So after two shakey starts I thought I’d give Burger Theory @ Kongs in Cardiff another try and was hoping for 3rd time lucky on Saturday.
I’d had an invite for the opening night back towards the end of last year but double booked myself and had a few things on being the run up to Christmas and judging by the instagram pics after it was a roaring success and had me salivating at my phone or might of been throthing at the mouth in anger at missing the succulent beef patties oozing with bubbling cheese and mountains of crisped fries!
I didn’t wait long (2 days) to give it a whirl after a few unssuccessful attempts to get a seat at a few other restaurants in town with a few of my mates after a few beers in Brewdog. Although we were taken back by the doormans rather odd welcome into the basement venue when he said “How many of you want to go in?” Bearing in mind this was about 5 o’clcok and pretty dead in St Mary street and only 4 of us, who’d consumed 2 or 3 pints prior to this.
“Ok lads, please don’t tip the place up it’s a low key kind of place”. We all looked at each other in bemusement as we’re not exactly roided up skip rats looking to smash someone’s head in but we gave a suprised reply of “ok no probs”.
Anyway onto the venue, well if you haven’t ventured into the place yet to sample it for yourself yet then shame on you but it’s got the ever popular industrial, weathered look with plenty of concrete, scaffholding and reclaimed wood with the odd metal cage to shield unsuspecting punters from a stray puck to the head from the air hockey tables.
First on the cards before anything was a pint of something wet and cold before mulling over holy grail of seared beef concoctions.
I was hoping to have a few in house IPA’s but there were a few local beers from the likes of Tiny Rebel, a few European favourites and a few I’d never seen, couldn’t work out from the lonley branded icon with no writing and the clueless offerings from the person serving me. One thing that winds me up when going for a beer these days especially after the expert knowledge on hand from the givers of happiness behind the bar at the likes of Brewdog, Small bar or Bar 44 is people serving who have absolutely no idea about what it is they are serving. My first visit all 3 people didn’t have the fogiest idea about the beers, what they were, who brewed them or even the strength on them, which lastly should be a legal requirment at least I would of thought if I was driving. They were nice enough but a bit of prior training or even sampling of what’s on tap that week wouldn’t go a miss.
Anyway the first pint was good that’s all i can tell you as nobody could tell me what it was that’s all i know is it had a bee logo on the front. I had one or two more lucky dips and all unoffensive and drinkable.
There was a good selection of beers in the fridge but no menu to see what they were and I find it hardwork going through each of the bottles with the bartender so opted against trying my luck on any of them on my first couple of visits but would definitely like to tick a few off.
One thing I was dissapointed with though was the lack of any decent gins. I was hoping to get to try something I hadn’t seen before but there was just a few of the bog standard pub gins on offer. Being a Bristol based company I thought they might of shipped a few bottles of Psychopomp gin over to show us how they distill their Gin just over the bridge but sadly not. Just yet anyway, I might put a request in as I did get to try a couple at their pop up bar at The Old Bookshop in Bristol the last time I was up there before Christmas.
So as I’ve visited 3 times it’s only right I give my feedback on all 3 visits.
My first attempt at the menu and anything with Kimchi or anything referencing Korean overides anything else on the menu so my mind was made up before I even finished the rest of the menu and jabbed delightedly at the Kimcheese option. Mounted on top of the beef patty was, bacon, cheese, pulled beef rib, chiptople mayo and what was supposed to be kimchi but what I had instead was a few strands of spring onion! No kimchi in sight I was gutted to say the least and even more pissed off because I had talked my mate into having the kimchi fries as he had never tried kimchi and his fries where the same just a few ribons of spring onion and no pungent fermented cabbage in sight and he was dissapointed saying “Well I still don’t know what Kimchi is”. I hate recommending something to someone when it turns out turns out wrong.
Don’t get me wrong the rest of the burger was really good but you can’t advertise a kimchi burger with the main bloody ingredient missing. I’m glad I didn’t pay extra for the kimchi fries now or I would of just ended up paying a few extra quid for spring onion fries.
Everyone else had positive feedback regarding the burgers and my one mate attempted the hairy beast with a whole souther fried chicken on top, which was an absolute beast of a burger to say the least. Not something I’d attempt on a mission for a few beers after it mind as i’d be keeled over with meat sweats but it did look good.
Burgers costing around the £9 mark with standard fries around £3 although I skipped them this time to save some room for beer.
My 2nd visit was about a week later and my last day in work before breaking up for Christmas as I noticed a deal on the Wriggle Cardiff App with 1 burger and 1 fries for just £3.50 at Burger Theory / Kongs and as my mate hadn’t been or used the app before I gave him my referral code of AUHPSS, which he added on buying the deal and got another discount and paid just £1.50 saving over £12. I’m not sure as I can’t remember the last time i bought one but i’m pretty sure you can’t get much change from £1.50 after buying a pot noodle, so off we stormed in the rain after the clock struck 4 and we were done for the day in work.
