Here's the Beef

For years London was a hamburger wasteland. Remember the British take on American diners? Yech. The best most joints could offer was a fatty, premade beef patty lost inside a stale, wan roll. And if the bland, greasy taste didn't drive diners away, mad-cow disease and a backlash against fast food just about wiped hamburgers off London menus. But rejoice, burger lovers: the humble patty on a bun is experiencing a renaissance.

Three stylish but casual premium-burger chains are challenging fast-food competitors with better bread and meat that goes beyond beef to free-range chicken or lamb. These 21st...

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