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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Barnburger

Apparently, you don’t have to have a cancerous tan, steroid induced bicep bloat, dreadlocks, the ability to juggle, an iguana on a leash, or any of the other numerous stereotypical attributes that I associated with this place, to hang out at Venice Beach. While finding one or many individuals in possession of any of the aforementioned qualities is not a tall order, there are plenty of plain-old, happy, boring folks such as myself, who like a good drink and a good meal. The other thing that I did not know is that Venice is very much a home to both.

Pacific Ave. and its beach front tributaries have a short but densely packed pocket of purveyors of vittles and libations, and if they are all as good or even comparable to my first Venice Beach dining experience, then what a lovely little pocket it is. Barnyard was opened in February of this year by Jesse Barber (the opening chef of Tasting Kitchen) and his wife Celia, and is by no means a burger restaurant, but they do however, like many of their contemporaries (Comme Ca, Rustic Canyon), have a damn good one. The menu is primarily local and seasonally driven, because the chefs who get it, know that the best food is made with those ingredients. Its offerings are rustic and fairly eclectic though not necessarily inspired by a particular culture’s cuisine, and the short list of small plates and mains hits all the necessary marks. They also have a great and affordable wine selection if that’s your bag. It’s certainly mine.

pretty grilled breads barnyard olives

My meal began with grilled breads, a meat plate (soppressata, picante, and wild boar), and warm castelvetrano olives- which were the closest thing to butter that I have ever eaten that was actually not in any way, butter. Who knew, all you have to do is make them hot? Next up was a panzanella salad, with prepared arugula, candied nuts, white raisins and monstrous semi-soft croutons, which, though are this dishes namesake ingredient, were sparse enough that it still felt like a salad. Oh and burrata. A huge, beautiful wad of creamy, mild mozzarella. I enjoyed all of this over the better part of a bottle of Bielsa Garnacha, which is a medium-full bodied Spanish wine not unlike a Tempranillo, and before I knew it I had already been drinking and nibbling for over an hour. Entrance of a time vortex is a pretty sure sign of a solid meal. Time for that burger.

Barnyard’s burger is, in a word, tart. Now don’t go thinking that that adjective is chosen critically, because it is absolutely delightful, but among those restaurants in the same lane in terms of price and quality, they all seem to strive for richness. Fatty grinds, high fat content cheeses, and an assortment of aiolis are standard fare when it comes to the $17 burgers of Los Angeles. Barnyard chose a different path and I salute them. This wonderfully seasoned, medium rare, coarsely and loosely ground patty came adorned with butter lettuce, house made pickles, stone ground mustard, aged sharp cheddar cheese, and a small smear of pickled pepper spread (the pepper type I am not sure but it wasn’t spicy at all), which all add up to one loudly flavorful burger. Buttered and grilled brioche housed all the acidic accoutrements, and in tandem with the richness of the beef was just enough to reign in all those sour elements.

Barnyard burger

A brief recap of things I learned this week: my sense that Venice is lame is just as wrong as my sense that you need fatty/salty things on your burger for it to be delicious. Both biases were undone in one spectacular evening, of which I expect to have many more. Barnyard is a place that you should just go. The burger is stellar but if you don’t get it, that’s fine. This is a great restaurant, period. Take friends, order a bottle of wine, course your meal out and be prepared for time to pass at an alarmingly brisk rate, as it is known to do when you’re having fun.

– Geoff Sawyer

p.s. It was too dark to take a decent photo by the time any of my food came, so if I stole your pics from Yelp, thanks.

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Tiny cheeseburger goodness

Tiny cheeseburger goodness

Wedged between Delancey and Mission Cantina on Sunset Blvd is a new sliders joint called Twin Sliders. It is just an orange window.  Outside there are aluminum seating for four people and a lonely umbrella.  Their menu is very simple. They have two kinds of sliders cheeseburger or fried chicken and you can only order them in pairs of twos. (I assume this has something to do with the name.)  Other than that, they have three kinds of fries: plain, cheese, and “dirty” (code for Thousand Island dressing and cheese) and milkshakes. That’s it. But you know what? It’s genius.

Why? Location, location, location. If you’re running to a show at the Palladium or the Fonda up the street and you don’t have time to grab a bite at a nice restaurant, these are your guys. Gone are the days when Arbys was the only dismal option.  Just hop up to the counter and the kids in orange hats will be happy to assist you. Actually they will be more than happy. They were the most attentive burger staff I have ever been served by. I’m assuming that’s due to the fact that they’re stuck in a shoebox all day flipping burgers with only three other people to talk to, but let me tell you, they were incredibly sweet and were very interested in what I was ordering.

