So on Monday night, The Brothership organised a get together for some of his friends who wanted a piece of the ring flashing action, and decided upon Atomic Burger on Oxford's Cowley Road as the perfect venue.
The bright lights beckon us in.
On their website, Atomic Burger proclaim that "great burgers ain't rocket science" and describe themselves as "the best blinking burger joint you will ever visit." That's a pretty confident boast, so I was interested to see if they lived up to it, and my burgeoning expectations.
Great burgers ain't rocket science.
We arrived a little early but were warmly greeted at the door by a cheerful curly-haired chap who told us that our table was just being made ready for us and the previous occupants were just leaving. A jolly Aussie lady also came along to invite us to sit down at an empty table near the door for two minutes whilst we were waiting. I took the opportunity to have a good old look around at my supper-time surroundings and get accustomed to the large numbers of toys, models and pictures that decorated the premises. A toy / cartoon / sci-fi themed eatery? Winner! A good start...
Many toys hang from the pipes.
After a teeny tiny wait we were ushered over to our table, beneath a large TV screen painted onto the wall, which was showing snippets of films and cartoons via a projector. This proved to be a great talking point during the evening and we had fun reminiscing about Thundercats, The Clangers and those small green crime-fighting machines the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, amongst many others.
The brightly coloured menus were designed in a comic book style, using the card game Top Trumps as inspiration for laying out the burger choices. The menu was very ably explained by the cheerful curly-haired chap who told us that we could choose any burger from the menu, with beef, chicken or veggie, but we could chop and change it's other contents if we wished. For example, you could choose "The Big Kahuna" (swiss cheese, pineapple and teriyaki sauce) with chicken, but without the pineapple. Oh, and add any side order for free. I plumped for the "Messy Jessie", a vegetarian burger containing goat's cheese, red onion marmalade and rocket, with beef. Beef?! Ha! Take that Miss Messy Jessie and your vegetarian-ness! I just thought it would taste so much nicer with beef, and I believe that's exactly what Atomic Burger are hoping to get their customers to do. Challenge their options and create your own! Love it.
The boys get to grips with the menu...
We also ordered a starter to share of "Speedy Gonzales Nachos" which unfortunately weren't that speedy in getting to our table. I should point out though that by this time (around 8.30pm I guess) the restaurant was packed full and people were queuing out of the door to get a table, so I shall let Messrs Atomic off this minor hiccup. A full-to-the-brim restaurant on a Monday night in the current economic climate is something to be very proud of, and illustrates very nicely what Atomic Burger are achieving here.
Our burgers were quite delicious, the ingredients were fresh and well-prepared, everyone was very happy with their choice and we munched away happily until our plates were clean.
Messy Jessie and a (free) side of coleslaw.
I was having a sneaky look around at the other tables in between the eat and the chat, taking sneaky photos as I went. Everyone looked like they were having a great time. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something a little strange. There was a man in the corner, wearing protective blue plastic gloves, sweating as he devoured a ginormous burger. Ah. This must be the "Godzilla Challenge." The "Godzilla Challenge" is basically a burger-eating time trial, where you get an hour to polish off a triple burger, triple chilli fries, and godzilla sauce. Easy, you might think? Look again. Godzilla sauce is made from ghost chillies - or using their proper name, the Bhut Jolokia chilli pepper - the hottest chillies in the world. Put that in your pipe! I gather that the sweating man completed his challenge, as towards the end of our time in the restaurant, loud whoops and cheers were heard from the other end of the room. Sweating man's prize? An "I beat godzilla" t-shirt, and a place on the Atomic Burger wall of fame. And a pat on the back from me. Well done sweating man.
The supper time rush subsides.
So what a great place to eat! Their boasting is well-founded. I guess primarily geared towards students, (you wouldn't catch The Parents in there!) Atomic Burger certainly seem to have their target market firmly in the front of their minds. It's bright, fun, cheap and laid-back and the staff are super-friendly. The fact that it's clearly such a popular place to go, even on a Monday night, just proves that this kind of establishment and level of service is exactly what people want right now.
Next stop: Atomic Pizza.....