Bull City Burger and Brewery isn’t a typical burger and beer joint. Since opening in 2011, the farm-to-fork restaurant makes both its burgers and beers in-house, along with pretty much every ingredient on the menu. The beef is pasture-raised and local, and the sauerkraut, mayonnaise, pickles and mustard are all made on site.
We checked in with owner Seth Gross to see what’s new at Bull City Burger and Brewery.
Why did you decide to open this particular restaurant concept in Durham?
It’s where I live and I didn’t want a long commute. Plus, Durham is very appreciative of homegrown concepts along with our philosophy of pasture-raised beef and our back-to-scratch attitude.
What advice do you have for other chefs and/or restaurant owners who want to source locally?
Do it. Sourcing locally saves family farms, churns dollars in our community, provides fresher ingredients and forces you to be more seasonal in your menu planning. What’s the down side?
Where do Bull City Burger and Brewery’s beers fit within the local craft brew scene?
Are we fitting in? Cool. I can tell you what we hope to be known for, but don’t know if we are known for these things.
First, we offer true to style beers. We want people to try our classic styles such as Porters, Pale Ales, Wheat Beers and Pilsners and say “Wow, that’s exactly like I had when I visited England, Bavaria or Prague,” for example. We are not trying to riff on a style or provide a modern interpretation, unless of course we are trying to do that. But in such a case we would say that we are.
Second, we want to bring back “session” beers and be known for flavorful lower alcohol (under 4% ABV) beers that are great for consuming at lunch or in quantity without severe after effects. Third, We want to be known for subtlety and balance in all that we do. When we experiment with spices, peanut butter, fruit, etc., we use these things with a gentle hand to provide complexity. Beer first, flavorings second.
What’s your favorite meal at Bull City Burger and Brewery?
The secret burger, but I can’t tell you more. It’s off the menu, but every employee knows about it. It can’t be modified in any way and comes with hardcore foodie flavors like truffle and duck fat. The first rule of the secret burger is there is no secret burger.
Where are some of your favorite places in town to unwind before/after a long day?
It’s a little corny, but our patio is evolving into a sort of oasis with the gardens, plants, heaters, etc. I am slowly realizing that I am not building it for the customers as much as I am building it for me. From the sky the roof looks like a baseball home plate. I think we need to add a flowing river and some piped-in new age meditative yoga music to make it a peaceful place.
Where’s your favorite burger, other than Bull City Burger and Brewery? Is there a restaurant or chef that inspired you?
Since I am totally committed to the program of pasture-raised beef, I have had to give up most other burgers, meats and fish when eating out. It’s a real bummer, but I preach it and have to live it. I won’t enable our food system with the hormones, antibiotics and other additives. We cook at home a whole lot.
What are you goals for Bull City Burger and Brewery moving forward?
At BCBB we plan to keep doing what we do best and that is beer, burgers, hotdogs and veggie burgers. Folks seem to like them so we will keep making them. We have piles of plans for 2013 like launching our sauces—mustard, BBQ and hot sauce—into the market. Watch the website, Facebook and Twitter feeds to keep in touch.