Where: Grum Bar, 306 Main St., 713-224-6448
What $13 gets you: A solid, manly meal in a manly setting. The Grum Bar interior feels like a comfortable den, and you can be quite at home in jeans and a T-shirt during the workday lunch rush in the heart of downtown.
The fixtures hanging from the high, exposed ceiling provide just enough dark-yellow light to suit reading a newspaper, or just nursing a pint and wasting away a lunch hour staring off into space. Or one could stare off into the faux-fireplace, which is opposite two leather chairs that look like they should come with a pipe and slippers.
Above the fireplace is an impressive HD flat-screen, muted while music (we detected some "Karma Chameleon") played. It was tuned to SportsCenter with -- and it pains us to have to applaud this, but so many bars screw it up -- subtitles to better follow the action.
We spent a bit of time happily lost in the menu, which features everything from oysters on the half shell to Philly cheesesteaks and roast beef sandwiches, build-your-own burgers and pizzas, steaks and English breakfasts.
"It's not bar food," said the gruff but amiable manager, who had returned from his hands-on-hips sentry's perch just outside the door. He then aggressively insisted that the Grumburger was the best in town.
What does a man want with his burger? He wants red Kool-Aid, and this set the stage for a deliciously unique meal.
The side of clam chowder was light as a clam chowder can reasonably be, which made it a nice warm-up to the half-pound burger that was on its way.
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SHOW ME HOW
The Grumburger came spread out in its component parts like a sampler platter. The yellow potato salad, which goes atop the patty, was tangy and nice. The pickles were thin and cool, and not too salty. The soft, bakery-esque bun, lightly buttered and toasted, made it seem as if each detail of the taste arrangement had been meticulously planned.
The patty itself, covered in two fine slices of Swiss cheese, was adequate if unspectacular. With all the ingredients piled and pressed together, though, the final product was a well-executed delight, and we found ourselves reluctant to take the last bite.
Recommended? We're not quite ready to anoint the Grumburger the best in town. That's not to say we won't be back for another.
Bonus point: Nothing says stay and drink like a late-night bar menu and up-to-date Golden Tee machine.