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The Bison Burger Done Rodeo Style

The Bison Burger Done Rodeo Style

On the windy stretch of Hyperion Blvd right before Trader Joes is a tiny hamburger shack called the Fix. Whoever put it there chose the location wisely. It’s right next to a gym. There is something remarkably satisfying about eating a burger and fries while knowing that on the other side of the wall there is a room full of sweaty joggers, frantically trying to keep up with their treadmills.  Also I cannot imagine a more inviting carrot than promising yourself a burger if you go to the gym.

The Fix is not a glamorous spot. You order at the counter and fight for a seat in the tiny dining room. But what it lacks in style it more than makes up for in variety. They have six types of burger, with six different styles you can have it (not including original), plus nine types of cheese, six types of fixings, and five sauces. All of these options can be really overwhelming. I spent half an hour planning out my strategy.  Here are the results.

The Wild Boar Burger Done Traditionally

The Wild Boar Burger Done Traditionally

The Wild Boar Burger done with standard toppings (mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce,  and onions). They had wild boar. How could I turn that down? I imagined the chef had gone out with a bow and arrow and hunted the creature down himself.  How macho would that be? Wild boar also goes down as the animal I would least like to fight on this list. Those things are lethal. Needless to say, I anticipated this burger to be infused with naturally gamey deliciousness. As it turns out, it was infused with…nothing much. That’s right. The boar tasted pretty much like nothing. It was just kinda mildly meaty. If you had told me it was made of tofu, I might have believed you.

Deliciousness Ranking: 3/10

Molly’s Chances of Winning Against this Creature in a Fight: 2/10

The Bison Burger Done Rodeo Style

The Bison Burger Done Rodeo Style

The second choice was also a clear one. The Buffalo burger done Rodeo style, which in this case meant with BBQ sauce, onion rings, cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. What those ingredients have to do with rodeos, I’m not sure, but you could count the things I know about the rodeo on one hand.  The burger was a little salty, but very juice and the contrast of the salty bison and sweet BBQ sauce was really lovely. Add some unnecessary cheddar cheese and fried onion rings and you’ve got yourself a good time. The mayo was a mystery to me. You couldn’t taste it over the BBQ sauce.

Deliciousness Ranking: 7/10

Molly’s Chances of Winning Against this Creature in a Fight: 1/10

The Turkey Pilgrim Burger

The Turkey Pilgrim Burger

The third burger that caught my eye was the Pilgrim Burger. Considering they founded our nation (Yeah okay, debatable) there aren’t many foods that we name after them. In fact I can only think of Pilgrim’s Spiced Wine. This burger was clearly created after the chef’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  What makes a Pilgrim burger different from a regular burger? Cranberry relish and a turkey patty. That’s it.  I was a little disappointed there were no sweet potato fries shoved in there or stuffing or gravy, but hey, what can you do. And you know what? It was delicious. They’ve really got that turkey patty down. It was hearty and flavorful and played really nicely against the cranberry relish that came dripping down my hands like a crimson tide. (That doesn’t sound good, does it? It was delicious. I swear it.)

Deliciousness Ranking: 8/10

Molly’s Chances of Winning Against this Creature in a Fight: 9/10

The Beef Burger Done Silver Lake Style

The Beef Burger Done Silver Lake Style

The last burger I tried was their standard beef patty done Silver Lake style, because when in Rome right?  Turns out Silver Lake style means lettuce, onions, tomato, cheddar cheese, bacon, and thousand island dressing.  Not what I would have pegged as distinctly Silver Lake, but one bite made me understand why they named it that. They didn’t name the burger after their neighborhood. They named their burger after their love of their neighborhood. As bacon cheeseburgers go, this one was pretty damn delicious. Not complicated or groundbreaking, but quite good.  The bacon was crispy and complimented the sweetness of the thousand island dressing blended perfectly into the ground beef. It was hands down the winner.

Deliciousness Ranking: 9/10

Molly’s Chances of Winning Against this Creature in a Fight: 5/10

The fries were disappointingly mealy.

The fries were disappointing.

Now, I didn’t manage to eat all the burgers. There are still three other styles I didn’t get to, but I look forward to going back and having another swing at it.  One thing I have learned, though, for all their exotic burger options, the one thing The Fix does best is beef.

