I often drive past this pub, not expecting much in the way of sublime food (it is Tilehurst after all). But having been drawn in by an online marketing campaign, and what looked like a quadrouple burger, I felt obliged to give this place a go.
Pit Burger - There is a distinct commonality between pub burgers. Perhaps it’s the way they have been cooked, but I find they’re often dry or overcooked. Sadly this was no exception. 6oz beef burger, stacked with pulled pork, smoked brisket, oak-smoked sausage and mac ‘n’ cheese – sounds great right? However, the brisket and sausage just ruined the flavour and added to the dryness. Once I took those out, it was much better, but I am a sucker for mac ‘n’ cheese.
I’m slowly realising just how great starters can be. Alas, this time round, I didn’t get any (next time). But the chips were pretty standard. They got cold fairly quickly, but were sort of your standard pub chips.
For a busy pub, I had no complaints with the staff. They were all very friendly and attentive, and even the bar staff (you place your order at the bar) were friendly. I’m not sure why, but the food took a very long time to come (it was almost an hour before our food came), and as apologetic as the staff were, it was still a bit of a let-down when you’re borderline hangry (that word is now in the dictionary - they know).
Again, it was your standard pub affair - photo frames sprawled across every wall and carpet your nan would love, and although this place did have an area designated purely for eating, it could do with some modernising. It was clean, presentable and there was even a pool table for some post-food shooting.
This pub gets bonus points for their pricing. £8.50 all in, which given the burger I had (think about all the meat), it was a steal. You could probably pay close to £15 for something similar in a burger joint. I suppose there is that old saying ‘you get what you pay for’. My friend got wings on the side too, and they were under £4 for 8 so if you are looking for a cheap burger, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this place.
I'm not one to normally put fast food burger chains on this blog, however, when myself and the chaps from Primrose ventured for lunch, I couldn't resist snapping away. KFC is a huge chicken establishment, and if you've not heard of it, do you live under a rock?
Fillet Tower Burger - 100% chicken breast fillet, with cheese, hash brown and ketchup, I often opt for this choice when I go to KFC. It's less greasy than chicken you pick up i.e. wings, and in my opinion is a lot nicer; the hash brown really adds to the flavour and texture. It's not that this is a bad burger, it's a great burger, but it's still fast food so it's hard for the fillet tower to top the rankings.
I got a meal today, so a small portion of fries and lemonade. The fries were quite dry and lukewarm, and the sides at KFC are fairly average. Then again, it's only fast food, so it was never going to go off the scale.
Again, it's hard to judge in comparison to most restaurants, simply because of the fast food nature of KFC. The lady that served me was friendly, I can't fault her. The food also came really quickly. You get a receipt with a number on, they call out your number, and you pick up your food, it's all straightforward stuff.
The Oxford Road branch was refurbished roughly a year ago, and transformed from a tired looking KFC to a modern, fresh, bright one. Light oak decor, bright lights, wall art and comfy leather seating, it's certainly up there with one of the better looking KFC's I have seen.
£4.89 for the meal, you can't go too wrong for this price. You get what you pay for, and you know what to expect. This was never going to rank #1 in BBBs burger list, but if you are a fan of chicken and don't fancy splashing out, I'd definitely give this burger a go. They also do a spicy version for those who need a kick.
Having spent the bank holiday weekend climbing mountains in Wales, it only felt justified to stop off on the way home for a big meal. Although it feels as though Smoke Stop is in the middle of nowhere (plonked on long road home), it looks grand, appealing and modern.
Plain and Keeping it Sane - Maybe I was playing it too safe with this option but I will explain later. 100% Angus quarter pounder, served in a brioche bun with all your normal frills, it was a good burger. However, it was slightly on the dry side and the patty a tad overcooked. And this is where I feel I played it safe (next time I will definitely experiment with more flavours).
I upgraded to sweet potato fries for an extra £1.50, and they were wonderful. The perfect mix of crisp yet fluffy, these could be some of the tastiest sweet potato fries I've had in a long time. I also had slaw served with my meal, but I passed that onto my friend. Although I don't have a photo, I also got Mac 'N' Cheese Balls to start, which at £5.50 for 3 seemed a bit expensive, but they were very nice indeed.
For a bank holiday afternoon, I thought it may have been slightly busier than it was, but this just meant the service quicker for us. Our hostess (most of the staff appeared to be young women) changed halfway through our dining experience, which meant we had a quick succession of 'how is your food?'; just let me eat please! Overall though, everyone was very friendly.
