Burger or Bust at Barnaby's

Ever since my "grass-is-always-greener" incident eating Sunday brunch at West Gray Cafe, I've been jonesing for what I originally set out to get on that fateful day: a burger from Barnaby's.

Barnaby's is my go-to restaurant. It's a place that my girlfriend and I have a standing agreement over. Whenever we can't decide what to eat, we go to Barnaby's.

I've never, ever had a bad meal there. I've never even really had bad service there. I once left my credit card on the table after eating an early breakfast before a Texans game last season. When I tried to buy a beer at Reliant and realized I didn't have my plastic, I called and asked if they had it. They did.

"We'll hold it for you," they said. "And have a great time at the game, Sam!"

Barnaby's is a consistently friendly, delicious and healthy restaurant.

And their burger?

That's one of my favorites in town.

The albatross of my burger craving had been slung about my neck long enough, so recently I satiated my carnivore's desire at the West Gray Barnaby's.

As a somewhat health-conscious person, I really appreciate that Barnaby's breaks from the overly greasy/fatty standard that some places trend toward. You can still get a burger without all the guilt. Or, at least, far less guilt. Well, somewhat less guilt.

I got mine cooked medium with cheese and bacon.

All the burgers come served standard on a wheat bun -- less empty carbs and, to me, more flavor. I usually get the side caesar salad, which is massive and very fresh, trying to further offset the bacon and cheese calories with some leafy greens and fiber.

The sweet potato fries are just too good to pass up, though. My late father always told me that if you are going to do something, you had better damn well do it right. Barnaby's burgers and fries are just that: right.

The Buffalo Burger is good, the Turkey Burger comes with a piney, herbal pesto spread, and the Chili Burger -- a type of burger that generally is ordered and later regretted -- holds up when seen in the light of day.

I've had Barnaby's chicken dishes, salads and crispy, spicy won tons -- it's all good. I saw a guy take down the Danish Baby Back Ribs once, and I must say they look mighty fine, too.

Barnaby's also serves one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've had. If you've never tried it, go do so. You won't regret it, and like most of the items at Barnaby's, it can easily be split between two.

The place is an institution for good reason.

It offers consistent, friendly service, good food -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- and a welcoming, homey atmosphere complete with undeniably cute and sincere artwork of the restaurant's namesake, Barnaby the Sheepdog.

Click on the "Story of Barnaby" link on the restaurant's homepage for a great Flash animation on what Barnaby's is all about.

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Sam Brown