Pot Luck

Lola's Burger and Yellow Mustard Orthodoxy

Lola, the modern diner on Yale, is the subject of this week's Café review. Lola's exceptional burger is made with a certified Angus beef patty, tomato, a pickle and cheddar. The sandwich is served on a moist sweet bun that has been toasted. For a dollar, you can add some applewood bacon. It is important to order Lola's burger medium-rare if you like your burger pink and juicy in the middle.

As Katharine Shilcutt noted, Lola's uses yellow mustard. Like many Texas burger aficionados, my friend John Bebout holds that yellow mustard is the one true mustard. Dijon mustards and coarse-grain mustards are only applied to burgers in fancy steakhouses, in his view.

Bebout is a disciple of the late Slim Harnden, a burger philosopher who owned a joint on Plantation Drive in Lake Jackson called The Dairy Bar. Harnden ground his own meat on the premises and seasoned it before hand-forming the patties. He cooked the meat well-done and crispy on the outside. And he only used yellow mustard. When it came to burgers, nobody in Lake Jackson argued with Harnden. His daughter still operates The Dairy Bar, if you are ever looking for a great example of a 1950s Texas drug store burger.

I grew up eating burgers at lunch counters and diners in Pittsburgh, where the Pennsylvania Dutch influence is heavy. Gulden's brown mustard was at least as common as French's yellow mustard in that part of the world. So I don't buy into the yellow mustard orthodoxy. I sidestepped the issue at Lola's by getting my burger to-go. I applied a thick coat of German Dusseldorf mustard to it when I got home.

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Robb Walsh
Contact: Robb Walsh