The sign of a good dirty burger? When you try to take a photo for a review, and it’s nigh on impossible to get the thing looking like anything other than a bit of a mess.
That was exactly the case at Squeezed, which you’ll find nestled in a single, tiny shipping container that makes up part of Cargo 2 at Wapping Wharf: a space that proves that size really isn’t everything.
Chef Alex Hayes (whose name you’ll recognise from his Rebel Roll and El Guapo days) certainly went to some serious effort to get his burger and lemonade joint open – a crowdfunding campaign and a name change thanks to some evil lawyers meant that it took longer to get off the ground than he’d hoped. But my god, was it worth the wait – if you’ve not yet visited, you’re missing out.
There are a few tables dotted around outside and a tiny counter inside, but most of the shipping container is taken up by the kitchen space: a couple of prep counters, a grill and a fryer, along with a bank of lemonade dispensers that remind me of Slush Puppy machines, churning away with a variety of concoctions and separated from the public by a counter decked out in sunny yellow tiles.
On the face of it, the menu seems pretty simple: it’s burgers, it’s chips, and it’s lemonade. But you know what? It’s a short menu that’s made with care, attention and some truly fantastic ingredients and flavour combinations, and Hayes is definitely onto a winner.
Food-wise, you’ll find a choice of six burgers on offer, from the Shak-A-Noony (a double beef patty with smoked oyster & tarragon aioli, wild mushroom duxelle, Monterey Jack cheese and confit shallots), to the breakfast-inspired Morningside – a beef patty with smoked bacon, bloody Mary aioli, potato rosti and a fried egg. There’s a veggie option on offer too, along with two sides: skin-on fries with an ancho chilli salt blend, or their bathtub slaw.
Drinks-wise, there’s a classic sweet and sour lemonade, but also a number of additional, regularly-changing choices – including, on the day of our visit, such delights as the Pinky Punky (watermelon & rosemary) and the Nic’s a bockerglory (hibiscus & lime)
While we waited for our food to be cooked, we ordered the Soul Sex and the Red Queen to sip on: the former featuring honey and cayenne and good and sour with a sweet and spicy kick, the latter far sweeter, with a beautiful colour and a strong but not overpowering rose flavour.
We stood at the counter and chatted to Alex while he prepared our food, discovering that he makes all of the sauces himself, and that, we were relieved to see, the burgers are cooked well but juicy as standard – he’s not a fan of the pink burger craze that’s currently sweeping Bristol.
And after our food was cooked, we left Squeezed with our classic brown paper bags and retreated 5 minutes down the road to the comfort of our flat to get messy out of the public eye.
And messy it was. But so, so good. I’d ordered the St Werburger (£7.50): a double beef patty that was beautifully seasoned and lovely and tender, with plenty of melted Monterey Jack cheese, a rich and decadent smoked bacon and caper aioli, a deeply flavoured chipotle and tomato relish with a good amount of heat, and sweet, soft confit shallots. The warm brioche bun did its job perfectly, adding flavour and actually holding together despite the crazy number of fillings…the photo just doesn’t do the thing justice.
Chris’ Reverse Cowgirl burger (£7) was a blinder too: a single beef patty this time (I’m clearly the greedy one in the relationship…) with crispy smoked bacon, more melted Monterey Jack, tomato and lettuce, and two sauces that jostled with each other for attention and complemented each other at the same time: a cooling, tangy scallion sour cream, and a far richer peanut chipotle BBQ sauce (more on that later).
The chips? In all honesty, we’ve had better elsewhere – skin on = good, slightly soggy = not so great. The ancho chilli salt blend gave them an interesting sweetness with a residual chilli flavour, but without the expected heat.
What’s that at the front of that last picture, you ask? That, my friends, is the aforementioned peanut chipotle BBQ sauce – and honestly, this stuff is like crack. Don’t question it, just pay the extra £1 and get a pot to dip your chips in…and to run your finger round to avoid wasting a single drop when the chips have all gone. It’s thick, sweet and rich with the crunch of peanut chunks and a smokey heat – a seriously amazing combination that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
Want to get your Squeezed on? We’d recommend it – just be sure to check their Twitter feed before you make a special pilgrimage, as they’re known for selling out pretty early on! And the fact that this happens speaks volumes – Alex is onto a winning formula here, and Squeezed is definitely up there with my favourite Bristol burger spots…