Tonight saw the soft launch of Big Ron’s Burrito Shack, the new addition to the Atomic stable. Housed in what was the original Atomic Burger on Cowley Road, Ron’s is a wood and corrugated metal shack but more comfortable than it sounds. Gone are the retro toys, images and tunes to be replaced by an oddly larger, stripped back but more sociable environment. Wood benches and tables, exposed brickwork, dangling lightbulbs and blackboards lead towards an order counter.
You choose your seat, choose your food then head up to the aforementioned counter. Pro tip, take a menu up with you to remember all the options! Go back to your seat and a short while later, your food and drink arrive. No lurking at the counter looking dodgy and feigning interest in your phone.
So what’s on the menu? Well, first off you choose your wrap – three sizes, baby, big and Ron Grande then your filling of which there’s four choices. Mexican beef, tequila and lime chicken, Texas pork or Cajun veggies – we tried all the meat options and enjoyed all three! The beef was soft with a good chilli punch, the chicken had a good kick of tequila and a zestiness from the lime but the pork was our favourite. Smoky chunks of meat with a slightly sweet spiciness and this makes a refreshing change from the usual carnitas style found in most burritos.
Step 3 is to load your burrito: shredded lettuce, black beans, pico do gallo, sour cream, guacamole and Monterey Jack cheese all come as standard but you can ask for anything to be omitted. These take a back seat to the actual filling rather than the other way round which is exactly as it should be.
Finally choose your sauce, ranging from mild to hot. We played safe and went with Salsas Mexicana and Picante first which are the two medium spice ones before biting the bullet and going for Big Ron’s Rocket Fuel. Having been pretty much reduced to tears by the legendary Atomic Fallout sauce, I was expecting this to do some serious damage and was surprised that this wasn’t the case. It definitely has some heat to it along with a good smoky flavour, eaten on it’s own with a nacho you will definitely feel it. Inside a burrito though, the kick is tempered by the other ingredients and it just provides a nice warming sensation.
And now for the big question, was it any good? Honestly, yes! The tortillas are thin but strong enough to contain the multitude of fillings. The fillings are fresh and full of flavour – my one comment would be that I’d prefer the rice to be slightly more firm but that’s a personal preference. It’s good value for money with the prices ranging from £5.25 to £10 for the food and drinks between two quid and a fiver.
Atomic is always going to be a favourite but if I was silly enough to try and go there one night without booking and couldn’t get in, Big Ron’s would be a more than adequate replacement. It officially opens tomorrow, Friday 7th August at midday.
Nearly forgot to mention, there will be a takeaway service too with a waiting area!