Burgers and words have a lot in common, another reason I like both. Burgers can be simple – meat and bun – and it’s still a burger. Cover it with an array of crap from every aisle in the grocery store; it’s still a burger. Burger/words are beautiful in their simplicity and sublime in their complexity. So, you know a place named Rogue Tavern (RT) – with a multiplicity of burgers – would have more than a passing interest for me.
Rogue Tavern (and if you are also limited in life by less than ideal keyboarding skills, you understand that by this point I’ve types Rouge as many times as I’ve typed Rogue) Tavern is part of a redevelopment effort on 2nd Ave. North in Birmingham (otherwise known as the loft district). It’s on the same block as the uber-delicious Urban Standard and Pale Eddies Pourhouse.
But Rogue was the first, living up to it’s name. And the burgers on the menu at Rogue have always been part of their pub-ish fare. Even as a pub, they go rogue from the traditional, introducing novel, and delicious choices on the menu like Mahi, a chili-rubbed steak and more.
On the day I went at lunch with work friends, we went to sample burgers – and because it could make a case to be low-carb (I guess). I tried three different burgers, and I admit, I was roguish in my choice.
That day featured a special, pesto sliders. In biology, when a plant grows unwanted or unbidden, it’s a rogue; I kind of feel the same about sliders. But inspired by the place, I ordered it (though I will add that I asked if I could get it on a grown-up burger). In fact, we ordered two sliders (one pesto, one black and blue) and shared. Another ordered a Rogue Burger with blue cheese. Both come with Rogue’s signature chips.
Sliders can be misleading – IMO – you get less of a burger experience and more bun. On the ones we had that day, the triplets were like a trip to the beach: too much uncovered flesh. Several bites were really just meat and bun.
Nevertheless, the burgers at Rogue are some of the city’s best. The full burger at the table was MUCH better than my sliders, though if more attention and care were given in their preparation, they would be equally delicious. The place does get crowded, at times, and I’ve seen the wait staff stretched more than once.
In addition to being a place to find a tasty burger, it’s also a pretty good bar, with a decent beer menu and a good atmosphere for local music.
Points are 1-10 (ten being the best)
Meat – 8.5 … The meat had a nice flavor, not too salty. But they committed a personal pet peeve – in asking how I wanted it cooked and then not. I’m not sure that you can easily cook a slider medium. I also didn’t get a clear answer where the meat came from, except from a Sysco … Nevertheless, it was fresh and hand-made.
Bun and fixins’ 8.5 or 6 – This is a “what-there-was-of-it” vote. This bites that had fixins’ were great; the ones without were … lonely. I’d like to have a full-on pesto burger from there. Side note: the other full-one Rogue Burger was vastly superior to the pint-sized pretenders, meat more accurately cooked, sides more consistent, better overall taste.
Sides – 9 … “I love the chips at Rogue Tavern.” There I said it, I hope that this flash of honesty will inspire them to love me back … They are hand sliced and made there. Seasoned gently and crunchy, think of them as the really cute cousin of the fry.
Service & Presentation – 7 … The servers are usually a bit harried here because it’s busy. It’s not a complicated place. They try to make the presentation interesting, spice things up with “sliders” but really, why?
Ambiance – 8 … I have had more than one good experience here. The crowd is usually fun.
Bonus X – +1 … In my book, you get extra points for having a good beer selection with a burger. And since this IS my book, voila.