Bull City Burger and Brewery
107 E Parrish St
Durham, North Carolina
Visited on March 13, 2014
Admittedly, this was the second time I’d visited Bull City Burger and Brewery. The first time I had just flown into town for a job interview. I was a bit harried, a bit worried, a bit tired, and a bit in no mood to have a swinging good time. I wrote it up, thought I had published it, and moved on. Then, a few months ago, I tried to find said review so I could give my opinion of the place to a friend in passing conversation.
No dice. It wasn’t there.
But that’s all the better for Bull City, because I was much more impressed on my second visit. Perhaps it was just frame of mind, perhaps it was ordering a burger without pimento cheese, which I don’t think I actually like very much. Whatever it was, I only have nice things to say this time around.
As advertised, this place makes everything they serve except the ketchup. And it shows. I ordered a standard beef burger topped with bacon marmalade, sauteed onions, and aioli. Yes, all of that is just as delicious as it sounds. Plus, the burger came out nice and pink and juicy and exactly how I like it. You can taste the difference in freshly ground local beef. Thus, here you can taste the difference.
The beer once again did not blow me away. Everything was fine, but nothing stood out. They did have some higher gravity options – a barley wine as well as a barrel-aged version – but both tasted mainly of alcohol with little depth or complexity. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it all and will happily return and drink it, but I don’t forsee myself taking any growlers home at this point unless they make a killer seasonal.
And finally, there’s the atmosphere. I’m not a big fan of the lining up at the counter and then finding a seat with a number for the runner to find you. It works pretty well for their limited space and likely cuts down on the number of people filling up the few alleys between tables, but it makes it difficult to know how to order a drink.
Do I go to the bar? Do I go back up to the food counter and wait in line? Can it all get on one check? If I just want a drink now while waiting for my wife before ordering food, how do I go about that? Will people give me the stink eye for taking up the end of a table with just a beer?
Perhaps with more practice I’ll figure it out, but I opted to sit at the bar and get the traditional service from the bartender, which was excellent, I might add.
In short, if/when I move to Durham, I’m living as close to this place as possible.