*Disclaimer* – 2019 update: Abraham’s Natural Produce is no longer supplying Stax Diner, Harlem Soul or Butterscotch Bakery (The Soul Food Group)
Gourmet burgers have become a big part of our metropolitan lives. While we had seen halal burger joints that serve the American-diner experience for years with the likes of Tinseltown and Big Moe’s Diner, the last 5 years have seen an influx of halal, diner-esque burger joints popping up all over London. These days, you never have to travel far for a gourmet burger. There’s one, however, that has placed itself at the top of the food chain since 2013 and continues to serve up its magic.
Incase I don’t know you, I haven’t had a chance to tell you about Stax. Stax is one of few restaurants under the Feed Your Soul umbrella, created by chef Bea Vo. It dishes out milkshakes of malted goodness and simple sides, served up alongside its signature, mouthwatering burgers. While other halal diner’s offer a very similar and sometimes more extended menu, Stax, along with the other Feed Your Soul eateries, offers a unique, special ingredient that stands it out from all the rest. In a time when the talk of where our halal meat is coming from is starting to creep its way into our mainstream conversations, Stax was a step ahead of the game. Sourcing its beef from Abraham’s Natural Produce – one of very few tayyib halal suppliers in the country, Stax filled a big niche in the market serving beef that is not only halal, but organic, free-
range and ethically sourced too. As a conscious meat-eater, I find it hard to find restaurants that meet both standards of halal and tayyib foods. Stax was no exception to this.
They do not advertise as a halal restaurant, as alcohol is served on their premises, however, they will openly tell you about where their beef is sourced and that they are halal and ethically sourced, provided that you ask. Stax was the first eatery that I learnt of that served halal food with an ethical focus. In 2015, after 3 years without meat, I rushed over to give it a try. Since then I find myself consistently returning whenever I am in need of a quality meat-fix. I’d recommend the ‘Big Stax’ – a 28 Day Dry-aged Pedigreed Sussex Beef burger that is topped with monterary jack cheese, maple-glazed beef bacon, caramelised onions and dill pickles, all under a perfect layer of their spicy comeback sauce and packed into a soft but substantial bun
(that doesn’t fall apart while you eat). This, along with a vanilla malt milkshake and a shared bowl of cajun chips, makes for a perfectly filling meal for all.
However, while they may be serving up quality beef, their chicken has yet to catch up to that standard. While still halal, it lacks the tayyib appeal that provides the noticeable differences in quality and taste which we find in our more natural foods. But between the choice of five beef burgers, it offers a nice variation of meals depending on your taste. It’s not all meat, either. They do offer two vegetarian burger options. Often, the vegetarian options in these diner style restaurants end up being weak after-thoughts, but the mushroom mac-and-cheese burger here along with the salad filled ‘whistle stop’ option seem to have been well thought through. You can find Stax tucked amongst other eateries Kingly Court on Carnaby Street. The spot itself is small with an authentic diner feel to it, but allows little room for large groups or families. It’s better suited to the quick stop off or catch up with a friend. For bigger groups or more of an ‘eating out’ experience, head over to the bigger sister restaurant, Boondocks, located in Old Street. Boondocks serves the same menu as Stax, with some added extras and a more trendy vibe. The hip venue holds regular events, music
performances and film screenings in its basement room, too, adding to the overall aesthetic of the place.
So, it needs to be said, it’s not the cheapest meal around. With burgers that cost an average of around £10, without chips, it’s more of an occasional meal instead of your regular meet-up spot. It does fall behind when compared in price to other similar joints. But then again, its ethical niche and quality ingredients (and taste) would, and does, pump up the price. The special tayyib touch might explain why they have made their name as the best burgers in town (in my world at least!). Ok, maybe I’m not a fair judge. After all, I could easily just be blinded by my own tayyib – halal hype, but every meat-eater I’ve brought here has agreed that the meat is exceptionally good, if not the be st that they’ve had! Is that true? Try it for yourself, and let me know.
Food is Zahrah's passion. The creativity of cooking fascinates her and she adores hearty flavours. She is a vegetarian - though not by choice. 16-year-old anti-vegetable-eating her realised how everyone was obsessed with how halal the death of the creature was but there was no thought on the halal-ness of its life. Free-range, organic and ethical meat was available everywhere, but none of it was ‘halal’! 8 years later, The conversation has slowly reached the mainstream, here is the start to her reviews of Tayyib Halal eateries and products.