|Oh, Black Sheep Lodge. There is nothing lodgey about you aside from the Banff posters on the wall. But, I forgive you the deception. This is really just one of the bars of Austin that has really good food. I like that combination, but I'll have to remember to not go on a UT game day. The noise level reminded me of The Tavern. There was a sea of burnt orange, and every so often (probably not often enough for the fans) the whole place erupted in a cheer. Except for me and Grumpy. We were there for the food.
We pulled in to meager parking in the front, but it was early in the day, and the tattoo parlor next door wasn't open yet, so we snagged a spot there. And snagged our front bumper, so be careful pulling in. Oh, and I swear there was not a sign when we went in, but when we came out, there was a sign warning us not to park there unless we were getting a tattoo. I pondered it for just a minute to make us honest.
They have a dog-friendly patio in front, with a great view of South Lamar (she says with sarcasm). The patio is practically on Lamar itself. We sat inside, at long heavily-stained and shellacked wood tables with benches, picnic style. There was a cool breeze coming in from doors left open out to the dog-friendly patio. I always marvel at the well-behaved dogs at these dog friendly restaurants. I watched one sweet-eyed German Shepherd sit calmly next to his owner, never begging for food. But his eyes begged me to throw him a corn dog bite. I wanted to.
Our waitress was really good and completely on top of things despite having to really hustle since they were pretty busy. It's exceptional service for a bar. In fact, we got exceptional service compared to some non-bars we've been to.
Knowing Grumpy's favorite things, I quickly pointed out to him that they have corn dog bites as appetizers. He volleyed back pointing out they had fried cheese curds. He knows me. We decided to get both apps, but to then split a cheeseburger. I found the corn dog bites, made from Nathan's hot dogs cut into bite-sized pieces, to be a bit too salty for my tasted, but Grumpy liked them. The cheese curds were delicious, but perhaps a bit too greasy. They weren't heavily battered. In fact, I wasn't sure if they were battered at all, or just lightly dredged in flour and corn starch. Maybe the grease just didn't get drained off well enough. The ranch dressing they serve with them was a nice consistency, but it too tasted salty to me, and I normally have a high threshhold for saltiness.
The burger was one of the best burgers I've had in Austin. And I've had 156 different burgers here. Just kidding. I did keep a count of burgers at one point, but I've lost track of the number. Not that I couldn't figure it out from the list of burgers I keep. I thought it was particularly considerate that, knowing we were sharing the burger, they served it cut down the middle for us. They also served the lettuce and tomato on the side, at my request. Their lettuce is actually field greens, which is nice.
The half-pound medium rare burger was almost perfect. The grind of the meat was perfect. It was cooked perfectly. The quality of the meat was perfect (no gristle, very juicy, good fat content). It had a backyard flavor of charcoal grilling and was seasoned lightly with only salt and pepper, letting it actually taste like a burger. We added American cheese (good choice), which continued the backyard home-grilled flavor. The bun was the only thing slightly less than perfect. It wasn't a store-bought bun, but not the bakery style I'm spoiled to. The bottom bun soaked up the beautiful pink juices without getting too mushy or disintegrating completely, but it could have been perfect with a denser bun. Fries were frozen, shoestring (McDonald's style), but freshly fried and very well seasoned.
I will definitely go back to the Lodge. I've spied several other things on the menu I expect will be good. I'll just make sure it's not on a game day. Loud cheering doesn't aid digestion. Oh my. I do sound "Fed Up" now, don't I?