REVIEW: Saucy Burger, Hylton Riverside, Sunderland
'This menu's bonkers' said my friend as we took our seats in one of Saucy Burgers' cow shed booths.
Yes, cow shed booths. The owners behind this new burger restaurant have thought outside of the box across the board, from menu to decor, when it comes to giving new life to this retail park site.
It’s the same hospitality group who ran the restaurant’s former guise: Dr Feelgood.
It was already one of the more stylish restaurants in the city, but though the Feelgood framework remains, the venue has been branded firmly with its own Saucy Burger stamp.
It starts as you ascend the staircase above Liberty Brown (also owned by Apartment Group) with loud pin-up inspired poster art plastered across the walls and, at the top, a looming flashing neon sign of a cow and its protruding udders. There’s no mistaking that meat is the dish of the day, every day, here.
The attention to detail continues in the large seating and bar area, with its industrial chic light fittings strung up with Navy-strength rope and mish mash of tattoo-style motifs on the wall.
Those cow shed booths, which take up one back wall, make you feel like you’re sitting in your own private bunker with their corrugated roofs, and are perfect for groups.
Back to that “bonkers” menu: if Willy Wonka got lost at a burger joint, this would probably be the result.
Augustus Gloop would have a field day with the Monster Muncher (£11.95) – a 7oz hamburger topped with pickled onion Monster Munch and Honey Nut Cheerios, wrestling for space with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles.
It’s not the only topping that comes at you out of left-field: there’s also versions topped with hash browns, Marmite mayonnaise and bacon Frazzles and another with sweet waffles, peanut butter and bacon.
It’s not just the behemoth burgers, no doubt Augustus’ eyes would light up at the drinks menu too, which features “freakshakes”, milkshake hybrids made with everything from Kinder Surprise to Oreo cookies. Leave your diet at the door, folks
I wasn’t feeling brave enough to tackle the towering burgers, which are served with an accompanying bib, so went for the more timid-sounding classic cheese burger. Served on a canteen-style tray, it came topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato et al, as well as a metal mug of fries for £9.95.
It’s pricier than burger chains, but this is much more of an experience than the one you get under the golden arches.
For the Dr Feelgood faithful, there are still some favourites on the menu. The starters section offers tapas, such as harissa spiced halloumi skewers (£5.95), mac-n-cheese (£3.95) and salt and pepper squid (£4.95).
We shared the above to start. The squid, all too often served as a rubbery farce, was a springy feast and the harissa and halloumi were the perfect complement to each other.
The gloriously gooey mac‘n’cheese was also good value for money with its large portion. Too much so, in fact, and I simply couldn’t finish my subsequent burger.
The filling Bloody Marys probably didn’t help either. But the cocktails here are some of the best in the area - and they aren’t afraid of serving up your drinks with a kick.
For those who want to commit their food coma to print, there’s a photo booth as you leave. This is a place that’s just made for photographing.