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Entries in Burgers (13)


The Tripel is a Home Run in Playa Del Rey

*Post by Angela.

Separately, chef couple Nick Roberts and Brooke Williamson are pretty darned impressive. Roberts has worked in the kitchens of famed Union Pacific, Ducasse, and Café Boulud, while Williamson holds the honor of being the youngest chef to ever cook at the James Beard House and is currently cooking up a storm on this season of Top Chef: Seattle. It's like the two were made to be together, like...well, like great beer and fine food, which Roberts and Williamson are pairing at Redondo Beach's Hudson House and Playa Del Rey's The Tripel.

We've yet to visit Hudson House, but after a really fun trip to the Tripel a couple of weeks ago, we're putting it high up on our list. First of all, The Tripel is perfectly suited to its location - it's tiny, cozy, and laid back, just like the old beach town Playa Del Rey.



LUBRICATION the board screams at you when you walk into the Tripel. In this case, it's referring to the 'Social Lubrication' that flows out of its 12 taps - a stellar mix of Belgians and local craft brews (below, left). Along with the excellent tap list, the Tripel also offers beer cocktails like the Sour Grapes (below, right) which deftly blends sour beer with Luxardo maraschino liqueur.



And what to pair with all these lovely concoctions? How about a parade of creative small plates?

To start, a hint of coconut and red curry bring unexpected warmth to dense, crumbly biscuits (below), which are made even tastier with dollops of luscious clotted cream and orange blossom honey.



The chicken sausage stuffed dates (below) balance the sugary dried fruit perfectly against the savory elements: the well-seasoned meat stuffing, piquillo pepper, and cilantro. A really nice alternative to the ubiquitous bacon-wrapped version.



Baby octopus (below), a favorite of mine, gets a nice char, retaining a bit of bite, which is a good textural contrast to the creamy, inky coconut rice and saffron-tinged sauce.



The duck egg Florentine (below) is an interesting combination of creamed spinach, perfectly poached egg and crunchy triangles of smoked trout toast. While we might like the individual elements more than the dish as a whole, the composed dish is a good example of Roberts and Williamson's willingness to think outside the box.



Yeah, I know you don't know what chicken waterzooi (below) is. Neither did we. Order it anyway. It's a Belgian dish, and it's fantastic: a bright, hearty stew of heirloom carrots, leeks, kale, fenugreek, and gremolata, with big chunks of succulent, tender chicken, and an insanely crispy potato latka for texture.



Even the more traditional dishes get a fancy fun spin. The Tripel burger is a disco party of flavors: duck confit, pork, and aged beef, truffle pecorino, arugula, and housemade apricot jam on an onion brioche bun. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's not overwhelming, either - the richness plays really well with the sweetness of the jam. It's been a long time since we've had a burger this good in LA. 



For dessert, we enjoyed a fresh baked chocolate-cherry cookie (below, right) with black tea ice cream alongside our espresso. An nice, warm, ooey-gooey finish to a fine meal.



Good food and good drink really are the perfect combination. There's no doubt you'll find us getting lubricated in Playa Del Rey again very soon. In the meantime, we'll be cheering on Chef Brooke every Wednesday on Top Chef: Seattle



*Disclosure: This was a hosted meal.

The Tripel - Playa Del Rey
333 Culver Boulevard
Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
(310) 821-0333

Twitter: @TheTripelLA
HoursMon-Thurs: 5:00p - close, Fri: 12:00p - close, Sat-Sun: 10:30a - close

The Tripel on Urbanspoon


New Market Menu comes to UMAMIcatessen

*Post by Mark.

It wasn't long ago that Adam Fleischman's UMAMIcatessen opened in downtown, expanding the popular burger empire into a multi-headed beast of a delicatessen/burger-stand/bar/donut/coffee shop. When the 170-seat, table-service dining hall first opened, we scarfed down delicious shrimp burgers, brainaise-covered fries, donuts stuffed with foie gras (not anymore, thanks foie gras ban!) along with pigs ears and cured Spanish meats thanks to San Francisco Chef Chris Cosentino's involvement. 

It's been nearly a year, and UMAMIcatessen continues to evolve. Recently, we were invited in to try a number of new dishes to counter the otherwise rich, meat-heavy menu. The pork, burgers and donuts haven't gone anywhere, but now there seems to be a nice happy balance.

