Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Norms -- Los Angeles, CA

11001 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Norms Website

I asked Fat Bruce Lee if he would rather go with me to re-review Father's Office or Norms. Without hesitation, he chose Norms. The 18-month old memory of Father's Office was still too painful for him. His decision was fortunate, since the president of Norms had recently reached out to me in light of the less than favorable review they had previously garnered. He suggested that they were having an off day and a second chance was in order--The BurgerBusters are all about second chances. Heck, I have been to Father's Office on three occasions.  We made our way to the West Los Angeles (Westwood) location on Pico Blvd--parking was free in the huge, attached lot.  Norms was full to capacity...it almost always has been whenever I have driven by. We were fortunate enough to have a table open up just as we walked in. It was with some trepidation that I ordered that second burger at Norms, but I am glad that I did. That first experience was, in fact, nothing like the burgers that we sampled on the second try.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The burgers at Norms were made from 100% USDA choice Chuck. The place was really busy, so I did not have time to get an in-depth look into the preparation process. I assumed that Norms took regular delivery of ground beef. The 80:20 beef was quite good. It was pleasantly juicy without being greasy. The bite was nicely balanced. It led with a mild funk that tasted of wet-aging. The middle note in the bite was a strong, beef flavor, and this melted into a mellow, but hearty, note of iron. The texture was tender, bordering on crumbly, and this was likely due to the fact that the loosely formed patty was overcooked. It was not unpleasant, and the sturdy bun and cheese held the dish together from a textural and a structural perspective.

The Seasoning: The interior of the burger patty was unseasoned, and the exterior was lightly salted as it seared on the flat top.  The seasoning was mild but appropriate in consideration of the strongly flavored beef.

The Sear: The sear on the burgers at Norms was solid. It was crisp and dark, and it lent a welcome firmness to the bite.

The Preparation: The freshly ground beef was formed into patties periodically. The grind was medium. Norms was a 24-hour establishment, so there was no morning prep time. The beef was handled gently, so there was no chewiness in the bite. The 8 ounce patties were cooked on a properly hot griddle/flat top. My burger was cooked to Med-Well in spite of being ordered Medium, but this was fine. The higher cooking temperature served to melt all of the collagen in the Chuck to develop that strong beefy flavor. This also allowed a better sear to develop. The trade-off was the crumbly texture of the beef.

The Cheese: The melted American cheese slice served to balance out the texture and provided some umami and creaminess to the bite.

The Bun: I went with the sesame seeded bun rather than the whole wheat or egg bun options. The moist, fresh was buttered and toasted to a satisfying crunch. The bun was otherwise neutral, and it it did not detract from the flavorful cheeseburger.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: This was just right.

The Fries: These were peel-on fries, and they were cooked to a proper crispness. They were unseasoned, so this made them bland. Otherwise, the fries were completely competent.

The Toppings: The Romaine lettuce that accompanied my cheeseburger was fresh and crisp, and the tomato slices were juicy, ripe, and sweet.

The Value: An 8 ounce cheeseburger with fries was $7.89 at Norms. Two cheeseburgers, fries, and two soft drinks came out to just over 23 bucks after tax.  The value was average. However, compared to what we encountered a week prior at Boxwood Cafe by Gordon Ramsay, this burger was far superior in terms of both ingredients and preparation.

We walked into Norms with low expectations, and we walked out pleasantly surprised. I brought half of my burger back to the world headquarters for the minions to sample (Lord of the Flies-style). Everyone agreed that this was a fine and flavorful burger, which they would gladly eat again. The unseasoned fries were not a hit.

On a final note, the pancakes were darn good when sampled on previous breakfast runs with Happy Meal.

Burger Review : Norms served up a better than average burger for an average price. Norms is a solid choice to satisfy a burger craving....especially a late-night one, since they are open 24 hours. They were certainly head and shoulders above Apple Pan and Islands, which were both within half a mile of the Westwood location.

Rating....4 Bites (rounded up from 3.5) 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Steingarten LA -- Los Angeles, CA

10543 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Chi Burger owed Fat Bruce Lee lunch. Chi Burger foolishly bet on himself in a "who can punch harder" contest, and Chi Burger came up on the losing end of the wager. Fat Bruce Lee packs some power.  Chi Burger suggested that we try Steingarten LA, and since he was driving, that was where we ended up. We found metered parking on the street in front of the restaurant.

