The place: Shaw's Burgers & Shakes
The cuisine: Burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches
The story: Shaw's Burgers & Shakes was opened in December by longtime Fort Worth restaurateur Ann Shaw, in the space occupied by her former restaurant, Scampi's Cafe. After a 15-year run, she closed Scampi's last year, originally intending to retool the spot as a bar and grill. But the opening of a nearby school -- and accompanying alcohol regulations -- meant she had to rethink her plans.
With a chef in place -- Jose Rodriguez, also the sous-chef at Bistro Louise -- Shaw decided on a table-service burger-and-shakes spot, with interesting twists, such as patties made from bison, lamb and portobello mushroom, and toppings such as arugula, feta cheese and spinach. For purists, there's the Abernathy's burger ($7.99), topped only with provolone; it's named after the well-liked grill that Ann's husband, David Shaw, used to run.
Ann Shaw says the half-pound Angus patties on the regular burgers are delivered and hand-packed daily. Burgers come on white or wheat buns and arrive in baskets lined with checkerboard paper.
There are also hot dogs, salads, soups and sandwiches, along with a number of bottled soft drinks, including nine brands of root beer.
The hits: The kitchen is still on shaky ground, but it produced a number of knockouts, including the bison burger ($9.99). Served on a soft white bun that had been lightly toasted and buttered, the flavorful half-pound patty had a similar texture as beef, but was leaner and had a slightly gamier taste. Piled on the meat was crisp lettuce, fresh tomatoes, grilled onions and a creamy house-made blue cheese mayonnaise that gave the burger extra bite.
The "Shawsage Dog" ($7.49), a large hot dog made with andouille sausage, also yielded satisfying results. Two firm, spicy sausage links, grilled and cut lengthwise, were smothered in melted mozzarella cheese and grilled onions, then topped with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. It all rested on a grilled and buttered white hoagie roll; you'll need a fork.
Sides were mostly good. Golden crinkle-cut fries were soggy and bland, but a cup of baked navy beans had a thick texture and pleasing sweet and smoky flavor. Crisp homemade chips, sprinkled with black pepper, were excellent.
A thick chocolate milkshake ($4), served in a parfait glass and topped with whipped cream and a cherry, was enjoyable, even on a chilly night. Shakes and malts are also available in strawberry and vanilla. Other desserts included floats ($3.99) and sundaes ($3.99-$6.49), all made with Blue Bell ice cream.
The misses: According to the menu, the burgers were cooked medium to medium-well, but a bacon cheeseburger ($8.99) arrived beyond well-done, rendering the meat dry. The menu also said the burger came with chipotle ketchup; there was no sauce. Buried underneath a square of melted cheddar, two strips of applewood-smoked bacon were tasty but small.
The service: Friendly and fast. Currently, Shaw's is BYOB and BYOT, as in tequila. Servers will prepare guests margaritas, using the restaurant's own mix.
The setting: Just like at Scampi's, Shaw's is a tight squeeze, with seating for 50; expect a wait during peak times. The seating is comfortable, and the room looks onto Magnolia Avenue. An outside patio is open when the weather is nice.
Details: Open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. BYOB. Smoking on the patio. Wheelchair-accessible.