Byron, Cambridge – proper burgers? Yep, pretty much.

Cambridge is not a great place to have dinner. There are plenty of places to eat, sure, and a burgeoning selection of really good places to buy fresh produce if you’re cooking. But the actual choice of restaurants is poor, and heavy on chains.

Byron is a chain. But it’s a small one, and it isn’t photofit Italian, so it’s worth a mention.

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The menu is pretty simple, as you’d expect from a business trading heavily on the idea of doing only one thing and doing it well. “Proper hamburgers” is the shtick, and the selection offers little else. Pick a burger, add some extras or choose a pre-set combo, add sides, and enjoy with an excellent selection of craft beer. It works.

Continue reading Byron, Cambridge – proper burgers? Yep, pretty much.

Soup-urb, Brighton

Soup-urb – it’s a terrible pun, which loses the place points; it is also a really good cafe, which wins them back more or less instantly. Unsurprisingly, it specializes in soup, and the soup is good.

Soup-urb Brighton (there are two branches) used to be Nia, an equally good artsy/hip all-day breakfast type joint with genuinely special hash browns. I don’t know if it’s the same people cooking, but the standard is still high.

We went there on Sunday, and the chowder knocked my socks off.

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The Globe, Brighton – epic BBQ with a side of Brake Bros disappointment

The Globe is a superficially-unpromising back street boozer just off the Brighton seafront. It is also the cut-down second outpost of BBQ Shack, a two-joint mini chain of Texas-y barbecue pubs that have been getting deeply promising reviews.

We figured we’d try it on Sunday.

The tl;dr version:

£6 – 8 for a main. Great meat, great BBQ sauce, terrible sides. Cool decor, uninspired beer. Go for lunch, not dinner. No website.

Continue reading The Globe, Brighton – epic BBQ with a side of Brake Bros disappointment

Additional adventures in veganism

The very nastiest thing I can say about Rootmaster is that their website features some shocking copy, a prominent spurious apostrophe, and the line of CSS “text-decoration: blink”.That’s not really acceptable in a modern society.What the website doesn’t – at a casual glance, anyway – tell us is which of the series of peculiar coincidences started the process of turning an old London bus into a tiny but pleasing vegan restaurant. Which, for instance, did they have first – the idea for a vegan restaurant, the pun, the man with the awesome moustache? Did they, in fact, have the bus already? I suppose it doesn’t matter.

Rootmaster can be found somewhere near Brick Lane, and serves a small but interesting lunch menu (I’m told dinner is fancier and a little better) in pleasingly kooky surroundings. They’ve managed to overcome the risk of being a style-over-substance type of venture, too, and despite a slightly alarming ambient hipster density. If I were to offer an actually useful criticism, I’d point out that on an August afternoon, putting your diners in a metal box directly above the kitchen smacks slightly of having not quite thought things through. It wasn’t a big deal, and we could have sat outside. Continue reading Additional adventures in veganism

Adventures in veganism

Saturday was spiffy, if confusing. The highlight was undoubtably the Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart production of Waiting for Godot. Not far behind, however, was lunch at Saf.

There are a couple of warning signs on the menu. There were dishes annotated if they were heated over 48˚c, and a cocktail section entitled “Non-alcoholic elixirs”. That did make me a bit twitchy. But on the whole it’s free of the kind of tree-frotting, hemp-clad, wont-you-try-my-tofu-and-unicorn-farts-detox-chakra-quiche bullshit I was afraid of. Yes, I had a good meal at a vegan restaurant. Continue reading Adventures in veganism

Adventures in eating out, part I in an occasional series.

A few days ago, by my computer, I found a hastily-scrawled note. Nothing unusual there. It was a reminder that I intended to depart briefly from tradition, and offer up a restaurant review. Fair enough. I don’t do it very often, I’m going to do it now and then, and I’d probably have forgotten – I’m full of plagues at the moment. Except that this was not what it actually said. What it said was:

“Fucking jam!”

and thereby hangs a tale.

The Gourmet Burger Kitchen, (located in this particular case on Regent St, Cambridge) is a shithole. Were it called The Shithole, it would still be over-selling itself. Now, it’s a chain, and a concept chain, so you steel yourself a little. But really. Absolutely fucking dire. Continue reading Adventures in eating out, part I in an occasional series.