Fear of a Tasteless Planet (Restaurant Reviews for Regular Folks), Week 1

That’s right. Starting now, I’ll be reviewing one new local restaurant a week. The only rules are the restaurant must be local, and I must not have eaten there before. I’ll be grading on the following scale…

I think I’m gonna be sick!
I shall return.
Is the cook single?

Because it amuses me, I’ll be doing half-ratings.

And away we go!

5408 Burnet Rd

I have to admit, Austin Diner wasn’t my first choice for this inaugural column. My original pick was Top Notch, the local burger joint made famous in Dazed and Confused. Much to my chagrin, Top Notch was closed when I stopped by on Sunday, so I had to freewheel it. I tooled down Burnet, looking for anything to catch my eye. There was plenty, too. Burnet Road is a Mecca of local eateries, and I haven’t tried most of them. That’s why I spun the wheel to the right when I saw the simple sign that read Austin Diner.

I drove around to the back and parked next to the blue and pink port-a-potties that serve as the diner’s restrooms (complete with port-a-sink!). I climbed out my car, walked around front, and stepped inside a cool little dining room. Austin Diner oozes a strange atmosphere. Maybe it’s the blue and aqua, or maybe it’s the 12″ records haging from the ceiling, or maybe it’s the fwe hundred frog statues filling the place, but Austin Diner grabs ya and don’t let go.

I sat down at the lunch counter (always the best place to eat) and a waitress came buy before I could draw breath. I order an iced tea, cheese sticks, bacon cheeseburger, and fries. Pretty pedestrian meal, but I’m reviewing for regular folks, here, so deal. I was a little nervous when my waitress didn’t write anything down, and I grew a little more nervous when she came back to double-check if I had ordered fries or not, but no biggee, really. She smiled. It made me feel better.

I received my iced tea, and it was about as big as Popeye’s forearm. It was both iced and tea-like. Hit the spot, is the point. My cheese sticks arrived soon after (no marinara, not sure I understand that). Not bad. Five minutes, and I already have some food. Yummy cheese sticks, too.

My burger arrived about five minutes after I finished my cheese. Gotta tell ya, this was one handsome sammich! It came wrapped in clean wax paper, with bacon so big it hung off both sides of the burger. Unfortunately, there were no fries with it. I heard the cooks get scolded by my waitress, though, so I chomped into my burger.

G’damn! I can’t think of any time recently when I’ve tasted a burger so fresh. The bacon was just soooo full of flavor. It was like having a little pig pen in your mouth, and I mean that in the best way possible. I wolfed that bastard down almost before my fries arrived.

And the fries… they had their pros and cons. For one, they were fresh and they were unsalted. Cool! I get to salt them if I want (which I didn’t). On the con side, though, they just weren’t that special; a little less French and a little more fry. Get my meaning? ‘Course you do! I finished up my fries, paid, tipped, and headed home.

Austin Diner’s a great place. There’s not a warmer in sight, so everything you order is fresh off the grill. The staff is friendly, cute, and erlatively good at memorizing orders. The scenery ain’t bad, if you like frogs, and the lunch counter stools are both comfy and easy to scoot around. Beware, though, you might end up eating your fries for dessert, and that’s just not cool.

Austin Diner is open seven days a week, so stop by and order something with bacon on it. You’ll really enjoy it.

Rating: I shall return.5