Monday 26 January 2015

[Review] Ruby Burger from Ruby Modern Diner, Exeter, Devon

I took a couple of weeks out of London over Christmas and New Year (c'mon, even burger bloggers need a holiday sometimes) and part of this period was spent in Devon.
Inevitably I'd been craving a decent burger, especially as once again I'm going Meat Free in January 2015, and so New Year's Eve would be my last mouthful of beef for 31 days. Luckily I'd been hearing some good things about a recent addition to the Exeter dining scene, Ruby Burger, so this is where I went for my final burger in 2014. And I'm jolly glad I did.


Ruby Burger (bacon cheeseburger) - £7.50
Proper chips - £3

The Ruby Burgers concept was set up around two years ago and was borne out of the great things happening in London, which the founders wanted to replicate in Exeter where one of them already had a pub. The focus is firmly on the provenance of the ingredients they use, and all the meat, cheese, and baked products are sourced from within Devon.

The 100+ cover restaurant itself has two distinct characters. On entry there are a series of stools and round, occasional tables, as well as a sofa - this is to cater for a casual burger audience who can short order at the counter and have their burgers brought out quickly - either for takeaway or to graze at the communal tables. The restaurant area is more laid back, with broad wooden tables, high-backed leather booths, and waiter/waitress service.


The burgers (and yes, they do serve children's burgers too) are delivered on blue enameled metal plates in a nod to Honest Burgers and others in the capital. Sides are brought out in branded greaseproof paper-lined dishes. The burgers themselves are served lid-on, and come accessorised wtih a spear of pickle (a la Byron Hamburgers). *Digger not included.


The Ruby Burger is their bacon cheeseburger. And both of the those key toppings pack oodles of flavour - the cheese is Hawkridge cheddar, sourced from the Hawkridge Dairy in Copplestone, and it packs some serious mature cheddar punch - sharp and savoury. The bacon is also locally sourced from free range pigs, and what you get is thick slabs of super crispy smoked back bacon layered over the cheese. Leaves of Cos or Little Gem lettuce on layered on the base of the burger, which adds crunch to the mix. The masterpiece that brings everything together, however, is the Ruby Sauce - a sweet thousand island-style dressing that is superlatively moreish - it just needs more of it, much more!

The only toppings that need work are the thick thick wedge of tomato and ring of red onion which add very little to the burger, apart from some much needed moisture.


The meat in the patty comes from 21-day aged beef from a local farm - they aim at an 80/20 meat to fat ratio - but it depends on the cuts they get from the cow that has been butchered. I can't comment on consistency of the patties over time, but the ones we had were cooked perfectly medium, were well seasoned and a good level of fat.


This is a light brioche bun, baked daily at the Real Food Store in Exeter - it has a glorious golden brown colour, and has been toasted. Everything is going swimmingly, until the squeeze, which causes big fissures to develop across the top of the bun - it doesn't fall apart completely, but you do end up having to readjust your eating stance as you work through the burger.


Skin on, beef dripping 'Proper' fries were as good as you'd expect from the description. Super crispy on the outside, and fluffy in the middle - with a great tallowy flavour from the beef fat. They're really very good.

The Jerk wings are HUGE. Covered in a dark, sticky, rosemary-based jerk sauce, they're tasty chargrilled pieces of free range chicken.

Overall rating: 8/10

There's a lot to like about Ruby Burger - the vibe in the restaurant, the commitment to locally sourced meat and ingredients, the wide appeal to different dining audiences, and the range of diner-style food that's prepared on site. It's a sharply focused facsimile of the independent burger joints that are springing up in cities across the UK, taking their lead from London's thriving burger scene - a few tweaks needed, but certainly worth visiting, and definitely the best burger on offer in Exeter.


  1. Snortripper27 January, 2015

    Reads like a 9/10 to me, even if you do have to bring your own digger.

  2. Dave Hemming29 January, 2015

    Yeah docking a whole point for the bun that doesn't fall apart but splits a bit seems harsh.

  3. Snortripper29 January, 2015

    He's tough, is Hamburger Me! Guy, and also not a word on what looks like a macaroni cheese.


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