Sian Griffiths heads to Byron’s new Bristol branch to test out proper burgers…
Some might have argued that there wasn’t room for another burger restaurant in Bristol, but Byron has muscled in on the action this autumn with its new Queens Road branch – that’s number 47 (and counting). The ‘upmarket’ hamburger trend has swept the nation, and other burger outlets are going strong in this city – the likes of The Burger Joint, Atomic Burger and Chomp have been a roaring success – so there’s clearly demand for this kind of gourmet grub.
The queue was out of the door when we arrived on a bustling Thursday evening, and there wasn’t a spare seat in the house. Set over two floors, the decor of this split-level restaurant could be described as retro, with an on-trend but eclectic mix of wooden tables, diner-style booths and leather-effect benches set against a backdrop of grey and tiled walls. As expected, the atmosphere was comfortable, laid-back and easygoing.
But what about the food? This was my first visit to Byron, although I’d been curious to try out this ever-expanding chain since George Osborne was pictured in Downing Street with a ‘posh’ burger in hand.
Prices start at a meaty £6.75 for the classic burger with bacon and cheese, rising to £9.50 for the signature Byron and £9.75 for the current Shady special. I opted for the Byron, topped with dry-cured bacon, mature cheddar, shredded iceburg, tomato, red onion and Byron’s very own sauce, while my partner decided to build his own. All burgers are cooked medium unless otherwise specified – just the way I like it, although not to everybody’s taste – meaning the patty was beautifully pink. It came served with a love-or-loath pickle on the side (personally I’m not a fan) and inside a glazed bun, which was soft and squishy and made it easy to manage with two hands. The fries were tasty and not over-seasoned, but the deliciously chunky skin-on chips with a fluffy centre were far superior and I’d pick them every time.
To go with your proper hamburger, expect nothing less than proper beer. Byron aim to offer a growing selection of top-quality craft beer and our Brewdog Dead Pony Club pale ale and Brooklyn Lager were a great match. Alternatively, you might be tempted by a thick milkshake served in a quirky metal mixer jug (the Oreo cookie one sounds particularly good), although I decided that I couldn’t handle it on top of such hearty fare. That said, our host insisted that we sample the white chocolate cheesecake with blueberries and, although exceedingly rich and very decadent, it was pretty tasty.
All in all, the service and atmosphere was fantastic, and the food was enjoyable. Whatever your thoughts are on independents versus chains, it’s safe to say that burgers have captured the public’s imagination – mine included – and more outlets will undoubtedly continue to spring up. In Bristol alone, US Five Guys are making their way to Cabot Circus and trendy MEATliquor will soon be arriving in Stokes Croft .Watch this space.