Although the sci-fi themed burger bar only opened around eighteen months ago, it has already made its mark on the city's dining scene, becoming so popular that booking's even advisable on a school night. It's easy to see why: if the fun atmosphere and 80s nostalgia aren't reason enough, the tasty grub should win you round. Recently revamped, the new menu offers 22 different burgers with toppings to suit all tastes, from the plain and simple Forrest Gump (£6.75), to the spicy Johnny Cash (served with refried beans, hot sauce, American cheese and jalapenos, £8.75), to the freestyle - creative types can dream up their own burger toppings. Unlike most restaurants of its ilk, Atomic Burger gives diners the choice of making each burger on the menu beef, chicken or vegetarian; with veggies able to swap any meaty toppings for a flesh-free substitute. The chatty, knowledgeable staff will be happy to talk you through the options and advise doubtful diners. Should you be tempted to stray away from the burger path, hot dogs, ribs, salad and a pulled pork sandwich are also available, with milkshakes and soda floats rounding off the all-American offer.
|Veggie Smokey & the Bandit with sci fries
I used to be a definite Forrest Gump girl, but this week I branched out in the name of research, opting for a vegetarian Smokey & the Bandit (cajun rub burger with grated cheddar, BBQ sauce and an onion ring, £8.95) with a side of garlic and chilli sci fries (included). With a smokey, subtle spicy taste and the gooey addition of the melted cheese, it was definitely a much tastier choice than the sometimes insipid vegetarian offerings at most burger bars. The sci fries were an ideal complement, adding an extra kick - spice lovers will be in their element.
|Chicken Jake & Elwood with caesar salad
Atomic Burger's portions are generous and the ingredients good quality: my companion L even complimented their 'nice baps'. She tucked into a chicken Jake & Elwood (served with blue cheese, bacon and mushrooms, £8.75) with a mini caesar salad, while after much deliberation A plumped for a beef Fat Tony (with meatballs, pizza sauce and American cheese, £8.95). A short while later, with empty plates and full stomachs, we all admitted we'd probably be incapable of tackling Atomic's Godzilla Challenge, a man versus food gaunlet which requires brave (or foolhardy) participants to devour a triple burger with triple cheese, firey Godzilla sauce and triple chilli fries in one hour. One name on the mirrored wall of fame had accomplished this feat in an astounding 7 minutes.
If you can make room for afters (unlikely after a Godzilla Challenge, but who knows), Atomic offers American-style desserts such as a pie of the week, waffles and our tasty choice of Finger-a-Fudge Brownie Sundae, a chocolate brownie served with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, cream and a fudge finger. Other sweet treats appear on the new breakfast menu (available daily from 10-12), with offerings such as the Snoopy & Woodstock Pancakes (blueberry or chocolate pancakes served with maple syrup and butter, £5.45) sure to tempt me through the little white gate again before long.
As Atomic Burger says, 'great burgers ain't rocket science'. That may be true, but they're certainly a welcome addition to Oxford. And with the restaurant's popularity only likely to increase with the introduction of the fun sticker book loyalty scheme, long may Atomic's reign over the Cowley Road continue.
Atomic Burger is at 96 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JE. Tel: 01865 790855. Booking recommended.