Coal Burger (The Woodlands, TX)
So why the hell would I drive an hour away to eat a burger in the Woodlands? Good news for all is that I went with Annie and Chris to the Southern Star Brewery in Conroe first. They opened up at 1pm to us and while the heat was almost unbearable, the line for the beer was nice and short and the waloon cold and amazing. After a few beers each, we decided to head back into the woodlands and randomly walk into Hubbell and Hudson for some much needed air conditioning and also to check out what kinda food they were putting out. In previous tweets I heard about Coal Burger and was vaguely familiar with the idea that Grimaldi’s was heading into the burger making business. A quick walk back towards Grimaldi and some questions later, we found ourselves at Coal Burger.
Don’t go looking for the signs, why? because there are none to be seen. You can barely make out the signage. First impression? Impressive, clean counter service layout, fairly extensive menu with options galore. Pricing? A bit on the high side, but justified if they can make a great burger in that coal fire oven. We stepped to the counter and I said to the manager, Half Pound Bacon Cheese Burger with Sweet Potato Fries and a Quarter Pound Green Chile Burger for her. Medium Rare on both please. “Sorry we are unable to do that because of our coal burning ovens, they are prepared more well done.” With burgers from The Burger Guys, Hubcap Grille and others, I’m used to a medium rare burger with some amazing toppings. I’m willing to give anything a try once. As we finished our orders I walked by the soda machine and noticed they were dispensing real sugar sodas from Boylan. I love their Ginger Ale, so I decided to go back and order a couple of sodas as well.
5 minutes later our burgers arrived wrapped up and accompanied with fries. Simple enough looking bun, thick cut bacon and pickles, single patty covered in cheese with a bit of lettuce below. Ooze? None, it essential lived up to the name, a piece of coal. The burger closely resembled what I’d expect from Five Guys or Smashburger, but at this pricepoint of $7.99 and $3.00 for sweet potato fries and an additional $2.50 for a drink didn’t make this meal exactly cheap.
As I would notice from a previous blog post from @htownchowdown, the half pound burger should have been two patties instead of my pathetic single patty. Would that have changed my outlook on the situation? Probably not, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt it either. With the revised price point of $12.44 for a “combo” if you will, it’s certainly cheaper than my favorites at Hubcap and Burger Guys, but it doesn’t even come close in terms of quality and perceived value. As compared to Five Guys and Smashburger, hell even Carl’s Jr? Possible match up in the works there. I’m fairly convinced there is nothing of quality in The Woodlands except for the random cute white girls and Hubbell and Hudson, but chases are you’ll find both in one spot randomly walking around the high end supermarket. Even in the instance of finding both in one place, just like Coal Burger, I’ll pass.
2.5/5: #failburger with thick cut bacon? no thanks. maybe another trial when they are fully aware of what it takes to make a great burger.