Just shy of two years ago, I was sitting at the recently opened Ivy Tavern and chowing down on a mediocre pub burger. The burger was dull between toasted sourdough. Overpowering, raw red onion and an under-salted patty left me studying an iron falcon above the bar instead of celebrating the glories of a good beef sandwich. At the time, one of the waiters had even exclaimed, “I didn’t know we had a burger!” It seemed like the chef didn’t, either.
So, when a very solid burger source texted me a photo of Ivy Tavern’s updated version (Ivy Tavern changed chefs in 2015), cheese nearly bubbling through my iPhone, I thought it was time for a revisit.
The Ivy Tavern is a plant-covered rectangle surrounded by car dealerships on Lemmon Avenue. Planes regularly howl above as they descend into Love Field. On a warm weekday evening, the patio is loaded. Patrons are halfway through Makers Mark and cigarettes. Real trees erupt through fake grass, and a pool table goes unused. Thanks to Burger Source, I already know what I’m getting.
I’d heard that Ivy Tavern has a house pimento cheese, so I ask for it medium rare, with that as my topper. The burger is a half-pounder, and, as the menu openly states, a custom blend of Black Angus brisket, short rib and chuck steak ($10.95). Village Bakery’s brioche provides the bookends. Romaine lettuce, a couple of hot red tomatoes and ribbons of pickle also appear.
A thick slab of pimento was the duvet over the hulking patty. A pickle, like a tongue sticking out of a taunting mouth, jutted out of the bun. Yellow mustard painted the bottom bun. Two years ago, the Ivy’s burger was forgettable. Now they’ve got a big, delicious mess on their hands. On first bite, pimento melted into the beef, cut down the center by the samurai that is old-school yellow mustard. Just salty enough. The burger is cooked closer to medium rare than I’ve had in a while. It’s juicy. Like, running down the heel of your palm juicy.
The burger is also a real two-hander; a true bar burger. I can see hightailing it straight to this burger after a long day of air travel. You’ll need an ice-cold beer. It’d probably work before you catch a flight, too. Nothing slides you into warm sleep like a blanket of pimento. The bun was lightly buttered and soft. Threads of onion kept me sane through the pimento. Fries are battered like calamari, which is fine by me.
Halfway through, oxygen masks should have dropped from the ceiling because I was inhaling straight chuck steak. I cleaned it off before I slipped into The Great Meat Sleep.
I had serious fun eating this burger. Is that weird? I wanted to tell other people. I could have stood up and shouted to the patio: “My people, we have a good burger here!” (Imagine it sung like in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical). This is a burger you fly home for.
Ivy Tavern, 5334 Lemmon Ave., theivytavern.net
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