Steingarten LA was only 4 months old at the time of this review. We arrived at noon to discover that we were the only customers. We chose a table on the rear patio, and ordered three cheeseburgers all Med-Rare. The menu was heavy on burgers and sausages with burgers leading. That boded well. We have discovered that the burgers have often been better when they are the focus of the menu rather than an afterthought. We skimmed the massive beer and wine menu during the 10 minute wait for our burgers to arrive at the table.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The beef was a wet-aged, 90:10 Sirloin. This was an all-natural, grass-fed beef from IDB. The burger meat arrived pre-ground, and it was formed into 8-ounce patties each morning. These burgers were wonderfully beefy and juicy. The Sirloin delivered a bite, which was lush with steak, blood, and mineral flavors. The beef was absolutely top notch. It had only a mild scent of aging, and there was no trace of aging in the bite. I spoke with Chef Ricardo Morales, and he indicated that he had started off with dry-aged beef. Sadly, his clientele did not respond favorably to the strong flavor. The wet-aged beef was delicious...Chef Morales was victorious in his compromise.

The Seasoning: No seasoning was detected within the burger patties. The exterior of the patties was perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper. This seasoning combined with the blood and juices of the ground Sirloin to deliver a high-quality, luxurious flavor.

The Sear: The burgers were cooked on a moderately hot gas grill. A proper Malliard sear was not developed. Considering the thickness and quality of these cheeseburgers, a hearty sear would have served to push the really, really good burger into "excellent burger" territory.

The Preparation: The beef was delivered pre-ground at a medium setting. The burgers was formed by hand each morning and periodically thereafter, as needed. The burgers were packed loosely and handled with care. As a result, the bite was very juicy and tender. Considering that the burger was only 10% fat, it was difficult to deliver such a sumptuous bite. Chef Morales' Cordon Bleu of Pasadena training really paid off.  Our requests for Med-Rare were executed flawlessly.

The Cheese: There were 7 cheese choices, each for a $1 up-charge:
  • Brie
  • Parmesan
  • Smoked Mozzarella
  • Feta
  • Bleu Cheese
  • Pepper Jack
  • and Cheddar
We all went with the Cheddar. The Cheddar was medium sharp and exceptionally creamy. The cheese added just enough fat to balance the lean beef. Additionally, it provided some umami notes to the beefy flavor profile.

The Bun: The bun at Steingarten LA was delivered fresh daily by Wheatland Baking, Inc. of Sun Valley, CA. The bun was a major distraction from the delicious beef. The bun was overly dense to the point where it resembled a semi-sweet, yeasty pound cake. The bun competently absorbed the copious juices from the beef, but this did not minimize the impact of the bread. The bite started with the sweet bun, then the focus shifted to the bloody, flavorful Sirloin, and then back to the bun. This was a distraction. This was also the 4th bun supplier that Chef Morales had tried. We suggested that Ca' d'Oro, Melrose Bakery, or BreadBar would provide buns that better matched the beef. The bun was also weakly toasted on the griddle, so that it did not contribute crunch to the bite.  We look forward to trying this burger again once the bun situation has been sorted out.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: The bready, dense bun was a little too much for the juicy beef.

The Fries: The fries were cut from the same cultivar of potato as used by In 'N' Out...Kennebec. Chi Burger noted that these fries were what In 'N' Out could serve if they cooked them properly. In the case of Steingarten LA, the skinny fries were cut in-house, par-cooked, and dried prior to cooking in canola oil (soy oil upon request). The peel-on fries were delicious and perfectly seasoned. The Parmesan fries were even better. It was difficult not to fill up on fries.

The Toppings: Steingarten LA offered a range of sauces. The Curry Tomato tasted like the Currywursts that I grew to love as a kid when I visited my grandmothers in Berlin. The Steingarten Mustard Sauce was also excellent...sort of a creamy Dijon aioli. The Romaine lettuce was fresh and crisp, and the juicy tomato slices were delicately salted to make the flavor pop.

The Value: It was $12 for a Create your own Burger, and $1 more for cheese. Each meal came with a generous portion of fries, and not even Fat Bruce Lee was able to clean his plate. The value was good at Steingarten LA.

