We’re going all the way from Indonesia to the land of Stars and Stripes as we say goodbye to Nada Budaya and hello to Bohns Best Burgers underneath Brewdog, in Hockley. If you thought the name of this bbq burger joint is pronounced like ‘bones’ then you would be very silly indeed, Bohns actually rhymes with ‘Johns’ after the owner Tom Bohn (don’t get me started on the missing apostrophe). Bohns promises juicy gourmet burgers with a twist, inspired by Tom’s time in Canada, using his unique rub recipes and smoking techniques – with everything freshly made. With the freshness promise, the menu is reassuringly small but with a variety of options from chicken to beef to a veggie patty on brioche buns. Plus, bao buns at lunch time *drools.*
It doesn’t look too different to Nada Budaya in layout, but they’ve given it a predictable overhaul with an industrial feel, tall leather stools and a stage for live music. It was just as cold in there as it always has been. Bring a jumper.
Although it wasn’t busy, the service was excellent and the food arrived in 15 minutes after our pints of Malthsmiths IPA, a citrusy beer perfectly designed for rich meats and smoky ingredients.
Bacon and blue cheese is, in Stu’s opinion, one of the best burger topping combinations going, so it had to be The Blue for him. Feeling summat a bit spicy, I went for The Rump Rub, for “those that like a kick.” We also had some of their signature smoked chicken wings, served lathered in the Bohns take on buffalo sauce.
The burgers arrived standing tall, proud and super inviting, I had a side of chips and Stu had coleslaw so we could swap half each – we’re nice to each other like that sometimes. All the sides come separately to the burgers, which is worth noting. But the price still feels ok.
The rump rub burger comes with a Bohns spicy rubbed patty, cheese, salad, and a raspberry and jalapeño jam, which is what intrigued me to this choice in the first place. When balanced, spice, sweetness, fruit acidity and richness from beef and cheese is utterly delightful. My suspicions were confirmed with the first bite that this was to be a messy job – no knives and forks will help you here, just get stuck in and maybe don’t bring a first date or laptop. The fat patty was very well seasoned with the rub and beautifully juicy with a strong beefy flavour. This is how you want your beef patty to taste, the quality was clearly there and it was just thick enough to be the star of the show and stand up to the strongly-flavoured garnishes. The cheese was oozy and the raspberry and chilli jam added the contrast I wanted it to. The sweet yet spicy stickiness was a brilliant addition, bringing out the flavour of the salty beef and adding an unexpected flavour dimension that felt uniquely Bohns. Great job on that front.
There needs to be special mention of the homemade brioche bun, something I think Paul Hollywood would give a handshake for. At the risk of embarrassing myself trying to sound like him, check out the structure of that bread inside, it was fluffy but had just enough layers and integrity to support all those juicy fillings.
The blue burger was equally as satisfying for Stu.
The blue cheese was maybe not as strong as we’ve had before but its creaminess and saltiness went well with the other ingredients. The streaky bacon had the smokiness and crispness this burger deserved and the cool coleslaw was enjoyable, if a little on the watery/sloppy side. The side of spiced chips were also good.
We also had an order of the 6 biggest, juiciest chicken wings ever – there’s nothing worse than when your wings arrive and they’re teeny scraps with no meat on them. These were tossed in the Bohns interpretation of a buffalo sauce and smoked for 3 hours before cooking, in true yankee bbq style. The chicken itself was juicy and tender; perfectly cooked with a real kick to that sauce, but not what you might expect from the luminous orange Frank’s variety of buffalo. Nice. You need to know that these wings are seeeeriously smoked. Like seriously smoky. Bonfire smoky. Smoky and the Bandits, smoky. If you like that intensity, you’ll love these but it could be a bit much for some people. We wouldn’t have eaten more than 6 because of the really strong smoke flavour.
So, overall we had a couple of tasty burgers and sides for a good price. We’re not sure if it’s good luck or a sign of things to come on the burger restaurant scene, but Bohns and Secret Burger Club at Nottingham Street Food Club are the best buns we’ve had in Notts. Neither are your typical Maccies or Five Guys, trying to do something different and special with a restaurant style which may have had its reputation cheapened by certain ‘burger kitchens’ that wholly misunderstand the meaning of ‘gourmet.’ It’s hard, then, not to compare both Bohns and Secret Burger Club, but they are quite different and both really good – we advise you to try both! SBC slightly edges it for us on the perfection of their patties, but Bohns wins on buns – tough call. If you think Annie’s is the best burger in Notts then we would urge you to try these two, they really think about quality of ingredients and cooking with surprising combos in a way that isn’t just slapping peanut butter on a bland, dry patty and calling it ‘whacky’ (we are NOT Annie’s fans, sorry kids.) It’s no novelty, it’s just how burgers should be done.
Head to Bohns for a relaxed lunch, casual dinner or a MUCH better bite than you’d get at Broadway before a film. Now, all Bohns need to do now is to turn the heating up and do a deal with Brewdog upstairs so you can have their beers with your burger!
Atmosphere and surroundings: 5/10