This blurry (seriously? wtf is up with the vibrating burgers?) shot was taken before Chef Julia Wolfson left. (Chef/owner Amy Sweeney has since re-assumed kitchen duties) I read she loves pickling her own whatnots. I like pickled whatnots, especially when it’s along a nice burger:
1/3 lb of funk-free beef, spare use of sharp cheddar, tomato, arugula, slivers of red onion and, of course, brioche buns. The assemblage is nearly perfect, with arugula greens on the bottom, chunks of sharp cheddar atop the patty. Despite the lack of noticeable char, the thick patty, presumably finished off under a salamander, or in an oven, holds itself together nicely. When served medium rare, the patty is perfectly pink with the meaty juice oozing slowly without creating a mess. The bun, tho an airy brioche, offers substantive support like a good sports bra.
At $16, this is the most expensive non-Kobe, non-Wagyu burgers on this hit list, but it is nearly worthy of the price tag as there is no ostensible flaw.
A side note: this burger is served all day, tho the lunch burger is $2 less than dinner and every order comes with delectable shoe string fries.
Next, Beacon. Well.. Beacon isn’t EXACTLY in Hollywood but… Culver City does have Sony Studios and that’s kinda… sorta… in the industry.
This was a beautiful beast: “Caramelized Onions, Nueske Bacon, Gruyere, Sweet Soy Glaze” sharing the bill with a half of pound of lean beef. Enclosing all that was a bun akin to focaccia, with green leaf lettuce and a healthy slice of tomato available on the side; all signs pointed to a fusiony Cal burger. Ed’s note: checked with my burger tasting notes (yes, I have tasting notes) to confirm this bun was actually rustic roll from La Brea Bakery
The greatness of this burger lies within the bun. While many hate anything beyond Wonderbread, I’m the guy who always went to The Bowery for the burger-on-muffin experience. Though Bowery’s muffin offends many, the focaccia-esque meat holders should be palatable to most. With this strong carb base, I was able to chillax and not inhale the meat. However, this burger was no perfect thing. The soy glaze killed the flavor of the beef. Caramelized onion swimming in sweet soy turned this into a Hawaiian teri burger. Quite a shame. Next time, the problem shall be ameliorated by requesting “easy on the sauce”.
This monster has been on the lunch menu for many years, but was made available to dinner diners in September of ’09 by request only. Beacon’s burger, ounce for ounce the most affordable at only $10, is the entry with the most unrealized potential in this round up.
Only previous mention here by Bon Vivant
Like Umami, The name borders on douchery. Like Umami, the croissanty bun borders idiocy. Unlike Umami, the hearty manly 1/2 lb patty reeks of bloody beef. It was as if someone invented the croissandwhich burger. The flaky pastry bun didn’t last all of 1 minute. As anyone will attest, tho I’m not a glutton, a half pounder lasts all of 2 minutes in front of my mouth. I’m never particularly hungry; it’s all a matter of consistency / cleanliness. The burger should be in my belly before the bun’s soggy, before the bloody water drenches the fries on the table, before the hot patty cooks the arugula.
Even with this typical expeditiousness, Cafe Was’ burger was a pile hot mess by the 4th bite. Major bun failure. But good lord, the ginormous 9 oz sirloin patty had great char, perfect diameter, and was married to crispy thin prosciutto. Topping that whole disaster was a sunny side up quail egg AND brie cheese. It was the best oxymoronic burger but it was just too much. Then you have that $15 bottom-less AYCD champagne brunch and it’s hard for good times not to roll.
Niman beef. Brioche bun not too spongy, neutral beef patty. Needs a wee bit of crackling pepper, but had the combo of thin tomato slices with very creamy melty cambazola cheese propping the neutral patty with much needed saltiness. The caramelized onion wasn’t drenched with wine reduction, and the burger really didn’t need the garlic aioli to finish. On Tuesday, this burger is a mere $7 due to BoHo’s 50% off special and would easily rank #1 on the dollar / value ratio charts.
The only misgiving is the missing char crust on the patty which led to a very loose, self destructing assemblage. The high bun-to-patty ratio made it difficult to manipulate the meat. (uhhhhh huhhh.. I said “manipulate the meat”..) It is easy to see why this is a crowd fave. It’s inoffensive, it’s mostly tasty.
Nota bene: I ordered the burger without Thousand Island. All burgers were unmodified except for BoHo. I can’t stand the thought of 1000 Island.
Final surprise, Golden State.
I had zero expectations and with that, came a surprisingly decent burger. Approximately one third pound Niman beef, some fancy white cheddah, crisped thin bacon, and arugula. The patty was substantial, but yet again, I have to complain about porous brioche bun. Too briochey. I had to inhale this baby in 95 seconds as there was simply no way to put down the burger without sopping up all the jus + grease from the medium rare patty. The patty lacked serious char, but was sent to table with a side of aioli (meant for the sweet potato wedges). There was already a thin spread of “housemade” ketchup which yielded some condimental flavoring but things were fine once I bit thru the patty into the arugula. The arugula won me over.
Personal preference: I really love arugula + beef. At $10 including a few wedges of useless yam, this is, on a day to day basis, the go-to burger of the bunch.
Now comes the question: what’s the best? Answer: 1000 words and no clear winner. Or rather, in of this bunch of burger riff raffs, there exist no favorite. I like Ammo for the sophisticated chic, for the tranquil room, for the great fries. I like Beacon for the over-the-top weightiness and excessive soy (hey, soy sauce goes on everything. Cafe Was is just sick because the chef may have been stoned when concocting the concoction. The Golden State has no need to turn out something that good, slathered with housemade condiments, for $10
So what’s the point of this entry? Everything here? Better than Umami. Yes, the haterade pours on.
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