Six weeks ago a big question was put to the people of Coventry and Warwickshire.
While we remain in the grips of a global pandemic, it was a talking point that got chins wagging, and a flurry of emails come my way.
By simply suggesting I may have sampled the finest burger the region has to offer, the response was impassioned and plentiful.
Within the dozens of messages I received, one company name kept on appearing. Some of the emails were short and sweet, others long and brimming with praise.
Bad Boys Burgers has been putting smiles on faces at Bedworth market during Covid-19 times at weekends, before the next step was taken.
A successful pitch outside Wickes in Nuneaton has evolved to become a second unit operating six days a week.
The man driving the mission is Dawid Wozny. The Bedworth resident has worked for 25 years in fine dining, but a long period on furlough from his role as executive chef at Lea Marston Hotel presented him with the final nudge needed to go his own way.
Rather than ride out the global pandemic, he decided to chase down his own route to achieve professional fulfilment.
He spoke with understandable pride of building up a Facebook following of more than 1,700 people and a branding he hopes will go further in the Midlands – and beyond.
Two ‘smashed’ patties
While the back story was heart-warming and a strong example of something positive coming out of lockdown, I was here for the food.
My order was placed at the Nuneaton location and consisted of…
Bad Boy (£9) two dry-aged beef patties, steamed butter brioche, smoked cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, pulled pork, pickled onion and jalapenos.
This was accompanied by a portion of ‘naughty fries’ (£4) topped with cheese sauce, pulled pork and barbecue sauce
Visually, after being freed from its brown box, the bad boy is smiling at me. It’s whispering ‘where do you want to start?’.
Lashings of barbecue sauce sit upon gooey melted cheese, a mound of jalapenos and two pork elements that are cooked to perfection. I can barely see the two ‘smashed’ patties that are also placed inside the brioche bun.
There’s multiple components to contend with but it remains in one piece when raised to the face for that all-important first bite. Nor does it ooze out of the sides nor does the bun meekly crumble away under the pressure.
Dawid has clearly layered the burger in such a way that, while it does get messy, you’re always eating a burger, not scavenging for scraps that have tumbled down midway through the experience. Although, a napkin to the face is essential once you’ve finished this ‘bad boy’!
I didn’t even wait to get home to eat it and managed it in my car. The sheer size of the burger made it appealing but it retained the finesse of smaller varieties I’ve seen from other outlets who charge at a similar price point.
“Everyone deserves good food” was something he said to me when talking through his decision to operate from Nuneaton and Bedworth.
“There’s not a lot around here that’s a little bit different but I think people in these towns,” added Dawid.
“We have people coming back to us, many regular customers. We’ve had more than 200 reviews on JustEat and it’s all positive. So I am pleased with my decision – it has gone beyond my expectations.”
While the branding is eye-catching, it is the food that will get people coming back for more – and I can see why they are. This was an indulgent treat that combined excellent ingredients and execution to deliver it from a burger van – in a car park!
It was bursting with colour, flavours, tenderness and textures. I almost didn’t need the fries but they actually provided a nice break from this beast of a burger, the cheese sauce was unusual but appealing and balanced nicely with the sweet pulled pork on top.
Some weeks later, I learned Bad Boys Burgers will be heading to the Coniston Tavern in Nuneaton on April 16, 17 and 18 and a stint in Warwick is ahead of them. The second unit, a permanent fixture compared to the van I visited the first time around, is in place outside Wickes and they have been nominated for the inaugural Coventry and Warwickshire Foodie Awards.
They offer a mean breakfast menu too and my bacon, sausage and egg batch maintained the high levels of my burger the previous month. Once more it was sizeable but cooked to perfection with just enough egg yolk to blend the meat components together with the bread. Delicious.
Dawid has big ambitions for Bad Boys Burgers, and I can see why. It has grown at a pace in a short period of time and developed a following, both on social media and customers arriving at their units to fill their faces.
Coventry and Warwickshire has a growing band of fine burger purveyors, and Bad Boys Burgers deserves to be placed on peoples’ must-try list during lockdown and beyond.
Bad Boys Burgers operated from Wickes Monday (9am-5pm), Tuesday (9.30-2), Wednesday (9-5), Thursday (9-5), Friday (9.30-2) and Saturday (9-5) and from 5pm until 9.30pm Monday to Saturday at Bedworth Market.