5 new burgers: Drink.Well

First came 100 Austin BurgersHere’s the fifth of five more burgers that have popped up since then.
Drink.Well American Pub
207 E. 53rd St. 614-6683, www.drinkwellaustin.com.
Hours: 4-midnight Tue-Sat; 4-11pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 04.21.12
With a strong right arm, you could stand in front of Drink.Well and hit two other North Loop hotspots with a rock: Foreign and Domestic and the Tigress Pub. That’s all right with owners Michael and Jessica Sanders, who see the emergence of a nightlife district along the street — the Workhorse Bar joined the collective April 2 — as an asset for all of them. Drink.Well threads the needle between Ned Elliott’s aggressive East Coast style chef food at F&D and Pam Pritchard’s pints and cocktails at the Tigress by tying a short menu to a mixed roster of wine, beer and drinks that fills the open spots left by their neighbors.
The burger: The world of burger beef that can support the branding-iron sear and bulls-eye red center of medium-rare is a world I support, and Drink.Well’s burger is a citizen of that world, even if the “Texas Kobe” label is just freshly-ground marketing. It’s as juicy as a Tom Robbins novel, dripping with white cheddar on a floury potato roll. The red and green characters are played by spring tomatoes and cucumber freshly drummed into the pickled ranks. But the plotline is stolen entirely by sinister smoked onion marmalade, deceptively powerful beneath its sweet Southern softness. The burger’s a solid value at $9 with house-made potato chips and dip.
The extras: Take a minute to appreciate how hard it is to fry thin potato slices to a snap-jawed crunch without burning them and you’ll know how special these potato chips are. The feat of frying is fortified by a craft version of the onion dip your folks made for a night playing 42 with John and Bev. It’s one of three dip choices and it bodes well for the artichoke and jalapeño-corn variations. (Free with the burger, $6 a la carte.)
The drinks: Drink.Well’s eight beer taps are on constant rotation, but you might find dry and roasty Hops & Grain Alt-eration ($5) as well as other locals like Thirsty Planet’s grapefruit-pucker IPA called Buckethead ($5). Speaking of grapefruit, a cocktail called Royale with Ease ($9) proves that the Austin-pedigreed Tenneyson absinthe can play well with others, especially grapefruit, hibiscus and lime for a summer glass both astringent and alive with ulterior motives.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)