Sometimes you go into a place and it’s got strikes against it by just BEING new. It’s not fair. It’s not rational. Public School 310’s only crime was that it replaced Fraiche which had my favorite spaghetti in all of Los Angeles. So I hated it immediately. Just like I always hate the new Dr. Who initially or the new Golden State Warriors uniform. I just hate it because it’s new and unfamiliar and replaced something I liked. The line out the door for lunch on Tuesday didn’t help it much either. If you plan on going here, just grab a seat at the bar and forego the whole waiting in line entirely.
Once I figured out that the bar was open, I scuttled past the well coifed hostesses and grabbed a seat. The inside of the place pays homage superficially to public school. They’ve got globes, textbooks, and pencil sharpeners balanced decoratively on shelves alongside giant bowls of shiny red apples. The menus are printed in test notebooks. It’s all very adorable, but they didn’t push the theme as far as they could have. They missed the opportunity of turning it into what people actually remember about public school lunch rooms. There could have been long wooden benches with very little elbow room, a wait staff that all wore hairnets, and they could have labeled the tables things like “The Geeks,” “The Football Team,” and “Mean Girls.” Or if they were feeling really cheeky they could have made you bribe the waiters to buy you beer.
The menu, however, is very appropriate. They have hotdogs, hamburgers, and fries alongside more grownup offerings like the roasted poblano with quinoa and a Tuscan chopped salad. They have four different burgers and over the course of four weeks, I ate every single one. Here’s the weird part. I’m not going to even talk about the beef burgers. Well okay, that’s not entirely true. I will say this: they are perfectly respectable and utterly unremarkable things. They both have the things one would expect from a cheeseburger: cheese, burger, lettuce, and tomato. The main difference between the two is one has Huntsman cheese and balsamic grilled onions and is dully dubbed The Huntsman, and the other one has pickles and American cheese and therefore called, you guessed it, the American. It’s one of the few times in my life when I could feel the boredom of the chef radiate out of the burger. He/she couldn’t give two figs about whether you enjoyed yourself or not.
How do I know this? Because the chicken and lamb burgers are spectacular. It reminds me of my own high school career, where I excelled at only the classes that interested me and the others I just barely squeaked by because they bored me to tears. This chef is bored to tears by beef. Why? I don’t know. I’ll start with the lamb burger. Complimenting the earthy flavor of the patty, it’s paired with a really tangy barnyard brie, sharply peppery arugula, and a sweet tomato and cranberry jam. The combination of these flavors is really satisfying and homey.
But this is nothing compared to the chicken burger. This chicken burger is the new standard for all other chicken burgers. Why? Because it’s a fusion of two of my two favorite foods: a burger and a Cobb salad. I didn’t think such a thing was possible and am a little sad I didn’t think of it first. Named the C.C. B. (Chicken Cobb Burger) it is the true star of this menu. It’s a ground chicken patty with a fried egg, avocado, house made tomato jam, three strips of bacon, lettuce, and a good slathering of blue cheese. Just one word of caution: you cannot eat this thing wearing sleeves or a white shirt, the yolk and blue cheese goes everywhere. It is a glorious mess.