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Hamburger Diaries: Black Sheep Lodge

Tuesday, 22 June, 2010

This is the first stand-alone restaurant to appear within the Hamburger Diaries.

It’s been nearly three years since the signs went up warning the neighborhood that 2108 S. Lamar had applied for a license to serve alcoholic beverages. The primary purpose of these required signs is to establish that this state is run by morons. It’s been open about a year.

From the name you might be forgiven if you thought this was an aspiring hip little neighborhood joint. It’s a sports bar in the storefront where the comic-book store used to be. I have almost nothing to say because it is so very typically Austin, by which I mean chronically mediocre. Shakey’s-Pizza-closeout rustic furniture, at least nine televisions, beer-logoed crap all over the walls, a pool table, shuffleboard table, you’ve been here.

I attended during the Greece-Argentina match of the World Cup and the place was filled with guys around thirty trying to impress one another by their arcane interest in international competition. A few of them appeared to actually appreciate the game. In typical Austin fashion, there were two servers working a crowd of about eighty. A third eventually appeared.

It’s not so much that the staff wasn’t competent, they were simply overwhelmed by an entirely predictable and certainly anticipated crowd. Typical Austin.

Even so service was relatively prompt and the simple menu was …

Fuck it. Look. The kids were fine. The assholes peering out of the kitchen every six seconds, presumably to look at the games, did not inspire confidence. It’s just a neighborhood joint fulfilling the strict requirements of neighborhood bar and grill. Our food was served within fifteen minutes. My burger was bland with a strong charcoal-lighter aftertaste. It’s supposed to be eight-ounces, but I don’t know of what. The four-inch Black Sheep Burger is served medium-rare, topped with “greens” and onions with a side of

I swear to fucking god: Ollie Fries.

You millennials might think of them as Rally Fries or perhaps Checker Fries. Rally’s-Checker’s no longer keep them exclusive and they are manufactured for retail distribution and food service by ConAgra. I have never so much as known Ollie Fries to be served anywhere other than Ollie’s Trolley, a quick-service burger joint based in Louisville, Kentucky and its successor companies.

Aside from Ollie Fries nothing interesting or gratifying happened at all. There really isn’t any reason to go to the Black Sheep Lodge. I live less than fifty yards away and I can’t imagine why I would return. This is the worst burger within walking distance of my home. To be clear: this includes several quick-service options. You get a better Hamburger at P. Terry’s, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Sandy’s, Whataburger, and Sonic. If you want a better burger within walking distance and in a proper restaurant you may find it at the Kerbey Lane Cafe.

I had the Black Sheep Burger and a pint of Woodchuck. I don’t even remember the tab, but I left fifteen bucks. For this money I could have hosted someone to any other superior burger in the neighborhood.

Update: Six hours later I awake from insulin shock like I do when someone slips me more than a little HFCS. This may be why I failed to explain what Ollie Fries are actually like. Not only do I not have a reason to return to the Lodge, I have a very strong reason to avoid it. The explanation of Ollie Fries shall be reserved for a more deserving review.

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