I’ve never been a huge team sports fan. Of course when playoff season comes around, regardless of the name of the featured ball, I tend to keep up based on frequent alcohol-lubed small-talk sessions and friends who care more than I. Thai Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts hold my attention much more dependably, but neither of those sports have the invariable American household ubiquity that the professional versions of activities available to middle school students do. I bring this up because my lack of dedication to team sports has resulted in a smaller number of stimulating Sports Bar experiences than have likely been had by those who never miss one of their favorite college basketball team’s regular season games. This is important for one reason: today’s burger is served at what might be one of the greatest Sports Bars ever, but I don’t think I’m qualified to make such a determination.
Slater’s 50/50 is located on N. Raymond St. only a few short blocks from the epicenter of Pasadena’s most consumer driven pocket: the intersection of Fair Oaks and Colorado. A very quick walk from the Memorial Park Metro (on the way there at least, the walk back to the train was much slower) it’s quite accessible too, assuming you’re on the East end of Los Angeles to begin with. Early in the day the place was a ghost-town but being that there was seating for 200 or more, logic suggests they pull a crowd from time to time. The vibe is very corporate, and my guess is that the folks involved in the design have a TGIFriday’s pedigree or something comparable. Slater’s is a bit nicer than your average chain, but they do turn all the barstools to the door so they look “inviting” and make sure that any and every staff member introduces themself before saying “and I’ll be taking care of you today.” It ends up feeling like the kind of place where family functions would occur if you all did the Cheesecake Factory was last week and/or there is a game on. To be fair though, it’s a sports bar, and you don’t go somewhere with 80 tables and nearly as many HD screens to be wowed by the individuality of the table settings. You go for cold beers and good bar food, and Slater’s delivers big time in both departments.
50/50 refers to the blend of their burger, which is half ground chuck, and half ground bacon. Bacon. Half of it, by WEIGHT, is bacon. This pleased me. Slater’s has a respectable collection of burgers, ten in all (or you can design your own), some of which are recommended to be ordered with the 50/50 patty and some that aren’t, though you can have any menu burger with the patty of your choice. Naturally, I chose the signature burger (The 50/50), which comes adorned with a sunny side up egg, avocado mash, pepper-jack cheese (though mine had no spice whatsoever), and adobo-chipotle mayo, served on a white brioche. Being that half of the patty is ground bacon, the rarest they serve the 50/50 is medium, which I requested. This burger was delicious. All that bacon in the patty predictably makes for a very unique flavor, and they actually grill them, so the patty had a good char, crust and smoke flavor on the outside while still being pretty pink in the center. Any burger with a sunny egg on it is going to be messy, particularly when accompanied only by slathers of other slimy stuff, but it was manageable somehow despite its toppings. There was no spice; as I said the cheese was not in fact pepper jack, and the mayo though flavorful was not actually spicy. This is not a problem or complaint, simply an observation. The singular thing I would change about this burger would be salt on the avocado. They didn’t season it individually, which made it taste like negative salt when perched atop a grilled wad of bacon. Otherwise the 50/50 is an all around great burger, and inventive.
Slater’s sides were good too and even the ketchup has bacon in it. Perhaps my fried pickle bar has dropped since having them at The Escondite, but I thought Slater’s fried pickles were the best I’ve seen in a while. You have to request Ranch, sadly it seems that there is a west coast epidemic of not knowing what the only condiment meant for tempura dill chips is, but it’s a small price to pay and the server that you will know by name should be happy to grab it for you. They also have 101 beers on tap. You read that right. Over one hundred draught beers. This selection, the great food, and the absolute impossibility of finding a seat from which you can’t see a T.V. leads me to believe that Slater’s holds a strong position in the sports bar pantheon, but I do have some bad news. Myself, and my dining partner, were absolutely wrecked by the food. Slater’s represents the worst Gut-Bomb I’ve experienced since this site’s inception, to such a degree that I feel obligated to warn you readers. When I say wrecked, I mean call in to work and keep coconut water in hand all day kind of wrecked. Tummy bubbles that you wouldn’t wish on an enemy. My sense (hope) is that we got unlucky, and got semi-mild food poisoning at a place that does not generally have this issue. Their food quality certainly appeared up to snuff. My advice, don’t feel weird about ordering this burger cooked. I was pleasantly surprised at how pink ours were, but it seems we paid dearly for it.