Wild Game Burger Friday at Rainbow Lodge

What goes into an eight-ounce burger? At the Rainbow Lodge, every Friday yields a new mix. One week it may be antelope, venison, wild boar and pork belly. Another week, it may be nilgai, lamb, venison and lamb belly. Forrest Gump's mama would say that it's like a box of chocolates: "You never know what you're gonna get." And that's the beauty of it -- you could literally get a different burger every week.

Not only do the mixes change based on what's available at the end of the week, but the toppings do, as well. If you follow @TheRainbowLodge on Twitter, they announce their burger Friday mix around 10:30 a.m. the day of. They only make 12 burgers each Friday, and when they're gone, they're gone.

I'd been dying to try one of these burger ever since I heard about them, and after almost a year of thinking about it, I finally got my hands on one this past Friday. And, wow. No, make that, W-O-W. As in, this is one of the best darn burgers I've ever had the pleasure of laying my hands on.

On this particular Friday, the mix was buffalo, lamb, venison, and pork belly topped with queso fresco and avocado pico de gallo. The large, tall, impressive burger was served on a Slow Dough challah bun with the queso fresco and avocado pico de gallo already heaped on top. Sitting beside it were fresh heirloom tomato slices, butter lettuce, pickles and red onion. A healthy dose of lightly salted, golden, house-made potato chips completed the dish, which included a side plate condiment trio of whole seed mustard, ketchup, and mayo.

I don't particularly care for the gaminess of lamb in general, and I was worried that it would overpower the burger, but I had nothing to be concerned about. The patty flavor was just a bit smoky, with the barest hint of minerality and gaminess. The seasoning was just right, not overly salty as some burgers tend to be, and it complemented the creamy tanginess of the avocado pico de gallo.

The juicy, decadent plumpness of the patty rated high in terms of ooze-factor, which I attribute to the pork belly, and the at least inch-thick patty was remarkable. It looked so thick, in fact, that my dining companion thought it could be a one-pound patty, when in fact it was only eight ounces.

"Is the patty so thick because it doesn't reduce?" I asked chef Mario Valdez. "That's exactly it," he replied. "We don't do anything to the patty -- we don't press it down on the grill, and because the meat is so lean, it doesn't shrink very much."

At $14, the wild game burger is not inexpensive, but it's so good, it more than merits the price tag. Add to that a beautiful view of verdant foliage and tree branches swaying to the slight breeze on a hot summer day, and I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham