Novemburger: Old School Bar & Grill

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 6: Old School Bar & Grill
401 E. Sixth St. Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. weekdays, 11 p.m. on the weekends.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.06.11
When Old School was still rolling around the East Side in a yellow schoolbus, their barbecue was as shockingly smoky as an electrical fire. Not my style, but they made a burger and fries good enough to chase the bus for. When Old School parked the bus and started a brick-and-mortar shop on Parmer Lane, the barbecue didn’t make the transition, but the burger did, along with a menu of seafood and grill plates.
Old School opened a second location Oct. 24, this time on East Sixth Street in the former home of Paradise Cafe. The end seemed to come in a blink for the Paradise Cafe, a bar and grill fixture on Sixth Street for so long the Arc Angels wrote a song about it, if you remember the Arc Angels. It’s weird to see the stone walls of the Paradise space bare instead of scattered with local art, to see all the flamingo claptrap gone.
The burger: Old School’s menu includes the Bus Burger ($8), which promises to be just like the mobile version. But for $1 more, the Texas Two Thep adds another layer of beef, plus cheese, grilled jalapeños, blazing red sriracha sauce and a fried egg. It’s named for a customer, one of the waitresses told me, pointing to a thin man at a table across the room who must have the metabolism of a bumblebee.
The Triple T is stacked into a tri-cut bun like a Big Mac, with a rustic beef patty at top and bottom. If Mickey Rourke built a Big Mac, it would look like this. Lean as lunchtime business at a bar, the peppered meat falls away in sections down the towering stack, but things don’t get truly messy until you break the yolk on a grill-splotched egg with crispy edges. Then the funs starts, and it’s a knife-and-fork burger blue plate. With all that protein, the jalapeños and sriracha contribute flavor without whipping out the flamethrower.
Fries or rings? Just like at the Old School’s yellow bus, these fries look hand-cut, dusted with salt and garlic and fried just past tan. Onion rings aren’t among the sides, and the waitress steered me away from doubling my starch with mashed potatoes. Instead, she said the kitchen could make a cup-size version of the $6 French onion soup for half that price. It was loaded with bread and dark-brown broth and tender onions, crowned with broiled white cheese. I rounded out this super-sized burger buffet with a $3 pint of Independence Brewing’s Stash IPA, a good price for a domestic pint, a steal for this hopped-up local.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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