The beef at Steingarten LA was remarkable. The young chef was clearly competent and enthusiastic about his craft. The sole detractors from this burger were easily remedied. This was a delicious burger with a few minor blemishes. I do plan on returning to sample some of the sausages in addition to the evolving burgers at this new establishment. They have the fundamentals down!

Burger Review : Really delicious beef and fries at a good price.

Rating...4 Bites (We expect greatness of this place once it has fully matured.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boxwood Cafe by Gordon Ramsay -- West Hollywood, CA

1020 North San Vicente Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Fat Bruce Lee had tried a Gordon Ramsay burger in NYC at The London, and he came back with a strong report. The photographs were of a deep, dark sear, and Fat Bruce Lee (Chief Burger Scout) told me that it was a terrific burger. He didn't bother doing a review, since we had a location in Los Angeles to try. We made our way to the West Hollywood hotel, The London, where Chef Ramsay had set up shop. The burger was identical for both hotel restaurants, Boxwood Cafe and Gordon Ramsay At The London. The same burger was served to hotel guests as an in-room dining option. In fact all three venues shared a common kitchen. In spite of the hefty $17 price point, we pressed on and ordered a couple of the signature, The London Burger, cheeseburgers. Our burgers arrived in about 20 minutes.

While we waited, we enjoyed the freshly-baked rosemary bread with an olive-oil infused crust....this was delicious...sadly, that was about as good as it got. The kitchen's first attempt at the Medium burgers was to deliver them cooked to an aggressive Well-Done. Fat Bruce Lee powered through his while I waited for a re-fire. By the time my burger arrived, this time merely over-cooked to Med-Well, Fat Bruce Lee had already finished his meal. While I was killing time trying not to watch Fat Bruce Lee have at his cheeseburger, I remembered a few episodes of Kitchen Nightmares during which Chef Ramsay got completely bent out of shape over gum on the undersides of the tables in the various restaurants. I checked my table and the one next to it, and both had wads of gum stuck to the undersides...ouch.

The Burger Breakdown...

The London Burger Sear in New York
The Beef: The burger beef at The London was 80:20 Chuck--yep, 17 buck Chuck. It was not aged, and it arrived pre-ground. Remember, we eat hard so that you don't have to. The Chuck was only moderately beefy, and that was as interesting as it got. There was no trace of aging. My burger was very juicy...on the second try. It saturated the bottom bun, which turned that into a paste. The beef was either over-manipulated, or it had been pressed firmly into the circular burger molds and set aside for longer than 24 hours. As a result of the proteins in the beef making lots and lots of new bonds due to the poor preparation, the patty was springy and too chewy.  The beef was priced well beyond its quality.

The Seasoning: The burger patty was over-salted. I brought half of my 1/2 pound Chuck disc back to the offices so that others could sample it. All agreed that they could only taste salt. This was particularly unpleasant, because the cheese was also quite salty. The bite went like this:
  • Bite through the mushy bottom bun.
  • Encounter a salt layer on the burger patty,
  • Chew through the bland, cartilage-peppered, springy Chuck.
  • Discover more salt in the Grafton Cheddar.
The London Burger Sear in West Hollywood
The Sear: There was no sear. The Well-Done version of my burger, pictured left, sported lackluster grill marks. The Med-Well version was less impressive. This was a stark contrast and an even starker disappointment considering the beautiful sear that the NY crew got on the same burger...pictured above.

The Preparation: The crew at The London kitchen over-cooked all three burgers on a too cool, gas grill. The low cooking temperature resulted in the burgers being unseared. Also, the completely cooked layer of beef extended far too deeply into the patties. This resulted in a chewy, nearly rubbery, dish. Beyond that, the kitchen over-seasoned the burger patties. The preparation was careless. Fat Bruce Lee quipped, "This was a classic case of an upscale restaurant throwing a burger on the menu and giving it no love." In my opinion, he was being generous.

The Cheese: The Grafton Cheddar was a superb, salty, creamy, sharp, white Cheddar. It was a complete mismatch for the bland Chuck burger patty. The cheese overwhelmed the mild beefiness of the patty. This cheese needed a dry-aged Sirloin to do battle with on the palate. The 17 dollar price certainly warranted a cut of beef of a quality that would have matched the powerful cheese.  Note that the photo above is from the first attempt at delivering a burger cooked to the requested temperature. On the second try, the cheese was not nearly as neatly arranged, and it was only half-melted.  See the far less attractive presentation below.