PS. According to their twitter, they have an Ostrich burger. They no longer do. I’m a little bummed about that.

PPS. The fries and the garlic fries were both bummers. Both were mealy.  Next time I’m going onion rings.

PPS. Their chocolate peanut butter  milkshakes are awesome. That being said, what chocolate peanut butter milkshakes are not?

fix

 

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.

By Michael G.

By Michael G.

Is there anything better than a secret? Having someone pull you aside and say “I need to tell you something, but you can’t tell anyone else,” is a delicious moment. The possibilities could be endless. At that second they have chosen you as a confidant (the fools) and the secret could be anything from “I am the King of Brunei” to “I killed a man in cold blood in the jungles of Brazil” to “I have three children out of wedlock in three different states”  to “that’s not really chicken.” I mean, usually it’s something boring like “that soup isn’t really vegetarian,” but a secret  is always thrilling no matter how mundane. Which is why when my buddy Chris told me about a super secret burger that wasn’t on the menu at the bar at Café Stella, I headed over there immediately.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the popularity of the bar at Café Stella. Located in the belly of Sunset Junction, the café is warm and inviting and exceptionally classy. The restaurant is the kind of place that I don’t frequent very often because I’m usually not dressed for the occasion and rarely have the money to spend on chic French bistro food.  The bar, however, is very romantic with low lighting and Ella Fitzgerald playing on the speakers. Perfect for a low key date. Something everyone else knew but me,  so the first time I tried to get a burger, a waifish teenager in a giant floppy hat who guards the door to the establishment informed me that there was simply no room for me at the bar. Fighting my instincts to take her hat and throw it into the street, I planned my return much more carefully.

By Michael G.

By Michael G.

At the stroke of six pm I arrived yesterday with my friend Marisa and barreled past the indignant texting guard, and we had the whole bar to ourselves. It was lovely. The bartender, Vincent, seemed even happier that we knew about the secret burger than we were. Glowing with conspiratorial glee, he delivered our meal on slabs of wood. It was well worth the trouble.  The Café Stella burger is wedged between a brioche bun, covered in confit tomatoes, fennel onion jam, and absurdly large leaves of butter lettuce, but what makes it great is the blue cheese inside the burger.  The blue cheese is actually inside the ground beef giving it a satisfying earthly tang that blended with the sweetness of the onions and tomatoes perfectly.  There was clearly a lot of time and love spent figuring out how much blue cheese to put in the burger. Too much and it would overwhelm the flavor of the beef. Too little and it wouldn’t matter that it was there at all. The burger also comes with a cone of golden shoestring fries that were perfectly crisp.

So if you’re in Sunset Junction in the early evening, Café Stella is a great place to get a burger. However, if you have no patience to wrestle other patrons for a seat at the bar, they have the burger in the main restaurant on their weekend brunch menu as well. However, I would imagine without the secret knowledge, the brunch burger doesn’t taste quite as good.

By W. L.

By W. L.

 

forage

I’ve been debating whether or not to post this because the burger in question is in fact a special, and as you all know there’s nothing worse than reading a review of something delicious only to discover that it’s no longer there. Cruel and unusual is what I call it. BUT can something really be a special if it’s been on the menu as a special for six months? If it was a house guest, you would have inquired about paying rent a long time ago or made them move into a hotel. So, I will write about it. Carpe diem, Mayans be damned we’re all still here, or if you prefer YOLO.

Forage is one of my favorite restaurants in LA for a number of reasons. It’s not just that they cook with ingredients that are locally sourced and support small farms, but they actually give you credit to their restaurant if you give them your excess fruit or vegetables from your home garden. They’ve got a whole program for it called Home Growers Circle, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside despite my own lack of green thumb. I’ve killed many a cactus in my day.

From the Forage Blog

From the Forage Blog

Of course none of this would mean anything if the food was awful. A home grown tomato means nothing if it’s been desecrated by some poorly thought out dressing. I’m happy to report that Forage makes some of the best side dishes in Los Angeles. As someone who will always choose mac n’ cheese over arugula, I often find myself at the Forage counter asking for the bulgar wheat with lentils over the potatoes au gratin, which feels very weird. They also have a brand new menu every day depending on what’s available which they post diligently online.

