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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Behold! The breakfast patty.

Behold! The breakfast patty.

When I was a kid, I hated breakfast. It seemed like a complete waste of time.  Why on earth would you get up for a meal of eggs? Or cereal? Or toast? It just didn’t seem worth it. I would much rather bury myself in a warm nest of blankets, reading books, and wait for lunch. Why? Because lunch had SO MANY possibilities! You could have anything! Lamb kebabs, sushi, fondue, chicken lo mien, anything was acceptable.  There is literally no unacceptable lunch food. (Well okay, once I had a malted milk ball milkshake for lunch. That’s pretty unacceptable.)

One of the happiest culinary moments of my young life was when I went to visit my godmother and her family in Phoenix. She asked me what I wanted for breakfast and I said a cheeseburger.  Instead of laughing at me, she smiled and made one for me. I had a cheeseburger at 9am. I had no idea such a thing was possible. It broke all the rules of breakfast.  It blew my tiny little mind.

I have since learned to appreciate breakfast for the necessary nutrition it provides. It’s very hard to go to work and sit at a desk if you’ve eaten nothing. Very hard.  But when I heard that Cliff’s Edge in Silverlake had a breakfast burger, I was really excited. Would it be as good as that cherished memory in Phoenix? I had to find out.

Cliff’s Edge itself is a very beautiful restaurant hidden off Sunset Blvd right next to a very unlovely 99 cent store. It is a bit like walking into a secret garden. Past the heavy wooden doors, a well manicured forest springs up around you with lanterns hanging from the branches and tables sprinkled under the trees. The loveliness is not just limited to the décor. As soon as the menu was put down, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite places. It was fancy.

Fancy pants menu

Fancy pants menu

I absolutely adore fancy brunch. I can think of nothing more decadent than rolling out of bed at noon, throwing on some clothes, and leisurely strolling down to your local establishment and having someone cook you breakfast. Not just any breakfast though. The kind of breakfast you would never make for yourself in a million years. Fresh biscuits with lemon curd and marrow bone butter? No way. Can you imagine making chicken liver terrine with candied kumquats and pistachio vinaigrette on toast just for the heck of it? No. Which is why when I got to the breakfast patty with bacon, fried egg, onion fondue, gruyere, and arugula on the menu I did a little happy dance in my seat.

When it arrived in all of its openfaced glory, I was a little concerned. What if it’s too fancy? What if they over do it? I am happy to report that they did not.  The thing was absurdly delicious. The runny egg, white toast, and bacon had a very traditional breakfast feel with the added bonus of a rich beef burger, sweet onions, and peppery arugula to counter it. It was the perfect brunch dish.  Both lunch and breakfast were happily represented and served with hot fries on the side.  I’m almost ashamed of how much I loved this burger. It had all the right proportions.  Now all I have to do is exercise some restraint and not order one every Sunday.  It will be a challenge.

 

PS. They have a dessert menu. It is absolutely worth it. You’ve already had a burger for breakfast. Why stop there? Have the peach crumble as well. You won’t be sorry.

The view from our table.

The view from our table.

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The Bell Beefer

What a week. The Oinkster has delivered again on it’s 3rd annual promise to bring the good people of Los Angeles seven consecutive days of awe inspiring burgers, be they homages to long-time staples, or original creations. The turnout of loyal burgerlords put last year’s attendance to shame, with some customers waiting 2 hours to place their order multiple nights in a row. 235 people successfully completed the challenge, meaning ate every burger on the week’s menu, one day at a time; myself included (duh). Though there were no real lowlights, there were a couple burgers at the head of the pack and one in particular was a clear favorite for me.

The Oink-o-Nator

Monday kicked off with the Oink-O-Nator, a shout to Wendy’s Baconator: 2 patties, cheddar, ketchup, mayo and a ton of bacon on a Kaiser roll. As is always the case when Oinkster does a tribute burger, the quality of the ingredients blew the doors off the original. That being said, there wasn’t much to this one- just simple and heavy. I was glad to get the meatiest task out of the way early. Tuesday was a Bob’s Big Boy recreation, and while like the previous day this burger did not boast frills, they nailed it, and blew the original away. Batting 1000 so far.

big boy

Burger Lord of the Rings

Day 3 was the Burgerlord of the rings, an original creation named after the theme of its toppings. Served on a bagel, this burger had grilled onions, a panko breaded fried pineapple ring, truffle Gorgonzola cream cheese, arugula, and chipotle bacon ketchup. Wild indeed, but in the bites heavy with bleu cheese, the sweetness of that pineapple was delightfully subdued and your 4-second flavor journey commences. My burger could have used more of that cream cheese overall, so my sincere hope is that this one will reappear as a burger of the month in the future giving me many more chances to decide just how highly it ranks on my love meter.