First, it'd be negligent of us not to mention that The Back Bar at UMAMIcatessen is worth checking out in and of itself. The bar boasts a really solid beer list, a fun cocktail list - including the Bourbon Pig with bacon-washed bourbon, sugar, bitters and crispy pig ear (below, center) and the Black Jack with Jack Daniels honey, apricot liqueur, orgeat, lemon and blackberries (below, right) - and a substantial wine list. In other words, they've got your alcohol needs covered.



But the real news is the addition of the newly launched Market Menu, featuring seasonal small plates that provide meat-eaters a little ruffage to go with their protein, and give vegetarians/pescatarians a much wider selection from which to choose.

Smoked sturgeon potato salad with fingerling potatoes, celery, and truffled creme fraiche ($5, below, left) features chunks of fish so smoky and meaty, you could almost believe it was bacon, as well as a luscious dressing. The macaroni salad ($5, below, right) is the lightest version of the dish you could hope for, with carrot, cabbage, and slivers of scallions providing heft and crunch, pickled shiitakes adding a litte tartness, and a creamy but not-at-all heavy Japanese dressing pulling it all together.



Both the colorful salad of black quinoa, chickpeas, bell pepper, tomato, and cucumber with a citrus vinaigrette ($5, below, top left) and the cilantro ginger slaw ($3, below, top right) with green and red cabbage, Asian pear, mint, and pickled chiles tossed in a traditional gingery Japanese dressing, are bright, light and refreshingly crunchy. Most interesting of the new plates is a dish of crispy Brussels sprouts leaves tossed with a generous helping of honey mustard dressing and parmesan ($4, below, bottom center) - basically sprouts with a fast-food style makeover, and I mean that in a good way.



Slightly more basic, but no less tasty are the earthy, sweet multi-colored roasted beets, served with dollops of light-as-air dill creme fraiche ($4, below).



The caramelized squash ($5, below) is also really simple, but truly outstanding: cumin yogurt, lime and smoked paprika work beautifully against the slight sweetness of the squash.



The last of the small plates, the roasted baby carrots ($4, below, top center) get an elegant dressing up with a subtle honey glaze, torn mint leaves and a smear of dark, spicy harissa.

UMAMIcatessen is also keeping its core list of salads, which are pretty straightforward, but well-executed and more substantial than the small plates: the Greek salad ($12, below, bottom left) is a combo of marinated sous vide chicken, pickled peppers, cucumbers, olives, cherry tomatoes and feta vinaigrette; the chopped salad ($12, below, bottom right) is a mélange of albacore, radicchio, endive, butter lettuce, chickpeas, red onions, and gribiche (coarse vinaigrette, with chopped cornichons and capers and hard-boiled eggs) dressing.



You may feel the need to scarf something more indulgent after all those greens, and obviously, UMAMIcatessen has got you covered. A rich clam chowder (not currently on the menu, but likely to make an appearance in the future) with thick, gilstening slices of pork belly wipes out all the good points earned from the salads, but it's delicious enough to be worth it. 



Even more intensely meaty is the P!GG Breakfast sandwich ($11, below, left), a housemade English muffin jam-packed with sausage, pig-ear bacon, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and a maple-poached egg. You can almost feel the heart attack coming over you as the perfectly runny yolk dribbles down your chin, but the sandwich is just too good to stop. And if you want to sate your meat cravings with beef instead, the pastrami from The Cure (below, right) has got you covered.



With all the good stuff going on at Umami Burger, The Cure, P!GG, and the bar, it would be easy to forget to save room for dessert. That would be a mistake, as UMAMIcatessen's very own donut shop in the corner makes a mean whisky bread pudding donut ($5, below) topped withdried fruit and zested orange cream cheese.



So yeah, carnivores and lovers of the decadent, UMAMIcatessen is still your jam. But now you don't have to leave your vegetarian family member/friend/significant other at home when you visit. Bring 'em along - you can all get stuffed at UMAMIcatessen together. 

UMAMIcatessen - Downtown LA
852 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213-413-UMAMI (8626)
Twitter: @umamiburger

Hours: Sunday-Thursday,11:30a-11:00p, Friday-Saturday, 11:30a-12:00a

UMAMIcatessen on Urbanspoon


Stout Burger - Hollywood

*Post by Angela.

One definition of “stout” (n): a strong, very dark beer or ale. Another definition (adj.): thickset or corpulent (as in food bloggers). Both definitions find their uses at the aptly named Stout Burgers & Beers, which focuses on pairing great beers with hearty, well-executed pub food. Friends have bandied it about as a contender for the crown of the city’s best burger, and we’ve been a few times.

