No matter your preferred style of burger—from luxury to down-home, from carb-conscious to veggie-conscious—you were guaranteed to find a favorite at last night's inaugural Burger Bash. And judging by how quickly our attendees ate their way through our 10 burger restaurants' offerings, multiple favorites were found.
Washing down sliders with Deep Eddy cocktails and Bud Light was an ideal way to end an unseasonably cool Thursday evening, and we found many of our guests relaxing outside between bites—something not normally witnessed during a Houston July. We thought most people would stick to the air-conditioned comfort of the Jaguar/Land Rover Central dealership where the Burger Bash was held, but that cool evening breeze proved too alluring.
Fuddruckers brought its limited-time burger of the month, topped with a tangy bourbon glaze, bourbon caramelized onions, bacon, and blue cheese, all on its signature sweet bun—baked fresh right before the competition. Right next door, fellow competitor Beaver's also added blue cheese to its Kobe beef slider—along with sauteed mushrooms and peppers and what they called "locally-sourced truffle oil." It ended up being my personal favorite of the night; I'm a sucker for truffle anything, no matter how divisive the truffle oil issue is.
Jonathan's the Rub also made excellent use of sauteed peppers in its slider, which owner/chef Jonathan Levine himself was grilling in the parking lot. The chargrilled burgers were topped with a piquant, giardinera-like pepper melange and a kicky Sriracha cream sauce, tempered by the sweet eggy bun. The Burger Palace brought a spicy entry of its own: a Vietnamese burger that came with carrots, radish, cilantro, jalapeños, and Sriracha on top of the Kobe beef patty.
Several of the entries featured much more than just beef: Lowbrow's slider was topped with barbecued pork (and crumbled Cheetos, which chef Jason Kerr referred to as "fairy dust") while Haven's entry featured its signature wild boar chili on top. Trenza (which, sadly, announced its closing this afternoon) added savory chorizo into its burger patty, which came topped with cool tzatziki sauce and wrapped in a crunchy butter lettuce leaf—a nice break from the buns, if only for a moment.
Brasserie 19 upped the ante by adding goose liver to its foie gras-topped entry. And one burger—the falafel waffle from Radical Eats—didn't feature any meat at all, but instead had a terrifically moist falafel with tangy yogurt sauce and pickled radishes in between two mini zucchini waffles.
But it was the deceptively simple burger from Sullivan's Steakhouse that won the hearts of the judges, with a delicious bourbon-peach glaze and a few crunchy bites of bacon. The bourbon-peach burger won top marks from all the judges, making its victory unanimous. The Burger Palace came in second place, with Brasserie 19 coming in third. Brasserie 19 also fared well with our attendees, who overwhelming voted it as the Peoples' Choice winner. Two other prizes were distributed to recognize the diversity of entries: Trenza for Most Original and Radical Eats for Best Presentation.