First Look at Elevation Burger, Finally

This past May I drove past 3819 Kirby (the former location of Mai Thai) and noticed that the new tenant, Elevation Burger, was finally setting up shop.

Ever the intrepid reporter, I pulled over, waded through the dusty half-remodeled dining room and asked the site manager when the restaurant would be opening. A stupid idea in hindsight considering I was not wearing a hard hat or closed-toe shoes.

"Coupla weeks!" he said cheerfully.

Fast-forward to August 2012 and Elevation Burger had yet to open its doors. Oh well. It's not like it's hard to find a decent burger in this city. I wondered, though, if the fat cats at Elevation Burger corporate were second-guessing their decision to open a Kirby location, especially with Becks Prime just up the block.

But they apparently decided to finally brave the intense burger competition in H-town, so a few days ago I finally got to try an Elevation Burger. Although I have to snort at the restaurant's slogan ("Ingredients Matter" -- shouldn't they always, so is that something to brag about?), I was intrigued by their commitment to serving 100 percent organic, grass-fed, free-range, ground-on-premises, [insert additional politically correct hyphenated adjective here] beef. I also wondered how the standard Elevation Burger (actually two patties) would taste at just over 500 calories. (Well, maybe more like 800 since I added cheese, Elevation sauce and caramelized onions.)

The short answer: Not the worst. Although they rejected my request to cook the patties medium-rare ("We cook all the meat all the way through," said the attendant), the meat was fairly moist and juicy. While I didn't actually see them hand-form my burger, its imperfect shape and slightly crumbly texture certainly suggested it was not the product of a machine. Missing was that greasy (and oh-so-enjoyable) sheen common to most burgers, perhaps a result of Elevation using 100 percent olive oil instead of butter or lard for grilling. Other virtues of the burger included the fresh, eggy bun and wonderful caramelized onions. The "tomato based" Elevation Sauce, however, was barely perceptible in terms of serving size and flavor. An extra tablespoon and some spice might have done wonders.

My Elevation Burger cost me just under $7, reasonable for high-quality and well-sourced ingredients. And perhaps the best thing was what I didn't get for this price, namely, that loathsome, brick-in-the-belly feeling I get after eating more old-school (re: fatty) double burgers. I saved that experience for Turkey Day.

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