So, I was in Varna, Bulgaria for a week and I realised that I have never tried a burger at the sea capital of Bulgaria. I summoned all my friends from the coastal town so I can get suggestions where should I go. Two of the most recommended places were “Old Buddies” and “Corner Burgers”. While in Varna I had a mission, try as many burgers as I can, sadly they were only three. The first one I tried was in “Old Buddies”, and it was their signature classic called… “Old Buddies Burger”.
For the more uneducated the burgers in Bulgaria were a later addition to the menu. The OG of Bulgarian cuisine is Kiofte which is typically made of pork and beef or only pork and has the shape and feel of a burger. I personally enjoy the vibrant recipes of Kiofte much more compared to a regular, plain and purist beef burger. I was hoping more of the Bulgarian burgers would have richer patties.
The overall evolution of the Bulgarian burger came from the Bulgarian doner. Doner is the tasty street food that you eat when you are hungover or drunk; it is like the Greek gyros or the Turkish doner but slightly different. After McDonald’s came to the Bulgarian market 25 years ago, burgers became popular. So, the great doner places started introducing more affordable and tastier burgers. Usually frozen patty with some cheese, egg and fries and some veggies like tomatoes and lettuce and a lot of garlic sauce. They were delicious junk food but very different from the UK or US junk food burger you might be used to. What I noticed in my little exploration in Varna is that a lot of the burgers are an evolution of that recipe. Combining the western gourmet-style burger with the Bulgarian street food burger.
How tasty is the Motherf*#$&r? – 7.5/10
Overall this was a delicious burger experience but compared with the burgers I’ve had in Sofia a very different one
The burger had:
- Beef Patty
- BBQ Sauce
- Caramelized Onion
- White Bun
Coming from my kofte explanation, I have to say I’m slightly disappointed burger patties weren’t the kofte way. They were the plain beef type with salt and pepper on top and very lean. The patties were excellent in taste but only on their own and not amazing considering the sheer amount of ingredients that were part of the burger. The meat was kind of lost in the burger and that is supposed to be its centrepiece. I also think the large bun and thin patty didn’t help for the meaty experience. If the patty was slightly thicker, I think the taste profile was going to be quite a bit different.
A very typical for the Bulgarian doner burger is the egg, and of course, it is present here. A potent taste that easily overwhelms other flavours if not handled correctly. The weird part is that the egg provided more body to the burger than the patty but it was really tasty and went well with the rest of the ingredients
The cheddar wasn’t very strong or enough to be felt actively through the bites it was providing more of a support for the egg than anything else. I would prefer if it was stronger cheese or simply a bit more.
This was one of the few times I have really enjoyed BBQ sauces and it went really well with the entire burger. I thought it was going to fight the sweet coming from the caramelized onions but it was rather complementing it. That tangy finish of it did help for a great saucy experience together with the mayo.
What Bulgarian burgers have always hit right on the spot have been vegetables. They are fresh, full of flavour and not there only for the sake of it like in many other burger joints I have been to. The marinated cucumber and the lettuce added the right level of freshness to the burger to help reset the flavour with every bite.
The white bun was great, very classic for the Bulgarian scene and the logo on top was a great touch. I can have a bit more toast time but it managed to hold all the sauces very well.
Burger joint venue and overall experience? – 9/10
A large selection of beers and ales that were delicious and perfect for burgers. There were sauces and custom spice mixes for the fries that I absolutely loved. Fries were good and the service great.
After giving my business card me and my partner did get a finishing shot of Jagermeister which I found is great for digestion. Much appreciated!
Quirkiness level of the experience? – 6//10
I can’t say there was anything too quirky about the burger. The main thing for me was the burger that evolved from the old street food burgers back in Bulgaria and the amazing spice mixes for the fries.