Ratings Review:

  • 25 Degrees - 9/10
  • Counter - 7/10
  • Fat Cow - 9/10
  • Father's Office - 0/10
  • Foxy's - 5/10
  • Georgian Hotel - 5/10
  • Houston's - 9/10
  • In 'N Out - 8/10
  • Umami Burger - 5/10

Places I Intend to Try:

  • Slater's 50/50, Anaheim Hills, CA (http://www.slaters5050.com/) - the 50/50 means 50% beef and 50% bacon!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fat Cow, @ The Grove. Fried Egg Burger Heaven!

Rating:  9/10

Location:  The Grove outdoor mall, at Third X Fairfax in Los Angeles

Eatery Type:  Rustic, industrial, edgy, cool gastropub
Vibe/Atmosphere:  You have to be in the mood to be around people to go to The Grove, which is always busy and vibrant no matter the day or time, but once you make your way through the labrynth of people and settle in and find your place, it's a great place to people watch and enjoy the scenery.  A big destination for visitors to L.A., but the majority of the crowd are locals.  Movie theater is next door.
Ease of Seating:  Galley-style restaurant with mixture of wood tables and red leather tufted booths.  Had no problem getting a table quickly.
Service:  Friendly, conscientious, unpretentious.  Manager approached randomly to check if we were happy (which we were). 
Food:  Typical gastropub fare, but inventive and well thought out (it's a Gordon Ramsay restaurant).  Fat Cow Gourmet Cheese Burger with fried egg was out of this world good.  Beef was moist and succulent and not overcooked.  Egg was fried to perfection with luscious soft yolk.  Didn't need to add a thing.  My mouth is watering thinking about it again.  Only thing I would change, and thus the 9/10, was the bun was a bit too soft for my taste, and fell apart as I tried to eat (I prefer them a little crispy and/or broiled).
Value:  Not cheap, but not overpriced for the quality.  Burger was $16 and sadly does not include sides (you have to pay separately).  Cocktails reasonably priced at $11-12.  Unfortunately they were out of the one I wanted to try, and settled for a Grassy Grove gin cocktail which was different but drinkable.  Fat Cow Market Salad was fresh and different, if you want something light and meat-free.
Parking: Huge parking garage affordable with validation, or you can park at the Farmer's Market a little further down (make sure to get a separate validation).

Conclusion:  One of the most memorable burgers of the last few years.  Will definitely go back to have it again, and try many other menu selections.

The Georgian Hotel, Santa Monica. Go For the View, Not the Food

Rating:  5/10

Location:  1415 Ocean Ave.  Santa Monica, CA 90401

Eatery Type:  Hotel
Vibe/Atmosphere:  Most diners were tourists, but it's right on Ocean Blvd. and you get a great view of the park across the street, and many locals walking by, so quintessential California.
Ease of Seating: Small restaurant with not many tables, but they're all on the covered patio which is lovely.  Heaters are available for when it gets chilly.
Service:  Servers had a little trouble keeping up, but adequate in general.
Food:  Fairly limited menu, but generally American/Californian fare.  I was asked how I wanted the burger cooked and asked for Medium, but it came way overcooked and well done.  Patty was dry and not juicy.  No sauce on burger.  Ketchup came on the side.  Came with iceberg lettuce, once slice of tomato, and a spear pickle.
Value:  Pricey for the quality.  Burger was $16 but not worth half that.  Cocktails $11-15.
Parking:  No street.  Pay lots within walking distance.

Conclusion:  Great location by the beach, but the food and drink selections make it a miss.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Foxy's - Forget the Burger and Go For Breakfast Instead

Rating:  5/10

Location:  Near Brand x Colorado in Glendale

Eatery Type: Dine-in-a-log-cabin kind of place
Vibe/Atmosphere: Dark wood, cozy, casual, lots of booths
Ease of Seating:  Excellent.  Super fast.  These guys are on the ball.
Service:  Fast and efficient
Food:  A great place for breakfast.  The lunch and dinner entrees are inconsistent.  Burger patty tasted tough and like it was a frozen patty earlier in its life.  Bun is whole wheat, if you like that sort of thing.
Value:  Great.  You don't get more reasonable than this.
Parking:  A reasonable sized lot.  Sometimes full on weekends.  Alternate parking in a lot nearby is also recommended.

Conclusion:   I won't hesitate to go here again and again for breakfasts.  Not the place for burgers though.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Counter - The Customization Kings

Interesting build-your-own burger concept.  Paper menus where you check off your selections with a pencil and hand to server at table. 

