Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In re Lankford Grocery

Before the Burger Court of Houston, Texas
Docket No. 2
HEARD JULY 14, 2009

Before GUTTING, BRINKMANN, LAHAD. for the court filed by GUTTING, J, in which JJ. LAHAD and BRINKMANN join.

GUTTING, J. Before the court is the submission of Lankford Grocery and Market of Houston, Texas (“Lankford”). A long-time leader in the Texas burger culture and recently recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as the 39th best burger in the state, a recent circuit split has emerged regarding Lankford. To resolve this dispute in extremely important area of burger law, we granted certiorari.

We hold that Lankford provides an exceptional burger, worthy of special effort to seek out and enjoy, and merits an A rating. The opinion of the Texas Burger Guy is affirmed; Alison Cook's Burger Friday review is overturned and cited as erroneous precedent.

Lankford is a shack in a strange corner of mid-town, surrounded by new townhouses that should only be so lucky to reach the age of the Lankford building in any shape at all. Inside, you always get the feeling Lankford might come falling down on you at any moment, leaving you to find the most convenient escape route that also will allow you to emerge with a burger in hand.

There's no lack of local color about the place, and the burgers reflect a simplicity that is so easily forgotten in this day of American kobe burgers and sliders. You can go single or double. Maybe some chili. Perhaps the Soldier burger with its fried egg on top. Nothing fancy. Everything delicious.

The Court reviewed three burgers: (1) a double with cheese; (2) a double without cheese; and (3) a Soldier burger.

The Hamburger
These burgers were glossy, sexy pieces of ground beef. The moment they arrived, fresh off the griddle and projecting steam, you could feel as if something magical might be happening this day. An initial sample of the patty alone heightened expectations and senses even more: juicy, rich, an archetype of what a burger should be. Not too much salt. Not too much seasoning. Just the purity of beef that is too often lost by purveyors who don't have the courage to stand on the quality of their ingredients alone.

The patties are hand-formed and roughly a half pound. The double was a candidate to give diners lockjaw due to its height, which was enhanced by a stack of lettuce, tomato, and chopped onion. On the cheeseburger, American slices oozed nicely, but the hamburger also seemed as juicy overall. The Soldier burger achieves a mayonnaise-like quality to its toppings with the over-easy egg. There were plenty of pickles on each patty, a welcome thing with such pure beef flavor. Mayonnaise was appropriate, and the mustard -- too often prone to taking over and dominating the flavor -- used judiciously. Too many burgers suffer from excessive mustard. This is a hamburger, not a musburger.

The burgers came out a barely medium-well, with plenty of retained juice and no signs of dryness-inducing griddle-pressing that lesser establishments insist upon to speed cooking. A solid crust formed on the outside of the patties. These were burgers that begged to be eaten. This was ground beef in excelsis, enhanced by light salt and pepper.

The bun isn't artisan or fancy. This is the style of bun that is meant to create a neutral canvas for a burger, and it can be used to excellent effect in a case such as this, where the meat needs no supporting cast. Bun integrity was strong on the double burgers. Perhaps they are a touch airy for some, but this was not a detriment in the opinion of the Court.

On this day, the Court declined to hear evidence on side dishes. We deemed the Circuit split to be of such high importance that all efforts must be concentrated on strict scrutiny of the burgers themselves. In accordance with our prior precedent, see In re Mel's Country Cafe, supra, we decide the case of Lankford Grocery on the merits without consideration of side dishes. The Court does take judicial notice that Lankford's fries are generally average to slightly above average, while their onion rings are above average.

The Court would like to make special mention of the cherry cobbler ordered this day. While the issue of cobbler need not be reached in order for the Court to render judgment, this cobbler cannot go without discussion. The Court expressly notes its willingness to dismiss with prejudice any claims of merit advanced by the Lankford Grocery cherry cobbler, which contained precisely one cherry in an entire bowl that more resembled a Hostess fried pie crumbled up and put in the microwave. This abomination is unworthy of an establishment of Lankford's stature.

Lankford Grocery produces a burger that is worthy of Best In Houston consideration. It will be difficult for any restaurant to top the merits of this burger. As a result, we award Lankford an A grade. The opinion of the Texas Burger Guy is AFFIRMED. The opinion of Alison Cook is OVERRULED and the case remanded to her for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


LAHAD, J. concurring. I concur in the holding announced today but write separately to admonish Lankford Grocery's appalling cherry cobbler. While none of the parties in the case at bar moved to sanction Lankford, and my brethren on this Court persuaded me that it would be unnecessary judicial activism to act sua sponte, the cherry cobbler offered by Lankford would warrant hefty sanctions and possibly a contempt order. As an officer of this Court, Lankford has a duty to provide accompaniments that meet both gustatory and ethical standards. This alleged "dessert" fails to meet either; Lankford's cherry cobbler is, simply put, the pits.


Frank Moore said...

did you see (cough) Guy Fieri's coverage of Lankford on "Triple D?" Although he is annoying, some of the places he goes on that show look kick ass.

Continue jumping the shark!

Ed Wrath said...

E.Wrath concurs. You opinions read better than something authored by the ECJ. Great stuff.

Eating The Road said...

I really like Lankford Grocery & Market: