by Phaedra Cook. Photos by Chuck Cook
The Burger Guys
12225 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX (near Kirkwood)
Grand Opening: September 9, 2010
Hours: 10:30 am to 8:30 pm
Last night, Chuck and I had the opportunity to attend the “soft opening” for a new burger joint on Houston’s West side. The inside has a pop art feel, with 1950’s diner curves and dark purple walls.
Behind the counter were two gentlemen who are clearly driven to make their stamp on the gourmet burger market. It’s impossible to meet co-owner/chef Jake Mazzuand and sous chef Brandon Fisch and not feel the excitement and passion for this new endeavor. (Co-owner and chef Steve Marques was not present during my visit.)
There’s a strong emphasis on doing things “right” which is evident in everything from the drinks to the ice cream. The soda fountains are not typical. They boast old-fashioned drinks, the labels of which proudly state “made with Imperial Sugar.” Root beer, Dublin Dr. Pepper, lemonade and my childhood favorite, Big Red, were all on-tap. There is something about drinking a soda made with real sugar that makes me feel nostalgic and less guilty about it. As far as ice creams go, don’t miss the phenomenal Captain Crunch shake, as well as whatever over-the-top ice cream concoction they have for the day. Last night was basil and vanilla wafer, and the basil merrily reminded me that Houston’s summer is not quite over yet.The group I was with was first treated to “onion strings” which were sprinkled with sea salt and served with a blue cheese sauce. I found them a tad greasy, but remarkably addictive. I finished a small platter of them all by myself. The fries are more substantial but no less righteous, served the Belgian way with a choice of seven aiolis, which includes tarragon caper, Tabasco mash, cilantro blue cheese and Sriracha. (The Burger Guys plan to shake up their aioli selection from time to time, so these are subject to change.)
Then, there are the burgers. I am sure you can order a regular burger or cheeseburger if you wish, but with the flavor combinations these guys have put together, I don’t know why you would. My favorite was the Sydney burger. This creative concoction is topped with beets, pineapple and a fried egg. Now, that might sound bizarre, but you’re just going to have to trust that it works. The sweet tang of the pineapple and the beets play very well with the meat, which warms them. Then, the crowning glory of the soft egg yolk cascades down to sauce it all. It’s a delightful mess that had me using my brioche bun remnant to swipe the spilled yolk from the platter.
One can request a fried egg—chicken or duck—on any burger here. The Burger Guys are sourcing these locally from Hatterman Farms, and top-notch cheese, such as Redneck Cheddar, comes from Houston Dairymaids.
Speaking of the buns, the ones I had were made of soft, yellow, eggy brioche. I’d be happy to toast one of these babies for breakfast in the morning and slather it with jam. That’s how good they are.My second-favorite offering (by a slim margin) was the creative Saigon, The Burger Guys’ homage to traditional Bánh mì. The traditional toppings of pickled carrot and daikon were present, and—to my delight—a good slathering of pâté. These guys pay attention to detail. Premium hot dogs are available as well.
The only thing that I wasn’t wild about was their veggie burger offering. Eggplant is being used as the main binder, and although the flavor and the crust were good, texture was lacking. I hope that in the future brown rice or something similar will be added to give this burger some more texture and heft.
It didn’t surprise me to hear murmurs around me of “a little salty.” I love salt, but there were a few times that it was a little overkill. With The Burger Guys using prime Akaushi meat, there is no need to overseason. The meat is too good to not let the flavor of the beef come through.
After the disappointment I recently suffered at Sam’s Deli Diner (see my comments at the HTownChowDown blog), The Burger Guys are an extremely welcome addition to West Houston.
I’m a lucky gal. Hubcap Grill is downtown for my lunchtime needs, and The Burger Guys are near home for dinner.
Next up: Chuck and Phaedra buy bigger pants. Just kidding, I hope.
Disclaimer: This was for a special event and food was provided free of charge. I have done my utmost to use the same impartiality that I would use for a paid meal, and plan on returning for regular service and buying meals for myself and my family on Thursday, September 9th.
Want another point-of-view? Check out my friend Joanne Witt’s preview over at 29-95.com.