Beer-wise, Stout finds itself in very good company tucked away in a Hollywood plaza with Big Wang’s and District 13, both of which we visited on a beer crawl earlier this year. Stout is a bit more refined, décor-wise, than its neighbors, though – with its clean lines and dark wood, it nails the upscale pub vibe. A highlight? The massive bar, where you can sit comfortably and sip one of the 30+ craft beefs on tap.



The first thing you should do when you sit down (after getting a beer or two, of course)? Order a plate of the sweet potato fries. The fries are really top-notch, one of the best items at Stout. In fact, Stout’s sides are across the board really solid, and very dangerous – even when stuffed, it’s hard to stop shoveling sweet potato fries into your mouth (see definition #2 above).



The pretzels (not on the menu, but you can ask for them) here are very good, if you can get to them right when they hit the table: hot, doughy, and nicely seasoned, they serve as a great medium for conveying your choice of Stout’s special sauces (lemon basil aioli, Thousand Island, chipotle, tzatziki, horseradish,  and chipotle ketchup). The pretzels lose their appeal with each cooling second, so the best bet is to wolf them down immediately.



The onion rings are probably my favorite things here. Huge, with an awesomely crunchy and flavorful batter, I could eat a basket or two myself (again, see definition #2).



But it’s not called Stout Sides – no, Stout’s main selling point is its burgers (and beers), which hold up pretty decently in L.A.’s cutthroat arena of gourmet burgers and craft beers. Showing its commitment to beer pairing, each burger on the menu is listed with a suggested beer type, as well as an explanation for why that particular quaff goes well with that burger.

On a recent trip, we sampled three of Stout’s 6 beef offerings (Stout also has two chicken burgers and two veggie burgers available). First up, of course, is the Stout burger (below), a messy explosion of flavor which loads up its medium rare house-ground beef patty with blue cheese, Emmi gruyere, rosemary bacon, caramelized onion, horseradish cream, and roasted tomatoes. With this burger, it’s a little hard to comment on the quality of the meat itself, since the rest of the elements (each very good on its own) sort of overwhelm the beef. With this many things packed in, Stout’s sturdy, yet tasty brioche is a great bun choice, and in good proportion to the rest of the ingredients.



In contrast, the Six-Weeker combines brie, fig jam, argula and caramelized onions for a more restrained, and in my opinion, more tasty option. Here, you could actually taste and appreciate the nice juicy beef blend. While the meat was a little underseasoned on its own, it worked well with the sweetness of the fig jam and onions, and the richness of the brie.



The Imperialist, with its aged cheddar, ketchup, mustard relish and roasted tomatoes is even more strictly edited. The ingredients serve to highlight and enhance the beef, rather than to ride rough-shod over it – and at an establishment that puts as much focus on its meat as Stout does, that’s a smart way to go.



While maybe not at the very top of our list as far as gourmet burgers go, Stout serves up some damned solid fare, and affordable at that (each beef burger is $10, which is pretty reasonable in this town). And we applaud any place that expresses a passion for pairing craft beer with food. The times we’ve visited Stout, we’ve left with our bellies stretched to the busting point, well on our way to being listed in the dictionary under “stout” definition #2.

Stout on Urbanspoon


Burger Lounge - a San Diego Burger Chain finds a home in LA 

*Post by Angela.

These days I’m filled with all sorts of conflicting needs/wants when it comes to my dining options. I want to consume food in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible, but I don’t want to sacrifice taste. I want to eat healthier, but I also feel the allure of all those delicious summer grill items (steaks, brats, burgers, etc.) that are generally not as conducive to a beach-ready body. I want to sprawl about on a patio with a beer or glass of wine in my hand, but I don’t want spend a whole lot of money for the type of sit-down meal that so often accompanies the right to outdoor seating. Burger Lounge, a San Diego burger chain focusing on organic fast food, seeks to bring a little balance to my life at its newest, certified green location in West Hollywood.



Located on Sunset Boulevard, Burger Lounge shares a parking lot with under-the-radar gems Sushi Park and Joe’s Pizza. Unlike its more non-descript neighbors, Burger Lounge ups the style quotient of the shopping plaza with a sleek patio and bright orange awning – it’s a burger place that feels at home on the Strip.



While the establishment was still alcohol-free when we visited, Burger Lounge is set to offer local craft beer and wine by the glass (once the permits are processed, which should be any day now). Designated drivers and non-imbibers will delight in the house-made, Fair Trade, cane-sweetened fountain soda from Maine Root. You'll find actual Mexican Cola on the fountain rotation, but the highlight? The orange soda. Trust.



