Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Byron Burger - Byron Hamburgers, Exeter

Where?: Byron Hamburgers, Princesshay, Exeter

What?: The Byron - Dry cure bacon, mature Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion and Byron sauce

How much?: £9.25

The Verdict:

"The Byron is a simple burger, and it was cooked well.  With a similar taste to a burger you could pick up at The Hub Box for instance, the soft bun was lighter than I had imagined it to be with a good taste.

Using Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef, it is ground and made on site in to 6oz patties.  Then cooked to medium, whacked in a bun with the garnish and off it goes.

It took about 10 minutes from order to arrival so there wasn’t much waiting around, but just enough that we were able to start to count the cows.  If you do visit, you will see what I mean

Read the full review on Eating Exeter here

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Ruby - Ruby Modern Diner, 74 Queen St, Exeter

Where?: Ruby Modern Diner, Queen St, Exeter

What?: The Ruby - 6oz hamburger, Hawkridge mature cheddar, smoked streaky
bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, RUBY sauce

How much?: £7.50

The Verdict:

Eating Exeter has loved Ruby Modern Diner since they opened their doors a couple of years ago, and it was with great excitement that I we got invited back to add them to Beer, Burger and Beyond last week.

Situated 20 metres from Exeter Central Station and about the same from The Rougemont Thistle Hotel, Ruby Burger was Exeter's second Burger Restaurant, bringing a modern twist to the American dining experience.  Occupying the corner of a building that was at one point the old Exeter Post Office, the lofty modern styling of the interior of 74 Queen Street gives this independent restaurant a very clean and light feeling.  The summer evenings in Ruby are lovely with the sunlight streaming in through the large windows, this is one of those restaurants that you can truly relax.

There are few other restaurants in Exeter that has such strong focus on local ingredients and this is evident in the role-call of suppliers for the various different ingredients that go in to their burgers.

Copplestone Barton Farm in Mid-Devon supplies the Ruby beef which originates from one herd.  Ruby uses one cow a week and if they're busy, maybe two.  MC Kelly of Copplestone supplies local pork and chicken, buns come from Emma's Bread (Real Food Store, Exeter), Cheese comes from Hawkridge Farm also near Copplestone and the Sandford Cider comes from orchards near Crediton.  Darts Fresh supply fresh veg and the Ice Cream is from Otter Vale Ice Cream near Honiton.

Their hard work has paid off recently when they picked up a Taste Of The West Gold 2014, having already won a Taste of the West Gold last year and the Food and Drink Devon Best Takeaway 2013.

The menu is a well engineered combination between the classic American diner and modern British cuisine.
With a great choice for Vegetarian and Gluten intolerant diners, they have encompassed a range that is easy to choose from.  The menu is balanced in size to give you just enough for choice but not too much to make it overwhelming.  Burger choices are good with Chicken and Veggie options alongside some of the classic American style burger types such and culminating in'The One'which is simply massive and only for the very brave!

The Ruby:

For me, this is one of their signature burgers.  Its a 6oz hamburger with Hawkridge mature cheddar, smoked streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, with Ruby's own sauce.

At the heart of this meaty creation is the Burger made from Ruby Beef and cooked to Medium as all burgers are by default here unless you say otherwise.  Despite generous amounts of filling, this is an easy burger to eat and requires no dissection or disassembly before squeezing it together and taking a big chunky mouthful.  The taste of the meat is something else, locally sourced meat makes this a damn tasty patty!
The veg enhances the burger, but doesn't detract from the star of the show. The burger itself.  As a burger it is well balanced and with the sauce and the bacon as well, making this one of the nicest burgers on this blog so far!

The sides always impress me at Ruby, simply because they are so generous.  Proper Chips (£3) are cooked in Beef Dripping and are left with the skin on, for added flavour.  I went for the Macruby Cheese, which for the uninitiated is Macaroni Cheese, to accompany the whole thing.  The Mac Cheese was crispy on the outside and tasted strongly cheesey; it was not dry but beautifully creamy all the way through and was one of the nicest Macaroni Cheeses I'd had out for a long while.   And given this is Beer, Burger and Beyond I couldn't resist another bottle of Brooklyn Lager's Summer Ale (£4.25) which I was lucky enough to sample recently.

The other side of the table fancied 'Three Sliders Two Sides' for £15 accompanied by a Cream Soda.  To add to the mix, Tori ordered her burgers with Gluten Free bread which was reassuring given some places have still not quite cottoned on to the fact that their diners have complex dietary requirements.  Our waitress was knowledgeable as to what items on the menu contained gluten, which was reassuring given the look of horror that can spread across the face of waiting staff when you start enquiring about the ingredients!
As the meal came with two sides as well, (Tori chose Proper Chips and Onion Rings) it was clear that my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.  For the money spent, the generous portions mean Ruby is definitely great value for money.

Tori went for Panko Chicken, Pulled Pork and a Classic.  The onion rings got a high recommendation given the fact that the onion didn't dribble out once bitten and the coating was seasoned well.

Ruby  does a whole heap of other things other than just burgers.  Recently they've started doing Weekend Breakfasts, and they have an impressive alcohol list too including Craft Beers from Camden Brewery and Flat Cap Beers (not to mention Brooklyn Lagers).  They do Five Dollar Milkshakes, Cider Hybrids, Super Salads (for those of a none-meaty disposition), Hardshakes and Cocktails.

Without being biassed, and as this is my blog I am allowed to be, Ruby really shows its diners what an indie burger restaurant can do.  And they do it well.  Ruby presents excellent value given the portion size, and their use of high quality local ingredients makes this a BBB favourite.  Although part of me wonders if they will ever open a second restaurant, a tiny part of me hopes that they don't so that we can keep Ruby Modern Diner firmly to ourselves.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Bickleigh Mill: Restaurant & Bar - Sliders Night

Apologies for duplicating this post which is also appearing on Eating Exeter as well!

The village of Bickleigh. It is geographically almost slap bang in the middle of Devon and sits on the River Exe like it has done since before the Domesday Book. Mentioned in that classic tome as Bicca’s Meadow – I wonder if Mr Bicca could ever have imagined Bickleigh being the destination that it has become now.
In foodie circles, Bickleigh Mill has always been a name related to quality and fine dining. And after being invited down to see exactly what goes on at the Bistro Restaurant & Bar, I couldn’t wait to see for myself what sort of thing we would be eating on one of their themed nights. The night that I particularly wanted to try out was the Sliders night. What is a Slider? Well the menu handily informs us that Sliders are small burgers or sandwiches that are filled with delicious ingredients. Originally featured on menus fromThe White Castle Restaurant in Kansas which is a chain formed in 1921.
Other nights include their Seafood Evening and their Sizzling Steak night,these nights let the chefs really show off. Other times they have a daytime menu, an evening menu and a Sunday menu that looks amazing. There are a few others too, so have a look at their page on the website.
The Bistro is open all day and to evening visitors Thursdays to Saturdays. Evening visitors enter through the shop and in to the restaurant itself. At first glance it looks quite small but when you take a wander around, the restaurant is large with private areas and opportunities for peaceful dining.
The walls are adorned with artwork and items that are for sale too, the exposed traditional stonework really brings home the fact that you’re eating in a Mill and that it was, until the sixties, a working Mill that produced flour from grains supplied by local farmers. Fun fact of the evening was that my wife mentioned Mother-in-law remembered working at Bickleigh Mill in the sixties when she justmoved down from Liverpool. I digress.

Presented with the Sliders Menu, we were able to peruse twelve different types of burgers (see pic) with some classic titles like the Plain Jane and the Ready Eddie burger, but others such as the Gone Fishing and The Teriyaki Mushroom were new ones to me. The cost of the meal included the starter, three sliders of our choice, chips and salad. It did take us a while to decide exactly what we were going to have. In fact it took us so long, we were asked about three times and we were still having a hard time deciding. But in the end the decisions were made and we ordered happily. I went for the Jerk Chicken, The Hay Stack and The Southern Fried Chicken Burger. Madam went for the Hawaiian, Ready Eddie and Little Piggy.
It seems these theme nights are popular, the restaurant filled quickly with diners through the course of the meal and it was easy to see why. When we spied a table being brought their burgers we realised that, even though they were sliders which tend to be smaller than normal burgers. These were pretty much the size of normal burgers, with filling and salad as well.
The first thing to appear was our starter, a well portioned plate of nachos drizzled in sour cream and cheese. They were a perfect little aperitif, anything more than this would have meant far too much food especially when the Sliders appeared.
The burgers, three to a plate, were arranged neatly with name tags to tell what they were. Salad arranged in the middle and a side of chips between two. You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to realise that the portion of chips is just enough to cater for the fact that there is SO MUCH BURGER.

The first thing I realised about these burgers were that the buns were super soft, almost brioche in texture but not sweet. The second thing I realised was the taste of the meat itself. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the burgers were well done and tasted good. The Jerk Chicken came in a delicious BBQ sauce and the Southern Fried Chicken burger was perfectly cooked and seasoned. From across the table the Little Piggy held the award for ‘Best Pulled Pork’ yet in our burger adventures.
Bickleigh Mill sources all of its ingredients locally. The meat comes from surrounding farms and producers and the buns are baked on site by their in-house baker. You’re not going to find many things on your plate that has travelled for miles and miles. With many places that stay local, you can taste the difference and the Bickleigh burgers were certainly different.  As the bun was soft, there was no dissection and reassembling as with many gourmet burgers. For the first time in quite a while I was able to get the whole thing in my mouth without losing every ounce of dignity.
Afterwards we ended up with the dessert menu staring at us temptingly but alas we were both defeated. But don’t worry if you can’t eat the whole meal, you get a box to take away your unfinished burgers.
As a day-out, Bickleigh Mill is a perfect eating and shopping destination. It has a wonderful shop stocked with gifts and locally produced crafts products and a restaurant & bar that allows the destination to expand its appeal to tourists and locals. The food is all locally sourced where possible and, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the menu was. For a place that prides itself with such quality of food it’s not pretentious about its portions and it’s proud of its connections with the local producers.
Bickleigh Mill is located near Tiverton and is easily accessible by bus and car. The nearest station is Tiverton Parkway but there is a bus link from this station which runs regularly.
Eating Exeter were guests of Bickleigh Mill.
Riverside Shopping, Restaurant Bistro & Bar
EX16 8RG
enquiries at
Opening Times:
Monday 10am till 5.30pm (Shop and Bistro)
Tuesday 10am till 5.30pm (Shop and Bistro)
Wednesday 10am till 5.30pm (Shop and Bistro) 
Thursday 10am till 7.30pm (Shop and Bistro) plus evening dining in the Bistro until late
Friday 10am till 7.30pm (Shop and Bistro) plus evening dining in the Bistro until late
Saturday 10am till 7.30pm (Shop and Bistro) plus evening dining in the Bistro until late 
Sunday 10am till 5.30pm (Shop and Bistro)
Closes on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but open every other day of the year.