Now that our Burger Bracket judges have all finished signing their new endorsement deals with Lipitor, the Final 4 have been chosen.
Each of the Final 4 burgers represents a favorite Houston style of burger: Fast Food, Extreme, Veggie and Fancy-Pants burgers. And all will compete against each other at the Championship Tasting on April 2 at The Distillery.
If you disagree with any of the Final 4 contenders below, be one of the first 100 people to come out to The Distillery at 4 p.m. and judge the burgers for yourself when sampling opens at 6 p.m. You'll be given a tasting card for a quarter of each burger -- which adds up to one whole burger once you taste them all. After you have tried the final four, cast your vote in the ballot box of the burger you think is best.
We'll announce the winner of the 2012 Burger Bracket that afternoon, so stick around. And after it's all over but the crying, stick around after that, too, and watch the NCAA basketball finals with us at The Distillery.
As with the Elite 8, our judges' tasting notes for each bracket are below. We'll see them -- and you -- on April 2 at the Championship Tasting.
Team Burger Addict
Bracket: Fast Food-Style Burgers
This was quite the battle royale, but a decision has been made.
The winner is: Bernie's Burger Bus. This burger avoided being expelled! The burger packed a ton of flavor and was perfectly cooked. The vegetables were fresh and the garlic-roasted tomatoes added nice depth to the flavor of the burger.
Hubcap Grill: We were a bit underwhelmed by this burger. We were surprised at the lack of flavor, but more importantly the bun to burger ratio! The amounts of vegetables were too much for the smaller patty.
Now that we are headed to the finals we must ask if Houston Press will pay the co pay for the cardiologist!?!
Team Texas Teachers
Bracket: Extreme Burgers
We unanimously nominate The Burger Guys to move on. Our team found them to be the hands down winner in this category. We thought the perfectly cooked burger and creative (and delicious!) toppings available were enough to send this tasty burger on to the final four. Words such as "epic," "magnificent," and "heavenly" describe the perfectly seared patty. Everything about it was worth the drive.
El Gran Malo's burger wasn't bad...but we figured if the best part of your burger was the bread it was served on, it was time to end their run for burger glory... Two good burgers. One clear final four bid. The Burger Guys all the way!
Team Fatty FatBastard
Bracket: Fancy-Pants Burgers
After, ahem, "enjoying" the initial four veggie burgers, my team was eager to see what the next round would bring. We decided that we would make it out on each Friday for lunch, and then enjoy some of the lagers at Hans Bierhaus with some Bocce Ball; a truly awesome thing to do on a pleasant Houston day.
Our first visit was to Mockingbird Bistro. Gents, if ever there were a place to impress your date, this is it. Incredible decor, and just a romantic feel to it, which is odd because I was with guys... I digress. Katharine Shilcutt is much better with imagery than I am, so I hope she may write about the decor someday.
On to the Mockingbird burger. Even though we went during lunch, we were allowed three choices for the burgers. The first was the lunch special which, at $16, came with your choice of cheese. Considering the first group went with Gruyere, we went likewise. The second option was their Happy Hour burger which was $9 and came with Stilton cheese as well as caramelized onions. Both came with fries, aioli, arugula, some odd pickled onion strips, and gherkins. The third option was their $32 "dinner" burger. It came with foie gras and truffle shavings on the fries. The Houston Press will be happy to know that I passed on this option, although I was tempted...
Of the two we tried, the consensus choice was the $9 happy hour burger. The Stilton cheese tastes similar to bleu cheese and really meshed well with the Kobe beef and onions. This is a must try in this city. Period.
The second Friday we had a conundrum. Block 7 Wine Company opens only after 4 p.m. so our lunch plans were dashed and, due to an unforeseen Thursday night where a certain husband stayed out too late, and was subsequently grounded for the weekend -- and he even had a Hall Pass for Friday...... -- we were left with only three to judge the Block 7 burger.
We were greeted and treated very well by Harmony, one of the better bartenders in this city. She attended us very well, even though we were again late in getting every one of us there on time (5:00 traffic will do that). When we arrived, we placed our orders, and I asked if they had rosemary fries. She said they didn't, so I just suggested that the chef may want to try it out.
When we received our order, I was amazed to see that my fries had rosemary on them. I always applaud chefs who do these kind of things, and I will definitely be back due to the phenomenal customer service. That said, the Block 7 burger simply wasn't as good as the burger at Mockingbird. While the flavors may have meshed perfectly with the last group, to us it was an uneven hodgepodge. It was still a good burger, no doubt, but the three of us were unanimous on choosing Mockingbird Bistro as the winner.
We finished the evening by trying out Hughes Hangar. We left after 10 minutes of techno music on a daylight patio at 7:00 p.m.? In the words of G.O.B. Bluth... COME ON!
Bracket: Veggie Burgers
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I guess this poetry must continue. But what lyrical form should it take here? I feel that only a sonnet will do. So let's do this one is for Billy Shakespeare. Green Seed's Dirty Burque had flavor for days. Veggie patty had the texture of meat. Tast'd vegetal, and we say that as praise. Avocado's creamy, chilies brought heat, But with the bun, things went slightly awry. The wheat roll did have a good enough taste, But we all found it was too dense and dry. Nice roll, but as a bun it was misplaced. Dirty Burque was good, though we recommend, For a veggie burger, we must append.
Beaver's was totally different from Green Seed. Nut Burger felt less meaty, just a tad. But in flavor it also did succeed. Maybe the best veggie burgers we've had. Patties were not trying to be faux-meats, Bun was soft and fit the patty quite well. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions were treats. The pickles, in particular, were swell. Having real cheddar is always a plus. But let's answer the question you're askin'... While Green Seed did manage to impress us, Beaver's still gets the veggie burger win. But I still have one more couplet to write. I loved J-Lo's booty in Out of Sight.