Let’s just say that, on Saturday, Mrs Heathen and I had a little too much fun. It started at Phil’s BBQ for the WC match, and continued for reasons not entirely clear at Beaver’s, where Claire Sprouse made souses of us with her delicious cocktails.
So some recovery was in order on Sunday — although let the record show that Mrs Heathen still went and ran nearly 6 miles on Sunday morning, so three cheers for her. We lazed about, had a nap, watched Argentina dismantle Mexico, and eventually felt the need to venture into the world again as much for fun as for food. And that’s when I remembered something: We’d not yet been to Rockwell Tavern.
I am an unashamed inner-loop snob. I rarely leave Montrose. I consider it a hike if I have to go to the Galleria (seriously: I just mail-ordered a laptop battery rather than go to the Apple store), and most typically am leaving town if I get more than an exit or two beyond 610, so the whole idea of driving to Cypress for a fucking hamburger is something that, well, most of the time I’d just laugh off. But for some reason on a lazy Sunday afternoon it seemed reasonable, so we packed a bag and lit out for the territories. (For the record, Rockwell is 25 miles from our house; on a Sunday at five, you can do that in about half an hour, but God help you during the week.)
About 40 minutes later (!) we pulled into the lot. I’ve lived in Houston for 16 years, and this is the first time I’ve been this far out on 290. Cypress is miles past the beltway, for crying out loud. I thought about tweeting a pic, but I had no 3G service out there. The reviews are right; you’re in the ass end of the universe, and it looks like nothing so much as the rural world I visit when I want to shoot at doves.
The strip center itself is an exercise in halfassery — there’s an unfinished something next door to Rockwell, full of piles of building materials. This mode extends to Rockwell’s own facilities, which despite being fairly new (Robb Walsh says they opened in January 2009) is already pretty ramshackle. And features an empty aquarium. The bar itself is a baroque thing distinctly out of place in what amounts to a giant featureless room with insufficient A/C, but stay with me, dear reader, for all sins are forgiven by what comes next.
There was next to no one in the place at about 6 on a Sunday, so we were immediately seated. I was again sad for our hungover state, as the beer selection out there is pretty impressive for any address, let alone one halfway to Bastrop. We weren’t there for beer, though. Mrs Heathen ordered some fried pickles for an appy, and they proved tasty if under-drained; after that, though, came the main courses.
I followed St Walsh’s lead and had the King Bubba, a half-pound of fresh ground meat topped with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. Mrs Heathen went with the Psychedelic Hendrix (“like Jimi, chock full of ‘shrooms!”). There’s not much I can say that Walsh or Alison Cook didn’t already say, but:
Holy Jesus, these are some good goddamn hamburgers. The slightly sweet egg bun, toasted to perfection, is a fantastic complement to its crispy and greasy cargo (and, shockingly, held up well for the duration of the meal). You need to go here, and eat these. Now. Especially the Bubba. I have not had a better burger, I’m sad to say, and I wish more than anything these cats would open a branch somewhere I don’t need provisions to visit. Both Walsh and Cook ding Rockwell for their onion rings, and they’re absolutely right; skip the rings and go with either their fantastic sweet potato fries or the handcut traditional fries. Both are outstanding. Oh, and don’t bother with an appetizer; we forgot all about the pickles as soon as the burgers and fries hit the table (Which was quick! Service was outstanding.), and had way more food than we needed. Now, if only we didn’t need to take vacation time and pack a change of clothes to eat there again…