Byron’s reputation for quality burgers precedes it, and so it’s no surprise that there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding the opening of its latest branch on the Triangle a few weeks ago.
Set across 2 floors in the heart of Bristol’s new Ber-moooo-da triangle (No? You all accepted Beermuda Triangle!), surrounded by the likes of Cau steakhouse and Grillstock, this new Byron launch has also created discussion about how it will fare alongside popular local burger independents such as The Burger Joint , Burger Theory, Chomp and Ciao Burger, as well as reigniting the argument about when we will see the end of the current obsession with ‘dude food’ such as burgers, pulled pork, steak, and generally all things barbecued, stacked and held together with a steak knife. However, I wasn’t here for politics, I was here to try the food, and so let’s talk about that.
Firstly, the menu at Byron is reassuringly simple, with a choice of 8 burgers, 4 salads and 6 sides, so you won’t waste half your evening agonising over what to choose. There is always an additional burger special if you’re feeling a bit maverick – The Shady was the special on offer during our visit (hamburger, crispy cheese, pickle relish, American cheese, onion & ketchup) but the festive special, the Triple Cheesemas (two 6oz hamburgers, onion, spicy Byron sauce, melted American cheese, Emmenthal & Monterey Jack) on from 1st-31st December, looks like a force to be reckoned with!
I opted for the Byron burger (hamburger, dry cure bacon, mature Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion and Byron sauce) to test out the basics, and my friend opted for the Veggie burger (grilled Portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, goat’s cheese, baby spinach, tomato, red onion & aioli). Both burgers came out looking great, and pleasingly didn’t fall apart as soon as we picked them up. My burger had a good balance of flavours and textures, with the patty itself being well seasoned and cooked exactly as I asked (I opted for medium, despite my friend protesting that all burgers should have the pink cooked out of them).
The Veggie burger also impressed, including a generous slab of goat’s cheese, a good handful of spinach, and just enough aioli to keep things from being too dry, or the red onion from overpowering every other flavour.
In addition to the burgers, we also decided to try a few of the sides too, opting for courgette fries, onion rings and coleslaw, with some little pots of blue cheese and chipotle mayonnaise dips to keep things interesting.
The onion rings were large and had a good crunchy texture on the outside, whilst still staying soft and juicy on the inside. The coleslaw was crunchy and creamy, but our star of the evening was the portion of courgette fries – I loved the light golden breadcrumby batter they were coated in (are they breadcrumbs? Polenta? I must know so I can recreate it at home!) and the soft yet chewy consistency of the chips was unusual and very tasty.
Both the courgette fries and onion rings weren’t particularly packed with flavour, but that made them the perfect vehicles for our bold choices of dips – my favourite being the punchy chipotle mayonnaise, which I thought was just the right balance of heat, sweetness and creaminess. The blue cheese dip could have done with being a bit more out there, but that’s just my opinion.
Mains done, we decided to call it a day and finish up our beers (I’d gone for a hoppy Founders All Day IPA, whilst my friend had chosen the slightly tamer Byron Lager – brewed by one of my favourites, Camden Brewery), but after a prolonged conversation with our ridiculously nice waiter, we were persuaded to try their infamous White Chocolate Cheesecake, which I’d been hearing all manner of wonderful things about.
The cheescake didn’t disappoint either – it was super creamy and just rich enough to take it to the border of being sickly, but luckily the blueberry sauce it came with cut through with a nice bitterness and acidity. Yum. I’ve heard good things about the milkshakes too, but there was no way we were going to find room for anything else besides an espresso.
So, the food got a resounding four thumbs up (two from me, two from my friend – I’m no freak), as did the friendly and attentive service, but what about the decor? Does that even matter in a burger restaurant?
Well apparently so, because whereas The Burger Joint goes for basic functionality, Byron have fitted out their Bristol branch with an interior somewhere between a school canteen, a gentleman’s club and a Victorian hospital:
That makes it sound bad, but it’s not, it’s just clearly designed, and given that the space they had to work with is long, narrow and dark, they’ve done a good job. I’m just a bit of a head shaker when it comes to over-distressed or deliberately mismatching furniture (do you buy them in mismatched sets from the Urban Craft BBQ Dining Furniture Warehouse? If so, the world truly has gone mad) and poorly tiled or unevenly grouted walls.
I mean, look at this cowboy tiling job – you could just as easily be eating at the canteen in a Soviet bunker, and can we please all agree that would not be a cool thing, before someone goes and opens Sovi3t Bunkr Sloppy Joe Kanteen next door.
I’m being facetious, of course; some people love the modern decor, and overall I’m indifferent to it. As long as there are comfy booths (which there were) and a decent condiment selection (which there was) in your burger restaurant, I’m going to be a happy bunny.
I really enjoyed my meal at Byron, and despite The Burger Joint still not being knocked off its pedestal inside my head for tastiness and value for money (with Chomp and Urban Standard coming in at a close 2nd and 3rd respectively, in case you care), I’d definitely return, mainly for the quality of the service, the courgette fries, and because I need to try that Triple Cheesemas.
You can find Byron at:
62 Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RE
T: 0117 925 6666
Disclaimer doodle: This meal was provided free of charge, courtesy of Byron. We were not asked to write a positive review, or asked to send any copy in advance, or do anything else that would compromise our mega integrity and professionalism*.
*I spilled chipotle mayonnaise down myself as I left the restaurant.