In the two years since DFW.com’s last Burger Battle, chef Kenny Mills’ Chop House Burgers has expanded in dramatic fashion. What was once a humble strip mall storefront has consumed almost half of said strip mall, adding a bakery, merchandise for sale, a second Chop House in Mansfield and a new steak and seafood-oriented joint just up the road in Pantego (it opened in January). In that same span of time, Grumps in Burleson hasn’t changed a thing — its walls are still plastered with newspaper clippings and other tchtochkes. But surely, the arrival of such success for Chop House wouldn’t have any bearing on a burger, right?
Grumps served up a pleasing, no-frills cheeseburger, although the buns were just a tad too toasty (the top of ours bore a scorch mark). The cheddar melted lovingly atop a well-done beef patty, with plenty of fresh toppings (lettuce, tomato and pickle) providing crisp contrast with the freshly grilled meat. It was, in a word, solidly burgerrific. Chop House almost claimed top honors in the 2011 Burger Battle, so there was anticipation for this year. The Chop House burger — the mouthwatering masterpiece of meat, bacon, cheddar cheese and Mills’ homemade steak sauce — teetered on the line between iffy (whither that tasty steak sauce?) and amazeballs (that special blend of brisket and beef, mixed with cheese and bacon, can make you moan with pleasure). The bun was sturdy, but each successive bite only brought more surprise. The hits outweighed the misses with this burger, but, still, it was startling. Perhaps that old adage is true: Bigger isn’t always better. Chop House lives to fight another day, but just barely.
Winner: Chop House Burgers