There is a soft spot in my heart for late night fast food. Some of my favorite memories take place around 3am in a parking lot with greasy burger wrappers covering the back seat of someone’s borrowed car, condensation from the milkshake dripping into what is fast becoming a lake of a cup holder. I have great respect for the delicate dance of balancing one’s burger in one hand while grabbing another fry with the other without getting ketchup stains on your party dress. But the burgers in question were never good. Well no, scratch that, all burgers at 3am are good. They could be made out of an opossum that was run over by a semi truck three days ago and be tasty. However, most food that you settle for at 3am you would not be caught dead with in the harsh, rational glare of daylight.
This is why I rejoiced when I saw on Stout’s door that they’re open EVERY DAY until 4:30am. I think everyone has (or should have) a list in the back of their brains of late night, sit down restaurants that aren’t full of mediocre, greasy diner food. This is high-class greasy food establishment with a bar, so I was predisposed to like them. Really it was going to take a lot for them to mess this up.
Located on the edge of a parking lot on Cahuenga St, Stout from afar looks like a lot of horrible Hollywood bars with flat screen TVs and people preening around hoping to be noticed. Once you get inside, however, it’s pretty comfy and the gourmet menu would tempt a saint (or a supermodel). There’s a diverse list of gourmet burgers, chicken burgers, and veggie burgers all for ten bucks, so splitting the tab with your buddies is not complicated. They also feature beer pairings with your burgers on the menu as a helpful suggestion and as expected, fries and dessert are also encouraged.
Overwhelmed by the ten different burgers on offer, I picked their signature. The Stout burger features a beef patty covered in blue cheese, Emmi gruyere, rosemary bacon, caramelized onions, horseradish cream, and roasted tomatoes on a brioche bun. Immediately I was suspicious. What kind of burger would need two kinds of cheese? Especially two cheeses that have such distinct identities. What kind of feeling were they going for: the sharp tang of the blue cheese or the warm creamy reassurance of the gruyere? The answer it turns out was simple.
Neither! You could have put twenty cheeses on that sucker and it wouldn’t have mattered at all because all you could taste was the horseradish. Now I don’t want to sound disparaging. After all horseradish and beef go beautifully together. What is baffling is the amount of ingredients the chef decided to put on the burger in addition to it. The roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions gave the burger a slight sweetness against the wave of spice, but the bacon and cheese were completely lost. They were the equivalent of the flute section in a high school marching band. If you couldn’t see them with your own eyes, you’d never know they were there.
My advice: get the burger. Ask them to hold the cheese and bacon. (Probably the only time in history I’ve ever said that.) And by everything that is holy: GET THE ONION RINGS. They are the most delectably crispy, salt encrusted, golden delights I’ve ever had the good fortune of ordering. You won’t be sorry.
– Molly Bergen