Eater LA just finished its annual burger week. Astute folks will notice none of the 3 burgers here (Little Next Door, Mid City West, Bar & Kitchen, Downtown Los Angeles, Cafe Stella, Silver Lake) made it into any of the rounds. Granted, Eater’s burger categorization was all kinds of crazy, but these 3 burgers are all $12+ pubby gourmet burgers; 2 are served in “French” restaurants, all three can be had with beer/wine and valet. In ascending unrealized talent:
Bar & Kitchen, recently renamed from “O Bar & Restaurant”, used to have one of the top burgers in Downtown Los Angeles. Witness the half pound Wagyu from the previous incarnation of O Bar & Restaruant. The new burger, sans Wagyu, overcooked and under seasoned, is but a faint shadow of its former self, despite carrying the trifecta of burger toppings: arugula, onion marmalade, & bacon. Fear not, for O Hotel amped up the rest of the menu, and the “artisanal” cocktail list, to compensate for the tepid burger. Full post on Bar | Kitchen’s food menu to come.
Bar | Kitchen
— as if the old name wasn’t cryptic enough, the new name with the pipe is definitely worse.
819 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Cafe Stella was recommended by several folks as the must-have burger in Silver Lake. The only other Silver Lake burger seems to be The Fix, and it just doesn’t measure up to fellow LA burger colleagues, no matter what the Yelp ratings may suggest. Stella had so much in her to give, but the bun wrecked her burger career. The hard baguette roll sporting a 2 day old chew can worsen the worst of TMJ. Biting down the “bun” too hard forces the meat puck to slide away from the teeth line. Despite throttling the jaw torque and simultaneously supporting the patty with ring & little fingers, time and again the mouth was met with nothing but bread. The juicy burger with a nice near-course grind was done up almost medium despite a medium-rare request, and the light seasoning required liberal application of aioli. Chalk this up experience up to a kitchen completely in the weeds, for the presentation alone was worth a brownie point or two.
3932 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Finally, Little Next Door — with its top sirloin super lean grind, this is not a typical burger. To understand the French burger thinking, mentally treat the patty as a cylindrically formed and encrusted beef tartare preparation. To order this $15 burger course anything over medium rare would be dishonoring the cow, corn fed or otherwise. Texture variation between the airy bun, waterproof by harissa aioli (seriously? harissa aioli? why not just prefix that with ‘artisanal’ and “house made”) at the bottom, and the tender ground beef, is slight, but distinct. Dissected, LND’s burger is rather classic; the cheese is properly melted on the patty, there is a slight hint of carbon char that is suppressed by a beefy tomato slice and 2 sheets of green leaf lettuce. To a bloody flesh lover, everything was near perfect the initial bite, but the palate takes over and immediately notices the absolute absence of salt. So close!
If you’re under cholesterol and blood pressure watch, this may be the burger for you. As for those not used to pace of Continental service: focus on the unique burger and it’s not so hard to look past the well known indifferent staff (typical faux froggy? say it ain’t so).
Little Next Door
8142 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
The above problematic burgers beget the question: is there a fear of salt (and good cracklin’ pepper) in Los Angeles? Are the burgers intended to be so fancy that the burger designers rely too heavily on accoutrements, e.g., Stella Burger (roasted tomato, 3 kinds of sauces). Have they been to Round’s Premium?
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