Anyhow, like I was saying, I didn’t want to review this burger because I was afraid it wasn’t going to be there for very much longer, but then I ate it, and it’s delicious, and you know all those reasons seemed silly. So without further ado, I present Forage’s special burger. On a grilled homemade bun they put a grass fed beef patty with sweet pickles, sweet onions, a slice of heirloom tomato, lettuce, some sort of mayo, and aged white Cheddar.  The whole thing is a mere $12.50 which is pretty decent for a gourmet burger. The only catch is you will want to get yourself a side while waiting for it to be prepared. Otherwise there’s a fifteen minute wait while they cook the thing, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re sitting there hungry and everyone else in the place has their food, it feels like eternity.  Also, it always feels very virtuous to eat your roasted beet and citrus salad before diving into a cheese burger.

Do not be fooled by its tiny circumference. When mine finally arrived, I was outraged at its size, but when I picked it up, I was surprised by its heft. Also don’t make any plans to touch anything once that baby has been picked up. It is a cheesy, oniony, sloppy mess.  The burger itself is rather salty, which is countered by the sweetness of the onions and the crispness of the lettuce, but the real surprise is the genius of the cheese and pickle. The combination of sweet pickle and aged Cheddar is no rarity on the other side of the pond, but it’s a rarity in America. The tang of the pickle and the comforting warmth of the cheese turn this burger from average to extraordinary. I just hope Forage finally gives in and puts it on the menu for good.

PS.  Save room for dessert. They make some beauties.

forage cake

This is a tale of a restaurant that does almost everything right. Built in a resurrected old theater, Mohawk Bend prides itself on good drinks and locally sourced, organic bar food. The menu is built to please everyone. Gluten-free? No problem. Vegan? No worries. Dairy free? They got you.  They’ve got munchies that suit any dietary need. Why? Because their pride and joy is the bar and they want you to hang out as long as possible. Mohawk Bend was built on fiery strong concoctions that will part your hair neatly down the middle and singe the ends. Even their homemade ginger beer will light a fire in your belly.

That being said, I should have known. I really should have known. Despite assurances to the contrary, any time a restaurant has a special notation for the NON-Vegan (N/V) things on the menu the burger isn’t going to be the highlight. It’s just not. Even if the description on paper is gorgeous, and on paper the Mohawk Burger is a supermodel: a respectable sized beef patty with arugula, parmesan, crispy pancetta, red onion, pickled chili, roasted peppers, and rosemary-garlic aioli with the option of adding gruyere, sharp cheddar,  bacon or vegan cheddar (although why you would add vegan cheese to a burger is beyond me. Lactose intolerance?) on a brioche bun. Sounds fantastic right? Wrong.

Okay, okay that’s unfair. It was more like online dating. You get all psyched up to meet someone in person and you do…and you realize…this is not what you had in mind.  The garlic aioli isn’t very strong, there’s no pancetta that you can discern, and there is far too much arugula. The only really fascinating part is the spicy pickled chilies and that alone does not make a sandwich. I mean, you’re not sorry you ate it, but you’re not going to call it again.

No, the lesson learned here is if you’re at a restaurant that has (N/V) on its menu I offer these four words of advice: Get The Veggie Burger. Trust me. If the establishment you’re at is tip toeing around the very mention of meat, get the veggie burger. That’s where they’re putting all of their love and affection. The vegan burger at Mohawk Bend is scrumptious.  It’s not very showy. Just a black bean, corn, and brown rice patty, with a thick layer of avocado, tomato, lettuce, and chipotle aioli on a whole wheat bun, but all the proportions are right, the textures are very gratifying, and the aioli is downright sassy, pulling everything together.

Wait, two lessons learned. I’m tacking another one on here. If you’re going to a place with 72 taps of beer running at one time: get the fries.  Whether your bag is the comforting cheesy, gravy goodness of poutine (which they carry in vegan and non) or sweet potato fries with their transcendent maple chipotle aioli or even just regular fries which they offer seasoned with togarashi or rosemary gremolata, you will not be sorry. Whatever you do, do not settle for the coleslaw. The coleslaw is a disgrace. I can’t believe they put it on the side of every burger. Watered down cabbage with no spices to speak of? Mohawk, you can do better! How can you put such love and energy into your fries and ignore your other sides? I think your chefs need to go visit Golden State and get a lesson in how great cabbage can truly be. Nobody puts coleslaw in the corner.

– Molly Bergen