Novemburger: B.B. Rover's Cafe & Pub

Because 50 Burgers, 50 Days wasn’t enough, I’ll write about a new burger every day this month. And next. We’ll call that Decemburger.
Day 19: B.B. Rover’s Cafe & Pub
12101 Jollyville Road. 335-9504,
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Friday. 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.19.11
B.B. Rover’s came to be from the best of all possible sources: a recommendation from somebody who lives in the neighborhood, somebody for whom B.B. Rover’s is THEIR pub. “The burger may not make your top five,” the letter writer said, “but when the good food beer and friendliness are taken into consideration, this place may make your top five burger joints.”
That’s an important distinction: best burger vs. best burger joint. “Joint” pulls in every part of the experience, not just the food in front of you. And at B.B. Rover’s, I can see where the appeal of a neighborhood pub comes into play. The room is big and dim, decorated exclusively with beer company neon and mirrors, unless you count bottles of beer as decor, lined up like Napoleonic soldiers behind the bar, massing for pageantry and an eventual charge.
The waitress explained the “101 Club,” whose hundreds of members are celebrated with engraved plaques: All they had to do was drink 100 beers. She said a couple of its members are in their 90s, and that one guy earned membership in just 10 days.  The plaques date back to 1989, a few years after the pub opened.
Classic rock plays on the PA — Boston, Cheap Trick, Bob Seger — and the tabletops are mosaics of yellowed beer labels. The bar is a simple plywood counter topped with the same lacquered beer label top. B.B. Rover’s pours just shy of 20 beers on tap. That’s not many by Austin beer-bar standards these days, but they’re well-chosen: Sierra Nevada Celebration, a New Belgium dark winter wheat and a handful of locals like (512) Pecan Porter, Real Ale Coffee Porter, Live Oak’s Primus weizenbock and Independence Brewing’s big hoppy Stash IPA. They’re $3.75 for a 12-ounce pilsner glass or $4.75 a pint. The bartender let me sample a few before I settled on one light and one dark. You know, for balance. Primus is big and floral and sweet in true winter wheat form, and Stash is a mouthful of grapefruit so full-bodied you’d expect to see pulp.
The burger: What a good idea this is, a half-pound burger blended half and half with beef and pork sausage. The pork brings juice and personality and the herb notes of a breakfast plate. It’s $6.39 with a warm blanket of cheddar cheese, dressed with lettuce and tomato on a toasted sesame seed wheat bun. With that patty — a fancier palate might compare it to a spiced crepinette — the burger needs little else to make it a willing sidekick to a couple of well-poured beers.
Fries or rings? Add fries to your burger for $1.39, or rings for $2.99. They get the job done, the fries cut into medum sticks more starchy than crisp and rings with a sweet, uniform batter fried like tempura. But think about soup, too, because the mulligatawny on Saturday was a fragrant noseful of Indian spice and exotica, laced with shredded chicken and raisins in a dark broth. Of course, you could splurge and have shepherd’s pie on top of that ($6.99), just simple ground beef with onions and carrots topped with mashed potatoes, served with a side of lima beans, soup included. It’s neighborhood pub food for a neighborhood that likes its pub pretense-free, where it’s more important to be called by your name than to be the coolest kid on the block.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)