100 Austin Burgers: Corner at the JW Marriott

Corner at the JW Marriott
110 E. Second St. (map), 512-608-4488, www.cornerrestaurantaustin.com
Hours: 11am-midnight daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.13.16
The 1,000-room JW Marriott has taken over Second and Congress like a whale, drawing knots of tourists, guests and locals to its Texas-style Corner and Burger Bar restaurants. Corner’s bar business, especially thick on the panoramic street-level patio, is so good that — as two different staffers emphatically told me — “There are no happy hours anywhere in the restaurant.” To its credit, Corner is ready for the crush. In my party of 15, the orders came out reasonably fast and correct right down to the special-request burgers: one medium, one medium-rare, one hockey puck. In this Austin-casual, beef-respecting batcave of leather, stone and polished wood, I’ll take mine medium-rare.
 Corner Burger: With a branding-iron sear and a proper rosy core, the beef makes the burger here. But it gets serious help from blue cheese melted like a Dali painting over candied jalapeños and bacon cooked to the sweet spot between breakfast and peppered jerky, finished with lettuce, tomato and mayo. We’ll have to talk about that bun, though, a pale and encephalitic roll speckled with a melanoma mosaic of onion blotches. ($16 with fries)
 Fries: Corner doesn’t cut its own fries, but they come out thin and hot and in generous supply with each burger.
 On the side: To explore Corner’s Texas aesthetic, try caramelized iron-skillet Brussels sprouts with thick nuggets of pancetta ($7) or a trio of guacamole, queso and salsa with tortilla chips ($10). I was less impressed with smoked Gouda mac and cheese ($7), with mushy cavatappi pasta, no smoke flavor and a crust like the powdered cheese packet from a box of Kraft.
 Wash it down: Corner puts its “Flavors of Texas” tagline where its mouth is by pouring 22 Texas beers on draft ($6-$7). In fact, Dos Equis is the sole entry under “Other Lands.” They also hit the tequila pretty hard, with a blood orange house margarita ($10), a margarita with jalapeño and hibiscus ($11), a paloma made with 512 Tequila ($11) and a respectable list of tequilas and mezcals ranging from $8 to $55 a throw.
100 Austin Burgers
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)