The Earl of Sandwich could not have known what a cultural phenomenon he brought to the world when he asked for meat between two slices of bread. (Potted history: 18th-century Earl of Sandwich mid-gambling game doesn’t want to get up from the table to eat. Asks for meat served between two slices of bread. Name somehow sticks).
From the humble sandwich came the mighty burger – and how mighty it has recently grown.
Gourmet-style burgers have been around for a while. Gourmet Burger Kitchen opened its first restaurant in Battersea in 2001. But only in the last year I would hazard, have burgers become such a stack of culinary pride.
At Three Brothers Burgers, sandwiched (sorry) between The Apple and European restaurant, the Glassboat, we are told that all burgers come cooked pink unless we’d like it otherwise. It’s not steak is it? I thought a burger was a burger.
We’re also given a full tasting range of the five beers and one cider that they have on draft. What to choose to complement our meat and bread concoction? For food I settle on a blue cheese number (featuring Alex James from Blur’s Blue Monday cheese) while EB goes for the Smokey BBQ burger after deciding that the Applewood cheddar would provide a more gourmet experience than the American cheese advertised with the cheeseburger.
We order two 2/3 pints of the Rocksteady cider – a tangy Welsh variety – as well as some skin on fries and house pickled vegetables as sides.
Whether as a canny marketing ploy or not, Three Brothers (who have been aboard the Spyglass boat for two months now), recommend ordering a drink as a classic ‘freshly made food takes a while to cook’ insurance policy. But the food doesn’t take long.
Perhaps five minutes later a tray appears carrying the two burgers and the sides. And, delight of delights, we are presented with piping hot blue and white enamel plates to eat off. Cold plates are a pet peeve.
Enamelware is everywhere at the moment in line with the move away from grandiose fiddly-widdly cuisine. It seems to be a shorthand to diners that here is bang-for-your-buck, good, wholesome (but considered) food. If it really was bang-for-your-buck, we’d have been eating off paper or plastic. This is good grub as opposed to posh nosh at one end of the scale or fast food at the other. And it works perfectly well.
For the burger, at £7 I have no complaints: light brioche bun, perfectly pink Herefordshire beef patty, plenty of slippery blue cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and a gherkin or two. It might just be the best burger I’ve yet had in Bristol.
The chips were hot and crisp. The house pickles, given that they were recommended, were slightly underwhelming and there weren’t many of them. But when it’s £15 a piece for the whole shebang (burger, sides, drink and service – which is worth paying for because it’s very good. They even gave us blankets), it’s a tasty prospect.
I think the Earl would have approved.
Three Brothers Burger aboard Spyglass, Welsh Back, Bristol, BS1 4SB. 0117 927 7050; threebrothersburgers.co.uk