Gilded Hemp

Perhaps the best known burger from the Petrol Station’s menu is the Rancor, a beast of an Angus beef burger with bacon, bacon, and more bacon, topped with a fried egg – fully living up to its portcullis-prone Star Wars namesake. Finishing one of these monstrosities is a feat unto itself, as patrons tackle the towering patty, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion crowned with crispy bacon and oozing with runny yolk. All of the burgers at Petrol are good, especially the lamb burger, but the Rancor is iconic, and almost as synonymous with the bar as their craft beer selection.

While the kitchen is undergoing renovation, patrons have had to go without their Rancors. There has been a steady stream of food trucks keeping bellies full, but only one truck has seen fit to pay homage to that epic burger: the Wicked Whisk. The truck is part of a larger catering company, so they have considerable culinary resources at their disposal that other start-up trucks might not enjoy. But they clearly love what they do, and certainly demonstrate their prowess when diving from somebody else’s spring board. And if the hallmark of a good business model is to “leave them wanting more,” the Wicked Whisk has certainly done so.

The first thought that came to mind when biting into the Wicked Rancor was “gilding the lily,” but I always thought of the Petrol Rancor as a sort of plougman’s lunch: a hearty, working man’s special, heaped with toppings, no frills added. Let’s face it, a lily isn’t all that useful a plant. At least with, say, hemp you can make a rope or something. It’s like, geez, lily, get off your ass and do something productive. So is the Wicked Whisk “cable-reinforcing the rope” of sorts? I’m not sure that expression will catch on, but regardless, they did an admirable job of recreating the classic. It was a bit smaller than the Petrol version, but the beef patty was a perfect medium-just-shy-of-medium-rare, with runny egg crispy at the edges, expertly sliced fresh veggies − and the coup de grâce − sorghum-candied bacon, all on a lightly toasted bun with Japanese-inspired mayo. Petrol proprietor Ben Fullelove eyed the proceedings curiously, asking me how the effort came off. I assured him the original can’t be topped, but the Wicked Whisk version was excellent, particularly with the house-made chips  I ordered on the side, dusted with a Cajun cayenne seasoning, and a cold craft brew from the taps.

I’ve been delighted with the rotation of food trucks at one of my favorite craft beer haunts. The Rancor is always going to have a loyal following, but even if the Wicked Whisk version is like putting lipstick on a Pa’lowick, it’s a hefty burger worthy of a Hutt-size appetite, and those chips are a perfect pub snack. Operating out of North Houston, in the Woodlands and Conroe areas, and often focusing on catering gigs, the Wicked Whisk truck can be hard to catch up with, so I was impressed that they took the time to express their culinary chops on the Petrol classic rather than just showing off their own creations, and the Wicked Rancor left me eager to try some of the truck’s other dishes.

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