Monday, January 30, 2012

Bernie's Burger Bus

Picture shamelessly stolen from
since my picture of the bus didn't turn out.
Bernie's Burger Bus. It's a bus. It's not a restaurant. It isn't the first time I've eaten at a food truck. It's not even the first time I've eaten a burger out of a food truck. What it is, however, is the first burger that we are going to review out of a truck. Also, Bernie is the owner's uncle. On Sunday, it was parked at the Boneyard Drinkery on Washington and it seemed like a good time to go slag some pints of Breckenridge Agave Wheat and eat a ridiculous sandwich.

Bernie's takes a gourmet route to putting food in your hands. Everything is made from scratch. From the buns, to the patties to the ketchup, which he sells in bottles right out of the bus. The history of the how the owner went from being a personal chef to Shane Battier (former Houston Rocket) to owning a food truck is somewhat interesting. I'm not going to cover it here, but this Houston Press article from awhile back will tell the story just as well as I could, you know - since it's written by a real writer.

Less talk about the truck. More talk about burgers. We ordered a pair of Substitutes, all the burgers follow a school-related naming convention, and a order of sweet potato fries that come with a homemade chipotle pepper spiced aioli. Quick education for those that don't know: aioli is very close to mayonnaise but it's made from a base of olive oil, garlic and eggs with several variations. As for the burgers, from what I've read the patties are a unique blend of ground chuck and ground brisket that results in a ludicrous level fat content (read: flavor) that is ground up every morning completely fresh. The Substitute is topped with bleu cheese, bacon, mushrooms kissed with burgundy wine and what he calls "tipsy" caramelized onions which I am assuming are cooked in some kind of beer/wine/liquor... I don't have the answer. I just ate 'em. They don't sell drinks, but they are just about always parked at a place that does.

I want you to notice something. The butcher paper in the picture. The time it took from the burger being put in my hands in a brown paper bag, wrapped in white butcher paper to the time I unwrapped it was about 3 minutes. In that short time the slab of meat sent out an army of grease that was able to lay down a violent charge on the butcher paper that broke through the lines and was seeping through the brown bag. It was more like a proper Philadelphia Cheesesteak than a burger. If you eat the whole thing you'll be sweating grease for a few days. How did it taste? I never thought this was going to happen, as I love The Shack more than I love just about anything I love in this world, but Bernie's Burger Bus might not have only served me the best burger I've ever eaten, this thing is in competition for the best ANYTHING I've ever eaten. The bleu cheese was super rich and thrown in very generously, the bacon was thick, plentiful and cooked perfectly, the mushrooms had a perfect twang and it all came together in that homemade bun like poetry. It was so good my taste buds rented an SUV with a stolen credit card, packed an overnight bag and drove off chasing those last few bites down my throat.

The fries? Crispy, delicious, fantastic. They aren't going to blow your mind like the burger will. One order of them was perfect for sharing, especially since the burgers are very generously sized. The homemade dipping sauces are definitely a big step up from anything that could have been picked up from the local restaurant supply. The chipotle aioli has a nice little pepper flavor but really isn't very hot. The homemade ketchup is exquisite. It's not salty at all like most ketchup. It's sweet and FULL of tomato flavor. I don't like using the word natural very often, but that's the word that kicked into mind. It tasted like a wonderful natural blend of tomatoes with just the right spices. Excellent stuff.

I spent the rest of my Sunday afternoon and evening in a full blown food coma. Show up hungry. Bernie's does take Visa and Mastercard at their bus, and if you are trying to find them they post their schedule up on Twitter and Facebook. They aren't going on the burger map because they aren't in any kind of permanent location. Happy eating!!