The first attempt at a Medium burger by The London
The Bun: The house-made brioche was nearly competent and completely unremarkable. It was completely neutral in terms of flavor, but it was nicely toasted. The bottom bun was useless when it came to standing up to the juices from the burger patty. The bottom bun was reduced to a pasty goo during the short trip from the pass to the table (on the second try). Note (below) that the burger arrived sitting in a pool of its own juices, so it was nearly guaranteed to be soupy. Since the top bun was oiled, there was no way to grasp this wet mess without needing to frequently wipe one's hands.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: The top bun worked, but the bottom bun failed. This was not so much a ratio issue, but a careless choice of ingredients.

Second attempt--sloppy and wet.
The Fries: The house-cut, skinny, peel-on fries were excellent. They were perfectly crisped in a blend of 75% canola oil and 25% olive oil. They were also perfectly seasoned.

The Toppings: The Iceberg lettuce was average although on the first attempt, it was a little wilted along the uncut edges. The standout topping was the roasted tomato slice. This was roasted with balsamic vinegar and basil, and it was tremendous. I set aside half of my salty, wet burger, and I made a sandwich with the rosemary bread and that slice of roasted tomato. That impromptu treat was FAR preferable to the cheeseburger at The London.

The Value: The value was poor enough to drag down the rating of this solidly unlikable burger. The London Burger was a pasty, chewy, salty, 17 buck, Chuck puck. The total bill with a bottle of water ($9) and three sodas ($18) came to $76, with tip. It felt like Gordon Ramsay had personally stolen my lunch money...for the month. The value was atrocious.

The London Burger at Boxwood Cafe was bordering on OK, but it was over-seasoned and over-priced. Beyond that, the bun and cheese were both poor matches for the beef. They got us, but don't let them get you. This is one burger, which can safely be passed by. It was a less than average in terms of freshness of ingredients and preparation, and well below average in terms of value. Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe at The London of West Hollywood was a bit of a kitchen nightmare in its own right. This review was particularly exacting, but in this case it was deserved considering the chef behind this burger had a made a reputation touting the use of great ingredients and holding restaurants and chefs to exacting standards of quality and cleanliness. For a good, high-end, classic cheeseburger....save a ton of money, and go to Wolfgang's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills for a much better burger at a much better price.
Second attempt at cooking to Medium--still over-cooked

Burger Review : The London Burger was a solid PASS. This was about what one would have expected of a room-service burger, but well below what should have been served in the restaurant. Boxwood Cafe was kitchen nightmare in its own right.

Rating...2 Bites

Saturday, June 18, 2011

TK Burgers -- Costa Mesa, CA

2966 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626


I have had very few discussions about burgers in Orange County, CA during which TK Burgers had not come up. The TK Burgers website led with "Voted Best Burgers in L.A. and Orange County." Happy Meal and I were on our way to Legoland California, so TK Burgers was on the way. At the time of this post, there were 6 locations in Orange County and 2 catering trucks.

From the TK Burgers site..."We believe that Food Quality is first and foremost. At TK's, every item is always cooked to order, nothing is ever pre-cooked. Take a look for yourself, there are no warming ovens, heat lamps, or food warmers located within our stores. All of our food is health consciously prepared and char broiled. We use only the finest name brand ingredients and freshest produce available. Out meat is delivered daily, NEVER FROZEN. Our buns are custom made solely for TK Burgers, and we have an exclusivity agreement with our Baker. This is how we make the Burgers that are constantly voted number one..." 

They set the bar pretty high for themselves at the surf-themed chain of burger shops. Things had slipped a little since that verbiage was published on their site. The beef now arrived every other day, and the chicken arrived frozen. The burgers were not char-broiled. They were neither charred nor were they cooked with heat from above. I also noted that the vinyl album jackets, which were plastered to the ceiling thoroughly pre-dated the 1986 founding date of the small restaurant chain. This anachronism made the old-timey surf vibe feel a little contrived.

