It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to open a burger restaurant around the corner from Fred’s Texas Cafe and Rodeo Goat Ice House, the winners, respectively, of DFW.com’s 2009 and 2013 Burger Battles. But Brewsters, a new burger/craft-beer joint in the West 7th development, is throwing down a gauntlet — and it’s challenging a lot of other burger places as well.
The brainchild of Steve Brown, the restaurateur behind Grapevine’s Esparza’s Restaurante Mexicano, Brewsters has the requisite dozen or so TVs on the wall, plus four dozen beers on tap. There are also about a dozen more bottled beers available, along with wine and mixed drinks.
But it’s the burgers people will come to try, and at Brewsters, they’re cooked fast, with an open electric grill that can cook patties top to bottom in about 75 seconds (ours did take a little longer to come to the table). The burger menu might not be quite as adventurous as Rodeo Goat’s, but it is ambitious and still makes room for a burger with candied bacon and crunchy peanut butter.
We didn’t go quite that far out on our first couple of visits, but we did try the Big Kahuna ($7.49), which comes with such offbeat toppings as grilled pineapple and crumbled potato chips, as well as provolone cheese and lettuce/tomato/red onion. The fresh-baked, brioche-style bun held up well against all those toppings, and the sweetness of the pineapple played well off Brewsters’ peppery patty, which gets its kick from a blend of Colombian spices. The Locked and Loaded ($8.49) — with Cheddar, candied bacon, fried onion strings and a “drizzle” of sweet bourbon sauce — was similarly strong, with the bacon and the onion strings standing out. That drizzle of bourbon sauce, however, was too subtle to notice.
We’d preceded this with “Loaded” fries ($5.99), which were topped with beer cheese sauce, chopped bacon, fresh diced jalapeños, red and white onions, and bell peppers — and was easily shared by three people. At first, the too-soft texture of the fries was off-putting, but the dish grew on us, getting nice heat from the jalapeños and good junky flavor from the cheese.
Maybe it was all those carbs that led one member of our party to order the Lone Star chili burger bunless. It was one of the few misfires — a patty prosaically sitting atop a bed of spring-mix lettuce, with only a small dab of disappointing chili. The server forgot to ask our friend her choice of dressing (an error that was later rectified) and the menu doesn’t make it clear that the bunless option is $2 more than the $7.49 burger version.
The vegetarian in our party was pleased with the quinoa burger ($7.49), one of the more inventive veggie burgers we’ve seen, with a quinoa/cannellini bean patty topped with potato chips, chipotle aioli, caramelized onions and (vegans take note) a fried egg. Unlike a lot of house-made veggie patties, this one held together well instead of quickly becoming a forkburger. The house-made chips ($2.49) were a letdown, overly greasy, poorly textured and with no hint of the requested Parmesan cheese seasoning.
We had better luck with the chips on a second visit — this time we ordered them with Cajun spice (barbecue and ranch seasonings are also available); the chips did glisten a bit, but they were nice and crisp, and the spices were a bit more noticeable.
This time we went with a straight-up bacon cheeseburger and a mushroom-Swiss burger (both $7.49), and the subtler toppings really allowed the flavor of the patties to come through (note that all burgers are cooked medium-well, which might be a little too dry for some tastes, but we were more than pleased with ours). Even unloaded, the fries ($2.49) were too soft; go for the chips.
The craft-beer menu is impressive, with North Texas brewers such as Granbury’s Revolver and Dallas’ Community and Lakewood well-represented. The challenge for Brewsters is to distinguish itself more in a district that already has two of the best burger joints in town. Brewsters has an uphill battle ahead, but it’s definitely a contender.