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Restaurant Review: Bull City Burger & Brewery

March 26, 2011

Last night. Friday night. Date night. Fred & I went to the newest restaurant in Durham: Bull City Burger and Brewery. It was opening night, and it was packed when we arrived.

Bull City Burger & Brewery

107 East Parrish Street, Durham 27701



The set up is neat. On the right, they have windows through which you can see the beer vats and other mechanisms of the brewery. In the center of the restaurant are large plank-like tables, akin to the types you imagine in a German Brauthaus. To the far right is the bar and the wine Enomatic station. The Enomatic has 16 bottles, which stand upright and have a dispensary function in half glass increments that you activate with a swipe card. At the very back is the food register and counter with a local, no corn-syrup added soda fountain and  the kitchen is in view behind the counter. Off to the right of the register is a nook with four-top tables with a big screen TV (which at that time had the Carolina game playing) hanging on the far wall.


I was able to snag a table in the nook area as we entered around 8:30. When we approached the ordering register we were told the wait for food was an hour and a half. We ordered anyway and enjoyed the scene while we waited. I ordered a glass of the house red wine and Fred had the brewery’s Golden lager. The waitress gave us a number stand to put on our table for our drinks and food, and water/soda was self serve at the counter, with mason jars for glasses. I thought the jars were a cute touch.


My burger, above, was with the ($1 for each upgrade) of mushrooms, aioli, cheddar with the standard ketchup, lettuce and shaved onion on the house baked bun with “dirty fries” (plain russet fries done in peanut oil). The bun was well done, dense enough to handle the burger without crumbling but still soft. For the lettuce I give them major props; they serve Bibb lettuce, the best lettuce for a burger.  The aioli didn’t give me the taste of garlic I was looking for, and actually I’m not certain that it wasn’t just plain mayonnaise, so for a dollar it was a disappointment. The fries were okay; they were not salted, however, and there was a lack of salt available at the counter and on the tables. The burger was a little dry (I think it’s straight beef, perhaps lean without anything added for moisture) but with all the toppings it was tasty and, though smaller side, filling.


Fred had the specialty Over Easy burger with house-made bacon and a fried egg on top with the duck fries, which are “finished in duck fat.” We weren’t sure what exactly “finished” in duck fat meant. They didn’t taste strongly of savory duck fat, but Fred likes shoestring fries and was happy with them. Both the bacon and the egg were fantastic. The bacon was thick with a strong smokiness and the egg’s yolk was bright orange and great for dipping stray fries or the burger in. We were both really happy with the egg, having our own chickens has given us very high standards for eggs in restaurants, but it’s obvious BCBB uses the best fresh eggs available.

Prices were a little high. Fred’s burger and fries capped in at $13, mine at $11. For the first time, Fred’s beer ($4.50) was more expensive than my wine ($4). Total bill was $35, but without having a waiter, you save on the standard obliged 20% tip. All in all, a little pricey, except for the wine which I thought was a great deal.

All said and done we were in and out in one hour happily fed and watered. Despite the cashier’s dire warning of an hour and a half wait, we got our food in an half hour. All restaurants have kinks, especially on opening night, so this can be forgiven. The scene was  lively and fun. The wine and the beer were good, with ample selection to choose from. Bull City Burger and Brewery is a great new addition to the local dining scene.  Try it out! (and let me know if your aioli tastes like garlic or not!)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amber permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:28 am

    Glad you guys enjoyed! Sounds like a fun date night:)

    Btw, I just love reading your restaurant reviews, especially now that I’ve moved away. I feel like I still get to experience the new additions even though I’m 8 hours away. Miss you and the city!

    • lizounette permalink
      March 26, 2011 8:58 am

      Thanks, Amber! Yes, I just last night got a smartphone, so I’m looking forward to taking photos when we’re out in restaurants and being able to do the restaurant reviews more. I had felt before I needed photos, but didn’t want to lug my big camera out, but now I think I’ll do them more often. thanks for reading 🙂 I miss you, too!

  2. Ivan Durham permalink
    March 27, 2011 11:56 pm

    This review is spot on and pretty much exactly the same experience I had when visiting for the first time Saturday for lunch. I was incredibly excited after ordering and filling my mason jar with birch beer and ice. My first sign that there was still some kinks to be worked out is when I realized that despite having 6 line cooks and only 25 customers, my burger and ‘duck’ frites still took 28 minutes to arrive. The 2nd hiccup came when I “splurged” on the ‘duck’ frites, only to have my burger arrive next to a pile of shoestring, unsalted fries that had clearly been in the bowl for over half an hour. I serve people burgers and fries for a living and even our least experienced line cook knows better than to try and pass off cold and stale fries to a customer. And for $3 and the word “duck” being thrown around, I would certainly like to actually feel as if though these fries were even coughed on by any sort of duck fat, and while we’re at it a pinch of salt while they are still hot usually does the trick. Burger temps was my other major concern because I was never asked by the cashier as to what temperature I wanted my burger, but in hindsight it didn’t matter much since they kinda just let it sit there until my order was the next one on the ‘crank out’ list and it cme our horribly overcooked and didn’t taste like anything since it wasn’t seasoned. I understand that they are still “teething” and working out the kinks but my biggest concern is the lack of leadership in the kitchen. I saw 7 line cooks, but not one emerging voice. Maybe the line cooks don’t have a ton of experience, but at least there could be one person at the pass that touches my cold plate of food and demands that they take the extra 3 minutes to drop some fresh fries and maybe even throw some salt on there. The fact is, I already waited in anticipation and excitement for 25 minutes, if given the choice I certainly wouldn’t have minded waiting another 3 minutes just to have a hot plate of fries as opposed to what I was given on the fly. With all do respect, I just finished paying $14 for a burger, fries, and a fountain soda. Could I at least have one person in the kitchen making sure that i’m not being served cold and stale fries from an hour ago? This is a tough business and every restaurant takes a few months to find their groove, but at the end of the day, without leadership there is no standards, and without standards there’s no consistency. Consistency brings people back with their friends and family and I truly hope that BCB&B finds a true leader in that kitchen so they can expedite, unite, and help that brigade flourish. Until then, I see a future ridden with a hit or miss reputation and that is the worst thing that can happen to a place like this. I really look forward to my next visit and I urge you all to check it out for yourselves.

  3. Alfred permalink
    March 29, 2011 8:33 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything written in the blog posts and in the comments. Bull City must improve quality (and quantity) to validate price point of the menu. Can’t wait to go back to see if the kinks have been worked out!

  4. Ivan Durham permalink
    April 27, 2011 11:24 pm

    So it has been a month since my 1st visit to BCBB and I am happy to say that I stopped in for dinner with my brother on yesterday and boy, what a difference a month makes. We ordered a classic bacon and gruyere burger and two orders of the fries and it was spot on. The food came out in 7 minutes and was piping hot and delicious. The bacon was perfectly cooked and the bun was spectacular. The fries were fresh from the fryer and nicely salted. I also got a chance to try their IPA and it was a nice post-dinner drink. We were in a bit of a rush since we were on our way to a show at the Casbah, but I am very happy to see that the food was really top quality and my brother and I have already talked about meeting for dinner again this week. Great job to Seth and the gang for the hard work they continue to put in. I urge you all to keep checking it out for yourselves.

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