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Back to School –
“Bernie’s is legit”! That is the text I received from a friend about a year ago. This new burger
place restaurant thing was happening. You could call it a food truck but its actually a food school bus. If only I was this excited as a kid to see an actual school bus. This is the story, supposedly Houston Rockets player, Shane Battier, had a personal chef. Shane leaves to play for Memphis, the chef stays and starts dishing out gourmet burgers from the back of a school bus…. And everyone was going crazy for it! Is it true? I hope so because I was getting excited too. So how does one track down a moving burger target? You’ve got to be connected dude! Bernie’s is all over social media. Locations and times to find the bus are announced daily on the bird noise website and the book of faces along with supplemental updates and promotions. The bus has also been getting good reviews from some respected friends of Burger Tyme, specifically Alison Cook’s Burger Friday.
A few nights after receiving that initial text, I decided to try it for myself. Now where to go? This particular Friday night, Bernie’s was going to be parked outside of Lizzards Pub, a laid back bar inside a house, inside of a neighborhood. (Disclaimer: Most of these photos are from a Burger Tyme lunch at Bernie’s parked in front of Inversion Coffee House). So I rounded up the Burger Tyme wife, invited a Burger Tyme buddy to come along, and we made our way on this mini-treasure hunt. When we arrived we saw it. There it was. A bus in the parking lot with people lined up placing orders and large brown paper bags being passed passed through the same tiny window. Keeping with the school bus theme, the changing menu is written in chalk on boards hung like shutters on the window. So we got in line, and waited for Burger Tyme to begin.
The Wheels on the Bus Go Mmm Mmm Mmm –
Home made ketchup, BBQ sauce, and pickles, “tipsy” caramelized onions, fresh ground black angus beef, and burger buns baked daily! Bernie’s definitely leans gourmet. A quick scan of the menu would tell you that every burger combination has been meticulously planned by someone who knows burgers and knows flavors. It did not take long for me to decide on what to order. The Homeroom had my name written all over it. Bacon, Texas cheddar, “tipsy” onions, chipotle aoili, aaaannnnd a fried egg (asked for over medium)! The sides are equally inspiring however I would opt for an order of fresh cut fries. The line slowly shortened in front of us but never seemed to get any shorter behind us. We placed our order through the tiny window, gave our name, and waited at a table on the pub’s porch to hear our name be called over the distorted, cop style loudspeaker.
I don’t know how they all fit, but the four guys I saw inside that bus were whipping out large paper bags full of burgers at an impressive rate… given the circumstance. Our name was called in about 10 minutes. I proceeded to the window and was handed a grocery bag size paper bag. I hurried back to the table, opened the bag, and started divvying up the orders. The burger was much bigger than I expected, like two hands minimum big. This was not the prettiest burger, but man, it looked juicy. Between the patty, the onions, and the fried egg I instinctively reached for a pile of napkins. The first bite was wonderful. Every texture and flavor seemed to complement each other and tricked my senses into singular experience. The patty was perfectly ground, salted, and cooked. The onions added an excellent sweetness to the salty bacon and nutty cheddar, while the spicy creaminess of the aoili and the buttery yolk of the egg kept all flavors in line. Before I knew it the burger was gone. It was that good. The fries were great as well. My single order seemed like two whole potatoes fresh cut, fried to a nice dark golden brown and sprinkled with sea salt They were a wonderful match to the homemade ketchup that had a strong note of worcestershire. So good.
The Wrap It Up –
If you can’t tell by now, I loved the bus. Bernie’s combines everything I love about gourmet burgers with everything I love about scavenger hunts with everything I loved about school…. well, maybe not the last one, but if the buses I rode served burgers like this, I would still be in school. I have yet to mention price. I have mentioned the “G” word but don’t let that scare you. Most burgers are around $8 and fries are a mere $2. You can get as fancy as you like. I’ve been to Bernie’s several times, at several locations, and tried several burgers. All were unique and enjoyable. This is gourmet burgers in a non-gourmet setting but Bernie’s arrangements with the places they park their bus makes me wonder why anyone would not have a school bus.