If Keith Grober tries to hide his enthusiasm about hamburgers, it doesn’t really show. From an explanation on why he prefers house-ground brisket and chuck to the goals he sets for each individual menu entry, his eyes light up and his vocal inflections become a little more evident. Keith Grober is excited about hamburgers. So it’s no surprise, really, to find that he makes exciting hamburgers.
“Straight off, we wanted to take a look at what a burger is, and what a meal is in general – in a complete entree, you can have proteins, starches, vegetables, sauces, garnishes, and a burger can have all of that. So that means you can take it in any different direction you want to, as long as you’re thinking about the different kinds of meals and their flavor profiles,” he says. “It’s the perfect vessel to build on.”
Grober is talking about his approach at Rodeo Goat, where he is the chef and kitchen manager. Established by Sam Wynne of The Flying Saucer, The Rodeo Goat is a decidedly different approach on drinking and eating than any of the Saucer restaurants; a large, graveled patio with fireplaces and bright yellow wooden tables grace the back, while the interior boasts simple concrete flooring and dozens of long, communal tables. There is, of course, beer – and lots of it – but there are only a couple dozen taps as opposed to hundreds, while the selection of bottles and cans is extensive. Liquor and wine are also players in the drink game, but it’s the approach to the food at The Rodeo Goat that rounds out its personality as a lunch and dinner destination rather than just a thoughtfully stocked drinking den.
“We’ve got fifteen burgers, and while we wanted each to have a different theme, we also made sure that the flavors made sense; we didn’t want to do it just to do it,” Grober says. “Take the Salted Sow. It’s got an Italian profile to it – it’s got a caprese salad and Italian sausage with a balsamic mayo. So when you’re thinking of a caprese salad, you’ve got a nice heirloom tomato, really good mozzarella, fresh basil, and then you drizzle some nice balsamic over that. What we did was to put that all together and put some Italian sausage in with the meat.”
And then there’s the Telluride, with green chili chutney and a roasted poblano spread. Or the Caca Oaxaca, the Rodeo Goat’s most popular burger thus far, with Mexican chorizo, avocado, pico de gallo, queso fresco and tabasco mayo. And a fried egg.
“The Caca Oaxaha is kind of like a Mexican torta,” Grober says. “With the chorizo in the meat, well, let’s just say that there’s good reason it’s been the favorite here so far.”
All the beef (cooked to a faintly pink middle) at Rodeo Goat is ground daily, in-house with a brisket-chuck blend, and the bun, as Grober describes it, is ‘brioche-style.’
And for those not interested in eating hamburgers, there are a few salads on the menu to fill the appetite, among them the Haystack: baby romaine lettuce, avocado, beans, roasted corn, queso fresco, spiced tortilla croutons and a salsa-ranch dressing.
As for the drinks, it’s no surprise that a place started by Wynne would have a well constructed beverage menu, and while the selection doesn’t have the quantity of The Flying Saucer or The Meddlesome Moth, it boasts a broad selection nonetheless, from everyday domestics to Texan and American crafts to London Porters and Czech Pilsners.
“We tried to tie everything together here,” Grober says. “Yeah, it’s definitely a kickass place to come have a few beers, but we wanted to make a statement. From making everything from scratch in the kitchen to the drinks themselves, I think there are going to be a lot of people coming to see what we’re all about.”
Keith Grober is excited about the future of the Rodeo Goat. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s got plenty of reason to be.