Before we hit up the burgers, we laid the groundwork by splitting a Fresh Vegetable Salad ($7.95). We had been excited to see husked ears of corn cooking away on the grill in the kitchen, and here’s where the kernels ended up: tossed along side a lightly-dressed mélange of romaine, spinach, arugula, tomato, cucumber, red onion, jicama, and ricotta. Knowing we were about to tuck into some meaty goodness, we did not take advantage of the option to add chicken or the various patties (veggie, salmon, turkey, beef).

We didn’t try the wild salmon burger ($8.95, below), but were awfully tempted by its promise of fried green tomato topping and BBQ glaze. The Quinoa Veggie Burger ($7.95), made with quinoa, brown rice, zucchini, garbanzo, carrot, corn, and chipotle also sounded promising. But on this trip, we were looking to eat some MEAT.



The Lounge Burger ($7.95, below) features a medium rare patty made of 100% single-source, American grass-fed, beef, and like all the other burgers on the menu, pairs it with iceberg lettuce, tomato, organic cheese (white cheddar or American), fresh or grilled onion and house-made 1000 Island. All burgers come served on a blended wheat and white flour bun. If you forgo the cheese and dressing, all of the burgers come in at under 570 calories.



The All-Natural Turkey Burger ($7.95, below) blends dark and white meat turkey with fresh basil. It’s definitely one of the more flavorful turkey burgers I’ve had, really juicy.



The Classic (below), which we almost didn’t order (because it’s a secret!!), was far and away our favorite. Basically a riff on your typical fast-food chain burger, the Classic swaps in a fat beef patty and pickles while omitting the iceberg lettuce.



The Burger Lounge offers options to indulge our fatty cravings as well. We shared an order of the Half-and-Half ($4.99), a heaping combination of great, crispy onion rings and fries. We also indulged our hankerings for sweetness with a chocolate Lounge Shake made with Dreyer’s ice cream and loads of whipped cream.



All right, so our meal ended up being a little over-the-top, and yeah, maybe we ate ourselves uncomfortably full. But that’s on us. If you’re a reasonable person, Burger Lounge offers a healthier, more stylish alternative to fast-food, using organic, high quality ingredients but keeping the price very affordable.

*Disclosure: this was a hosted meal.

Burger Lounge on Urbanspoon


Pink's Hot Dogs Hollywood

*Post by Mark.

There are things in this world I'll happily wait in line for. But when it comes to Hollywood's most famous hot dog stand, that sadly is not the case. Pink's Hot Dogs on La Brea has been causing long lines to form out front of the restaurant for going on 72 years now. Day or night, you're likely to find at least a hundred people cluttering the sidewalk in front of you. And for what? Guide books might tell you this is quintessential LA dining. But this is not the LA I know.



Now, just because I'm not a fan doesn't mean Pink's isn't right for you. Maybe you just got off your tour bus, snapped a few pictures next to Brad and Angelina's wax statues at Madame Tussauds and have a little time to kill before you bust our your costumes for the 'Let's Make a Deal' show. Maybe you need a lunch break from your Star Map celebrity house hunting and you heard Seacrest loves this place. Seriously, fanny-pack-wearers, this place is for you. 

But if you came to Los Angeles, and actually want to experience the culinary melting pot that makes LA one of the most unique food cities in America, I implore you to go elsewhere.



I'd lived just around the corner for over a year before I finally gave in. It was 10:30 in the morning and the store next door wouldn't be open until 11:00. I had time to kill and the line hadn't yet started to form for lunch, so I went for it. A perfect storm brought me there, but it wouldn't be long before I'd be wishing that that storm had diverted me anywhere else. 



I sprang for one of their specials. Go big or home, right? It came topped with sour cream, mustard, tomato and a few strips of bacon. There's nothing here that I couldn't have made (arguably better) at home in the microwave. If it's Pink's distinct hot dog 'snap' that you're looking for, I suggest heading south a few blocks to Wirtshaus, where you can skip the lines and sip on German lagers while you wait for a spicy scharfe wurst - a sausage with snap that's actually worth waiting for. The only consolation to my first experience at Pink's was that I didn't have to wait. I can't imagine having stood in a line over an hour for this.



Then there were the french fries. Just as gross. I had only a few before this brazen bird staked his claim on them. The bulbous little buzzard looked like he wanted them more than I did. He and his friends ate very well that day. 




I guess the lesson learned is that longevity and demand don't always equate to quality. If you came to Los Angeles and are feeling more adventurous than a mediocre hot dog, let us know. We'll point you towards a few places that are worth the visit on their own.  

Pink's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon