Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
Recently I have been driving up and down the M5 to the West Midland a bit to drop off Mrs. SF and the dogs at her Mum’s. On the return trips I tend to look for a pit stop food wise (yes it is always about food).
I generally use this as an excuse to stock up on supplies at the marvellous Gloucester Services,
but for my most recent trip I noticed that the highly rated Burger Shop (from the same people behind the puntastic “A Rule of Tum” in Hereford – Jay Raynor, a man notoriously hard to please, is a fan), had opened up in Worcester.
A quick squint at Google Maps showed it was a mere 11 minutes drive from Junction 6 of the M5. Perfect I thought and off, the motorway, I trundled (as I drive an old Volvo, I only ever trundle and despite the Google Maps promise of 11 mins it took me a tad longer, if truth be told).
Built into a railway arch, it has a nice airy, relaxed, feeling to it.
An excellent use of the space under the railway arches and one Cardiff could learn from I think.
A few indies under the railway arches up from Callaghan Square would be a grand idea I reckon.
Local sourcing is the mantra here, with the meat from a local farmer (Farmer Tom), cheese from local dairies and the buns from a local baker. It is nice to see that this local sourcing ethos extends to all aspects of the business from the food and drink to even the crockery.
Beef tends to get a bad rap on the sustainability front, but give me a locally sourced bit of grass fed beef over some chicken from Thailand or Brazil or something laced with palm oil any day and my conscience will be clear. Food miles incurred by the Burger Shop must be ludicrously low.
The menu is pleasingly short, with 3 beef based burgers, one lamb, one chicken and one veggie.
Sides also looked interesting, particular the Westcombe cheese curds (with hot sauce) – love a cheese curd me. The celaric and yoghurt based house slaw and the kimchi also rather appealed.
In addition to the standard menu, they have an interesting looking specials board.
The asparagus, I suspect, would have been the business with the Vale of Evesham (asparagus central) just down the road.
Whilst sorely tempted by the lamb burger (a bit of merquez spicing added to lamb is a real favourite of mine, as long as you are not to heavy handed with it), I decided to keep it relatively simple and went for their most basis burger in the form of a Farmer Tom (after the chap who supplies all their meat).
This is, in effect, a cheese burger. As I have said before, I like my burgers relatively unloaded so as to allow the meat to shine. There is no hiding place with a basic burger, so if the meat isn’t quality then there is nothing to mask that failing.
I asked how they cooked it and was told 70°c (medium to well) in all cases. At home I tend to aim for 59°c for a burger (and I am still here).
From the way the 70°c was said, it sounds like Worcestershire County Council food police are martinets in terms of the current anti-medium rare burger crusade (as a solo diner taking pictures, I suppose I could have been mistaken for an undercover H&S agent or a “secret shopper” informant).
A shame that they aren’t able to cook a medium rare burger, it being possible if you sign up to the higher supply chain requirement from the FSA, but understandable for a small operator (I imagine there are big cost implications and it seems most indies have bowed to the seemingly unceasing pressure to not serve burgers medium rare) such as this place.
What arrived, on a nicely prompt basis, was a fine looking beast
The bun was a lightly toasted challah number from local baker and all round food hero Alex Gooch. Good structure to it and not sweet like the seemingly more favoured (by burger purveyors) brioche bun can be.
This was a fine roll for a burger, with it keeping its integrity right up until the last bite.
The patty itself was an absolute corker. It was a course grind with a pleasant yielding texture and a deep rich (almost gamey) beefiness to it. Perfectly seasoned, this was absolutely top draw beef.
Lots of nice carmelised gnarly bits and a good crust on it to added to the excitement for the taste buds
The accoutrements were some oozing, mature cheddar, thinly sliced dill pickle and crisp, spankingly fresh, baby gem lettuce.
It was all finished off with a rather good smoked mustard (seeds in the mix) mayo and a punchy ketchup.
A really top draw burger that made me sit up and think (I hope I didn’t vocalise this thought – can’t be 100% sure of that) “Holy shit, this is an effing awesome burger”. The beef was so good I didn’t give a monkey’s that it wasn’t my preferred medium rare.
Whilst the traditional side for a burger is fries (and the rosemary salted ones here looked very good judging from those delivered to the table next to me), I am a big fan of cheese curds.
Here they came crumbed and deep fried with a hot sauce on the side.
Crisp, salty, gooey, cheesy loveliness ensued. Now these delivered what I call proper cheese strings.
Perfect dipped in a not ferocious, but nicely sassy, hot sauce.
With the presence of cheese curds and fries on the menu, I think they have missed a trick by not combining the two to achieve full on Canadian filthiness in the form of poutine (a special perhaps).
As I was driving I was off the booze, but the beer selection looks quite interesting and reasonably priced
The wine offering is very paired back, with a mere two reds, 2 whites and the ubiquitous prosecco as the fizz option.
Both the reds would I think have worked with my burger and are fairly price. The samurai retails for about a tenner, so £24 is not an unreasonable mark up, and the Le Lesc Rouge (a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and tannat) retails for about £8, so again £17.50 is a fair mark up.
With Worcestershire’s association with apples and me driving, I went for the apple juice (when in Rome and all), which at £2 (as against £2.20 for a coke) looked to be very fairly priced.
Proper apple juice (not the supermarket stuff that looks like a seriously dehydrated drunk’s urine) is very underrated stuff, with a lovely mix of sweet and sharp.
This was as fine a soft drink as you could hope for. Lovely sweetness to it, which was tempered by a nice line of acidity. Very refreshing and it made me more than happy that I couldn’t have any booze.
I had, before my visit, heard very good reports as to the burgers at the “Burger Shop” in Hereford (this place’s sister operation) and it is fair to say my expectations were quite high.
With such high expectations, it would have been easy for me to have been disappointed? This, however, was far from the case.
The burger I had at their Worcester branch was exceptional good and easily slots in my top five. Sensational tasting patty and not too much mucking about, so that the patty (as it always should be) was the star of the show.
As a side the cheese curds were perfect. Hot, gooey, oozing, cheesiness and a crisp exterior – what’s not to like?!
I paid (sans a deserved tip) £16 all in. Not cheap, but for the quality of what I got I thought it good value.
Would I go back ? Absolutely.
Currently encouraging Mrs. SF to visit her mum more often so I get more excuses to go back to this place (not that I need an excuse). It is well worth the detour off the M5 and to my mind, worthy of a trip alone (especially if you combine it with a buying frenzy at the fabulous farm shop at Gloucester Services).
Address: Arch 46, Cherry Tree Walk, Worcester, WR1 3BH
Tel: 01905 613498
Website: Click here
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 12.00 – 22.00, Sun: 12.00 – 20.00