Guest review from Sam Donati. To read more of Sam’s reviews, click here…
Well, it’s been a while but I decided to return to the heady world of food reviewing with a visit to Guerrilla Burger on Baldwin Street. A distinct change from my previous country gastropub forays, but given the welcome I failed to receive from The Pelican last time, perhaps not a bad move!
Guerrilla Burger is a recent addition to the Baldwin St scene, having previously received rave reviews up at Alfred Place. It occupies a challenging location opposite the Old Fish Market which, over the past few years, has seen several specialist burger joints arrive and fade. As long as GB remains a “destination” restaurant however I think it’ll be fine. The apparent roaring success of BrewDog virtually next door can’t hurt, either. I initially earmarked BrewDog as a perfect pre-burger pint venue however quickly abandoned it when I saw the depth of the crowds around the bar. So Old Fish Market it was, where they’ve got a superb new IPA called “Bengal Lancer”. Try it! Anyway, I digress…
I visited GB on a rainy Wednesday night (is there any other kind in the UK) with my friend who’d been after a visit for ages.
We arrived, and were seated in one of the booths towards the rear of the spartan, industrial chic restaurant. The service was instantly warm and friendly, and the menu options were explained.
I’m a man for whom the phrase “Set menu” is a gift. I’m not so much indecisive about menu choices, rather positively Dustin Hoffman about such matters. The terror of ordering something different to one’s dining companion and ending up with an inferior dish haunts me. So anything which presents me with clear, limited choices gets two thumbs up.
We both decided to go for the £20 meal deal. On the surface of it, 20 quid each in a burger joint is steep. However, even with my fag packet maths it works out a great deal, with a starter each, 2 sliders, 2 sides, any drink and gelato dessert.
In the interests of maximum VFM I plumped for a golden Mojito to drink. Nothing to do with being somewhat of an old soak, you understand. This was magnificent, the Mojito when prepared lovingly is a thing of beauty, and there was certainly no shyness about the application of rum. Decent rum, too – a great start to the meal.
The waitresses were nothing short of lovely throughout, and very friendly. Minor things like a lack of napkins didn’t really detract from the overall experience. And they weren’t going to be allowed to get away without providing us some sweet potato crisps with the house signature wasabi mayo. These, incidentally, were delicious.
We had different starters – I went for the chorizo potato croquettes, Paul chose the baby arancini. To be honest, the former were a real disappointment, very bland. However, the baby arancini were delights- Small rice balls filled with a rich beef ragu, with plenty of mozzarella. A triumph. I could probably have demolished at least another plateful. I noted the exciting-sounding calamari rings and coconut sesame prawns on the menu… Next time!
Paul’s initial reaction to the arrival of the sliders was that they “weren’t very big” however even he agreed by the end that 2 sliders is actually pretty filling. I’d liken them to a condensed superburger – small, but with masses of flavour and a great variety of tastes in each slider.
We both went for the winning combo of a “Blue” slider (Blue cheese and bacon topping a free range beefburger, with avocado, gherkins, lettuce and mayo) and “Spanish” (Beef, chorizo, manchego cheese and quince jelly, with the obligatory gherkins, lettuce and mayo).
Of these two, the “Blue” was definitely my favourite. As with everything GB, the blue cheese was not a token sprinkling and the slab of Stilton on an already delicious, meaty burger made for a delicious, rich combination. One of the reasons I love Spyglass’ signature burger is the addition of avocado, and it didn’t disappoint here either, adding a nice twist. The “Spanish” was a similar delight, with the manchego cheese providing an authentic and suitable companion for the spicy chorizo topping.
Sadly, there were no onion rings to be had as a side dish, however the fries and chicken strips which we received instead hit the spot perfectly. As it seemed with everything on the menu, the quality of the fries had clearly been considered carefully- Far from the hot, miserable little slivers of potato flash fried by the local kebab houses, these were thin, tasty strips of potato with some manner of coating, not dissimilar to Burger King’s signature… Whatever it was, the overall effect was magnificent. The chicken strips too were spicy delights which, like the arancini on offer for starter, I could have devoured many more bowls of!
And so, with the mains demolished, we moved to the dessert menu. Simplicity is the key to a busy, popular restaurant, and GB’s dessert menu was both simple and delicious – a choice of gelato from London establishment Gelupo. I later spoke to the manager who explained that the weekly-or-so van runs up to London to pluck these delights down to the West Country were a small price to pay. I would wholeheartedly agree.
I went for bitter chocolate and sour cherry. I was told a long time ago that drinking bitter and stout would make me both, however I again digress. I was made neither bitter nor sour by dessert, the mix of very dark chocolate and the slightly tart cherry was a superb one, and the gelato lacked the weight of ice cream, making it a perfect end to a great meal.
I’m not going to wax lyrical about GB, but will be going back. The devil, as they say, is in the detail. And a lot of attention has been paid to the details at GB. The joy of good food, whether a burger meal or a 9-course tasting menu, is that everything just works.
And incidentally, my dining companion, whose appetite is legendary and who was dismayed to find that the burgers were, well, mini remarked at the end of the meal that he was full as an egg. You can’t say fairer than that. Go.
Find Guerrilla Burger on the Bristol Bites Directory…