Nestled between a fancy antique car dealership and a medical building, Rustic Canyon manages to be cozy despite being placed on the extremely busy Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica. Once inside you have two options: lie and say you have a reservation to get into the main dining room or snuggle up to the bartender and order from a stool in the lounge. If you’re like me and betting on the fact you bother reading this blog I’m guessing you are, you are never dressed for a chic restaurant in Santa Monica. Dressing up to eat a burger and fries just seems ludicrous.
Perched on a bar stool next to a wall of tastefully placed candles, I got asked whether I preferred complimentary still or sparkling water, which immediately tipped me off that this was going to be expensive. Asking for tap water, I perused the menu and was horrified to discover the burger wasn’t on it. Was this some kind of joke? All I had ever heard about this place was how wonderful their burger was. I knew they had gotten a new chef, but this was ridiculous. Why on earth would you bench your star player? It was like if the Heat showed up to a playoff game with Lebron James in a suit, not because he was injured, but because he didn’t feel like playing. Indignant I asked the waiter if the burger was still available and he gave me a long pained look, “Yes, it is. It’s just not on the menu.” The poor thing must have been answering this question all week. So it’s still there, it’s just become a secret.
When the burger arrived, I saw why people had been upset. It was magnificent. Glistening upon a brioche bun was a huge 80/20 Niman Ranch beef patty covered in sharp cheddar cheese, a five onion fondue (leek, Bermuda, Spanish, spring, and brown), housemade bread and butter pickles and creamy homemade herb remoulade with a side of golden hand cut French fries. It is a slippery beast. The thing requires two hands and all of your concentration.
Now, I didn’t spring for the extra fried egg and bacon that you can order on top. Why? Because I’m too cheap. At $18 I think a burger is pricey enough. (Honestly dudes, you don’t need five kinds of onion. One would be fine.) The extras jack the price up to a whopping $25, which is absolutely crazy. After the first couple bites, I knew I had made a good decision. The burger is incredibly rich. Fingers dripping with greasy and remoulade, I could barely finish half of it before calling it quits. My eyelids drooped and it took all of my willpower not to curl up on the sticky floor for a quick nap. It was like a meat sleeping pill.
If you find yourself in Santa Monica, this is a perfect burger to share. If you’re going with a buddy, hole up in the bar, split the burger, and spend the money you would have spent on the fried egg and bacon on a beer. Trust me. Half a burger is enough. Or if you’ve acquired a sugar daddy/mama this is a great place to have them prove just how much they love you. Nothing says love like a $25 burger. Although why stop there? Take them to the antique car shop next door and have them buy you a ride.