Apparently a great way to create pent-up demand for a new restaurant is to get a highly visible location next to a busy street, put up a "Coming Soon" sign, and then do nothing for months on end.
Curiosity will abound! Food writers will be flummoxed! And by the second day of business the smallish dining room will be full of patrons ready to see what they've unwittingly been waiting for.
At least that's how it worked for Elevation Burger.
On a stretch of Kirby that includes a McDonald's, a Burger King and a Wendy's, Elevation Burger stands out as a solid, less guilt-inducing option.
The first Houston location opened off of Kirby Drive just north of Highway 59 on Wednesday, and despite the name and mountain imagery, the chain does not hail from Colorado or any other Rocky state, and the "elevated" moniker refers to the ingredients, which are all-natural and organic, a first for a nationwide fast food chain.
The airy dining room mirrors the burger itself: Smallish but with upgraded materials, including one of those space-age soda machines. The menu features the typical triad of burgers (with the addition of vegetarian and vegan options), fries and other healthy sides like mandarin orange slices and a menu of milkshakes.
The namesake Elevation Burger itself has two organic, grass-fed beef patties, with all other ingredients, from cheddar cheese to pickles to caramelized onions, added on individually.
All the calorie counts are on the menu board, and while 510 calories for a double-patty burger isn't exactly diet food, the difference between Elevation burger and other fast food burgers (McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with cheese: 740 calories) is a good argument for organic ingredients in lieu of sodium, preservatives and pink slime.
As for the flavor, I thought the meat itself was a little bland, but the burger was so juicy/greasy that I was reluctant to take it out of the wax paper pocket that it was served in, and the thin-cut fries (cooked in olive oil but still 520 calories) were ever-so-slightly crispy and delicious as was the creamy and light-flavored coffee milkshake with crumbled Oreo.
Elevation Burger might not be the best burger on its particular block (that title still belongs to Haven's enormous Big H Burger, served at lunch only). It might not be the most exciting burger place to open this week (hello, Burger Guys downtown).
But on a stretch of Kirby that includes a McDonald's, a Burger King and a Wendy's, Elevation Burger stands out as a solid, less guilt-inducing option.