Burger Friday: Block 7 Wine Company
by Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle
If you’re allergic to burgers priced in the double digits, read no further. The burger at the sleek new¬†Block 7 Wine Company clocks in at $12, so once you add $3 fries and a glass of good red wine you’re looking at a tab of around $25, plus tax and tip.
Is it worth the tariff? There’s a certain kind of purist who will think so, and various intangibles–from the handsome modern room to the buzzy crowd–sweeten the deal. Here’s how the Block 7 Burger stacks up.
PRICE: Block 7 Burger $12, add French fries (called “frites” on this menu) for $3.
ORDERING: Table service inside the spacious bar/restaurant dining room or on the outdoor deck.
*ARCHITECTURE: Salad stuff (such as it is) on the bottom. On a grilled brioche-type bun from Slow Dough bakers goes a modest swipe of dijon-spiked aioli, a few layers of arugula leaves, and a chubby beef patty gilded with gruyere cheese. That’s it. Over and out. Well, the menu mentioned a smoked bacon “relish,” which sounded good, but I never saw any or tasted any, and I never gave it a second thought after I took my first bite.
The buttery bun did not loom too large against the meat. A hint of dijon mustard in the garlicky aioli didn’t tromp all over the other flavors, the way yellow ballpark mustard tends to do . I didn’t miss the usual Texas standards of pickles and crunchy lettuce and lame pink tomato, either. I didn’t even miss the absence of onion.
I’m sure I will incur the scorn of the manly men out there (If they didn’t bail out at the mention of arugula) when I say that the modest size of this burger, which I could have easily held in the palm of my hand, suited me fine. The flavors were so clean and elemental that the burger had big presence that had nothing to do with its physical size.
*OOZE RATING: just fair. There’s no condiment drip, dry aged-beef contains less moisture, and the kitchen tends to cook a shade over what’s requested. (My “medium rare” looked more like a nicely done “medium,” with a blush of pink at the center.)
*BONUS POINTS: Very respectable French fries are strewn (perhaps a bit too enthusiastically) with flash-fried rosemary and thyme. If you are so inclined, you can dunk them in your little container of “dijonoli,” as Block 7 insists on calling it.
The purity and simplicity of this burger makes it particularly suited to red wine. The fact that any of the climate-controlled bottles from the store side of Block 7 can be shared for the retail price in the restaurant makes it tempting to splurge. I had never drunk a Chateuneuf-du-Pape with a burger, but after the calm elegance of the Domaine St. Laurent 2005, I could get used to it. Split two ways, the $45 bottle price seemed like a deal.
*LOCAL COLOR: Yes, the Washington Avenue trendoids and pretty people have discovered Block 7, but things are more relaxed earlier in the week and on Sunday evenings, when there’s often live music. Local indie band the¬†Wild Moccasins were playing the night I went, and the youngish crowd ranged from 60-somethings to a babe in arms.