100 Austin Burgers: Gourdough’s Public House
Gourdough’s Public House
Hours: 11am-midnight Mon-Fri; 10am-1am Sat; 10am-midnight Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.28.16
It’s lost in the rustic saloon makeover, but the Gourdough’s on South Lamar used to be my favorite Kerbey Lane Cafe. And I was charmed by Gourdough’s from the beginning, back in 2009, when it started pushing colossal doughnuts with fried chicken and bacon and habanero jelly from the window of an Airstream trailer. (You can see me on reruns of the Cooking Channel show called Eat Street, extolling the exotic virtues of Canadian bacon.) From there, Paula Samford and Ryan Palmer opened this bar-and-grill version of their shop and added doughnut burgers and other holey artifacts, then a bar-and-trailer hybrid on West Fifth. While the doughnut dream is still alive at Gourdough’s, the burger part feels more like the morning after.
► The Ron Burgundy (top): A thick, toasted burger bun is the civilized layer of protection between you and the debauchery inside. And so the unsweetened fried doughnut bun becomes the least appealing part of the Gourdough’s burger experience. A doughnut without the glam is just fried dough, and it works against the desirable greasiness of a seared Angus patty and bacon in the same way good and bad fats battle it out for the soul of your cholesterol count. Plus, the doughnut holes spout mayonnaise from the bottom and guacamole out the top of the Ron Burgundy burger. It’s a campy mess like the Anchorman movies themselves, with double cheese and a fried egg that oozes charm (and yolk) over the whole enterprise. ($11.75 with chips)
► Gourdough’s Big Baller (below left): Pimento cheese is one of the big things on the neo-Southern scene, and it’s a selling point of this burger. Which is why it’s puzzling there’s so little of it here. The effect is more like pepperjack on a burger that makes the beef do all the work. ($10.75 with chips)
► On the side: I didn’t climb this high on the food chain to eat potato chips with a cheeseburger. But that’s what they come with, in a prim little bag like they just fell out of a Portland vending machine. And with no fries on the menu, frying eyes fall on breaded okra ($3.50). And it’s good, served like a prospector’s golden nuggets in an iron pan, with a hard and bristly crunch over that most squishy and alien of the longpod vegetables. In this novelty environment, it’s a touch of Southern simplicity.
► Mmmm ... doughnuts: This is more like it. The Freebird, with cream cheese icing over a doughnut filled with cheesecake, topped with graham crackers and fresh berries ($5.50). All the familiar excess of a doughnut, multiplied for euphoric effect. Also recommended: The Flying Pig with bacon and maple icing and the Funky Monkey, with grilled bananas and brown sugar.
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)