Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ordinary, Well Done

Stone Werks Big Rock Grille
5807 Worth Parkway
(in The Rim retail sprawl, off I-10 beyond 1604)

If you went to Stone Werks' original location years ago, when it was across from the Quarry on Jones-Maltsberger, and were dissatisfied with it, you might still want to check out its new incarnation of Big Rock Grilles. There are three of them in town now: the one at Broadway and Basse; one at Loop 1604 and Blanco; and this one, in the precious Rim shopping wasteland. They still do basically the same things, but they're doing it much better now.

The large, high-ceilinged dining room, tastefully appointed, is a far cry from the almost tawdry, cramped space of the restaurant's previous Stone Werks. The owners seem to have spared no expense in creating a pleasant environment, and except for the television sets in every corner, they have succeeded. 

The menu is extensive, with all the things you would find at, oh, every upscale burger joint in the Western world, and all briefly described with just a hint of pretension. Every variation of meat-in-bun dining that occurred to the creative minds behind the company, that could appeal to the post-modern suburban diner, and that could be replicated reliably, finds a niche on their list. And if you want something not listed, short of, perhaps, Soylent Green, you can probably get it: if they have it in their kitchen, it's yours for the asking.

We planned to see a film at the nearby megamovies, so we met early for lunch, just after the restaurant opened; they hadn't even had time to change the television feed away from the irritating satellite channel that tells you over and over how to use your remote; I seem to recall that channel being used as torture in some movie or other. No matter: I asked that it be changed, and it was, to something more easily ignored. In any case, because of our early arrival there was no shortage of seating — we weren't quite the only people there, but it was close. And our waiter was on us in a heartbeat, and a helpful young man he was, describing dishes and making recommendations, and admitting (and this is always important) that he didn't know when he didn't know. (And, of course, if he could find out, he did.)

Last city inspection: August 2012
8 demerts
We decided to split two burgers: the Bacon & Smoked Gouda, and the Lamb Burger. Both were good despite the prices. My lunch-mate had never, he says, had lamb before and didn't know what to expect. His verdict was that he couldn't really tell that it was any kind of different meat in the sandwich, and I can't disagree. The burger pattie did have the distinctive taste of lamb, but it was a weak and puny flavour unable to compete with the more powerful flavours of the other ingredients. A meek lamb is no match for a good bit of goat cheese, much less the exquisite flavour of prosciutto. Even a slice of red onion was a lion to our lamb. All in all, the ingredients in this sandwich make an interesting, even fascinating combination; but I don't doubt that it would be a better sandwich over all if it came with beef instead of lamb, and for at least a couple of dollars less.

The bacon cheeseburger was every bit as good as the lamb burger, though less filled with unusual ingredients. The bacon was properly cooked, to be crispy but not dry; the smoked flavour of the gouda was rich, and its texture was creamy and smooth; and the vegetables that complement the sandwich were fresh and flavourful. The beef was of a good quality, too, as was the bun, and it was just messy enough.
Stone Werks Big Rock Grille on Urbanspoon

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