Let’s talk about show-offs; specifically those who strive to appear sophisticated. Generally, dedicating excessive effort to anything for the purpose of appearing as impressive as possible is misguided if not wasted entirely. I’m talking about people who name drop their favorite philosophers’ theses in otherwise modest conversation not because they actually have their heads around why Slavoj Žižek’s papers on false consciousness are the most brilliant shit ever (for example), but because they know that you’ll act like you know what that means and google it when you get home. I know I have. Forced intellectualism when paired with a distaste for simple (awesome) things is exponentially worse. People who universally turn their noses up at things like bowling, dumb funny movies, and crummy domestic beer at a professional sporting event about which you actually care very little, tend to get the same smug “cool, bro”-themed reaction from me. Taking pride in your passion is one thing, but fancy for fancy’s sake is another, and it usually sucks. Usually. I am not sure who developed the recipe for the burger at the recently opened Los Feliz Scottish pub The Morrison, but that individual is most assuredly a show-off, and contrary to where the last several sentences seemed to be leading, one who deserves every praise soaked word of syrupy flattery that I am about to spew.
That busted little sushi place on Los Feliz blvd. just East of the L.A. River finally shut down. I never ate there, nor had I ever heard anyone speak of it. What replaced it however, immediately bore allure. Several friends made mention of the new phoenix of a Gastropub, risen from the sushi slums ashes before the paint dried it seemed. It still took me a few months to get there, mainly because no one managed to note that this new neighborhood watering hole had a burger. My suffered lag in discovering this place is of no consequence. What matters is this: I know about it, and now you will too.
The Morrison is fancy, and it’s no accident. The menu features Scottish themed cuisine and from what I am told some of it is pretty legit, though I wouldn’t claim to be able to grade the authenticity of Highland inspired dishes. They have a specialty cocktail menu that I did not fully explore but the apple wood smoked apple bourbon is definitely worth a go, which is not something I often say about an eleven dollar drink. The smoked salmon and scotch egg appetizers are good too: the first being huge sashimi sized hunks of house smoked salmon on grilled rye corners, and the latter a runny egg deep fried inside a sheath of lightly breaded venison sausage. Neither would have me writing home, though both are recommended. The burger however, has got me writing right now.
The Fillet Mignon Burger at The Morrison is called that because (care to guess?) it has a steak on it. Predictably, this instantly flipped my skepticism switch on. Allow me to build this thing for you, from the bottom up: English Muffin, celeriac remoulade, ground sirloin patty, port salut cheese, a fucking steak, and marrow butter. Now allow me to elaborate on some of these ingredients in case they don’t sound snobby enough. Celeriac remoulade is a thin caper (and possibly anchovy) aioli with coarsely chopped celery root, which ended up being best described as sloppy, salty, cole slaw. Port Salut is very similar to muenster cheese but with a higher fat content so it’s extra creamy, and marrow butter is literally soft butter with roasted bone marrow folded in, because plain butter just isn’t rich enough (obviously). This burger’s description is the kind that makes me say “cool bro” and assume that their goal is more to create something impressive to discuss than delicious to eat. Well I sincerely hope that this is the only time I have ever been so completely wrong about anything. This burger is stunning. The distinctly different flavor and texture of the fillet vs. the patty was far more discernible than I expected, and the other 3 components add a TON of richness without any strong or competitive flavor, so you really taste the quality of the meat. The caper in the remoulade must come from the juice, you don’t see them in the “slaw” but the distinct flavor is in there and nearly the only thing offering any sharpness at all. Every other component is mild and as rich as can be. A side of heirloom pickles, which were also spectacular, perfectly contrasted the soft round flavors of the burger with cold crunch and acid. Butter and remoulade will run down your arm, so don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll look good eating this burger, but rest assured you will not care. Also, it’s small compared to what L.A. restaurants have trained us to expect, which works out perfectly because if it were significantly larger it would be overwhelming. When I say it’s rich, we’re talking RICH. I’ve never had anything quite like this burger, and I went back 2 days later to eat it again just to make sure that I hadn’t gotten lucky the first time.
Apparently sometimes fanciness is genuine. The Morrison definitely gets my full cosign, and while this burger is probably not something you’re going to be craving once a week till the end of time, if you have a taste for well-executed, quality, non-traditional and RICH, then you have really got to experience the fillet mignon burger from this place.