The Farmers Market at the Grove is not only a Los Angeles landmark (having opened in 1934), it’s also one of our favorite places to shop – within walking distance, open 7 days a week, and a great place to nab deals on fruits, veggies, fish, and meats. And on occasion, after we've checked all the items off our shopping list, we'll grab some quick food from one of the many food vendors because it's convenient. But we've yet to find a dining option in the Farmers Market or the adjacent Grove that compels us on its own merits. Enter Short Order, located on the southwest corner of the Market, and born of the friendship between the late, burger-loving Pasadena chef Amy Pressman, and L.A. mainstay Nancy Silverton (of La Brea Bakery and Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza).
The immediately available seating on the downstairs patio won out over the upstairs option of indoor seating and full bar with cocktails created by the ubiquitous Julian Cox. A week or so after our visit, the establishment added to its offerings, opening Short Cake - a gourmet bakery serving the likes of cookies, scones and croissants - as well as Single Origin Coffee - a matching coffee bar serving pour-over brews from Santa Cruz's Verve Coffee Roasters.
Because we were in a lounging, lazy Saturday mood, we split an adult milk shake. The Charlie Brown (below, right) is a vanilla custard based shake, augmented with peanut infused 114 proof Old Grand Dad, creme fraiche, chocolate ganache, and drizzles of peanut sauce. We also split an order of the Short Order Spuds (below, left) - big hunks of fried potatoes, like skin-on steak fries on steroids - with a creamy dipping sauce topped with bacon bits.
Chef Christian Paige's commitment towards cultivating only the finest ingredients helps craft a sprawling list of burgers and sandwiches to sample. Nancy’s Backyard Burger, with artisan bacon, comté (a strong, sweet French cheese), avocado, heirloom tomato, iceberg, and spicy mayo, was bold, ambitious and literally dripping with flavor - aiming for LA's top tier of gourmet burgers. It should come as no surprise that the bun selected by master bakers Silverton and Pressman is top-notch - buttery, light, yet strong enough to soak up the juices from the patty and toppings without collapsing.
The pork burger, with range-fed pork, rapini, stracchino (a very mild Italian cheese) and bibb lettuce. The pork option was nice, but could have stood a touch more salt or perhaps bolder cheese - compared to the perfectly seasoned beef blend used in the Backyard Burger, it came off a little boring. But there are still plenty of other enticing non-beef options available, including lamb, tuna and turkey burgers, tuna melts, grilled cheeses, preztel dogs (!), and a tofu option.
Ever since Umami's burgeoning brand has blossomed into a bazillion dollar empire, you can't turn a corner in Los Angeles without stumbling upon the opening of new burger joint. What the majority of these wannabes lack is the power of a strong brand. But backed by such a high-profile local chef, a killer location and very solid burgers and drinks, Short Order just might be up to the towering challenge. It will certainly be interesting when Umami's empire expands into its biggest location yet next door at the Grove.