This week we return to burgers which seem to be on a never-ending upward growth curve throughout the nation.
The good news is that the growth of ‘Gourmet Burger’ places seems to have slowed and there is a return to first principles – good quality meat and cheese in a decent bun that you can eat without a bib or hurting your mouth.
The bad news is that there is a lot of mediocrity out there typified by the likes of Five Guys which probably deservedly got a rather severe kicking from one of my colleagues recently.
But back to the good, BuJo (short for burger joint) opened just over six months ago and is a stand alone counter service burger restaurant on Sandymount Green. BuJo’s menu was designed by Gráinne O’Keefe the talented chef behind Clanbrassil House (CH).
I was a little bit snippy about some of the food I ate in CH last November but I think I was just unlucky, it is a fine addition to the city.
I feel a little guilty reviewing a suburban burger restaurant for this page but the suburbs is where some of the best eating is these days given that the chains and franchises continue to hoover up all the best city centre locations.
Sandymount is actually an inspired choice as besides being one of the most desirable places to live in the country thanks to its proximity to the beach and the city, it retains a self contained sleepy air, helped by the fact that it is not a place people drive through like Ranelagh or Rathmines.
BuJo is a long diner style restaurant with booths, stools and chairs and attracts a young crowd so inevitably the music on the tannoy was upbeat dance music, ‘techno-lite’ would be my best attempt at a definition but surprisingly I barely noticed as the sound of happy diners all around faded the muzac into the background.
There are no waiters in BuJo so once you have placed your order at the counter you take a seat with a nifty little electronic device that buzzes and bounces around the table to alert you when your order is ready.
The standard BuJo burger costs €8 and is thankfully a rather joyously simple affair with two beef patties, cheese, pickles, BuJo sauce in a brioche bun with the option to add tomatoes, extra cheese or bacon. The bread holds, the meat is beefy and juicy with just enough texture, the fillings are balanced and well judged.
The summer special Piquanté Burger (€10) with Cooleeney farm Tipperary Brie, charred baby gem lettuce, beechwood smoked rare breed bacon, Sriracha Mayonnaise, and Piquanté cherry peppers was arguably even better with just enough spice and a big punch of added character from the bacon to elevate it further.
Best of all was how the Piquanté matched with the seasonal beer — a Ranchero Smoked Ale from Wicklow Wolf.
Malted barley for the beer was smoked over beechwood giving the beer a distinct smoky bacon flavour balanced with a rich maltiness and good balance from the hops.
There is a vegan and a vegetarian option using a soybean patty and I’m told it is good but none of us were willing to risk it. Generous portions of chips were decently crispy (if not outstandingly so) and thankfully had just scraps of skin attached — nothing ruins a good chip than too much skin for the oil to sweat under.
Dips and panko pickles were tasty but I think the pickles could be improved with a lighter crumb casing to allow the pickle to shine more.
Chocolate milkshake with white chocolate chips was a dense and rich chocolaty affair and also worked as a dessert. Besides the Ranchero Ale above the ‘grown-up’ drinks list is short with wine sourced from WineLab who specialise in quality wine on tap.
The choice of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Malbec didn’t quite inspire but I here there was a Lambrusco on the previous menu which is an inspired choice for a burger restaurant — don’t knock fizzy chilled red wine with a burger until you’ve tried it!
Staff were cheery and pleasant and the atmosphere is enjoyable and convivial and the burgers are excellent, every suburb should have a BuJo.