Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review: BRC Gastropub (Houston Burger Week)

Those of you who read about the Tillamook Love Loaf  Tour and their working with Houston Burger Week knew that the Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Chili Cheese Dog Burger from BRC Gastropub was on my radar this week, so I headed over to the Heights and found them on the left hand side of Shepherd Northbound just above Memorial Drive at the corner of Shepherd and Blossom.  This was also my first Visit to BRC--they'd been on my short list of places I needed to visit, and Houston Burger Week was a good time to go.  I was especially stoked to eat and to review one of the Tillamook burgers they created with BRC's Chef Lance W Fegen.

But first some notes: the term Gastropub is a portmanteau of gastronomy and pub.  It originated in Britain in the late 20th century. British pubs are drinking establishments with little emphasis was placed on the serving of food.  If pubs served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a ploughman's lunch. In South East England (especially London) it was common until recent times for vendors selling cockles, whelks, mussels and other shellfish, to sell to customers OUTSIDE of pubs during the evening and at closing time. Many mobile shellfish stalls would set up near pubs, a practice that continues today in London's East End.

The term "gastropub" was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London. The concept of a high end restaurant in a pub reinvigorated both pub culture and British dining,  though it has occasionally attracted criticism for potentially removing the character of traditional pubs.  The gastropub phenomenon took off in the United States in the 2000s at gastropubs such as restaurateur and chef Sang Yoon's Father's Office, which had what Esquire magazine called one of the best burgers in the world,  Ford's Filling Station in Culver City, a gastropub run by actor Harrison Ford's son Ben Ford, and of course Beaver's over in the Heights district of Houston, Texas.

What is also of note is that BRC has a fine Weekend Brunch Menu, which includes salmon potato cakes with eggs and tomato fondue; as well as a coop style burger that includes eggs, potatoes, and chili con Queso, and banana stuffed French toast. They also have a version of Poutine that includes a duck leg, fries finished in duck fat and gruyere cheese rather than fresh cheese curds. Furthermore, they have a good tap list that includes good selection of local craft beers and imports, as well as a wonderful selection of bottled beer.

Now without further ado, here is your burger blueprint:

Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Chili Dog Burger
1/3 lb ground beef patty
Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Chese
BRC Pub Chili
a butterflied hot dog
Sweet Jalapenos, Pickled Onions and Iceberg lettuce
on a locally sourced bun
served with Herb-salt French Fries in a little fry basket

The Chili in and of itself is a meal.  It is spicy, cuminy, meaty and full of great flavour.  The butterflied hot dog is meaty and juicy--looks almost like a British pub sausage.  The peppers sweet & spicy, the patty cooked to juicy perfection.  And although it was very messy, it was a delicious mixture of sweet, heat, savoury & crunchy flavours and textures.  A real winner all the way around.

The BRC staff was attentive, but not overly so--my iced tea was refilled in a timely fashion and callbacks were made, but weren't excessive.  The restaurant dining room was quite clean, as was the kitchen from where I sat. The speed of service on the burger was a little slow--however,  I was one of the first customers in--and I figure it may have been less geared towards brunch menu since it was a special item.  According to Josh (one of the managers on duty) it is  based on an off-off-menu item that is a staff favourite.  After eating it I can see why.  It was worth the wait.  And I can say with pride that taste of the chili alone lingered in my mouth for hours afterwards like those old 90s tunes that played as I ate. I definitely recommend the burger & the brunch at BRC Gastropub.  Also of note:  I like the soft ice they have for the iced tea--kind of like Jerrybuilt Burgers.

The atmosphere of BRC is like an Ottowa corner pub meets a Houston hipster bar combined with a Montreal Bistro. Classic rock blared from the sound system while I took in the red Fleur de Lis pattern on the walls of the booths and the tattoos on the neck of the hostess. The Staff is dressed in nice jeans and collar shirts, but there are plenty of tattoos and piercings as well--kind of like Yuppie/Hipster fusion. While enjoying my burger, I spotted a family of older folks with university aged Kids enjoying brunch, and I also spotted a tower of oddly coloured cakes at the bar across from the taps.  The rooster motif is present EVERYWHERE in Ansel Adams style black & white framed lithographs all around the booths and a reclaimed scrap metal sculpture on the largest table in the centre of the dining room. FYI:  BRC stands for Big Red Cock--the synonym of Rooster to you dirty minded readers!

The Foodie Professor's Report Card for BRC Gastropub:
Burger: A+
Frites: A
     Friendliness: A
     Speed: A-
Cleanliness: A
Atmosphere: A

Overall grade: A

BRC Gastropub is located in The Heights at:
519 Shepherd Drive (corner of Shepherd and Blossom)
Houston, TX77007

Lunch:  Monday thru Frriday 11 AM to 2 PM
Dinner: Saturday thru Sunday 5 PM til last person leaves
Brunch: Weekends, 10 AM to 2 PM
Happy Hour:  Monday thru Friday 4 PM to 6 PM.

And Remember:
Eat Happy!!!
Zao an, Y'all!!!


Lindy Stamper said...

congrats on getting a shout out on Eater Houston.

Professor Hank said...


Thanks! That was a nice surprise, as was BRC!