Grindhouse has moved to the Hauptstadt and brought with it a more polished version of itself, including a location in Prenz-“I’d eat my own swaddled child so long as it was bio”-lauer Berg and an interior designed by the boys behind the Berghain, Karhard. It’s big, sparse and decidedly German industrial-chic.
The owner, Tim, was still sweating after their opening party in June where they offered free beer and burgers to the whole of Berlin and were surprised when about 2000 people turned up. If there’s anything we like here, it’s something free. When I asked him if there was anything I NEED to try, he calmly said “Get the Oreo milkshake.” So… I did.
Q) What’s way better than fries? Onion rings, of course (plus everything else). To start with, we shared a portion of Grindhouse’s ‘Super Crispy Onion Rings’ and some Padrón peppers.
The onion rings came with a delicious creamy chili mayo for dipping and man, when they said ‘Super Crispy’ they meant it. Those onion rings had more crack than Amy Winehouse. Awesome. The ancho peppers were bitter and salty which was perfectly balanced by the sweet chili drip. Two great starters.
When burger time came, Phil and I both opted for the most expensive ones. Those from the ‘dry-aged Entrecote’ section. Phil took a stripped-down version of the Grindhouse Burger while I went full-penetration with the Chili Cheese Porn burger.
Yes, that one with the black bun is Chili Cheese Porn burger. You could say the colouration is a bit pointless but hey… I appreciated the novelty.
After a few bites, searching for a tag line, we named Grindhouse’s burger ‘the juiciest in Berlin’. The amount of liquid falling out of these things meant that I had to build little dams and levees with my fries to stop it running off my plate and down through the cracks in the table.
What made them so juicy? Perhaps it was the quality of the meat which you really could taste. Impressively, the bun managed to still hold together. But that being said, it was a messy eat.
Aside from the beef patty in my burger, the caramelised onions were the next stand-out ingredient. They were damn tasty. The rest… the double cheese, the jalapenos, the ‘extra hot sauce’, the chili mayo… all just fell into one, or fell out the burger. Since we went back to doing the odd burger review, we always forget our golden rule: judge a burger joint on its simple cheeseburger. And as soon as I bite into that sexed-up burger I ordered instead, I remember my mistake.
Alright, those of you who’ve been paying attention will remember that I was recommended the Oreo milkshake. The one he had recommended was some super-duper extra-sexy one that the kitchen had sadly ran out of, so I settled for their normal Oreo milkshake. And you know what? It was great. Thick, not too sweet, still a vanilla milkshake but with a few Oreos blended into it. Which suited me fine ’cause Oreos taste like the dusty remnants of someone else’s childhood.
The Grindhouse strives to seem upmarket, and this is something which slightly alienates me. The best burger in the world probably comes wrapped in wax-paper or in a cardboard box and here are these guys serving their burgers on a slate (the main reason the juices were running over the table and onto our laps). And then there’s the little bowls or cutesy mini deep-fryer baskets the fries were served in… It all just makes everything a bit more annoying to eat (and the bowls mask the portion sizes…). I wouldn’t mind so much if this style was still in vogue. It isn’t.
I also don’t 100% agree that burgers NEED the best possible steak. I love steak, but a burger isn’t a steak… and what makes a steak great isn’t what makes a burger great. So when Phil returned to Grindhouse a week later he tried the less expensive (yet still bio) burger with less toppings and recommended that one much higher than the entrecote. Why not just grill the entrecote as steak?
By hearing owner Tim talking about the Düsseldorf store, he made it seem a little more rough, edgy, home-spun… more real. I feel maybe this has been a bit lost in translation with the new Berlin enterprise and I hope they manage to find their own character (as much as one can in Kollwitzstrasse).
BLY’s top tips for eating at Grindhouse
- I can’t eat without dips and their platter of home-made mayos has something for every taste.
- For fans of salads (what?), Grindhouse’s salad menu is made in collaboration with Beets&Roots and offers some interesting alternatives.
- Go when it’s not 35°C outside for the best possible dining experience.
Andy says: “There’s real meat in them Grindhouse burgers and the onion rings are spectacular, but I think they need to start on a clean slate (get it?)”
Phil says: “It’s rare you can get a good burger along with a good salad and other food/starter options, so Grindhouse makes everyone happy – the burger addicts but also those not always wanting to go in for a heavy, sloppy burger”
Berlin Loves You Rating: 7.5/10
This review is part of our series on Berlin’s best burger joints. Read our opinion on what makes a good burger.