We all know I’ve got an obsession with burgers, so when someone recommended me to try Atomic Burger and I saw they were able to deliver to my area, I knew that was our weekend treat meal sorted. The menu looked like it has come a long way from when I last went to Atomic Burger a couple of years ago, my first and only visit to the restaurant as a vegan, when I ‘enjoyed’ a plain, dry patty in a cheap white bun. With a couple of different burger toppings, sides, and a vegan hot dog now on offer, I actually found myself in the position to deliberate over what to order.
My boyfriend was happy to split both of the vegan burgers down the middle, so it meant we got to try both. I started off with the ‘Cactus Jack’. The vegan patty at Atomic Burger isn’t the standard beef-style thing that’s on the menu at 99% of restaurants with a vegan option these days, and it took me a while to figure out what it was but it felt more like seitan. The patty was kind of stodgy, and then on top was a generous pile of soft barbecue jackfruit, so there wasn’t much texture going on in the burger. The jackfruit was a little sweet but didn’t have much flavour, and the whole thing sort of fell apart on my plate.
The mushroom burger was both of our preference between the two, as it had a lot more flavour thanks to the garlicky mayo and mushrooms, which also added a decent crunch from the breadcrumbs, rather than your mouth just sinking through the whole thing like with the other burger. There was also some crisp salad in this one, vs soggy fried onions in the Cactus Jack. I was happy I’d ordered a box of ‘shroomies’ on the side, as the crisp breaded mushrooms with a decent garlic hit were the best thing about the meal, and I did enjoy those. The portion of chips, the cost of which are included with the burger which I like, were huge, but sadly cold thanks to Deliveroo’s mediocre service. They also weren’t really salted, though the sci-fries fared better on that front and had more flavour thanks to the cajun seasoning.
Our order just cemented in my mind that I’m really not a fan of Deliveroo. As well as their exploitative business model that hugely disadvantages the riders, and the fact that they charge restaurants a huge percentage commission (something around 30% I understand), I’m yet to receive a great service when ordering through the platform. I’ll definitely stick to ordering direct from restaurants, or Just Eat if not, which for some reason seems a lot better.
Obviously a big part of the Atomic Burger experience is the fun of dining in at their restaurants, and you miss out on that when ordering delivery, though you’re paying the same price. Sad as it is to say, as Atomic Burger is such an institution in East Oxford, I wouldn’t order this again. There are just so many vegan burgers on the market these days, many of which I’ve enjoyed a lot more, at a more reasonable price point. On paper the burgers sounded great, the toppings are very well thought-out and they seem to have a lot of potential. But when I think about the great meals I had there as a meat-eater, the experience as a vegan just doesn’t compare sadly. And you know what, they’re a meat focused establishment, so I should probably expect that really.