100 Austin Burgers: Clark’s Oyster Bar
Clark’s Oyster Bar
Hours: 11am-10:30pm Sun-Wed; 11am-11pm Thu-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.02.16
At a place where a dozen oysters and a beer will set you back $50, seafood stew goes for $34 and a tiny lobster roll costs $32, it was the $16 burger at Clark’s Oyster Bar that got most of the attention last summer. The prim little seafood bistro in Clarksville was part of the “MMH Burger Challenge,” wherein if you ate a burger at all the McGuire Moorman Hospitality restaurants — Lamberts, Perla’s, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Jeffrey’s, Josephine House, Clark’s — they gave you, like, Super Bowl tickets and a unicorn puppy. The only challenge here is believing that an oyster bar can make a respectable hamburger. Believe it.
► Pan-roasted Black Angus hamburger: Viewed from above, the toasted roll isn’t much bigger than a slider. Keeping with Austin’s upscale growth, Clark’s burger is more of a vertical mixed use project, with a ball of beef as tall as it is round. It’s cooked with the care of a petite filet, tender from its seared crown to its rosy core, glazed with the nutty twang of Gruyere cheese. There’s not much else. Just a side of sweet and sour pickles and sauce gribiche like an echo of egg salad. Polite enough for West Austin society, substantial enough for the blue-collar interloper. ($16 with fries or slaw; half-price from 3-6 Mon-Fri)
► On the side: Clark’s fries are a flossy haystack of starchy needles. If the crunchy outside of a french fry is your favorite part, this is a big pile of favorite parts.
► The oyster experience: I’ll pay $3.75 apiece for the occasional briny indulgence of Pemaquid and Wellfleet oysters. And Clark’s “Dressed Oyster” — a $4 composed bite of crispy shallots, mint, honey and tart cucumber vinaigrette — is a satisfying alternative to fries.
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)