It’s not often enough that we have an opportunity to take a trip down to Bristol, but when we do the first thing on the agenda is to decide where we’re going to eat. Bristol’s burger scene is outrageous and although it’ll take forever for us to get around to them all, we made a start by checking out Three Brothers almost a year ago to the day. We had tickets to a gig this time and thought that slipping a burger in beforehand would be ideal to fuel us for the rest of the evening. Having no clue where to head for our fill, I put it out there to the Twitterati. The people spoke and suggested that we try Burger Theory, which conveniently happened to be around the corner from our hotel in the city centre, and so a plan was formed.
The creators of Burger Theory are basically 2 friends who happen to also be burger chefs. Rory Perriment and Oliver Thorogood started off I guess similarly to the burger geniuses that are The Beefy Boys, as a pop up kitchen (a true burger success story if ever I heard one). After taking over the kitchens in 2 of Bristol’s pubs in 2012 and perfecting their recipes, the friends finally announced the news to Bristol burger fans that they’d been waiting for. The first Burger Theory restaurant opened up in 2017 on St Stephen’s Street in the heart of the city centre.
Being sensible sort of people, we popped in to secure our table as we didn’t want to be disappointed in the unlikely event that we wouldn’t be able to get in on a chilly Wednesday evening. The restaurant was encouragingly busy at 6pm, we were seated next to the door with a good view of the kitchen and other diners, albeit a little chilly when somebody would enter or exit. We soon warmed up with a bottle of their finest Malbec (a Puro Malbec-Cabernet, Mendoza 2015), which although wasn’t cheap at £30 I’d highly recommend.
The menu looked really interesting, with a surprising number of vegetarian burgers that all sounded almost equally as tempting as the meatier selection that we would be almost certainly choosing from today. To make things even harder for us, our server bought over a specials menu – the stress was real. What we did know was that we wanted the blue cheese and jalepeno croquets from the specials as a starter, but sadly they had sold out, so we randomly chose Korean Fried Chicken (£5.95). The halloumi fries (£5.95) were ordered without question, I mean who doesn’t order the halloumi fries??
At first glance of the Korean fried chicken we weren’t quite sure what we had ordered. An unusual looking thing indeed which required some poking and prodding before we sampled one of the most delicious starter / snacky things we’ve had at any burger restaurant. Although apparently fried the chicken was not fatty, just a little bit of skin that had been coated in a sticky chilli sauce and salted peanuts. The chicken sat in dark soy sauce and was garnished with real red chillies, the kind that actually have some heat to them, and some shredded spring onion. We’ve eaten halloumi fries a hundred times before, but this was our first time eating them the Burger Theory way. The fingers of salty, squeaky cheese were glazed with pomegranate and topped with cool tzatziki, fresh mint and pomegranate seeds. These just made sense.
All of the classic burgers come with a choice of brioche, Italian herb, seeded wholemeal or a gluten free bun. Mr R liked the sound of turning his burger into a pizza so went with The Don (£9.25) inside a brioche – a beef, garlic, oregano and chilli patty garlic with pepperoni, pizza sauce, melted mozzarella and rocket. This was the tastier patty of the two burgers we ordered and was still a little blush in the middle, retaining the meat’s juiciness. There was an option to upgrade to 2 patties (10oz) for an extra £2.50…tempting, but not at all necessary.
Our side of Kimchi fries with added cheese (£4.95) were inspired. An acquired taste and texture maybe, but an idea that worked exceptionally well. The fries were good, and on their own they were arguably not particularly life changing, but add some Kimchi, chipotle mayo, melted cheese, spring onions, hot chillies and voila – you have an absolute masterpiece.
Initially I was torn between the Cheese Theory, because when it comes down to it a really good cheese burger with pickle and maybe a slice of crispy bacon is my thing. Also toying with Prairie Girl (Southern fried chicken breast with Frank’s Hot Sauce and cool blue cheese dressing or BBQ sauce). Bristol’s burger queen Natalie Brereton says it’s the best chicken burger in Bristol, and that’s more than good enough for me. A seemingly easy choice between two until I spot the Reuben (£11.95) from the specials. The Reuben is a complete meat beast and should only be attempted by the hungry, or like me, the very greedy. My choice had a few highs and lows meaning I probably wouldn’t order it next time we visit. The pastrami although tasty didn’t have the distinctive pink colour that I was used to seeing and I didn’t enjoy the fatty edges which I removed before taking a bite. The beef patty tasted of quality, but had been a little over cooked and unlike Mr R’s burger it wasn’t as juicy. The pretzel bun was a fun twist and I was a huge fan of all of the other toppings which included Cornish gouda, house sauerkraut, dijonaise, caramelised red onions and a caper aioli. Top marks for creativity yet again, but this one just wasn’t for me.
Overall we were really impressed with the effort to offer something a little bit different and creative to a burger scene which in recent times has become extremely competitive. I only wish we lived a little bit closer so I don’t have to wait another year to tick another South West burger off the list. Thanks for everything Burger Theory and congratulations, you are now in my top 2 best burger places to visit in Bristol 😉
Cost: £38.05 (food only)
2 starters, 2 burgers, fries
Bristol, United Kingdom – last visited in February 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection 28th February 2017