When is a burger joint not just a burger joint? When it’s Twisted
“Our Burgers Are Sofa King Good” proclaims a sign on the wall at Twisted Root Burger Co. “Rich milkshakes, poor staff” the writing continues on the windows. The menu refers to salads and other lite fare as “sissy stuff,” proudly setting to tone for this jokey, relaxed, fun hamburger joint. How can you not want to stop by and check it out?
Popping in for grins in one thing. Coming back for the food is quite another. But that’s one score where this Company’s stock continues to rise.
Occupying the Deep Ellum space that previously housed the Crescent City Cafe, Twisted Root highlights its we’re-all-about-the-food ethic with intentionally half-assed atmosphere: Corrugated steel lines the walls, rolls of paper towel easily with reach, bottle-cap-topped bar tables. (There’s also patio dining available, but what sane person would want to sit outside in this heat? Come to think of it, these guys might.)
But the breezy attitude belies a serious interest in making quality food. The principal owners all are graduates of culinary school and have experience working with local heavyweight chefs like Doug Brown (Amuse, The Landmark). And how many burger houses can you name that have homemade ice cream created by a pastry chef for the Four Seasons?
Predictably, the menu is limited to a narrow range of bar food, but even so, execution stands out.
The restaurant’s name comes from their version of fries, made variously of potatoes, yams and onions (all root vegetables get it?). The twist comes from the preparation: You won’t get hearty steak-fries or slender-cut juliennes, but rather long strands of wafer-thin veggies. A basket of them ($1.49) looks like Little Orphan Annie’s hair, a tangle of interlocking curls, deep-fried and apparently sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. Delicious stuff. (The beer-battered onion rings were a bit labored and too densely coated.)
We tried the chicken sandwich ($5.99) twice. One was as uncomplicated and as fine as any we’d ever come across. The other was something of a mess, with bits of gristle and the bun slightly burned. But even the disappointment had a fine flavor to it.
That might now sound like a major accomplishment how difficult is it to make a prosaic chicken sandwich? But the seasoning on Twisted Root’s simply tasted better than we’re used to.
The homemade ancho-chipotle ketchup is alone good enough to turn an average burger into a near-gourmet experience, but these are already close. Burgers (made of black angus beef, turkey or vegan) are charbroiled to give a smoky-carbon edge to the nicely-seasoned patty. The buns are toasted, and the condiments and additions lettuce, tomato, onion seemed fresh and crisp.
Ordering a milkshake is a must. Made from in-house ice creams, the rotating menu offers everything from a coconut cream pie shake with countless chunks of real toasted coconut to excellent vanilla to an alcoholic banana split that packs a kick. (The bar even has some signatures drinks that include dollops of sorbet.)
Service is casual but pleasant. One of the owners is usually out front, glad-handing with the customers and keeping the atmosphere light and welcoming.
Twisted Root demands that you put aside stereotypes about dive-looking eateries that blast in country music and bring you ketchup in a plastic squeeze container. Come hungry, and expect to be surprised.
Twisted Root Burger Co., 2615 Commerce St. Open Monday-Saturday. 214-741-7668.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 11, 2006.