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“Disheartened by the experience. Terrible service.” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Atomic Burger

Atomic Burger
Ranked #27 of 622 Restaurants in Oxford
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $8 - $15
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Dining on a budget, Kids, Families with children, Large groups
Dining options: Brunch, Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=atomic+burger&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=atomic+burger&cid=11600303122850641435
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Disheartened by the experience. Terrible service.”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 20, 2012

My partner placed a review on my behalf, though with after thought, I feel a terrible rating should provide more detail for a balanced review: for a concise review please read Atkinson123.

It was through reading the Sunday Times 'Cheap(ish) Eats' guide for the UK that I came to hear of the recommendation for Atomic Burger Bar. I naturally assumed that the restaurants recommended would be of a fairly high quality if they were to be published in a national paper. It brings great regret to be writing this review.

My partner and I had been intending to visit Oxford for a while and to see this Burger Bar felt like a worthy oppourtunity to make the visit. Travelling from the Midlands, it would not be a short trek, hence I phoned ahead to see if I should make a reservation. Being a Saturday I understood it could potentially be very busy, coupled with the papers recommendation. The gentleman on the phone was very friendly and strongly recommended a reservation, I mentioned we were travelling from the Midlands which could mean our travel may take some time. He explained our booking would entitle us to a 2 hour window, plenty of time. We made a booking for 4 o'clock.

Parking in Oxford is terrible, and highly overpriced! £9 for 3 hours. Obviously not Atomic Burger Bar's fault and this does not affect my review, but for those travelling please be aware! I believe there is a park and ride slightly out of town which may have proven more effcient, though we were stuck for time as we reached Oxford at 3:30.

When we finally found a parking space (3:55 pm), we were over a mile from the restaurant. I phoned ahead to inform them we could be several minutes late, to which the gentleman replied it was no problem.

After a brisk march over we managed to reach the restaurant at about 4:10, we were greeted by the waitress who took us to our table....at this point it goes downhill. She was at haste to inform us our table would need to be vacated within a slot of 70 minutes. We were informed 2 hours on the phone, so 70 minutes add 10 minutes for being late, meant our window was infact 80 minutes. If we minus 80 minutes from 120 minutes leaves 40 minutes missing from our 2 hour slot. No one likes to be rushed when going to a restaurant, this instantly made us feel unwelcome. I understand it was a Saturday and it could be busy, I used to waiter myself several years back and know first hand about weekend service, but you persevere with a (fake) smile - something which the waitresses did not do, one of which made it clear she would rather be elsewhere.

We appeared to have two waitresses, one after the other asking if we wanted drinks, there is no problem with that but it led me to assume there was no format to how tables were allotted to staff. Possibly the reason why their service suffers. For the small number of tables in the restaurant, seating around 30-40 covers, the 4 serving staff present should easily be able to manage. If they organised themselves they could manage stress free. In reality, the time was a little after 4 and the restaurant was a little under half full until around the time we left when it had beuan to fill up, they SHOULD have managed easily.

We were handed themed menus (one clean fairly fresh print and one which had seen better days, sticky to the touch) in accordance with the decor, which could be described as kitsch, as if someone had gone through a toybox and assorted random crap from the 80's all over the walls and ceiling. I can see how this would appeal to some, as it did create a nostalgic experience, but being an artist by trade, in my eyes it just didn't balance and came across as tacky, lacking thought.

As mentioned the menu was sticky, the whole place felt grubby and this was cemented when my partner was observing the waitress wiping down the table, to which she said she was performing a half-hearted attempt at cleanliness. You instantly become aware of the table you have your hands rested upon, is also sticky.

We managed to get our food and drink order fairly promptly, my partner ordered a coke and Dead Elvis burger and a Chuck Norris (Pulled pork, salad, beef burger, with a side of fries) with Samuel Adams beer (good choice) for myself. My burger was around £9.50, beer £3.50. The food arrived within a reasonable time limit and was hot. The unhappy waitress just plonked it on the table, with the same lack of enthusiasm we should now be accustomed to as when we arrived. There was no offer of cutlery, my partner noticed there was some on the other table in a pot so we helped ourselves, no pot on our table mind, just to rub it in the table next to me received cutlery. Albeit, they were served by the other waitress. Some people like to drink from glasses and again there was no offer of a glass with drinks, picky but it is always nice to be offered.

I did enjoy my burger, plenty of meat and it did taste ok. It was of an adequate size and came with fries (as chosen from a list of sides), which were ok but I suspect they were pretty cheap. The presentation was lacking but there is little one can do with a burger and fries. I'm 6'1" and 13.5 stone and was happy to say it did fill me up, along with 2 beers and a milkshake.

