Burger Circus Hong Kong review date April 9 2015
60 second review so no score
I’ve previously made no secret of the fact that in my mind the Black Sheep restaurant group have the most finely-tuned restaurant radar in Hong Kong. Whether it’s brilliant Goodfellas schtick with American-Italian classics at Carbone, cheeky Cantonese at Ho Lee Fook or bang-on steak frites at La Vache, across their portfolio of restaurants they somehow just get it right, each and every time. It’s the food, of course, but it’s also the design, the service, the music, the little touches and the feeling that you’re eating somewhere where people genuinely care that you have a good time. If that’s not the restaurant business Holy Grail then I don’t know what is and invariably I recommend their restaurants first to anyone looking for a great evening out in Hong Kong.
So on to their latest offering, Burger Circus. I won’t bleat on about Hong Kong’s need for another gourmet burger joint as it’s already been covered in exhaustive detail. As you probably would have guessed the look is American diner c 1955. It’s a small space paying homage to the old rail car feel, stools at one end along a counter by the shakes and ice creams, then bench banquette tables along the side. You half expect to see Biff busting on Marty in his Calvins, while Diana Ross and Chuck Berry help provide the soundtrack. It’s a fun space and clearly a lot of thought went in to making it as authentic as possible.
The problem for me is that the location doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s a feng shui thing but no restaurant or business has ever prospered, as I recall, in that small stretch of Hollywood Road. It’s always hectic, while the escalator above seems to trap the noise and the fumes below. Commercially of course you’re a stumble from Soho and a stagger from Wyndham, but the concept just doesn’t quite seem to fit the location.
A huge smile on the very welcoming waitress with the perfect 1950’s ‘do and bright red lipstick straight out of a Buddy Holly movie puts things back on track. This is a quick lunch pitstop so I nab a stool and check out the short menu – nine burgers, one of which is vege and a saladbowl option for those allergic to wheat, or the idea of it.
When at Burger Circus, the Circus Burger seems to make most sense: ‘5 oz patty, crispy bacon, savory onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, circus sauce’. Circus fries feature more of that sauce along with American cheese.
Now reviewing a burger will always be a lesson in the definition of subjectivity, but this diner’s overall impression is just a bit meh. It’s not very big and the eight ounces of ground meat, undoubtedly great quality, quickly get lost amidst the milk bun and accompaniments. The meat isn’t the hero, as it should be, and there isn’t really much of that first bite of joy that you’d expect. You know the one.
Unfortunately the fries don’t lift my slight disappointment, seemingly unevenly cooked and at varying temperatures. I should have known better when ordering, but the toppings on them just match the flavour profile of the burger.
They make everything in house including their own sodas, shakes and bread while there are eight other burgers to try, authentic sides and a list of homemade desserts to quite possibly die for. The staff are good and, another time, impressions could well be different – but, on this occasion, for a fifteen minute lunch at $130, part of me wonders how Burger Circus adds real incremental value to Black Sheep Restaurants’ otherwise peerless restaurant portfolio.
Burger Circus, 22 Hollywood Road, Hong Kong. Tel:+852 2878 7787 http://www.burgercircus.com.hk/