Live. Love. Black Bean Burger.

It was a true summer’s day when I went to Lowbrow Restaurant for a lunch date with a friend. The sidewalks were lined with fragrant jasmine bushes and we lazily picked wildflowers as we strolled about a mile through a beautiful neighborhood with elegant brick homes and oak trees providing a natural canopy of shade.

Actually, I didn’t discover Lowbrow Restaurant–it was my friend Abbi’s suggestion, and we had both agreed to scout out this place after perusing the menu online. Before we had even set foot in the restaurant, we had already decided to split two choices: the black bean burger and the “Juicy Lucy”, which was their iconic meat burger.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I have friends who are and they rave about black bean burgers. I was honestly a bit skeptical about the legitimacy of replacing juicy beef with beans (which I don’t like that much anyways) but Lowbrow’s take on the black bean burger was life changing.  Now I’m willing to make an exception.

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It was this gorgeous, hefty sandwich with layers and layers of vegetables, starting with fresh avocados, then onions, sliced tomatoes, and a black bean patty smeared with mayonnaise.  The bread was a soft roll that was lightly toasted and warm, and as I devoured the sandwich I immediately knew that this was a winner. The black bean (which I think was basically just mashed up beans and bits of bean) had a softer sort of consistency than a typical meat patty’s, and the light fried breading on the its outside provided an extra boost of savory, crunchy flavor.

I didn’t even really turn my attention to the Juicy Lucy burger for a while because I was so engrossed by this black bean masterpiece, but I think the Juicy Lucy proved its worth as well. The chef had sliced the burger in half knowing that my friend and I were splitting it, so I could see that the beef (long horn beef, mind you) was stuffed with melted Fontina cheese and jalapenos, which enhanced the food’s ravishing presentation. The meat was also stacked with layers of crispy/pickled shallot and arugula with hand-cut fries on the side that were lightly sprinkled with large granules of salt. But I honestly don’t know how they came up with the burger’s name. I really hope that Lucy wasn’t the name of the poor cow.

Anyways, my friend and I are coffee lovers, so we ordered Vietnamese iced coffee as well. Vietnamese iced coffee distinguishes itself from regular iced coffee by its use of condensed milk instead of usual milk, which I think gives the coffee a creamier, thicker taste that is naturally sweetened by the milk and doesn’t need any sugar or honey.  I was expecting glasses of coffee over ice, but instead the waitress brought us these little metal coffee filters that sat primly on glass mugs that had a bit of condensed milk at the bottom. As the coffee brewed, the liquid dripped through the filter and formed a layer on top of the condensed milk. Watching the coffee filter through was entertaining in itself, and as the dripping finally stopped I mixed the milk and coffee together and then immediately poured it over a glass of ice. And it was delicious–the bold, robust flavor definitely came out despite the sweetness from the milk.

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Then as we sipped our coffee and ate, some dude started playing the movie “Goonies” on a screen…which sort of reminded me of home because who would play a movie in a restaurant (unless you count Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which plays “Forrest Gump” on a reel I’m sure). Sadly, we weren’t able to watch it much. And we probably waddled back to campus instead of walked because we felt like we had gorged to our heart’s content, but the food was truly a Houston gem.


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