Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kilburn's Tavern and Grille

Kilburn's Tavern and Grille was nowhere near our list of places that we were planning on reviewing anytime soon. Why? We don't do a whole lot of bar burgers. In fact, the only place that I can think of off the top of my head that was more bar than restaurant is Christian's Tailgate. Plus they spelled Grill wrong. Why did we go? Last minute hunger pains and a last minute recommendation by a friend. We piled into the nearest Toyota Tacoma and burned rubber out into the boonies to Kilburn's #2, which is at Grant Rd and Malcolmson.

Having never been, and walking into a bar in a strip center, we didn't really expect the place to be the classy, slightly upscale British pub atmosphere that was presented. The place was warm, welcoming and stocked to the brim with an almost barbaric selection of hooch. There are plenty of tables if you want to go there to just eat or you can belly up to the bar and go right to work. As a note, the restaurant is family friendly all day with the only exceptions being after 9pm on Friday and Saturday and any time that I'm in there. Bring yo' kids!!

Burgers? Yes, please. What is in a standard burger at Kilburn's? The menu describes a half pound beast that has been spoiled since birth that's been hunted down on a farm, killed, carefully inspected by the USDA and ground into Kobe beef. The beef is hand formed into patties with a blend of smoked sausage and "Kilburn's Special Seasoning" that's all put through a shotgun wedding by a sourdough bun. I opted for the blue cheese burger and Nick threw down on a Texas BBQ bacon cheeseburger. If there are any questions about that, this meant that mine would have blue cheese and onions while the BBQ burger had bacon, a tangy barbecue sauce and two very large onion rings.

In strict adherence to the rules, we had beers from the state of Texas with our meal. Kilburn's immediately found it's way to my heart by having Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale on draft. You can never go wrong with having the best Winter warmer in existence fresh out of a keg, and they even got bonus points for having oversized pilsner glasses ready to go.

The burgers themselves were incredible. It begins and ends with the patty. If you were to put their seasoning in a can of Purina One dog food, I'd probably consider still eating it. Their special seasoning is a peppery blend that is far from hot but not short at all on flavor. I thought I had tasted mild, pickled jalapenos but I was quickly corrected by the owner, who as it turns out was sitting two bar stools down from us the entire time we had been there. What is it? Chipotle peppers... among other secret flavors.

The seasoning was the main attraction, but that's not the only part of this burger that deserves any praise. The lightly toasted bun was flavorful and did a fantastic job of holding together where most buns that go up against a sandwich like this go down like Kimbo Slice, leaving you with a choice of forks or fingers. The french fries were all sorts of incredible. Wedge-cut, seasoned perfectly, crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. It was a near perfect example of a wedge fry.

It's hard to find anything to complain about. The price is a little higher than most places, but that certainly doesn't keep the burgers from flying out of the kitchen all night. It's also a great place to have a few drinks, which made this by far the most expensive burger review I've ever done, and also the first one that's ever resulted in needing a few ibuprofen's the next morning. Yes, I used a designated driver. You stay safe out there.

In closing, Kilburn's is awesome. Did we decide it hits the top three that we've ever had? Nope. Does that mean it isn't a fantastic creation? Absolutely not. You should shut down your computer and go grab yourself a chop house burger and slam a few beers as soon as you get your next craving. Our bartender for the night, who must be under witness protection with a name like "Princess", summed it up best:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bellaire Broiler

Welcome back to the stage of history. So what happens if you spend a Saturday morning working on Bellaire and you have a place on your "To Review" list called the Bellaire Broiler?

We've heard the legends all the way out here in our home base in Cypress. A little dive of a burger restaurant that serves up one of the most acclaimed burgers in the city. Dive status? Confirmed. This place is like an old, double-sized Waffle House. Old brick on the walls, all the art is starting to turn yellow from age and the wood on the chairs has only about 60% of the finish left on it. Perfect.

Hunger pains ran deep, and the menu featured two items that peaked our attention. One was the house special. A double cheeseburger that features two quarter pound patties with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles cheese and bacon. I had to have it. I also needed pickled jalapenos and mushrooms. What else caught our attention? A burger called "The Combination" It was a quarter pound cheesebuger that also had chili, cheese, onions, mustard, bacon and two hot dogs. See the picture and beg for mercy.

Just look at it. The picture of it tells you everything you need to know. This was a case of a picture being worth every word that you could say about it. It tasted as glorious as it looked. It was the best chili burger that we have tried so far on this Houstonian burger tour. We aren't going to review this burger in depth though because it's only fair that Bellaire Broiler be judged based on their standard cheeseburger.

The standard cheesebuger comes out of the kitchen wrapped up tightly in unassuming white butcher paper. No time for foreplay. Tear that paper off and let's get to what's underneath.
It was an incredible sight. If that isn't a showstopping image of a cheeseburger, then I simply don't know what is. It was a burger that you had to squeeze to fit into your mouth. Then you squeezed it. Then there was grease. You don't really realize just how greasy this burger is at first. The burger is so large and so loaded with toppings that you almost instinctively keep the burger wrapped in the butcher paper as you operate. That is, until the grease overpowers the butcher paper and you are forced to toss it off to the side. Then you keep eating. Then the bun gives up on life and you are forced to set it aside. Then you have the choice of shoveling it into your mouth or tracking down some silverware. Me? I barehanded it. It was sublime.

So what about the taste? Do you like a greaseburger? If so, this is DEFINITELY your port of harbor. Of all of the burger joints that we have been to so far, this is by far and away the greasiest burger that we have had. Every pain that you walk in the door with in your empty stomach will quickly find it's way into your chest by the time you are done eating it. The toppings are very plentiful, and they even pickle some of their own vegetables in house if you are feeling just a little different and are willing to pay a little extra.

Side dishes? Crinkle fries. We aren't the biggest fan of crinkle fries on this web site, but on the plus side, they fry these potatoes until they beg for mercy. Crinkle fries almost always look soggy, but even the biggest, fattest fries here were crisp enough that my HMO called and said they canceled my dental coverage. Apply ketchup and you'll enjoy some pretty decent french fries.

So how does Bellaire Broiler rank? On our web site we only put up a top three. After that, we tell you whether or not we like it and we let everyone judge for themselves. We agreed at lunch today that IF there were a spot for a #4, this would be it until something came along that was better. We agree that this place is just barely squeaked out by the Backyard Grill, which is our current number 3. Should you check it out and judge for yourself? Absolutely. Bellaire Broiler is a jewel of a burger joint. This is definitely one of the elite burger stops in Houston and you should sail into the parking lot any time you are nearby and have the chance to stop.