LAB Brewing’s burger is Jason Wu for Target. Cooks County’s burger is Phillip Lim. (I don’t know how to relate burgers to Alexander Wang and Thakoon, but someone surely can educate me via the comments). Both burgers are “designer”, but one is clearly meant for the masses.

LAB Brewing Co issued a burger challenge last month: if its new burger isn’t the top ten in Los Angeles, you get the burger for free. They literally called me out, so I went, despite the fact Agoura Hills is in neither Los Angeles city nor Los Angeles County. Thank god there was also a required trip to the Camarillo outlets (Prada suit for $400? Sign me up!) with an out-of-town Chineser loaded with cash.

And I have to say: I didn’t demand a burger cash back.

$14 for 1/2 lb of wagyu coarsely ground (twice daily) patty, well seasoned, carrying a visible sear, accompanied by twice cooked (first parboiled) herbal fries. It may shock the locals a bit — hello Agoura Hills! — but this burger is right at home in Los Angeles. The La Brea Bakery brioche bun pairs almost perfect with the patty; it isn’t too dry, too moist, too wide, nor too tall. In addition to sandwiching the meat, it absorbed just enough of the juices without retreating to the state of wet dough. Chalk one up for Nancy Silverton’s baking skills. The patty is all wagyu “shoulder clod”, and the moment you enclose the first bite, there’ll be sleuce of juice oozing out of the crimson patty (ordered medium rare). Two types of coagulated milk protein provides substantial cheesiness. The cambozola, in particular, also adds a hefty dose of saltiness to counter the sweetness of the sauteed onions.

Yes, this is better balanced than Father’s Office. It might not have the pedigreed meat, but it can be tailored. Lest we forget, there’s also locally brewed beer that is infused with love from Roger Bott at LAB Brewing Co.

The Lab Brewing Co on Urbanspoon

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It was hard to like Cooks County at first. There was the name evocative of the largest jail in America. There’s the killing of our beloved Bistro LQ



Alas, the buzz was pleasant, and who doesn’t love a husband/wife cooking team? And so there were 4 visits within a 5-week period. It’s easy to agree with FST above — Cooks County has a near perfect space for an midscale weekend brunch. Just don’t get the burger. Anything but the burger.

Let is be known this is a grass fed patty of a certain heft, with a certain herbal infusion. There’s thought in the burger — the “brioche” is made in-house, the butter lettuce is plump, the white cheddar righteously melted. Despite all this, an LA fave burger, this isn’t. The brioche buns crumbles like a dried potato bun, the patty deconstructs immediately as there is absolutely no sear, outer crust. But before all that lays the true disaster: the white cheddar is forced to divorce from the bun as one adds the accoutrements to the burger. Why do you do this Cooks County? Stack the damned burger for us all. Equalize the final product so no clutz can ruin the $14 attempt at perfection. The thick-cut carmalized onions wreaks havoc on this burger construction, and the entire salt-deprived enterprise is ruined by entropy. This is a burger that is nearly as difficult to eat as the Hungry Cat’s Pug Burger, with even less caramelized protein; It perhaps it’s meant for Manhattanites not used to “California” burger as even Chicagoans would probably disapprove.

In case you’re wondering what exactly is on the $12 burger? Cheddar, grassy beef with… (parsley?), aioli, grilled onion+lettuce on the side. Avocado will run $2 extra, as does an egg. Loaded up, this is a $16 burger with no fries, nor sear. But fear not, the brunch is fantastic otherwise, and there will be a follow-up post.

Cooks County
8009 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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