Byron comes to Birmingham on the back of a big reputation down south, where they are dotted around the sprawling city for Londoners to get their fill. I always found the reputation bewildering; London is not short of good burger options in the same way that it is not short of superiority complexes – why would a high street burger chain be mentioned along with the likes of MeatLiquor or Patty & Bun? In my frequent visits to the capital I had never had one, because, in all honesty, there was always a more interesting option. Now it’s finally here after working its way around the country, in a prime spot on New St, and I have no get out clause. I heed my call.
It turns out those pesky Londoners are right. It’s a proper burger, made from the right cuts of cow and cooked correctly. We try two on the second day they are open and both are impressive, mostly down to the patty, which is beefy and accurately cooked to the medium they tell us it comes to as standard. A ‘Smokey’ has the patty on possibly the best bbq sauce I have tasted – smokey, full of umami, with just a little heat in the background. Crisp onions for texture and smoked bacon to reinforce just why it is called what it is. A ‘B-Rex’, the most expensive of the single patty options at £10.50, comes with more of that bbq sauce, a greaseless onion ring, jalapeno’s, American cheese, and pickles. There is a lot going on, but its all balanced impeccably, the jalapeno and pickles elements with enough acidity to stop it all being too much.
We have a side of fries topped with a gooey cheese sauce and bacon that wasn’t crisp enough that we probably wont order again, and chicken nuggets that we certainly will. The nuggets are lovely morsels of breast meat that work well with the bbq sauce it comes with and better with the chilli sauce they leave on the table.
And here’s the thing: Honestly, I expected to hate it. I thought it would be another Five Guys mess of overhyped crap. I couldn’t be further from reality, it is miles ahead of that rubbish and the likes of GBK. whom you would consider to be its naturally competition. It will clean up in Birmingham and rightly so. My only issue is the price, which at around twenty quid a head for a burger, a side and a drink is more expensive than Original Patty Man, who happen to produce the best burger in the city (provided you are happy to queue for it of course). But as far as burger chains go, well done Byron, you’ve just jumped to the front of the high street queue.