In early 2015, I went on a kolache quest, inspired by memories of my Czech grandmother and by a Bon Appetit story that said kolaches were one of the food trends of that year.
Because I only saw my grandmother every couple of years or so before her death in 1975, I relied on my older sister and an older cousin to fill me in on some kolache knowledge. “The stuff the doughnut shops call kolaches aren’t,” my cousin Robert said.
My grandmother’s kolache fillings included poppy seed, prune, apricot or cottage cheese. Not cream cheese, a common retail-kolache ingredient, and definitely nothing with meat, which kolache purists says is a klobasnek, not a kolache. Or a pig in a blanket.
One of the places I visited on my quest was Pearl Snap Kolaches, a then-new hangout in a strip on White Settlement Road where it begins to bend at Virginia Place.
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“I can’t tell you how many times a day somebody comes in and asks, ‘What’s in your meat kolache?’ ” co-owner Wade G. Chappell told me. “And I say, ‘Well, technically, they’re not kolaches. They’re klobasneks.’ And they’ll say, ‘Ah! I’m Czech, and I wanted to check and make sure you knew what you were talking about!’ ”
Chappell is not Czech, and although he respects the tradition, he’s not exactly a purist either. Wonder what people are saying about the kolache burger ($8), which he introduced April 15 after promoting it at the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival.
The burger: Aside from the kolache bun, this is about as basic as its gets: two thin patties, melted American cheese. It reminded me of burgers I “made” growing up, although my mom did most of the work forming the patties. You want condiments? They’re in little packets in buckets hanging from one of the support posts inside Pearl Snap.
The patty: Well, patties — as noted, two thin patties, cooked just short of well-done. Total dryness was avoided, but my DFW.com burger colleagues, who sometimes snort at a medium patty’s lack of pink, would look askance at this.
The bun: It’s rare that the bun is the featured attraction on a burger — even the Hawaiian rolls at Dutch’s play a supporting role — but that’s the case here. It’s the kolache without the filling, a pleasing, doughy, slightly sweet mouthful that doesn’t overwhelm what’s inside.
The toppings: When DFW.com does its odd-year Burger Battles, we invariably hear from purists who just want a basic burger, not something with a clever name and things like avocados or chipotles or pimento cheese crawling on top of the meat.
Unconventional bun aside, this burger might be for them. It does have cheese, but we presume you can ask for it cheeseless. Other than the bun and the cheese, though, there’s nothing adorning this burger. Not even a pickle slice. It’s about as modest and minimalist as it gets.
The sides: For an additional $2, you can get a drink and a bag of chips. My drink was an iced tea, generously refilled, but a couple of guys in front of me went for iced coffees, which does seem more in line with this laid-back, hangout-y place. The chips were Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt & Vinegar. Good brand. By the way, you should get dessert here.
The verdict: The kolache burger is only available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and has only been on the menu for a little more than a week, so evolution might occur. For now, my curiosity is sated. This place does make good kolaches, though, and whatever it can do to attract attention is OK by me.