The web site for Chop House Burgers describes an idealized place, where a burger is so juicily, sloppily good that it takes “four or five napkins” to get through. And that’s pretty much what’s offered by the new restaurant on Park Row Drive near the University of Texas at Arlington. The little boxlike joint possesses about a dozen tables. Order at the counter, and a server will bring out your drinks and, eventually, your food. Since all the burgers are made to order, the process could take a few minutes.
Chop House’s menu is simple: eight burgers, three sandwiches, some soups, some sides, and the occasional daily special. The basic burger/sandwich comes out on a toasted, slightly buttery bun, augmented with thinly sliced onion, tomatoes, pickles, and shredded lettuce. The burger au poivre was the special of the day when some folks and I had lunch, and it definitely inspired the most plate envy. A fun take on the classic steak au poivre, the wonderfully char-grilled burger was coated in a spicy, exceptionally fresh peppercorn sauce spiked with honey mustard for a bit of sweetness. A topping of melting cheese substituted for the traditional cream-and-cognac sauce, and well-sautéed onions complemented the whole messy thing. Each table has a roll of paper towels, and you’ll need them.
The healthy eater in our midst ordered the portobello sandwich, on the grounds that it sounded the least cholesterol-filled of all the options. The mushroom was sliced into about eight pieces and sandwiched between the buttery buns with all the attendant fixings. If you didn’t know it wasn’t a burger, you’d have been hard-pressed to tell. The only difference was a slight textual variation between meat and mushroom. Otherwise, the portobello was covered in the same house-made grill sauce and grilled the same way as the burgers. The only complaint about the sandwich was that the mushroom was sliced. A whole mushroom cap might have made the sandwich a little easier to eat and also saved some paper towels.
The cheeseburger is sinful: It’s a beef patty … between two grilled cheese sandwiches. In defense of the idea, the sandwich bread was thinner than a bun, so feel free to tell yourself (repeatedly) that the cheeseburger isn’t that bad for you. The grilled cheese sandwiches were done to perfection: buttery-brown and toasty on the outside and melty inside. The burger in the middle was almost overkill.
Diners can add additional goodies to their burger, like grilled onions, chili, or (gulp!) another patty. We tried the chili, and it was OK: not great, not awful — there was a lot of broth, which isn’t supposed to happen with chili. However, the grilled cheese corners were useful for dipping in the stuff.
All of the burgers at Chop House are served a la carte, but the sides are tempting. We opted for sweet potato fries and onion rings. The fries were exceptional: sweet, mushy on the inside, and perfectly crispy on the outside, all covered in sea salt and a little pepper. The thick-cut onion rings were fine, but I saw a plate of fresh jalapeño chips going to the next table and wished I’d ordered those.
As for desserts, they’re homemade and pre-sliced. On the day we visited, our options included a chocolate-raspberry torte and pecan pie. The luscious torte actually had little bits of fresh raspberry embedded in the thick, creamy chocolate. The pecan pie was heavy on the pecans and molasses: good if you like that sort of thing.
The menu board (a giant white board; Chop House has not invested in paper menus yet) indicated that each burger is cooked to well-done. We didn’t ask, but both burgers we ordered came out more on the medium side of things, which may have been due to the size of the patties. Chop House is one of the few places where employees actually make the patties by hand, which yields a less-uniform burger, one that may be a little thicker through the middle. The restaurant is still working out the kinks of the ordering and delivery system. Having an urn of tea and some water available in the dining area would go a long way –– thirsty diners wouldn’t have to revisit the line or stand in the kitchen doorway to ask for refills.
All in all, Chop House Burgers offers a hearty alternative to pre-packaged chain food. But if you plan on dining there in the middle of your workday, remember that the place is definitely BYOB: Bring Your Own Bib.
Chop House Burgers
1700 W Park Row Dr, Ste 116, Arlington. 817-459-3700.
Closed Sun, 11am-9pm Mon-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Burger au poirve $7.00
Portobello burger $5.49
Sweet potato fries $3.00
Chocolate raspberry torte or pecan pie $2.49