50 Burgers, 50 Days: The Lion & Rose

A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer to the pressing question: fries or rings?
Day 22: The Lion & Rose
701 S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360). 335-5466, www.thelionandrose.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Friday, until 1 a.m. Saturday.
UPDATE 01/17/13: The Lion & Rose has closed.
The burger: Tom Barry and I used to work together on the editorial pages of the American-Statesman. He wrote, I designed, back when journalists had the luxury of specializing. He offered a burger suggestion in West Lake Hills at the Lion and Rose: an  8-ounce Angus burger called the Beefeater ($8.59) that he orders “as rare as the health codes allow,” with a cold bottle of Wells Bombardier from Great Britain.
The pub itself might be an overstated British Epcot exhibit, but the burger is true to its cause, and there’s no denying the Wells pedigree for English ale with a malty resolve and a dry sense of humor, even at $9.25 for a workman’s 16.9-ounce bottle.
I’d have never thought to order a burger bloody rare outside of an environment where I could watch the meat being ground the way you can at Mighty Fine, for example. At Mighty Fine, a manager got involved when I asked for medium-rare. He said even making it medium rather than medium-well involved a few steps that would add 12 minutes to the transaction. People are gravely serious about ground beef protocol.
But I stand here today after a Lion & Rose burger more raw than cooked to say I’d sign a waiver to get meat with this kind of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t texture in a crusty, flour-driven Kaiser roll with the density to see it through, plus the usual garnishes. Order it the way Barry does: without cheese and with mustard — or better still just thoughts thereof. And for heaven’s sake, what use does a man have for lettuce once the photos are shot?
Fries or rings? Barry and I agree that these thin, round, ridge-cut potatoes are a poor stand-in for English-style chips. You get one side dish. Use it well. Broiled tomatoes or sauteed cabbage? I’ve had both, and they each lend a pub flair to the experience. More indulgent urges might steer you toward mushrooms fried in full cap-and-stem or a dish of Guinness mac and cheese with smokehouse bacon. Each of these gives the Beefeater all the help it needs. Except for the Wells, which helps both of you.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)