Dirty Love: You Know You Want It

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In part one of this week's Three Course Meal, we learned about chef Tim Love's inspiration for his Love Shack burger joint, along with a secret, off-menu item he likes to order when he's in the mood for one of his burgers. Yesterday, we shared a recipe for grilled pickles that are available only at Love Shack's Denton location. Today, we're giving you the lowdown on the new Denton location and our thoughts on the Dirty Love Burger.

After months of anticipation, Denton's Love Shack finally opened on April 8. After visiting twice, it'll be a welcome addition to my list of local hangouts.

Chef Love has done a great job on the look, feel and atmosphere of his newest location. Most of the restaurant is taken up with one large dining room. The north and south walls can be rolled up into the high, vaulted ceiling, as they were during my visits, opening the room up to the expansive patios on both sides. The east side of the room is mostly taken up with a stage for music performances. Comfortable tables, the warm spring air blowing though, live music playing, tons of people having a great time (including local songstress Sarah Jaffe during the soft opening, fresh from her appearance on The Ticket) all make Love Shack feel right at home in Denton, as if it's been part of EaDo (Love's description of the area east of downtown) forever.

Most of the food was successful too, starting with Love's signature burger. The Dirty Love Burger is a single patty (you can get an extra patty for about $2 more), topped with American cheese, bacon, a fried quail egg, Love Sauce and the usual accompaniments of lettuce, tomato and pickles.

The burger is served medium with a nice hard sear on the outside. It's a mix of prime tenderloin and brisket -- and yes, you can tell; there's a lot of texture here and a pronounced beefiness you don't get in the average burger. The bacon is high-grade stuff, none of the paper thin, soggy slices you often get on a burger; this is thick, crunchy and very smoky. I have a firm belief that a fried egg improves almost anything, and the quail version provides more evidence here. The yolk, when it combines with the Love Sauce and the meat juices, makes mayo or mustard a waste of time. The burger isn't perfect: the patty itself has a great flavor and texture, but it's on the thin side, and I wished it were juicier.

The fries at Love Shack will be hit-or-miss with many people. Instead of the traditional burger-joint fry, these are more like very thick potato chips cut into long strips.

Denton's Love Shack offers a full bar as well, with nightly happy hour specials from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. The house margarita was fine, and the jalapeño cucumber margarita was fresh, not too sweet and with a slight afterburn.

Bottom line: Denton has another winner in its revitalized downtown. Chef Love, born and raised there, obviously "gets" the local scene with Love Shack's appealing combination of a laid-back atmosphere, friendly service, live music and good food.

The Love Shack

115 East Hickory St., Denton 940-442-6834

Follow City of Ate on Twitter: @cityofate.

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