Fried Chicken Slider

Fried Chicken Slider

Actually it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I got straight down to business and ordered the Big One. I must confess that even though this is Hoodburger and not Hoodshake, the place piqued my interest only after I heard about the twenty you-got-to-be-kidding-me dollar milkshake. Named “The Big One” this 44oz beast contains fudge brownies, oreos, Captain Crunch cereal, graham crackers, M&M’s, Reese’s peanut butter cups, marshmallows, Cinammon Toast Crunch, butterfingers, cookie dough, and a whole twinkie. That’s right. An entire twinkie just floating in the middle of it like a little golden manatee in a sea of vanilla ice cream.

Now you’re probably thinking, unless there’s $17 floating in it too there is NO WAY a milkshake is worth $20. I felt the same way originally. I had a whole plan snootily total up all of the ingredients and then ask for change, but here’s the thing…it took them forever to make.  It took three teenagers probably around 20 minutes to make the whole thing. That’s a dollar a minute or 33 cents per person. Or if you look at the sheer magnitude of the thing, 44oz of milkshake is not a reasonable quantity by any standards to consume alone, so I divided it up amongst my three buddies. That’s 11oz of milkshake per person or $5 for a milkshake with all of the candy. That seems pretty reasonable.

The Big One

The Big One

 

The sheer magnitude of the Big One

But did it taste good? Uh…no, not really. I mean you can’t really go wrong with ice cream and candy, but with that much stuff, it was more like a game of Name That Ingredient than something enjoyable. There were just too many flavors fighting each other at one time. The result was a peanut butterish, oreo-esque, vanilla milkshake. The other result was the three kids who made it, sticking their heads out the window constantly asking if you liked it. Next time, I think I will go for date shake.

The article is supposed to be about sliders, isn’t it? Sorry. Let’s get down to those. The mini cheese burgers are lovely. They’re just like tiny In And Out burgers complete with special sauce. The fried chicken sliders are dressed up exactly the same although they are marinated in Cajun sauce giving them a slightly spicy kick. The fries were golden and hot and lovely, made even better with a liberal slapping of Thousand Island dressing and gooey American cheese.  Are they unique? No. Are they perfect snack food? Yes, indeed. In fact the main query is why on earth does this place close at 10pm? Why make perfect drunk food and then close before the bars do? It’s insane. They could make a killing if they were open past 2 am. I’m hoping they do, but until then, if you’re running late to a show and need a quick snack, this is the place to drop by.

-Molly Bergen

Dirty Fries vs. Plain

Dirty Fries vs. Plain

Our attentive burger staff

Our attentive burger staff

I drew a picture of masculinity. Here it is.

Portrait of Masculinity

That’s a lie I didn’t draw it, I stole it off of SuperMachoMao’s flickr page, but the rest is true. That drawing is of Nick Offerman, and he is masculinity personified. When Nick is not making canoes with his hands, or shaving and growing a new mustache every 6 hours as he likes to do, you might find him collaborating with his favorite local restaurant, The Oinkster, on the ultimate mascu-meal: the burger.

American_Ham3

The “American Ham” as curated by Mr. Manliness himself is constructed as follows: 6-oz. ground chuck patty topped with shaved ham, two layers of gruyere cheese, hot sweet mustard, mayo, and house-made bread and butter pickles on a sourdough bun. If a Cuban sandwich bore a child fathered by a monster truck that runs on fireworks, you would have this burger. My bench press max went up 40 lbs after the first bite. All that cheese and warm smokey-sweet ham were meant to be together, and atop a meaty burger the match is truly heavenly. The healthy mound of house-made pickles aren’t terribly sugary and are brined with thin sliced onions, making for a little crunch and tartness that ties it all together. A sourdough bun trumps all other choices because if you don’t like it you’re obviously a vortex of testosterone. It’s a lot of meat. And cheese. And bread. And it’s fucking AWESOME. Awesome like “God Bless America” sang by a chorus of 50 bald eagles with perfect pitch as lead by Bruce Springsteen. It’s heavy and delicious and you’re going to love it because you’re a MAN (or at least you like to eat like one).

American_Ham2

All good things must come to an end and The American Ham is no exception. This triumph of nationalist cuisine is only available for the month of October, so if you hope to ever really be an American, get to Oinkster stat. While the burger itself will not be with us for long, mourn not, the chest hair you grow as a result of eating it will be with you forever. One nation, under this burger. God Bless Nick Offerman.

– Geoff Sawyer

– Photos by #BURGERLORDS

The most American of them all