It was the first Saturday night at Burger Theory on St Stephen’s Street and the place was already full.
It’s what happens when you build your reputation over more than five years via street food, markets, festivals and pop-ups before opening your first permanent restaurant.
So it was an unscheduled trip to yet another new Bristol burger restaurant – the hugely disappointing Holy Cow in the former Caffe Gusto on Hannover Quay – before a good night’s sleep and a return to Burger Theory for lunch on Sunday.
Burger Theory’s wares were most recently able to be enjoyed in Bristol as a pop-up within Kongs on King Street, and are still in residence at Kongs in Cardiff.
This new restaurant, however, partly financed by crowdfunding, is the first that friends and founders Rory Perriment and Oliver Thorogood can properly call their own home – with their long established creativity continuing in what for almost 30 years was Europa.
If “filthy” is the de rigeur term for burger brilliance, then these guys have got it in spades, with a plethora of imaginative burgers alongside starters like satay fried chicken thighs and fries like poutine which could easily be a meal by itself.
And that’s not forgetting their commendable commitment to local produce, sustainability and meat-free dishes, with four vegan burgers on the menu.
Most of the burgers can be ordered as either 5oz or 10oz, with a choice of four buns, costing from £6.50 for the Simple Things and ranging up to £12.95 for The Hairy Beast – a monster that includes both beef and chicken breast.
A Blue Cow (£9.25 for 5oz) had a delicious spice to it thanks to the beef and jalapeno patty, the crispy bacon, blue cheese, chipotle mayo and house ketchup barely contained within the bouncy brioche bun.
Happy customers chowed down contentedly on Sunday as huge speakers powered by bicycles occasionally rolled by blasting a few bars of Abba and Shaggy into the restaurant, which was on the course of the HSBC City Ride.
“This is the yummiest, scrummiest burger I have ever had,” pronounced my six-year-old daughter as she enjoyed her Baby Cheese as part of the £8 children’s meal deal which also came with a drink and a scoop of ice cream (try the funky banana or morello cherry with white chocolate chunks).
One of the specials currently on the menu, the Moor Burger Please, is made with the St Phillip’s-based Moor brewery’s award-winning Old Freddy Walker ale as part of the bacon jam – and their beers are also more traditionally on the drinks menu on both draught and in cans alongside further beers, cider, wine and cocktails.
Burger Theory have bided their time to make sure that their first restaurant is as good as it could possibly be. And their patience and that of their legions of fans has been wonderfully worth it.
Burger Theory, 37-38 St Stephen’s Street, Bristol, BS1 1JX
0117 929 7818
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