Perched in the middle of Charlotte Street, Bobo Social is the kind of place that the term ‘quirky’ was invented for. You’ll spot its Downpipe grey exterior from Tottenham Court Road, fenced off by cute planters and dotted with little white tables for al fresco eaters. Their big, messy burgers all come with a touch of the eccentric - there’s a peanut butter burger, a lobster and crab offering, and something simply called ‘The Debauchery’ - all served on twee china plates. They also offer a weekly special, usually some combination of ostrich, kangaroo or even alligator, made by one of the visitors to the Experimental Burger Society, and tonight my aim is to make it on to the specials board.
My friend and I have pitched up early for the session, which turns out to be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of BOBO Social’s 2-for-£10 Happy Hour cocktails, and kick-start proceedings with a refreshing French 75 (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Champagne, Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup).
We’re taken upstairs to where the class will be taking place. The table is laid with protective goggles, gloves and lab coats slung over the backs of chairs. The rest of our party arrive shortly after us, two couples, bringing the group to an intimate six. We’re issued orders to don the protective clothing. Don’t worry too much about looking stupid, because like Brexit, taxes and the eventual heat death of the universe, it’s inevitable.
Tonight’s unorthodox off-cuts include ostrich, kangaroo and BOBO Social’s speciality rare-breed beef. There’s a little meatball tasting session of each, which comes served on a school-grade plastic cutting mat alongside three teeny beakers of wine pairings - their commitment to the bit is inspiring.
Fun Ostrich Fact #1: The average Ostrich grows to about 2.7m tall, roughly the same size as a garden parasol.
Fun Ostrich Fact #2: Ostriches are very tasty. They are flavoursome and juicy and, as a lean meat, not awful for you!
After the tasting is when the real fun starts. Three large bowls of minced meat are brought to the table and it’s up to you to take the minced animal of your choice, or a mix of two or more, and start your Experimental Burger proper. We spring for a bottle of wine, a Leduc Malbec IGP Pays d’Oc 2016 (£23.95) which turns out to be a fruity little number, with some deeper, woodier notes; perfect for accompanying the ostrich and kangaroo burger I’m about to construct.
You’re given guidance on how to produce the optimal burger, so patty-making novices don’t have to fret about falling short of the mark. On a small card you write down your burger mix, choice of toppings, side dish and the name of your burger. Mine reads a little like:
90g Ostrich, 80g Kangaroo
Sweet potato fries
‘I Believe I Can...Get About 2ft Off The Ground’
If you don’t get the R Kelly reference that's fine because no one else did either.
While the burgers cook it’s time to whip up a sauce. Mine is predominantly mustard, with some gherkin juice and a splash of ketchup for colour. My friend tries mine. He tells me he doesn’t like it. I tell him jealousy is an ugly shade on him.
I can tell you now there is no greater feeling than that first bite of your lovingly made burger, dressed up in a ‘B’ branded brioche bun, garnished with your choice of toppings and a healthy smothering of homemade sauce. While my creation doesn’t win Experimental Burger of the Week, that’s fine because it’s the fun of this cool culinary experience that really counts. And no great artist was ever appreciated in their time.