December 1st, 2009

Petrol Station: With Love and Rancor

In 5 Words: Hulk, Carnivore, Refuel, Pint, Hippie,

Having a little chat with some of my foodie-inclined coworkers over some office petrol, one mentioned a new place called the Petrol Station, off Ella past 34th street, just outside the loop. The more he talked about it, the more interesting it sounded, so I logged it into my brain’s food directory as I headed back to my desk. Later that weekend, some friends of mine and I are sitting in traffic on the loop very near Ella and 610. With our stomachs on “E,” we decide to fuel up at the Petrol Station. After a little Google map magic and some tight traffic maneuvers, we are on our way to this cool new place (know-it-alls, please hold your patience I am building for a dramatic turn).

The application displays decent directions, but as we twine further into the neighborhood streets, we are all losing faith in the Google. Then, in the dark distance, a faint light, different than the other porch lights, dawns. It is muted, yet full of promise, as it presides over a packed parking lot. We have arrived. I angle the car into a lucky spot off Wakefield Street and head for the door. The place is small and as my friend trips over the electric cord charging a moped I realize that Petrol is definitely Loopster bent.

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The patio of this converted gas station is full of patrons and beer-induced conversations while the interior is unnecessarily dark and packed. There are all types within the walls of the Petrol Station: Old and Young, Hippie to Hipster, Gay, Straight, Drunk and Drunkards, grown adults and babies. Yup, babies. From some reviews that I’ve read, it’s not a singular event.

We quickly circle around to lay claim to the only unoccupied table in the cramped interior. There is a menu waiting for us, so we begin to peruse the choices: Burgers, Sandwiches, and the random shepherd’s pie. The entrees have names like Mary’s Lamb, The Rancor and the Hungry Hippie turkey sandwich. (Please forgive any inaccuracy in the names. Between the poor light and the dark brews, I am not able to take legible notes or photos of the menu. Feel free to correct me in the comments, if I don’t beat you to it).

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We decide on our meals and wait at the table for our server…and wait…getting hungrier. I jump up and head to the bar, no full service at this station. The bar tender is casual, friendly and speedier than he looks. He has a good knowledge of their beer selections, and his advice leads me to a great coffee porter and some interesting stouts. I order our food and drinks and take our number back to the table, beers in hand.

As the food arrives, it receives the welcome it deserves, and we quickly devour our burgers. I attack the Rancor, an all beef patty topped with bacon, a fried egg and all the trimmings, plus a side of fresh cut French fries. Across from me, my fellow refuelers split “The Hulk,” a burger heaping with anything that can be fit between ground beef and bun. As the basket is put in front of them it almost seems like the sandwich was designed for two. I’ll happily take my equally loaded Rancor for one.

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All the burgers are amazing. I don’t know if I can say that they are the best burgers ever, I’ll leave that to Alison Cook, but they are delicious. The beer, burger and atmosphere concoct a magical carnivorous moment. The roll of paper towels at the table is a provision appreciated to clear the evidence of our culinary conquest before venturing into the better-lit, business world.

I am enthusiastic about this new find and excited to bring you, dear Loopsters, this amazing and unique place. Mouth wiped and final dregs topped off, I move to the bar to pay the tab and casually ask about the idea behind the Petrol Station and how long they’ve been open. The bartender is eager to say that they are dedicated to beer, coffee and good food, with an emphasis on the beer. He goes out of his way to explain that they are not beer snobs, rather beer connoisseurs, a very reasonable distinction that I can fully appreciate. I encourage you to learn more over a pint when you make it by. As I sign the tab, he mentions that they are going on their fourth year in business! To my dismay, my “new” scoop is now dashed, but my enjoyment and experience are still as fervent, and this scoop is still relevant. The Petrol Station is a Houston neighborhood gem and I encourage you to stop by if you ever find yourself stuck in 610 traffic between meals, whether they are liquid or solid. You won’t be disappointed.

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Their Facebook page will keep you abreast of some of their events and special samplings. Hopefully you checked out the Regular Scoop last week (11-23-09) for the Sam Adams Utopia Sampling. Only 53 barrels were produced and at $180 bottle and $10 an ounce it would have been an adventure. That’s 27% alcohol by volume. Check out a detailed write-up in Ronnie Crocker’s at the Houston Chronicle. If you missed out you can look forward to Petrol Station’s promis of a special Saint Arnold Brew for their Christmas Party!

After several re-fuelings, I’ve still never made it to the coffee so let us know if you’ve tasted the leaded brew at Petrol.

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NOTES and TIPS:

- It’s literally in the middle of a neighborhood
- Parking is tight so be prepared to park on the street
- Ask for beer advice: dark, light, hoppy or wheat they are all good!
- There’s an extra patio in the back
- Darts are available if you’re lucky enough to get there first

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Where – 985 Wakefield Houston, TX 77018 , we’re sure, keep driving (Map)
What – Burgers, Beer. By beer we mean the ones you see  on commercials
Wear – evidently diapers are OK, so I think your flip flops are cool
How Much – 2 draught beers and 2 burgers w/Fries are 27 bucks
When – Mon: 5:00 pm – 12:00 am, Tues – Fri: 2:00 pm – 12:00 am,
Sat: 11:00 am – 1:00 am, Sun: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
WebFacebook Fan Page
Old School Digits – (713) 957-2875

— Aaron

Comments

Josh Being Josh — Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:22 am

Love the experiential writing style AJ. Pics are great, too. Is there a good back story for “gas station to bar”? Who owns it now? Hopefully some guy in overalls.

The place sounds cool, but would be even cooler if they served crude oil on tap.

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