Happy Meal and I ordered a couple of single cheeseburgers, an order of fries, and a couple of drinks for about $13.50. Our order was ready in about ten minutes.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The burger patties were about 4 ounces, and they were fine. The patties were thin and moderately juicy. The flavor of beef was the only flavor that came through in these burger stand-style patties. This was a mild tasting Chuck with a fat content in the range of 20%. The texture was firm, and the fine grind had the bite bordering on chewy. The beef was in the same range as In 'N' Out Burger and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

The Seasoning: The interior of the pre-formed patties was not seasoned. The exterior of the burgers were heavily seasoned while cooking on the grill. The seasoning salt was applied with a heavy hand, and this was in the territory of over-seasoned. It was too salty for Happy Meal and myself.

The Sear: There was no sear to speak of. The thin burgers were cooked over a hot grill, but they cooked so quickly that a sear did not have time to properly develop.

The Preparation: The burgers arrived from the meat purveyor in Fullerton, CA every other day. They were pre-formed and packed quite firmly into uniform discs. The burgers were cooked on a hot gas grill to an almost chewy Well-Done. The burgers were flipped three times on the grill, which created an appealing grill pattern, but this also robbed the burgers of some of their moisture.

The Cheese: TK Burgers used American Cheese. This was a good choice, since it added moisture, creaminess, and a depth of flavor to the flat flavor profile of the mild Chuck. The cheese was nicely melted over the burger patty.

The Bun: The bun was a proprietary-recipe, standard, non-seeded burger bun. It was moist, a little sweet, and toasted on the grill. This was an unfortunate way to toast the bun. My bun was charred in spots, and this lent some unpleasant bitterness to portions of the dish. The edges of the bun did provide a satisfying crunch.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: The moist bun was perfectly matched to the thin burger patties.

The Fries: The peel-off, par-cooked, previously frozen fries were cooked to a crisp, golden finish. They arrived unseasoned. A selection of salty seasoning blends were available at the counter for patrons to add to taste. The fries remained crisp throughout the entire meal.

The Toppings: TK Burgers had a special sauce, which appeared to be a mixture of Thousand Island Dressing and Mayonnaise--it was mild and less cloying than the usual SoCal burger sauces. The tomato and iceberg lettuce leaf, which accompanied the cheeseburger, were both perfectly fresh.

The Value: It was about $5.50 for a cheeseburger and a handful of crisp fries. The value was good at TK Burgers.

TK Burgers prepared a fairly average burger in a pleasant surf-themed surrounding. The staff was friendly, and the burgers arrived promptly. It was on par (slightly above) with other burger stands, which The BurgerBusters have encountered. TK Burgers had a strong following in Orange County, and it was a pleasant place to get a burger. It felt far less corporate and rushed than its peers.

Burger Review : An average burger at a better-than-average value were had at TK Burgers.

Rating...3 Bites

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Fat Dog -- Los Angeles, CA

801 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046


Fat Bruce Lee, myself, and special guests set our sights on The Fat Dog. This was based on a recommendation by one of our foodie friends. The Fat Dog was the second gastropub of the same name, which had been opened by Chef John Gladish. The other location was in Montrose, CA. The menu consisted of tricked out comfort foods including mac and cheese and some sort of enormous hot dog. We were greeted with some very tasty olive oil toasted almonds with salt and rosemary...I could have filled up on these. We ordered a lot of burgers (The Burger $12 with fries). We settled in for a 25-minute wait, and the kitchen thoughtfully sent out an order of hummus while our burgers were being prepared.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The beef in The Burger at The Fat Dog was 80% Sirloin and 20% Chuck. The wet-aged beef arrived pre-ground from the meat purveyor. Surprisingly, the beef did not come from the butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy, which was located one storefront away from the restaurant. The burger patty was a 9-ounce monster. It was juicy, beefy, and it had a firm taste of iron. No aged notes came through, however. The beef was relatively raw in the center of the very thick patty, and this would have bee desirable had the Sirloin behaved as it should have. The beef was merely satisfying--I wanted the Sirloin to carry the dish a little more strongly with deep and complex steak flavors.

The Seasoning: The interior of the patty was unseasoned, and a patty of this thickness really would have benefited from some salt to punch up the flavors. The exterior of the patty was given an even treatment of salt and pepper. The pepper added a nice bite to the beef-heavy dish, and the salt lent some pop to the beefiness.

