Hank’s Burgers in Deptford is here to destroy any beach bod aspirations you have. It’s here to remind you that life is too short not to make it a double and that burger sauce isn’t just made for 3am trips to the kebab shop. It is yet another tasty treat added to the spoilt line up SE8 has to offer and we couldn’t be happier. Situated next to our favourite cocktail bar, Little Nan’s, the latest restaurant to grace the arches offers a succinct menu that has been perfected over years of graft at street food markets.
The fish burger is often swept under the rug when it comes to London’s burger scene. It seems that every Londoner claims they know the best burger spot and with new ones relentlessly popping up, finding a queue of people with watering mouths and sore feet has become the norm. However, when it comes down to it these burgers are always the same, delicious but predictable. Now we’re not turning our back on the patty, but sometimes you want something different. A great fish burger is a beauty of its own. Crispy and light with a cajun spiced mayo that cuts through the batter, step away from your double cheese for a second and join us for a change of pace. Don’t worry, you can have the cheeseburger as a second course.
We love this fish burger. The batter is made of a unique blend of cajun spices that owner Simon selects himself. He didn’t give us the full recipe, but he did offer to put us in touch with his ‘spice guy’. It’s light, golden and crispy. As you bite through the glazed bun you’re met with oozing cheese, spicy sauce and the the crisp batter encasing soft fish (sustainable cod) that flakes in your mouth.
Hank’s started as street food stall initially and opened it’s permanent space earlier this Summer in Deptford Market Yard, however you can still find them every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Southbank Centre Market and with KERB if you can’t make it down to SE8. After we were done stuffing our face with burgers, fries and beers, we wiped the sauce off our faces and caught up with owner Simon to find out more about the business.
So, why did you choose Deptford?
Well we did our first market in Deptford. When Giffin Square used to have a monthly market it was the first place we traded., back then as Po Boys. We live locally, we love South East London and we always wanted to come back to this area. We are also at Southbank and trade with Kerb but we wanted to find a small home. The opportunity came along for this small arch and it seemed to fit.
How did Hanks start?
It all began with a trip to see our friend in New York. It was December and very cold so we decided to jump on a plane and see New Orleans. We went there for four days, and I just fell in love with the food there and the different influences. At the time I was looking to do something different and after the trip I sat at my desk, opened a spreadsheet and thought I can’t do this anymore.
Before I worked for an investment bank, in the back office, and it was never a passion of mine and I just fell into it. I decided to just give it a go so I worked on a few recipes, then did the monthly food market down here to see if anyone would actually eat my food.
You were just a home cook before so how did you take that leap?
Weekends were spent cooking three course meals and I just loved doing different things with food. Our first market went ok (we made about four pounds!). It was our first time in a professional kitchen and I immediately spread out all over it with my preperation – but then I had to clean it. I will never do that again, it was a nightmare!
From there we were lucky enough to get into Street Feast the first year of Model Market. So we were doing our day jobs Monday to Thursday, and on that Thursday night the preparation for the weekend would start. Friday I would be ‘working from home’ whilst doing more prep for the nights ahead. On the Friday and Saturday night we would be down there cooking, and Sunday we were recovering. I then got made redundant so decided to give it a go full time. I don’t regret it at all – it’s so much harder, I get paid so much less but I still wouldn’t swap it.
Ours is obviously the fish burger but what’s your favourite dish?
To be honest I love the fish as well. New Orleans is so big on seafood and we first did blackened fish and then tried serving Cajun Shrimp. I want to do a surf and turf special so a cheeseburger with our cajun fried shrimp in there. (NOTE: we oohed and aahhed at the thought of this). The Cajun seasoning is all my recipe, and the batter on the fish, and its just a bit different.
So how sustainable is the fish?
Yep all sustainable, we get it from a company called Billings in Sydenham. He runs a fishmonger and butchers and gets all of the fish from Billingsgate. I started off going to Billingsgate myself, which is a massive experience, but this is more doable day to day. Back then I was prepping it all myself and thought surely a professional would do this better! It’s all sustainable and we are using cod now it is back on the sustainable list. We used to use coley when cod wasn’t but found that people like to see that bright white flaky fish that cod offers, whereas coley doesn’t have that same aesthetic.
Hanks – we will be back (and you will be fighting us off when that surf and turf special launches!
NOTE: Hanks invited us along to taste the food, however all opinions are our own.