Review of Atomic Burger Uncle Sam
What they say:
USA Cheese, Bacon, Fried Onions, American Mustard, served between a grilled cheese sandwich!!!
I guess you can get a measure of just how much you enjoy a burger joint by the number of times you re-visit it. Checking through the BURGER LAD® archives there are many restaurants we have been to and reviewed, but there is only a small percentage of those that we return to.
This is the 8th time I have been to Atomic Burgers – a testament to the food, staff and atmosphere of this incredible destination. For past reviews click here.
Tonight is my first trip back to Atomic since their refit and I must say it’s a great improvement (not that it was shabby before). It definitely takes the interior to the next level as they’ve extended the dining area and moved the kitchen back.
There’s a couple of nice new touches like the counter made from “vintage” VHS tapes, an old school arcade game with 60+ games and the usual array of 80s TV and cartoon paraphernalia.
I eagerly await the start of a new month to see the latest Atomic Joker Special, and for July it is the Uncle Sam – your choice of beef, chicken or veggie served with a host of American-inspired toppings… and replacing the buns is a grilled cheese sandwich!!
Recently, we were the first in the world to report on the Lone Star Stack being the chosen winner of the Burger Showdown at McDonald’s Texas.
As soon as I saw the Uncle Sam, something triggered a tenuous link in my mind with the Lone Star Stack – this was due to a switch away from a normal bun, with one using Texas Toast and the other using a grilled cheese sandwich instead of a conventional burger bun.
But just how well does it work (and taste)?
In terms of dimensions, the grilled cheese is rectangular compared to the round patty, so you do get a degree of overhang with the beef spilling slightly out of the “bun”.
Flavour-wise, it’s actually quite appealing. It was very buttery with just a slight hint of garlic. I asked later and the staff confirmed that it does have a brushing(?) of garlic butter in the cooking process. I wasn’t anticipating this and it was a welcome surprise.
The cheese inside was melted as expected, not really packing too much flavour but contributing to the gooey goodness of the Uncle Sam.
Aesthetics – I thought mine looked better than the pictures I’d seen online where the bread looked slightly over-toasted in my opinion… visually this was spot-on this evening!
The predominant flavour of the July Special is most certainly that American Mustard. Personally, I’ve never been a massive fan but I found myself warming to its sharp flavour. It really did dominate the other ingredients though.
The fried onions are fantastic – that sort of sweet, almost fairground style flavour and something you’d expect on a genuine New York Hot Dog. Really lovely, but just struggling slightly to shine against the semi-overpowering tang of that mustard.
What else is on-board the Uncle Sam? American cheese and bacon of course! This makes for basically a bacon cheeseburger within a toasted cheese sandwich for a bun. So with each bite you get all the cheesy goodness you need, along with two good-sized, quality rasher of bacons. It was all bordering on messy with meat juices running onto my plate. Somebody get me a Burger Lift!!
To be honest, I wasn’t over enamoured by the beef patty on this occasion. It was respectable, slightly pink but could have perhaps done with some additional seasoning. I don’t know if they have changed their recipe or chef but I’m adamant it’s different. The texture felt like the meat had been put through the grinder once too many times.
The trouble is that I’ve sampled so many good burgers since my last visit (I’m thinking Haché recently) that the bar has been significantly raised.
I immediately discarded the tomato and personally I’d lose the lettuce from this build too. It isn’t needed. Gherkin spears now also find themselves on the plate a la Byron and are a very welcome addition (they’d come in handy later too for their cooling properties)! For your money, you now also get a small pot of slaw.
Sci-Fries still continue to be some of my favourite fries of any burger joints I’ve been to – perfectly crispy, skin-on and with a liberal amount of garlic and chilli seasoning rub. Fantastic!
As I am a sucker for punishment, I also ordered some of their newly-renamed Angry Tweets Hot Wings. Apparently these fiery demons from the depths of hell have had their potency reduced but I don’t believe everything I am told… I still managed four out of six of our shared portion.
Overall, the Uncle Sam is one of those burgers that creates a wow factor when you see it online. And when it was presented in-front of me it definitely reinforced that initial reaction.
The grilled cheese is interesting and actually very good, and the infusion of garlic butter is a masterstroke. Possibly worth trying for this element alone.
What I did find is that the overriding flavour is the mustard and it really does dominate proceedings. However, as an American-inspired creation to commemorate the 4th of July and Independence Day it does exactly what it sets out to do.
The thing about Atomic is that it is the overall experience which is what I love most about the place. The range of pop-culture inspired burger creations. The excellent staff. The unique and cool interior. For these reasons alone it is unrivalled and always worth the drive from Cheltenham to Bristol.
I just hope that all the hard-work they’ve done on making their Bristol restaurant look so brilliant doesn’t detract from the quality of food on offer – and I’m looking at that beef patty on this particular occasion.
To end this review I would like to make a special mention to Pippa, the true Atomic legend. She will be leaving the team towards the end of 2016. We’d like to wish you all the very best from BURGER LAD® and can’t thank you enough for your friendly and exemplary service every time we visit. Thank you.