The wriggle deal meant we could only choose a selection of burgers and not the full range but my next option would probably have been the Blue Cow anyway with Beef and jalapeño patty, crispy bacon, blue cheese, chipotle mayo, homemade ketchup.and my mate from work ordered the same.
Service was pretty quick and only had a few gulps of my beer before the order came out. The burger didn’t look quite as impressive as the first visit with mounds of the topping bursting out and looked a bit flat in comparisson. It was ok taste wise, nothing to write home about just ok really. Better than some of the other garbage like 5 guys and Grazing shed saying that mind but pretty uninspiring but for £1.50 we were impressed.
The fries on the other hand where something else and not in a good way. I’m not sure if because we had the wriggle deal we were just getting the scraps of what was left before opening a fresh bag of salad or fries but the fries looked like they had been plunged into the fryer more than once. They were either reheated or just heated and not taken off said heat for an hour because there was nothing left inside the crisp exterior. The inside of the fry was completely hollow so trying to jab a fork in was nye on impossible as it send carb laden, glass like shards flying everywhere. They were probably the worst fries I’ve ever attempted to eat and both of us left more than half the bag or whatever it was they came in and that must be a first for me.
To finish off a slightly dissapointing visit the guy coming to collect the trays / plates etc bashed the tray into my brand new (well 2 week old) iphone 7 placed visibly in the middle of the table sending it hurtling off the 1.5 metre high tables onto the concrete floor below leaving me with a look of horror and too afraid to investigate.
I didn’t have a case for the thing yet but luckily for me i’d just bought a laminate screen protector for it the day before so just left me with a few scratches on it. The guy was apologetic for the mishap and said I’ll buy you a new one if it’s broke but I just wanted to get out of there to assess the damage in the dimly Amsterdam esque red lit corner I was sat in.
Ok so both visits were within a week of opening so I thought I’d give the kitchen guys a bit of time to settle in and hone their skills behind the griddle or fryer I was hoping too as the burgers weren’t too bad the last time apart from lack of main ingredient.
I’d just sampled my first Bwyta Bwyd Bombai about 5 minutes prior to walking past Kongs last Saturday and Mwsh still hadn’t tried the place plus I only got a child portion in 3B’s so I suggested a pint and sharesies on something from Burger Theory, which she happily obliged.
After trying or at least seeing a few of the contendors on the menu previously I hadn’t noticed the KFC, otherwise known as Korean Fried Chicken. I’d seen some pics flying around of the coca cola ham hock dirty fries on insta recently and would of jumped at the chance of sampling those too if I hadn’t just had a biryani and 2 potato like side dishes less than 15 minutes ago.
I ordered a pint of Tiny Rebel on tap, a new one on me i’d not seen this one before and was pleased to see someone behind the bar who had a bit more knowledge of what they had to offer behind the bar, beer wise this time too. I’d just got the impression they’d plucked people from the streets walking past on my first visit just to open the place but they’ve either managed to find someone whose at least tried then before being able to give advice or they’d managed to give the bar tenders a little bit of training now. Either way it was a great improvement and just gives you a bit more confidence ordering from them compared to someone just shrugging their shoulders and giving you a blank look as before.
It was a Saturday and noticed they had the door open to a corridor to what I found out was a TV room showing the rugby but there were less than 10 people in the main bar area so was quite suprised with the wait we had till the chicken burger came compared to the last 2 visits.
Onto the KFC chicken burger and neither of us could fault it. The chicken was crisp to perfection, slathered in a sticky, sweet and spicy chilli sauce, ample amounts of salad although the burger wasn’t quite as big as I could remember my mate Morgan having on the first visit but the taste more than made up for it. We had a fight over the last few bites that’s for sure. We didn’t opt for the fries this time so couldn’t comment on whether they had improved but I will be ordering the coca cola dirty fries if they’re still on the menu next time.
So all in all a few teething problems and a few good experiences from myself and a few friends. I’m hoping they’ve sorted out the kimchi as I’d like to try the kimchi fries I just hope as they’ve been open a bit longer now they’ve had time to ferment the cabbage, which they couldn’t have done properly in 2 days on my first visit but saying that there wasn’t any cabbage on the burger so they must of just completely missed it out.
I will be back though to work my way through the menu as the burgers and combo of toppings do send the taste buds into an anticiapted frenzy so if the guys in the kitchen are on the ball you are sure to have an awesome meal. I wouldn’t mind givng the Korean fried chicken side a go too so there’s still lots i havent got around to yet.