The trouble with the modern hamburger is that there are two very distinct species, and that all too often, the gulf between them seems unbridgeable.
On the one hand you have the specimens served up in American fast food emporia – or worse, in kebab vans. These greyish discs are tasty but leave you feeling faintly sick and ashamed.
On the other hand you have the ‘posh burger’. This will probably be venison rather than beef and served with homemade tomato and onion chutney rather than ketchup. It will come in a golden brioche roll not a bun, and be served with thrice-cooked Maris Piper potato wedges, rather than chips. Delicious but somehow incongruous – a bit too try-hard, and somehow not properly a burger.
What Byron manages so successfully is to combine the gastronomic pedigree of the ‘posh burger’ with an authenticity which bistros and gastropubs just can’t provide. The atmosphere and decor – exposed brick and tiled walls – is that of a retro, Midwestern American diner. Yet the beef is ethically sourced from small Scottish farms, and the burgers are, as they should be, cooked pink in the middle.
To details: the menu is simple but effective. Each burger has a one-word title (Classic, Cheese, Skinny, Chicken, etc). The Cheeseburger comes with the option of five different cheeses, and we went for the blue cheese topping, which melts gloriously into the succulent beef. If you fancy a break from beef, the chicken burger, char grilled rather than fried, was a slightly daintier but still highly satisfying option. The Byron burger was perhaps the highlight – served with dry cure bacon, mature Cheddar and the restaurant’s signature tangy ‘Byron sauce’.
The side dishes are in many cases as good as the burgers. We weren’t sure about the ‘French Fries’ which were a bit too stringy even for a burger joint. Order the ‘Skin-on chips’ instead which are more than substantial enough. Far and away the best side dish are the intriguing ‘Courgette Fries’: juicy courgette deep fried in crispy batter, these were the perfect accompaniment to the burgers.
For liquid accompaniment, we went for milkshakes. I personally found the strawberry a little too ‘real’ (a bit like eating a pudding alongside your main course) so would recommend the vanilla.
Byron operates a 20% food discount Monday to Thursday, available to anyone with a Bod card, so make sure to time your visiti accordingly. Next time you’re craving a burger, steer well clear of the overrated Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and give Byron a go.