Rating:  7/10 (conditional upon trying again)

Location:  Studio City.  12117 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA, 91604.  An enormous company.  17 locations in California alone.

Eatery Type: Very casual, almost diner-like.  Think Johnny Rockets.  This is a bit too bright and casual for me, but others may think it's just fine.
Vibe/Atmosphere:  Lots of white, metal, and plastic, yet not a fast food place.
Ease of Seating: Excellent.  Immediately upon entering, was cheerily greeted and seated.  These guys are on top of things.
Service:  Staff extremely friendly and upbeat.  Even staff not assigned to our table were friendly.
Selection:  10/10.  Love the complete customization!  There are things to satisfy every palette.  http://www.thecounterburger.com/menu/ 
Food:  My chili burger was a bit plain and dry.  Have not tried the more standard burgers, but intend to.  Look forward to trying the milkshake too.
Value: No prices on menu, due to the complete customization.  Don't really appreciate the "surprise!" factor when getting the bill.  But to give you an idea, here's the fax version which does show pricing  http://www.thecounterburger.com/pdfs/TC_GA001_FaxForm.pdf
Parking:  Not particularly convenient.  Parked in a lot on opposite side of street, behind the retail stores, but even after asking attendant "what's the deal?", still unsure whether that was allowed or we were risking being towed.  Otherwise, metered street parking.

Conclusion:  Honestly, I was disappointed with my chili burger, but my reviews are usually based on the more standard (cheese)burger, so I'm giving this one a 'conditional' 7/10 as I will go back and try again.

Houston's - Is There Anything You Can't Do?

Rating: 9/10.

Location: Pasadena.  320 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105, but 5 locations in Greater L.A.

Eatery Type: Upscale casual restaurant.
Vibe/Atmosphere: Classy yet unpretentious, West Coast cool, dark, lots of wood and black industrial stage-type lighting.  Good looking upwardly mobile Californians everywhere.
Ease of Seating: A well-oiled machine.  Expect a significant wait at peak times on weekends, but you'll never be overlooked or forgotten about.
Service: You won't find better service anywhere in the city.  I've been dozens of times, and never one misstep or server obviously having a bad day.  These guys know what the hell they're doing.
Food: There are 3 burgers on the menu to choose from but I didn't see the exact combination I was craving, so I asked them to make me one special, and bless their hearts, they did (beef burger, lettuce, tomato, avocado).  As with all proteins on their menu, they will ask how you like it prepared.  I went for medium, which was perfect.  I also like my bun a little crispy on the outside and never soggy, which they obliged.  Comes with one side, of which you can even get baked potato with all the fixings!  All in all, an extremely good burger.  Can't quite get myself to give it a 10/10, as I think perhaps it needs just a tiny bit of secret sauce or something.  And anyway, then my search would be over.
By the way, their menu is not easy to find on their website, so here it is.  Small and perhaps limited, but they do every item with care and to perfection.  http://www.hillstone.com/pdf_menus/houstons/Houstons_Santa_Monica.pdf
Value: $16.  Yikes.  This is not an eat-and-run place or price.  Go on a weekend, soak up the atmosphere, and have a cocktail or two as well.  You are paying for the experience, and it is worth it.
Parking:  Excellent.  Free.  Private lot, no valet, always seems to have just enough spots somehow.

Conclusion:  I could go on and on about this place (the Hillstone brand also has several other restaurants, and Bandera on Wilshire on the West Side is even better, if that's possible) but needless to say the burger's delicious, and it's a great place for a date (every party gets its own monster sized booth) and it inspires great conversation.  What more can you ask for.

Friday, July 16, 2010

25 Degrees - Mmm mm

Location:  7000 Hollywood Blvd.  Part of the Roosevelt Hotel on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.

Rating:  9/10.

Being part of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, and touting themselves as "a new twist on a local burger joint", I agree.  The name refers to the temperature difference between a medium rare and well done burger.  Pretty creative. 

