Burger Theory takes us back to where Bristol’s burger boom began, writes Sammy Milton
Bristol and burgers. The two words have been twinned over the last few years as our city has become known for its variety of burger restaurants. From Burger Bear to Oowee and Squeezed (winning best burger in the UK, I might add), it’s something we’re proud of, but with all these new openings, it can be easy to forget about the places where it all began.
Burger Theory was founded way back in 2012, long before the others even had a look in. Chef Rory Perriment started experimenting with different recipes and flavours and discovered there were hundreds of ways you could make a burger.
Later joined by chef partners Oliver Thorogood and Nicolas Makin, they took their delicious and creative burgers to festivals and food fairs across the country before acquiring a pop-up spot at Kongs on King Street. This proved to be a roaring success, and following this, they opened their own restaurant on St Stephen’s Street in the Old City. Shamefully, I had never eaten at Burger Theory before. I had heard excellent things, and decided it was high time I tried these burgers out for myself. So, I headed down with a friend last week to see what they had to offer.
Their restaurant occupies one of the best spots in the area. With lots of outdoor seating, it’s a great summer dining spot, whilst inside was warm, spacious and buzzing. The staff were chatting and laughing with customers, and we were seated at a comfortable corner table in no time at all. The menu is bright and colourful, with a range of burgers (plenty of vegan options too), starters and sides and fries with a variety of sauces.
They’d run out of a couple of starters by the time we sat down – always a good sign – so we settled on a portion of onion rings with barbeque sauce to kick things off. They arrived at the table, hot and crispy, and not greasy in the slightest. The accompanying sauce was dark and smoky with a lovely depth, and we devoured them in no time.
We umm-ed and ahh-ed over the burger menu for some time, weighing up our options. I’d heard the chicken burgers were legendary, but cheese burgers are, and always will be, my favourite. With this in mind, I chose a burger with Bristol at its very core – the Moor Burger Please. My friend also went down the cheesy route, and opted for a Cheese Theory. We both chose some skin-on fries to have on the side, mine with down ‘n’ dirty burger sauce and my friend’s with more of that irresistible barbeque sauce.
My Moor burger arrived promptly, and I took a second to take it in. A majestic tower of food, it comprised a juicy beef patty topped with Moor ale and bacon jam, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, crispy fried gherkins and garlic mayonnaise. So big it was almost intimidating, it was the perfect burger.
The beef (a touch pink, as it should be in my opinion) was soft and tender, the cheese gooey and springy, and the bacon and ale jam really added another element to the burger. The gherkins and fresh salad added a welcome crunch, and I finished it in record time.
My friend’s Cheese Theory was a similar story – with thick, crispy bacon and a generous helping of smoked cheddar, he was silent as he made his way through it all, and declared himself completely satisfied when he eventually finished.
The fries were also great. I’m not a huge chips person (so shoot me), but these were the perfect side dish – salty and crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside, and even better when dipped in that Big Mac-esque burger sauce.
Running out of steam, we admitted defeat. The portions are certainly generous here, and I would say very reasonable for their pricing. Desserts included a brownie and a selection of ice creams, but we were simply too full. Hats off to those who can manage to squeeze them in after all that.
So yes. Celebrate the new burgers, welcome them in with open arms, but make sure you go back to your roots, and visit pioneering places like Burger Theory where it all began – they sure can teach these new places a trick or two.
37–38 St Stephen’s Street
0117 929 7818