The positive outcome of the food for me was quickly dashed when I asked for my second beer, the waitress was not aware of her surroundings and seemed disinterested in looking for tables which may require service, apparently unable to hear my request for another drink.

When I finally managed to flag the more welcoming waitress of the two, she said no problem. A few minutes went by and the last I saw of her was her jacket on, carrying her hand bag and walking out of the door, obviously looking forward to going home at the end of a shift...... to my frustration the drinks were actually stacked in the restaurant, I could see the drink I wanted.... so close, but so out of reach.

For desert we managed to get a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake hassle free, my parter felt unsatisfied with the size of the shake though I felt it tasted nice. It was served in a plastic glass which looked used, cracked and faded. Again, a picky detail but a small addition to presentation such as using glass sundae glasses will make it look infinitely better.

As I put the straw to my mouth we were delivered the bill by the unhappy waitress, who plonked it down without looking in her usual style. Now, I did not ask for the bill, but that is not what bothered me about this full stop to the experience as we were on the 1 hour 10 minutes limit mentioned at the start of the service, so fair play. But it was when a new waitress came over with the card machine to take my money when I had got halfway through my shake.

She explained they needed to put our table onto the ever increasing size of the table next to us. There were around 6 people sat there currently, with two empty spaces awaiting other members of the party. This is all fair enough, but I noticed there was a vacant table on the other side of the room which was a two seater. Bad planning on their part had led them to villify us, they had obviously double booked. They had been trying to speed us along throughout the meal, possibly the unhappy waitress was annoyed we were 10 minutes late? Unreasonable, since I did everything correct to keep them in the loop.

I didn't kick up a fuss, I smiled throughout the entire service, said my please's and thankyou's, hoping that things would improve, giving them every chance to improve! I know that dealing with miserable customers is a burden, I have been there myself and as a result I will actively ensure I am not one of those people. In retrospect I feel as if we have been treated unfairly, we were polite, helpful by informing them of our situation and understanding.

I am glad that others have had a more pleasurable experience, as a result of their positive reviews I was really looking forward to this trip. It disappoints me to say this trip would have been more pleasurable if we had swung by McDonalds, then we could have had ample time for a nice walk around the town centre which I must say looks lovely this time of year.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Bon101UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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636 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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English first
Oxfordshire
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Yummy burgers, lovely helpful staff and Thunderbirds.....”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 18, 2012

We luckily reserved our table on the day, running slight late my husband dropped me off to secure our table. I must have looked slightly harassed and anxious the staff were lovely, with cream soda being slurped I soon relaxed and started to take in the MENU!

Well choice is a massive understatement, I chuckled at the descriptors and imagined what concoction would suit my mood.

During this time several customers who did not make reservations were politely turned away but alternatives were suggested, so I recommend where possible you book.

A word about the waiting staff, they were universally lovely, welcoming and relaxed. All with the natural ability to read customers and orders seamlessly. They are a positive asset.

When we did order our meal, my burger was divine, succulent, perfectly cooked and meat was balanced by the condiments. I would recommend you try the coleslaw, it was fabulous.

Overall the meal was just what was needed after a museum trip and on the way home.

I would easily return.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Lion2Law
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
15 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Awful service, average food!”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 18, 2012

My partner and I Booked a table with them. As travelling from a long distance we rang to say once we had a arrived in Oxford, that we may be a few minutes late. When we arrived they weren't very friendly & immediately advised us our time at the table would be confined to 1 hour 10 minutes! 
The milkshakes are very small, not how I imagine an American diner to serve.
The room was cold.
The staff didn't seem to know who was being served. 
Trying to beckon their attention was difficult. 
My partner ordered another drink and the waitress said she would get one. She then left the restaurant with her bag and coat 5 minutes later, without even bringing him his drink!
The bill was then placed on our table - which we never asked for. Basically telling us to leave as soon as Possible.

The food was ok - tasty! But I would NOT Recommend this restaurant!! Appalling  service!

    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Atkinson123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“I love it here!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 15, 2012

Being an American, visiting Atomic Burgers brings back wonderful memories of traditional diner and 'barbecue' food from the States. It has a very pleasant atmosphere and an entertaining theme, but it can get a bit crowded and it is difficult to near impossible to get a table unless prebooked. Even then, they tend to over book and it can feel a bit rushed when you're eating.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank Victoria E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
36 reviews
26 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“brilliant”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 15, 2012

very veggie friendly, with lots of options to custimise your burgers and sides..and the shakes are really good..place was really busy so best to go outside the usual hours.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
Thank pravb1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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