Vibe/Atmosphere:  Kind of an Old Hollywood glamorous burger joint, but as laid-back and relaxed as they come.  Lots of eye candy, with all the deep reds, crystal chandelier, and mirrored glass.  The crowd is a mix of locals in the know, and tourists who aren't.
Ease of Seating:  Poor.  Very small square footage and tables are almost always full.  They also won't allow a party of 2 to sit at anything larger than a matchstick sized table.
Service:  Good enough.  Sit at the bar if it's open and the bartenders will take good care of you.
Food:  Their burgers melt in your mouth.  They're gourmet, with enough interesting choices to excite even the most jaded eater.  I would skip the fries - they're over-salted and seasoned.  Onion rings are worth a try.  Full bar, as well as the best strawberry milk shake I've ever had.  Has anyone tried the Guiness Shake??  I'm not brave enough.
Value:  $12 burgers are acceptable if they are this good.
Parking:  Unfortunately it's located in the chaotic heart of tourist town and getting there and out will be a hassle.  Only parking I know of is across the street at the Mann Chinese theatre lot.

Conclusion:  I have mixed feelings about this place, despite my 9/10 rating - the considerable wait times, small tables, and touristy location are big negatives.  But the burger is amazing.

Umami Burger - I Don't Get It

Rating:  5/10.

Location:   Los Feliz.   4655 Hollywood Blvd.  Los Angeles, CA 90027

Eatery Type:  Very casual restaurant. Woody cabin-like.
Vibe/Atmosphere:  Cool rustic cabin-type structure and decor.  Lots of wood.  Very casual. 
Ease of Seating:  Walk-ins only, not a reservation type of place.  Might be a bit of a wait but not bad.
Service:  Under-staffed.  They get the job done, barely, but there's no smiles or chit chat.
Food:  I got the 'signature' Umami Burger.  Smallest burger I've ever received.  Hard to imagine many people would be satisfied with this size.  Very heavy on the relish and onion flavor.  Beef was moist but not particularly well seasoned.  Fries cost extra and are way over-seasoned.
Value:  $10, which I wouldn't mind at all if I liked it, but was just mediocre to me.
Parking:  Inconvenient.  Street metered parking.  Can be scarce.

Conclusion:  I think people go for the beer and atmosphere.  As far as the food, I just don't get what all the hub bub is about.

In 'N Out - Now That's a Great Fast Food Burger

Rating:  8/10.

Location:  7009 Sunset Blvd.  Los Angeles, CA 90028.  Various locations throughout Los Angeles.  Have tried them all over the city and they're all consistently good.

Eatery Type:  Fast food.
Vibe/Atmosphere:  It's a fast food joint.  Don't expect anything.  Their design concept is plastic white, yellow, and red.
Ease of Seating:  It's always busy, but with seating inside and out, you can often get a table.
Service:  Drive-through is a well-oiled machine, with a 'car hop' type person walking to your car to take your order when lines are long.
Food:  In my opinion, the best fast food burger in L.A.  One or two beef patties and one or two slices of American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and some sort of proprietary sauce that's similar to Thousand Island dressing.  Always consistent, never greasy.  Order it "animal style" with grilled onions.  Delish.  If calories are not your concern, try their real ice cream shakes.  The unsweetened iced tea and fresh made fries are good too.
Value:  You can't get better than this, at less than $5.  And the fact that they're only in California makes them even more special.
Parking:  Free.  Lots are always insane, but if you go through the drive-through, it's pretty orderly.

Conclusion:  If there's a better fast food burger out there (that's not 1500 calories and costs a bunch) I'd like to know about it.

Father's Office - I Reject Your Totalitarian Ways

Rating: 0/10

Location: 3229 Helms Ave.  Los Angeles, CA 90034.  Helms Bakery area of Culver City.

This place comes up pretty frequently as a good burger place and I have walked by several times in the early evening when it is packed with people outside al fresco, at the picnic style family seating area.

Eatery Type:  Pub/bar.
Vibe/Atmosphere:  Lively.  Loud.  Good looking 20-30 somethings.  Often drunk on beer. 
Ease of Seating:  Poor.  No reservations.  First come first served.  Very little room to wait.  You have to be a shark and run for tables when another party leaves.  Have to really want to get chummy with your neighbors, as seating is tight.
Service:  They're motto should be, 'You're on your own, Man'.  Friendly at the door, but after that, you order yourself from the bar.  No table service.
Selection:  Terrible.  Although known for their burger, there is only 1 on the menu!  Has 3 kinds of cheese including blue cheese.  They don't believe in condiments like ketchup.  Absolutely no substitutions on any menu items.  If you don't like the way they make something you're shit out of luck.  I therefore left without trying anything.
Food:  Did not try.
Value:  At $12.50 I expect more.  Rip off.
Parking:  Free.  Helms Bakery lot nearby.

Conclusion:  Overall, I think people are just going here to be with a large group and drink lots of beer.  After that, they're too drunk to care.