American food for a British palate is just what the doctor ordered. The Custom House prescribes beef burgers, chicken wings and very special chips.
Why it’s on my list
The Custom House is Barnstaple’s take on delicious and indulgent American food. Burgers – check. Skin-on chips – check. Barbecue beef brisket and cheese on top of said chips – ohhhh yes, definitely check that one off. Their menu, price and vibe make the Custom House a favourite amongst friends, family and colleagues, and they can’t all be wrong.
Location: The Strand, Barnstaple
Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday, 6pm-10.30pm
I loved it. The Custom House delivered on all points for me – a menu where I wanted to order everything, delicious food when it arrived, a venue where I felt completely at ease and all at a good price. Let’s just say I was delighted when I found out they do a loyalty card.
What we had
To start I had chicken wings in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. I have Domino’s to thank for my love of this winning combination. At the Custom House, chicken wings comes with an extra blue cheese sauce on the side.
Main had to be a build-your-own burger. You can customise a range of things – I chose a beef burger, burger bun with iceberg lettuce, white onion, cheddar cheese, fried jalapeños and sour cream.
I chose to pimp my fries, which is their way of saying upgrade your fries. You can go for sweet potato, cheese on top, or even go the whole hog and have barbecue pulled pork with cheese. There are more options than this, so I chose to have beef brisket, barbecue sauce and cheese on top of my skin-on chips.
Where to start? The chicken wings were hot, in both senses of the word, and were everything I want in a chicken wing – juicy, meaty and moreish.
The burger was delicious and well cooked. The toppings went very well together, with a bit of a kick from the onion and crispy, deep-fried jalapeños balancing well with the sour cream. As I chose the toppings I feel I can give myself a pat on the back for a job well done!
Now the pimped up fries really were something else. Crispy, carby chips were always going to be good (because let’s be honest, carbs are great), but the barbecue beef brisket and gooey melted cheese on top made it into a smoky, saucy, gooey star of a side dish.
Not the best
I had such a great meal that I can’t fault anything I had. It would have been good to have guacamole as a sauce rather than a topping, as I might have chosen that over the sour cream. I could of course have paid a little extra to have both the guacamole and crispy jalapeños as toppings, but I was watching the pennies. Looking back, the sour cream was a great choice anyway.
It’s fresh and relaxing, with quirky character. The light blue colour scheme is calming, lighting is energising and the cutlery is casual.
The building itself is old and has a number of attractive traditional features, including wooden floorboards, oak beams and what could be a cast iron chandelier. Despite the tradition, there is also a sense of fun in the decoration. Pop art canvases line the walls, with some featuring cartoon American burger joint regulars Archie and Jughead. My favourite is on the wall near the entrance, depicting a diner telling a waitress that a cup is dirty, to which the waitress responds, “So’s your face!”
I love the atmosphere here; it is the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing meal.
Pimp those fries!