Novemburger: Wholly Cow

Day 4: Wholly Cow
3010 S. Lamar Blvd., inside the Food Mart. 394-8156,
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Noon to 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Breakfast 7 to 10:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.04.11
The burger: “You are what they eat,” the signs on the napkin holders say. Wholly Cow believes enough in grass-fed organic beef enough to put it in writing. And you can taste it in the meat. I’m not talking about picking out the genus and species of your beast’s particular meadow. But it’s denser, richer, different. It’s like artisan Salisbury steak without gravy, ground to be more than a burger patty, but tender enough to pull apart without destroying the sweet, untoasted bun around it. The Pure Single with cheese ($6.99) is just over a quarter-pound, dressed with lettuce and tomato and sauced with mustard, mayo and a spicy Russian sauce. Too much, really. I’d pick one and go with it, probably the Russian. I added grilled onions and candied jalapeños for 39 cents apiece, and I can’t think of anything that sweet pepper slices couldn’t improve.
Fries or rings? Wholly Cow hand-cuts its own regular and sweet potatoes for french fries. They’re hot, salted just right, served separately or in mixed baskets for $2.44 ($1 with a burger). From there, something gets lost. For all the right building blocks and good intentions, they’re as soft as the insides of a baked potato, with no infrastructure for crunch. I’m imagining how good they’d be mashed up, skins and all, with sour cream and bacon. But while the store that surrounds Wholly Cow carries lottery tickets, clothespins and screwdriver sets, there’s no potato masher in sight. Here’s the good news: The onion rings ($3.44 for an overflowing basket) are extraordinary, breaded to order in seasoned flour, fried shaggy and loose and stacked tall. The pepper hangs on just a beat longer than the sweet initial notes of onion and starch. The same guy who took my order brought three sauces for the fries and rings: spicy Russian, basil mayo and ranch. The Russian almost rescues the sweet-potato fries, and that basil mayo makes the onion rings even better. Not that they really needed any help.
Just so you know: You can buy and drink Jones soda (vanilla’s the best), Red Bull, Texas Tea and any other soft drink in the store. But no beer on-site, at least for now. That hurts, because they carry Brooklyn, Real Ale, Sierra Nevada — in fact, the whole inventory of a decent pub. Also, the store has a half-dozen tables inside or on the sidewalk so your burger can get the sit-down time it deserves.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
Novemburger index