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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nova Restaurant Dallas - November 14, 2010

Last week's burger quest took our group to Nova, Kelly Hightower's restaurant at 1417 West Davis Street in Oak Cliff. Nova has been open since mid-July and I have been told by multiple people that a great burger was to be found there. In a prior life, Nova's building was a Dairy Queen but the owners have completely transformed the location into a modern restaurant while still keeping the feel of a throwback to a hip diner. When we entered the restaurant, we were promptly seated and menus and a water with a slice of cucumber was brought to our table. We were shown the drink list written on the chalkboard and menus featuring small plates, pizza and a selection of entrees such as pasta with Jimmy's Italian Sausage, Nova's twist on Pho, a pork chop, a New York Strip and a lamb burger. I was hoping for a beef burger but was glad to try something different. I ordered the lamb burger cooked medium and an order of house smoked salmon potato skins and after the table enjoyed the potato skins, the following burger was placed in front of me:

A layer of baby spinach was placed on the bottom bun and then topped with the lamb patty. The patty was then topped with a blend of tatziki sauce and feta cheese and then topped off with a brioche bun. It was a very simple but pretty presentation for a burger. Taking a bite I tasted a blend of Mediterranean spices and the creaminess of the tatziki sauce, little bit of bitterness from the spinach and a slight saltiness from the feta cheese. The feta cheese was present but it didn't over power the flavor of the burger. The tatziki sauce was well seasoned and contrasted nicely with the slight gaminess of the lamb meat. The patty was cooked to a perfect medium and while not as juicy as a beef patty, it stayed juicy in each bite. The brioche bun was one of the better buns I have had while eating burgers in this quest. It was light and fluffy and it surprised me by not apart while I was enjoying the burger. With the amount of sauce placed on top of the patty, I would have expected it to disintegrate before I finished with the burger. Finally the fries served on the side were crispy and seasoned with a light dusting of salt, pepper and an herb blend. They had a good flavor and it was hard not to stop using the tatziki sauce as a dip for the fries.

Overall I thought that Nova's lamb burger was very tasty and fit well with the atmosphere of the restaurant. It was a nice mix of Mediterranean flavors and was cooked perfectly. While it wasn't the typical bacon cheeseburger that I try on this quest, I would return to Nova to try the burger and I look forward to seeking what the next version of the burger will be when Chef Hightower decides to change up the menu again.

Ratings (1-25):

Bun - 21, light fluffy Brioche bun, nicely toasted, held up well to saucy burger

Meat - 20, well seasoned lamb, cooked medium, juicy patty

Appearance - 20, golden bun, cascade of sauces, nicely grilled patty

Taste - 20, flavorful non-traditional burger, good seasoning throughout

Overall - 81
Nova on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Razzoo's Cajun Cafe - November 1, 2010

While not the first place I would think of to try a burger, this week's burger quest took us to Razzoo's Cajun Cafe on Central Expressway and Spring Valley Road. Razzoo's menu focuses on their take on Cajun dishes such as etoufee, shrimp Creole, jambalaya and a variety of appetizers such as fried pickles, fried gator tail and their specialty Rat Toes - fried jalapeno's stuffed with shrimp, crab and cheese. Our group arrived at Razzoo's and were promptly seated by the hostess at a booth. We ordered our drinks and after our server brought iced tea to us, I placed an order for the Big Easy Cheesboiger cooked medium with the bbq sauce served on the side. All burgers are served with cheese and bacon and come with a side of fries. The total bill came to $10.91 before gratuity. After a short wait which was spent watching highlights of the NFL games from the day before on the small tv at every booth, the following burger was brought to the table:

The crispy buttered bottom bun was topped with a half pound patty which was top with a blend of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack Cheese and two thin slices of bacon. If barbecue sauce was ordered on the burger, Razzoo's thinly layers it between the cheese and patty. The burger was then topped with the top bun which had also been flattened, buttered and toasted very crisp. Taking my first bite, there was a nice crunch from the toasted buns and I noticed a slight Cajun spice flavor to the patty. The blend of cheeses added a nice flavor to each bite of the burger while the bacon could have been thicker and crispier. The bacon had a good flavor but the slices were a little thin and undercooked. The patty was seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper and some Cajun seasoning but it appeared to be a preformed patty which I would expect since the majority of diners are visiting Razzoo's for seafood. The patty was cooked to a slight pink color in the middle and stayed juicy in every bite. Another one of our group ordered his patty medium-rare and it was also cooked perfectly and I would probably order mine medium-rare on a subsequent visit. The fries were skin-on thick cut fries that were cooked slightly crispy and then dusted with Cajun seasoning. I would have preferred them to be cooked a little longer but they complimented the burger. Also mixed in with the fries were three hush puppies which were perfectly cooked and had a sweet spicy flavor. I would have been perfectly happy with the burger being served with just hush puppies. Finally the bun was a typical hamburger bun but by heavily buttering it and toasted it very crispy, it gave a nice flavor and crunch to every bite of the burger. Maple and Motor uses almost as much butter on their buns but Razzoo's took it to the next level.

Overall, I thought that Razzoo's made a good burger. The flavors melded nicely in each bite and I really like the buttery crispy bun which held up through the whole time I was eating the burger. I would have liked to see Razzoo's make their own patties in house but I know it is not feasible when you a restaurant doesn't focus on burgers. If are visiting Razzoo's and are allergic to seafood or not in the mood for Cajun food, the burger is a good alternative.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 19, buttered toasted; held up well while eating burger

Meat - 19, good flavors in the meat, bacon was good quality

Appearance - 19, nicely melted cheese on top of patty, nice grill marks on patty, golden bun was pretty

Taste - 19, decent burger, well cooked, just didn't have the wow factor a great burger gives

Overall - 76
Razoos on Urbanspoon