On first appearances, this place is a grey and black, isolated building which doesn't strike you as a restaurant. However, when you enter, you're greeted with wooden decor, retro wall art (I think Spongebob might have been playing on one TV), sporting memorabilia, and there was a clean, modern feel to Smoke Stop. No complaints here.
The burger was £11.50 (which includes the additional £1.50 to upgrade your fries), which is superb value for money. A lot of places I go to will charge at least £13 just for the burger, with fries on top. However, as I said earlier, a few more M&C Balls might have been better.
Venturing up North for a dreadful afternoon of football, I stumbled across Fat Hippo. First impressions were similar to that of Dirty Bones; a small door with a big adventure inside. Neon signs, wooden décor and a wonderful, inviting smell of burger juice, this niche looking place looked right up my alley.
Texas - A double 4oz patty, topped with streaky bacon, cheese, onion rings and BBQ sauce, the Texas was bloody delicious. It was juicy and succulent, with a lightly toasted brioche bun, served up on a metal school-like tray. The onion rings had to come out though as they were humongous but they worked well as a side. A real nice burger which made being up North that extra bit sweet.
With lightly salted medium fries complimenting the meal wonderfully, there was perhaps no need to get any extras. The Mac n’ Cheese Balls though sounded delicious. I’m a sucker for mac and cheese. In a lightly fried crumbled coating, they were melt in your mouth. Literally. Topped off with a South West Orchards cider, it was a cracking meal and I’d highly recommend the Fat Hippo branch to anyone who dare venture up North.
Despite being a busy Sunday afternoon, the waitress set up a table in a back room for our party (there were 6 of us) which was ideal, and meant we didn’t have to wait for a table. The staff in general were friendly and attentive, even when they did forget to bring out the cheese balls.
This place just oozed class, yet portrayed a casual, youthful appearance at the same time. Red neon lights and wooden furniture. Bricked walls and low lighting. It felt like you were eating in an underground cavern, which in effect is exactly what was happening. It was so niche and cool. Being sat on a long table in the back room was also ideal.
Now I’m not saying this place is expensive by any means, but considering the location (up North), you might have been forgiven for thinking the prices would be a little cheap than down south. £9.50 for a burger, £4 for the cheese balls and £5 for a cider still makes for a well-priced meal (and you certainly get what you pay for). All in all, I’d definitely recommend Fat Hippo. Top stuff.
‘This will be the best burger you ever have; this will be your 10/10’. I’ve heard that before, but I had to check out Patty and Bun with claims like this from peers. With five London locations, Patty and Bun is slowly growing into one of the most sought after burger joints. I went to the James Street location, just off Oxford Road, knowing it was near to Regent’s Park.
‘ARI GOLD’ Cheeseburger – So it wasn’t quite 10/10 but my word, this burger was succulent juiciness at its best. A medium-rare beef patty, inside a brioche bun with all the normal insides, including a smoking patty and bun mayo, this burger was almost melt in your mouth. The only reason I knocked half a point off was due to the messiness of this burger, thanks to the juices spilling over the packaging. This was a cracking burger.
Although P&B’s range of sides are fairly limited, the chips with garlic chicken mayo and chicken skin salt were divine. The mayo just added to the flavour of the already medium cut, crispy yet soft chips, served in an overflowing pot. I also got a can of Coke, which was fresh but a cider would have been even better. Paying £1.75 for a can is also a bit much, but London.
Although the restaurant was busy (including the outside as London was having a surprisingly sunny afternoon), we didn’t have to wait long for a table. It got cleaned up fairly sharpish, and the service was fairly swift too. Maybe a little too rushed? The James Street crew were a happy bunch, bouncing around, taking orders and cleaning up. No real complaints here.
Another burger joint with a DIY feel to the interior, decked with chip board and handmade art on the walls, with wooden furniture, the interior was fairly basic. It had that hip feel to it though, with a laid back vibe, nothing too spectacular but clean and nice.
£7.50 for a burger. In London. What. A. Bargain. And this isn’t just any old burger, this is one of the nicest burgers I’ve had. The chips were £3.70, and the Coke was, as I said earlier, £1.75 so for a meal, £12.95 is a steal. There was no compulsory service charge either. I’d highly recommend patty and bun, even just for the burger if you fancy a quick bite to eat for lunch. Top class.
ALL THE BURGER YOU COULD NEED.