For those without a wiggly welsh tongue, in English Arbennig means ‘Special’, you might consider it bold to be so brash in naming your restaurant so highly, but try the food, and you’ll see, the name fits.
It was a cold Saturday night, one Burgerbro had been banished from his lair because of something called ‘girls night’, all we knew was that it entailed Gin and not burgers, so we thought it best to seek sanctuary somewhere unique.
Not gonna lie, on arrival we felt somewhat underdressed but the Burgerbro ethos to life is a casual one, and so we went with it. To be fair, the staff made us feel at home right away despite our casual attire, so no harm was done. For future reference, the place accommodates all, but there’s a family event/date night kinda vibe. Actually, we were probably dressed correctly for a mandate so there’s always that.
Before I get stuck into some hardcore burger reviewing I really want to give a shout out to the staff at Arbennig, they were all super friendly and super good at their jobs. In-fact our hostess for the evening may well be the most knowledgeable server I’ve ever had the pleasure of chatting with. Not only could she tell us the difference between a sun-kissed and sun blushed tomato (with a straight face), she could even tell us the farm and name of the farmer where their beef came from. She was probably one request away from drawing us a map with a cow diagram, and that’s no bad thing at all. If I’m honest Part of me wanted to subject her to some sort of Arbennig Mastermind quiz, but I’m pretty sure she would win and also that’s a cruel and stupid idea. Suffice to say the service was very very good.
Now down to the food.
The menu looked terrific, but as always the burger called my name ‘Lloyd’ it said, ‘what you staring at’ it said, then I realised it wasn’t the burger it was Scott and that the menu had sent me into a foodie daydream. I’m told the menu changes every Tuesday so you might have to be lucky to get the same burger as me, but whatever you have I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
The Longhorn Burger – Beef and mushroom ragout, balsamic aioli, Wookey Cove Cheddar (hehe Wookey), bacon, lettuce, tomato and hand cut triple cooked chips.
What arrived was a refined, but not overly so, plate of food with pea shoots that reminded me that we were somewhere posh. I had a fear that I’d receive an immaculately presented burger with a tower of 4 chips and some dust or something. Now I’m sure some places pull that off, but for me a burger is about getting stuck into some great ingredients, maybe using my hands and enjoying every little bit. This plate invited me to do just that, and its flavours didn’t disappoint.
My first bite was one of happiness, I’m just going to say it now, it’s one of the best burgers I’ve had in Cardiff. We all judge these things differently, but for me, Arbennig simply nailed every aspect.
Now this burger does come at a price, but when you can experience that price in every bite, it makes you more forgiving. This isn’t a burger you happen to have on a night out, this isn’t some fast food variant, this is a burger that’s worth travelling for, it’s a treat in every sense, and although you’ll pay more for it, it’s worth it.
The burger itself had a great texture, juicy but not messy, perfectly cooked and very tasty, there was obviously some care taken to get it right, and it’s quality shone through and worked amazingly well with the bacon, salad and Pettigrew made bun.
I’ve tried to wrap my head around their thought process regarding the toppings. I think they started with a basic burger that was shit hot on its own. I imagine they thought ‘hmm how can we make our already good burger a bit like crack?’. At that very moment some sort of deity wandered passed and on smelling their already sumptuous beef gave them some divine inspiration ‘I know a Ragout!’ they shouted, the world rejoiced and eventually so did my tongue.
The ragout topping was fantastic, it was like essence of beef with essence of mushroom with essence of things that are so good if I describe them they sound a bit wrong. The Ragout then melted seamlessly into the burger in every bite. Not only did I have a great burger I’d also get the odd nugget of Ragout meat to add texture and joy to my mouth.
I genuinely believe that some of the best burgers don’t need to be laden with crazy toppings or ‘Push the boundaries’ of what a normal burger is and should be. This burger is proof that simplicity can be special, they simply made everything on my plate the best it could be, and it was amazing, and that’s a fact I urge you to test.
Find an excuse to visit Arbennig, take your girlfriend, your wife, your family, your postman, just go. You’re probably due a treat, and this should be that treat, you totally deserve it, you really do.
I’m giving this burger 5 Stars because I just couldn’t fault it. Arbennig and its burger are special in the best possibles way.