Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reviews on Yelp for Hubcap Grill and Smashburger

I discovered the reviews on Yelp while searching for some input on Robert Gadsby's new venture in the Heights ("Bedford") and now I'm hooked.

Note I am publishing restaurant reviews on Yelp and will post them on the blog as well. You can read them on the Yelp site at I look forward to doing more with the blog in 2009 (sure, call it a resolution!).

Hubcap Grill
1111 Prairie StHouston, TX 77002
(713) 223-5885
Neighborhood: Downtown
3 star rating

I would prefer to give this place 3 1/2 stars but couldn't go to 4 stars because I wouldn't return (sadly). Cool, funky place, loved the cozy atmosphere. And I really loved that the patties were made with fresh, never frozen beef along with a homemade bun. I was sure I would love it. Unfortunately when I ordered and asked for it to be cooked "medium" I was told that they only cooked them "well done" but that it would be the "juiciest burger I've ever had". I'm sure if I had been able to have it cooked medium, it would have ranked right up there with some of the best burgers in the city but alas, it was dry (as all "well-done" burgers are). No juices dripping out whatsoever, which is not cool with the significant bready-bun factor (again, the bun would have been great w/ a juicy burger but it just didn't work with a dry burger). I find it really frustrating when I'm paying anything more than $5 for a burger and can't have it cooked to order (geez, I'll sign a waiver!).

I love the burgers from Dry Creek on Yale and from Cahills on Durham. I also recently discovered Smashburger and that is a fantastic burger (and a great value). All are superior to Hubcap's burger. (I think Christians is inconsistent and overrated and just don't love Lankford either). So, if you work somewhere close downtown and need a burger fix, and especially if you like your burgers cooked well-done, I would say go for it. But I won't be making a special trip downtown to return.

7811 MainHouston, TX 77030
Neighborhood: Medical Center
5 star rating 12/28/2008

Juices dripped from the patty (cooked a lovely pink "medium"), enhancing the lovely "egg bun", thick-sliced pickles and fresh lettuce along with perfectly melted cheddar cheese and "Smash sauce". As I hold it all above the cute paper-lined metal basket with plenty of napkins at hand ... I'm in burger heaven. At an inexpensive chain restaurant. Life is good. I've just returned from my second visit to Smashburger since they opened last week. Fortunately I live in the Heights and so it is not quite convenient enough for me to make the trek as often as I probably would if it were even a teeny bit closer (my thighs thank fate).

Honestly, I had heard good things from their PR folks and looked forward to trying Smashburger and I'm happy to report that my high expectations are hereby exceeded. I'm a burger fiend, always on the hunt for a better burger and am amazed at what some people consider to be great burger. I guess it all depends on how one defines greatness in that realm. For me, I need good juicy meat (meaning enough fat; 20 - 25% fat, preferably) and not overdone (don't get me started on how grumpy I become when I can't order a good burger the way I want it cooked - see my review on the Hubcap Grill), a good bun and great flavor that doesn't require much more done to it. I did order the "Smash sauce" on the side the first time just to make sure and I did love it. This burger could make a go of it without any condiments (saying alot).

I'm not interested in a "spicy baja" version of a burger or a chipotle bun in general but its a free country so live it up if you enjoy these kinds of flourishes, which are normally used to camoflage a mediocre burger so I just don't see the necessity with a burger of this quality. Not only is the food fantastic - fresh ingredients, served hot (including piping hot fries on both trips) but the staff is friendly and seems to operate in a streamlined mode of consistency that promises to deliver each and every time. If they're this good when they first open, I feel great about the future in this regard. In fact, I wish I could say the service was as smooth and assured at the new hoity "Bedford" in the Heights. But I digress. I loved the "Smashfries" with just a touch of rosemary and olive oil, as well as the "regular" fries - both options cooked crispy and perfectly salted. I also thoroughly enjoyed the "Haystack Onions", sliced ultra-thin with just the right amount of batter served perfectly seasoned and cooked just right. If only they had an option for 1/2 onion rings/1/2 fries. But that would just be over the top! I would love to try the wedge salad or even one of their hot dogs because I'm sure they are all fabulous but I don't know how I could ever walk into Smashburger and not order a burger. Run, don't walk, to the rather odd location (S. Main and Kirby). I understand there are more locations on the way - though no others scheduled for inside the loop at this time. Take a deep breath of gratitude for one of life's simple yet sublimie pleasures and enjoy.


Michael said...

The blog is a great idea. I'll try to keep my going too!

Michael said...

The blog is a great idea. I'll try to keep my going too!