Weedeater (Grill Em All)

McRibster            The Grill Em All takeover day was predictably excellent, just as it was last year. Pulled pork, Jalapeno bacon, and Funyuns topped their burger, because they obviously know how to get baked and think of awesome shit. Day 7’s McRibster was great too, and again no surprise. From now on a half rack of de-boned baby back ribs is the only acceptable filler for a “rib” sandwich. The Bell Beefer was a bit more special, and required much higher levels of ingenuity. Taco Bell doesn’t make burgers, so there was some room for translation on this one. Oinkster’s solution was a Dorito crusted patty (I think they fried it), shredded cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, ranch dressing, and Tapatio. Why or how those things add up to taste exactly like a Taco Bell taco, I cannot speak to, but rest assured, they do. While it wouldn’t be the first burger I’d order from the week’s lineup, the Bell Beefer was perhaps the most impressive offering of the week (photo at the top of the page).

If you followed this blog last year when we covered burger week, you may recall my face melting off at the taste of the single original creation on the week’s menu, the adobo burger. Much to my dismay, the exact same thing happened this year, and the burger to leave burger week 2013 with the crown is none other than the menu’s misfit: The Thrilla from Manila. A lumpia style patty made from ground pork, shrimp and mushroom is wrapped and deep fried, then topped with pork belly, papaya relish, sweet Thai sauce on Pan de Sal. It was the least impressive looking, and the least photogenic burger all week, but with every bite I sat in stunned silence as to how so much flavor could possibly fit into so little space. Perhaps the fact that my palate is far less developed when it comes to Filipino flavors than more traditional American burger dressings makes me more susceptible to the elation experienced every time chef Andre Guerrero (owner) reaches into his motherland’s bag of culinary tricks, but I couldn’t care less. Each of the two times that he has made a burger that challenges what I think a burger is/should be, my world has forever changed. Let’s keep our fingers even more tightly crossed that this one shows up for a month in the near future, because anyone who missed it deserves a second chance.

The unassuming holy grail of burger week.

The unassuming holy grail of burger week.

Having survived another burger week challenge and lived to wear the shirt, I tip my hat yet again to the boys of Oinkster. I saw first hand this week that their following is a cult. The genuine joy and camaraderie present in that 90 minute line to order a hamburger is rarely seen ANYWHERE, much less a scenario that sounds awful if you don’t know it to be otherwise. If you were there, you get it. Oinkster is building a brotherhood- visible in the twinkle of every glance exchanged between a proud “burger week survivor” T-shirt wearer and each passing person who knows what that means. To quote a completely insane but surprisingly eloquent lady who cornered me on the way to my car on day 3: “Everybody loves something. For the lucky ones, it’s food.”

-Geoff Sawyer

Burger Week 2013 Line Up

One year ago today, Hoodburger was born. On the commencement of The Oinkster’s 2nd annual burger week, Molly and I began our quest by covering the week’s wild happenings at one of my very favorite neighborhood restaurants. We’ve since gone on to eat at over 50 more of Los Angeles’s finest (and a few not so fine) burger joints so that we can tell you the tales. Look for a soon-to-come highlight reel of our year in burgers, as it has been a great one.

This week however is not really about us, it is about burgers, and it is about Oinkster. They have concocted another stellar line-up of fast food homages and original creations this year, each of which has my interest piqued and appetite in hulk-mode. Unlike last year, there will not be a daily review of the previous day’s burger because it seems mean to rub in your faces that which you can no longer have each and every day. I will however be there every night affirming my title of burgerlord (peep this tumblr if you don’t already know about it) and talking amazing burgers with any and all of you whilst the bread breaks. Come say hi.

-Geoff Sawyer