Sasol isn’t the only big news to hit Westlake these days. Round Top Burger House is definitely a drawing card since it opened its doors three months ago just west of the Calcasieu River.
Located on the corner of Sampson and McKinley streets, cars always fill the parking lot during the peak hours of lunch and dinner. Even though the food is made fresh to order, it’s easy to be in and out in less than an hour if you are dining in.
As residents of Westlake, my husband Allen Seal and I have called in orders “to go” several times and been very satisfied with our selections. But last Friday, we opted for a double date with my parents, Gilbert and Ginny Fontenot. We wanted them to experience the flavorful food we have come to enjoy when we feel like treating ourselves.
Seeing how crowded Round Top is on a regular basis when I pass it on my way home from work, we all met at the restaurant at 6 p.m. in hopes of beating the dinner rush. We arrived just in time for me to snap an interior photo near the entrance before all the tables started filling up. Most of them were already filled with customers in the main dining area. A picnic table outside near the entrance can accommodate any overflow crowds or to simply enjoy when the weather is pleasant.
I can see why people enjoy dining in. Owners Lisa and David Query have created a laid back, casual atmosphere with a flair for a simpler time of life. Sprinkled throughout the restaurant are photos that take customers on a trip down memory lane, especially if you are from Westlake and surrounding areas. No worries though if you want to keep up with current events. There are three flat-screen televisions placed in various corners of the restaurant.
Customers are greeted with Southern hospitality as they place their orders at the counter. Payment is made at that time. Once you find a place to sit, your name is called when the order is ready. The hardest part for me was trying to decide what to order since everything on the menu sounded so good. They offer a variety of specialty burgers, sandwiches, po-boys and salads, as well as fried catfish.
As my usual order is the traditional hamburger, the fried catfish basket caught my eye, so I opted for that choice for my “dining in” experience. With Lent right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to see if I liked it for future visits. I was convinced with every bite I took that I made the right decision. I can see why it is referred to as the “House Special” on the menu. The catfish was some of the most flavorful and crisp seafood I have ever tasted. Living in Southwest Louisiana, that is saying a mouthful.
The secret is in the batter, I was told. When I asked one of the employees how the fish is fried, she mentioned mustard as being a key ingredient. I’m not the only one who was raving about the catfish fillets. It’s one of the top-selling items on the menu. The basket includes two large catfish fillets — cut and fried in eight easy-to-eat pieces — crinkle fries and Texas toast. After my husband and parents finished their meals, there was still plenty of fish to sample from my order. Something tells me more catfish will be ordered in the near future.
In addition to the catfish basket, other menu favorites, according to an employee, are the Mad Dog Burger (jalapenos, jalapeno mayonnaise and pepper jack cheese), Triple Po-boy (turkey, ham, roast beef, American, provolone and Swiss cheese), and the Bacon Cheddar Burger (pepper bacon and cheddar cheese).
Allen went for the Bacon Cheddar Burger, a repeat for him time and time again. He said he keeps going back to it because it’s “just so good and flavorful.”
The Mushroom Swiss Burger was calling Ginny’s name, even though she ordered it without the cheese. All menu items are prepared “all the way” unless you say otherwise. Ginny especially liked that the onions on her mushroom burger were grilled, and she noted how big and juicy it was. She ordered the burger for $4.49, but she had the option of ordering a meal for $7.49 to include fries and a medium drink. All burger and sandwich choices offer the meal option.
Another specialty burger is the Western Burger (barbecue sauce, provolone cheese and homemade cole slaw). Of course, it wouldn’t be a hamburger restaurant without a regular hamburger and cheeseburger. All burgers are made with a third pound of fresh 100 percent beef patties with lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, regular or jalapeno mayonnaise and mustard.
The hamburgers aren’t the only things that will satisfy your hunger pangs. Not realizing just how large it would be, Gilbert ordered a whole roast beef and cheese po-boy. As a friendly tip, unless you have an appetite like a horse or you want to split a whole one with someone, Gilbert would suggest ordering a half if you are the only one eating it. In his case, I guess you could say his eyes were bigger than his stomach, so he ended up taking the other half home. It was so big and juicy because of the specialty house made au jus gravy, he ended up eating most of it with a fork and knife. Note to self: have plenty of napkins close by when eating the roast beef po-boy. Juicy and messy, but good.
Our total bill for four adults was $37.29 which included three drinks, two orders of fries and one order of onion rings. Incidentally, the onion rings are the big, fat ones; not the skinny, stringy ones.
Something new to the menu from the last time I ordered, are salads. Choices are chef, grilled chicken, and burger salads, priced at $6.99 each. Sounds perfect for anyone who is trying to cut back on carbs and stay away from bread. Truth be told, they sounded so delicious, I went back the next evening and picked up the grilled chicken and burger salads for our dinner. Once again, Round Top did not disappoint.
After the five-star rating I gave the fried catfish, I was especially glad to learn that Round Top Burger House will feature a few shrimp selections during the Lenten season — shrimp salads, shrimp baskets, and shrimp po-boys. Works for me. If they are as delicious and popular as the catfish, which is also offered in the form of a sandwich and a po-boy, the shrimp selections might remain as regular menu items. I’m crossing my fingers and toes on that one.
Additional sandwich choices include grilled chicken and BLT. Other po-boy options are turkey and cheese, and ham and cheese. Po-boys, served on a New Orleans style bun, are offered in half and whole sizes, with the exception of the fried catfish, which is only offered in the half-size.
Fries, onion rings and chips can be ordered as sides if they aren’t included in any of the meal options. A children’s menu includes chicken nuggets, corn dog and grilled cheese sandwich and includes fries and 12-ounce fountain drink or juice.
Drink options include self-serve fountain drinks, sweet and unsweetened tea, or bottled water.
Round Top Burger House is certainly living up to the reputations of prior businesses in the same location — King Cole Ice Cream Stand in the 1960s, and Perkins Fat Burger in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
This is one double date I won’t soon forget. Great company, delicious food, and super-friendly service. Whether we opt for “take-out” or “dining in,” Round Top will definitely be seeing more of us in 2013.