The first stop on my #BurgersofBritain tour is Exmouth. Over the years, I’ve seen this place expand and grow into the fairly modern pedestrianised area that it is today. The place where trainee Royal Marine and Army Commandos, based at Lympstone, can go to get a much needed KFC bucket; the place where lunatics who decide to go swimming on Christmas Day can get an all you can eat breakfast buffet; and now, the home of London priced burgers.
I tried several burgers on my whistle stop tour to find the best burger in Exmouth, including a disappointing bison burger from a farm outlet that was more salad and relish than it was thin and under-seasoned burger patty. I tried a chain burger, a local homemade burger, even a kebab shop burger from a Turkish man who assured me it was the best in the world, let alone Exmouth. It wasn’t.
Having tried 6 different locations, I can quite happily say that The Grapevine Exmouth serves the best burgers in Exmouth. Here’s my review.
A great burger doesn’t start at the beef. It starts the minute you walk through the door of the serving place. The atmosphere, the friendliness of the staff, and even the feeling you get from the other clientele all contribute to how I will view the food. This is known as the horn and halo effect. Future opinions are prejudiced by your initial impressions. If you have a good first impression, flaws can be easily forgiven, whereas a negative first impression can blind you to positives as you instinctively look for further flaws. Thankfully I’m aware of this bias, so deliberately try to look for the negative in everything and if I can’t find it, it must be good.
Walking into The Grapevine Exmouth, you immediately get a nice warm feeling like you’ve just walked into your local even though it’s the first time visiting. The problem with it being the first time visiting is that you have no idea what the protocol is. There are too many variations these days: find your own seat, wait to be seated, table service, order at the bar, cutlery provided, grab your own cutlery. We looked for signs to let us know what was expected of us but there were none. Thankfully a friendly member of staff took pity on us and asked if we were ok, we said we were there to eat and we were directed to a table. We were seated, but had no idea whether we needed to order at the bar or not. It did give the impression of bar service. It was rustic and traditional, but with a modern feel; loads of home-brewed ales on tap as is the fashion du jour, so after making our choice from the extensive and fully stocked menu, I went to the bar to order. The man behind the bar took the order, but was clearly trying to do lots of things at once as he didn’t look at me throughout the entire process. He asked no questions, and simply said right, right, do you want to put that on a tab?
There’s another fashion at the moment of eating meat raw. *Put cave person voice on* We are man and equal woman, we want blood in our meat! If you have no idea how the meat has been butchered and handled, you have to assume that bacteria has sat on the meat’s surface. If you are having a steak, you can have it raw, or medium rare, because all of the surface bacteria has been killed off in cooking. If you take that same meat and mince it into a burger patty, all of that surface bacteria has now been minced throughout the entirety of the burger. This means you can only have it cooked through, if you want to guarantee it’s safe. Unlike steaks, this doesn’t detract from the taste of the burger. The meat can still be juicy and flavourful, even though it’s cooked all the way through.
Cooking a burger all the way through used to be mandatory until the FSA was pressurised by gourmet burger outlets to relax the laws and give adults the choice. The FSA still says that home-cooked burgers and BBQ burgers should be cooked all the way through, but have given dispensation to restaurants provided they can provide assurance that their meat has been sourced from “safe” suppliers. Given the number of exposés of food suppliers, I still like to have my burger cooked all the way through.
The bottom line here is that I wasn’t given the choice. It was made for me. There is a lot of emphasis on the customer having to be proactive and telling the staff what they want, rather than being given the choice. I ordered a coke and again, the choice was made for me that I wanted ice and a slice of lemon rather than being asked if I’d like ice and a slice. Is it really too much trouble, and time consuming, to ask rather than assume? It seems so.
So the burger arrives and it’s medium, but is quite frankly delicious. My biggest grievance with burgers, is when there are so many toppings – by volume as well as variety – that you simply cannot taste the beef of the burger. The balance of the caramelised onions, peppery salad, smoky bacon, tangy cheese and succulent beef patty was perfect. It meant I could taste all of it in every bite. The bun held its shape well too. No sogginess from being over drenched in condiments, no crumbling dryness which usually means you have to finish the bun after your burger; it was robust and was the perfect partner.
#BurgersofBritain The Smokey Joe from @thegrapevineexmouth Bit disappointed that I wasn’t offered the choice of how I wanted it cooked, it just came medium. Likewise with the coke I ordered, it just came with ice and a lemon slice. The responsibility shouldn’t sit with the customer to request, it should sit with the service provider to ask. That said, it was by far the best burger in Exmouth and I would definitely recommend The Grapevine. Just remember to ask for everything, exactly the way you want it.
So all in all, the atmosphere, environment, and quality of the burger, earn The Grapevine Exmouth the Getting Dad Fit title of Best Burger In Exmouth with a score of 75% – If only I was given the choice of how I wanted it, rather than being expected to ask. I had the Smokey Joe, which would you choose?
What would you choose? pic.twitter.com/NbpU9PNI1P
— This Man Can (@gettingdadfit) 10 December 2017