Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, October 8, 2003
We Herd an Explosion

Bluebonnet’s Boom Room serves up some dynamite bar food — including a buffalo burger.


Boom Room

3516 Bluebonnet Circle, FW. 817-924-7331. M-F 3pm-2am, Sat noon-2am, Sun 11:30am-2am. All major credit cards accepted.

Let’s face it: bar food usually blows, so much so that you’d have to be inebriated to even think about ordering any, let alone actually consuming the stuff. The key ingredients are, simply, fat and salt, the better to parch your throat and make you wanna order another beer (or eight). Who else but someone whose hidden agenda is selling you and your party more alcohol could have dreamed up an evil perversion of food like buffalo wings? A lot of work for little sustenance there, bud. (And with such tiny wings, it’s no wonder those big animals can’t fly.)

A noteworthy exception among local watering holes is the Boom Room, ensconced since this past summer in the old Bellagio’s location on Bluebonnet Circle. It’s easy to miss on your first reconnaissance. I only found it because I’d taken a break from watching a band at a nearby studio and realized this place was the one whose jukebox I’d heard people drooling over. Step inside, and the joint defines “unassuming”: pool table and video games in a small side room, a half-dozen booths, a couple of smaller tables near the bar. Board games (and a chess board!) scattered around. The short menu’s as unassuming as the décor — the usual assortment of chips ’n’ dips, burgers, sandwiches, and, uh, salads (although we don’t know many people who go to a bar to eat a salad).

Now, I’m inordinately fond of cozy, quiet little places. The problem with such establishments is that they tend to go belly-up if they can’t manage to draw bigger crowds. The Boom Room is within rock-throwing (well, slingshot) distance of TCU and the associated strip of West Berry, but, so far, only a handful of neighborhood denizens appear to have dropped by. A pity, since the food is ace and well within the budget of a college student whose daddy doesn’t let her go wild with that black American Express card.

The real reason to eat at the Boom Room is the buffalo burger — which has nothing to do with those wings mentioned earlier. Au contraire, this is the meat of those noble beasts that once roamed the plains and now look so disgusting shedding their coats at the Fort Worth Nature Center. Since reading Dan Malone’s Fort Worth Weekly story on bison ranching (“Believing in Buffalo,” July 9-15, 2003), I’d been kinda curious to try some of this stuff. Our attentive and knowledgeable server explained to me and my guest that buffalo is “as tasty as beef, as lean as chicken.”

The Boom Room’s buffalo burger probably won’t ever be as popular as, say, Kincaid’s traditional patty — that’s likely because folks would rather stick to what they know than try something “different.” But this particular Boom Room delicacy, as I’ve discovered, the perfect way to satisfy a greedy hunger for something you can really sink your teeth into, especially as preparation for a round of pub-crawling on West Berry. (Mom always told us you can’t live on alcohol alone, and she might have been right.) The buffalo burger is substantial but light, with a consistency that’s less dense than your typical burger and a flavor that’s just a little sweeter than beef. The meat’s not gamey at all, and, while the health benefits of ranch-raised bison might be debatable, it definitely leaves you feeling less stuffed than you would after scarfing down an equivalent amount of beef. You might not feel more spiritually complete (despite the claims of some new-agey buffalo ranchers), but your hunger will surely be satisfied.

Those with heartier appetites are directed, believe it or not, to the grilled chicken sandwich, which must come from a bird the size of Dallas. The humongous chicken breast my guest and I ordered was hanging off the bun in every direction, practically begging for a knife to divide it into “now” and “later” portions. Bite into it, and it reveals itself to be preternaturally moist and tender. No fancy marinade here, just a simple, smoky, slightly peppery flavor. If you’re not up to all that bread, the chef will be glad to serve up a topless bird with big stacks of steamed vegetables on the side. And for our vegetarian friends, there’s even a portobello mushroom burger.

You’ll pay extra for fries (waffle or steak), but the portions are generous enough for two. We went for the waffle fries, which are a little crispier than their steak brethren, although our server assured us that they’re not fried three times (as one dinner companion had previously heard — another urban legend bites the dust). And surprise, surprise, nothing came swimming in grease, usually the sine qua non of bar eats.

A helpful hint: While the chicken quesadillas are, at six bucks, the priciest item on the Boom Room’s small menu, they’ve been available free of charge every time we’ve visited, no matter what time of day or night, from a steamer on the snack table that also offers perpetual chips and salsa.

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