100 Favorite Dishes: No. 45, Guanciale Burger at Plonk

plonkbburger.jpg
Photo by Troy Fields
This is not your mother's wine bar. And this is not your wine bar's burger.
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus® issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape.

When I first heard that Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro made a great burger, I was skeptical. It's a wine bar, you guys. Wine bars are supposed to have delicate finger food to munch on while sipping rosé, right?

Well, not Plonk. The cozy wine "bistro" offers up the Guanciale Burger, which is essentially a bacon cheeseburger featuring guanciale (unsmoked jowl or cheek meat, most often pork) instead of traditional bacon. At Plonk, however, rather than topping a ground beef burger with a few slices of the fatty, crispy stuff, the chefs grind that sweet cheek meat right into the patty.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Those caramelized onions melt like the best condiment ever.
It's not just the rich, smoky guanciale that makes the burger great, though. It's the way the individual elements play off of each other that makes it so mouth-wateringly delicious.

Mild Gruyère cheese is melted straight onto the buttery bun, which is flecked with thin strips of caramelized shallots, all adding an element of sweetness to the savory dish. The melted cheese on the bun creates a barrier between the burger and bread that keeps the burger moist and the bun decidedly un-soggy.

Together with caramelized onions, these few, simple ingredients -- patty, cheese and bun -- create a totally divine burger experience. It's almost enough to make you say, "Oh, did they have booze here? I forgot."

But don't forget, 'cause nothing pairs with this burger like a bottle glass of a classic, fruity Rioja.

The list so far:
No. 46: Parma 600 Pizza at Pizzeria Solario
No. 47: CFC Deviled Eggs at Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar
No. 48: The El Real Burger at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe
No. 49: Custard Sandwich at Petite Sweets
No. 50: Black Pepper Beer Lobster at Hai Cang Seafood Restaurant
No. 51: Red Dragon Roll at Michiru Sushi
No. 52: Fried Bananas Foster at Custom Confections
No. 53: Bánh Canh Hue at Simply Pho
No. 54: Kimchi Koagie at Koagie Hots
No. 55: The Juicy Lucy Burger at Lowbrow
No. 56: Eggplant Fries at Batanga
No. 57: Macarons at Ganache Dessert Bar
No. 58: Grilled Cheese at The Golden Grill
No. 59: Baklava French Toast at Harry's Restaurant & Cafe
No. 60: Patata e Funghi Pizza at Pizaro's
No. 61: Old Fashioned Frito Pie at Armadillo Palace
No. 62: Korean Spiced Brisket Plate at Revival Market
No. 63: Bánh Mì at Les Givral's Sandwich and Cafe
No. 64: Squirrel Master Burger at Cottonwood
No. 65: Shorty Mac at H-Town StrEATS
No. 66: Enchiladas de Mole at La Guadalupana
No. 67: Bad Ass Hambur-Torta at Pistolero's
No. 68: Green "Hurry Curry" at Nit Noi
No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood
No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery
No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19
No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's
No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac
No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto
No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi
No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas
No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius
No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria
No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch
No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub
No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire
No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches
No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill
No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's
No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie
No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao
No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum
No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar
No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro
No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood
No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub
No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club
No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen
No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra
No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro
No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia
No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme


Location Info

Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

1214 W. 43rd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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