Recently, we were fortunate enough to receive £15 worth of Byron Burger vouchers from Anna’s sister, Judy. I had not heard of the place before (I blame living in a small town) but once I did a little bit of research, suffice it to say I was pretty excited about the prospect of heading to a burger restaurant.
I think that I’ve made my position on burgers pretty clear so the feeling I had heading to a building dedicated to them is how I imagine people feel walking into church, only my feelings are stronger.
We wandered around Edinburgh for a while beforehand to really build up an appetite and then made our way to the one on North Bridge. At first, I was apprehensive. The whole area was littered with scaffolding and building works. My heart was set on some burgery goodness and I don’t think I had the mental wherewithal to handle a disappointment of that magnitude.
Fortunately, Byron had put up plenty of signs informing the passing throngs of people that they were, indeed, still open. With steely-eyed determination, I lowered my head and power walked to their front door like a predatory carnivore who is far too lazy to catch his own food and will, therefore, allow someone else to serve it to him.
This blog isn’t about interior decorating but I understand how the aesthetic of a restaurant can affect your experience. So I’ll keep it briefly succinct.
When I first stepped foot in the building, I knew that I was in for a good burger.
There is a slightly industrial feel to Byron Burgers which seems intentional but not forced. Exposed aluminium air vents snaking across the ceiling, an open plan kitchen which steamed and smoked excitedly, bare brick, booths and billboards. A high-class approximation of low-cost dining. It just fit together perfectly.
We were shown to our seat in a prompt but friendly manner, handed our menus and left to decide amongst ourselves. We were avoiding copious amounts of alcohol that weekend so I opted against ordering a Boilermaker (a large beer with a shot glass of whiskey dropped in) going for the Byron Lager instead. Anna had a Kraken Rum with coke.
The menu had a beautiful simplicity to it. Big burger section (obviously), a customising section, “The Rest” which comprised of salads and what not and then sides, fries, etc. There seems to be a burger special which regularly changes. When we went, it was the Bunzilla. A Japanese-inspired burger, which I’m just going to paste the blurb for riiiight now
Bunzilla is a 6oz soy-glazed patty, topped with miso-roasted bacon and an onion ring for crunch and sweetness, plus a dab of wasabi mayonnaise, all atop a bed of shredded white cabbage, served in a classic squishy bun. Homemade Japanese-style pickles on the side instead of our classic sliced pickle are the finishing touch.
Our order got a little complicated…
Anna has recently found out that she has a gluten intolerance. I have recently found out that this thing sucks and everything has gluten in it. Are people just sprinkling gluten on things to thin the herd? Are we trying to starve them out? Do you have any idea how difficult you people are making my life? I’m not even gluten intolerant, I’m very tolerant! I’m goddamn gluten inclusive. But I can’t even buy a bag of crisps without worrying!
Anyway, back to the burgers.
There’s no information on the menu about whether or not anything is gluten free, nor is there a gluten free option. However, what they do have is an incredibly helpful and informative member of staff who nipped off to the kitchen and brought back a nutritional menu which listed all of the allergens in everything, the sauces, sides and drinks alike. She was an absolute life saver… for Anna. I would have just eaten anyway because sometimes hunger trumps empathy.
With a little bit of ingredient juggling, we were finally able to put together a grand burger for the Noodle and a couple of sides for us both. My order was easy, I just chose the one with the most meat.
The Double Bacon Cheese
Look at that magnificent sight. 2 burgers, dry cure bacon, something called “Freddar™ cheese” and the usual pickles and condiments. It was as awe inspiring to eat as it was to look at. The bun was perfectly toasted, the meat cooked just right and there were enough toppings for it to feel decadent without it collapsing into a mess. I ordered well.
Anna went with the Smoky with a few alterations. A single hamburger (because she’s a quitter), mature cheddar, half an avocado instead of the crispy fried onions, Byron sauce on the side and a really nice side salad. Despite the lack of a bun, it was a pretty delicious experience. The sauce went perfectly with the bacon and avocado and the side salad had a light dressing which gave it all a real freshness.
For the sides (which didn’t last long enough for us to get a picture) we got courgette fries, coleslaw and sweet potato fries.
Word of warning, the courgette fries said that they couldn’t be guaranteed to be gluten free because the oil used to fry them is the same as the oil used for other things but we thought that we could risk it. It was not a wise decision. This is in no way a fault of Byron. We took a chance and it backfired. Lesson learned.
The food came out at a leisurely pace, we didn’t find ourselves waiting or checking our watches, nor did we feel as though we were being rushed.
When we finished our food, we were stuffed. Obviously, I had enough room to eat everything that Anna left but after that, I was stuffed. They offered a dessert menu, we politely declined and asked for the bill.
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is, more often than not, used with negative connotations. When you buy cheap, you get cheap. People don’t seem to use it as often to describe the other end of the spectrum. If you want quality, you are going to have to pay for it.
The whole meal came to something in the region of £40. We had the vouchers so we had to pay £25. It’s not something we would be doing every day because we can’t afford that kind of nonsense but we, in no way, regret our decision to go. We got high-quality food, drinks and service so that’s what we paid for. If we wanted to pay £10, we would have gone to a pub chain or something.
What we wanted was a burger experience from a business that actually cares about the burgers they serve and that is exactly what we got. Would we be going back? Just try and stop me. Actually, don’t do that. I will tackle you to the ground and step over whatever is left of you to get another one of those burgers.