The Sear: The sear from the gas-fired grill was competent. It provided a little crunch, but in the case of a very thick burger, it would have been quite a trick to get a good sear on the exterior while warming up the interior. A hot griddle would have done the job, but since the bun was also grilled, it appeared that there was no griddle available to the kitchen staff. 

The Preparation: The pre-ground beef was formed into thick, loose patties in the morning. The beef was handled with care, and it was tender. It was not in the least bit chewy or rubbery.  My cheeseburger arrived Med-Rare as requested.

The Cheese: The Fat Dog had a single cheese choice, and that was Shaved Manchego. The firm, sheep's milk cheese was a poor choice to be paired with a burger. The cheese had the texture of a waxy Swiss Cheese, and it did not melt. It offered nothing in terms of savory or umami notes. It was bland and leathery. It also did not make itself noticed on the palate. This would have been better had they simply used American Cheese. It worked at Wolfgang's Steakhouse on a similar burger.

The Bun: The La Brea Bakery-sourced brioche was a good match for the massive burger patty. The bready, neutral, toasted bun stood up to the very thick and juicy puck of ground beef. The bun was buttered and sprinkled with red pepper flakes prior to being heavily toasted on the grill. This created a sturdy and satisfying crunch.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: This was spot on.

The Fries: I was informed that the origin of the fries was "top secret."  That meant that they showed up frozen in a bag. The fries were just fine. They were peel-off, shoestring fries, which had been perfectly crisped in canola oil. They were seasoned with sea salt. The fries were just right.

The Toppings: The baby arugula was a misnomer. The arugula had matured well past infancy, and it was at retirement age by the time it hit the plate. It was largely waxy, leathery, and browned in spots.  It was pleasantly nutty, though.

The Value: It was $12 for a huge  and better-than-average burger with a generous portion of delicious fries. The value was good at The Fat Dog.

The Fat Dog prepared a good burger. The quality of the ingredients was strong, and the preparation was sound. Some dry-aged beef and a little seasoning in those huge burger patties would have brought the burger up a notch. Still, this was a better-than-average burger for a fair price.

Burger Review : A generous portion of quality beef and tasty fries can be found at The Fat Dog.

Rating: 4 Bites (rounded up from 3.5 Bites)

Jimbo's Restaurant -- Cape Coral, FL

1604 Southeast 46th Street
Cape Coral, FL 33904-8722


With the world still celebrating by Hines Ward’s dramatic Dancing With the Stars victory, Mello Yello and I took the opportunity to sneak past the distracted paparazzi for a night out on the town.  For dinner we chose Jimbo’s, a Cape Coral mainstay for the past several decades.

I had not dined at Jimbo’s since I was but a young Padawan learner, but I remembered it as a solid, American food joint.  Over 20 years later, it looked like that had not changed (and thankfully, they removed the creepy clown decorations that once littered the place).

Jimbo’s boasted over fifty specialty burgers, with selections such as the “Ba Da Bing Burger,” topped with marinara, home fries, and sausage meat, and served on a garlic bun, and the “Texas Red Burger,” served open-faced on Texas Toast, with grilled onions, chili, and cheddar cheese.  Being a Burger Buster, I opted for the plain old cheeseburger...

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The beef was standard 80/20 Chuck derived from Black Angus cattle. I was disappointed to learn that their beef came to the restaurant already ground. It was formed into a half-pound, uniformly-shaped patty. I was surprised with how tasty it was. My first bite was met with a strong iron flavor, and a fair amount of mild aging was conspicuously present in the finish.  The texture was just fine, and it was tender, reasonably juicy, and not at all greasy. The Chuck was beefy--they over-cooked it, so all of the collagen melted to yield a flavorful, but mixed, blessing.

The Seasoning:  They hit the patty with just the right amount of salt before grilling.  The open-flame grill also added some pleasant smokiness to the mix.

The Sear: The burgers at Jimbo’s were grilled, not griddled, so there was just a moderate amount of sear. However, the edges of the patty bore some nice crunch, strangely similar to what one would expect from a griddle-cooked burger.

The Preparation: I ordered the burger Medium, however, it arrived cooked at the top end of Medium-Well.  I really didn’t mind, as I tend to like my burgers cooked a bit more fully than most.  There were a couple of spots where the meat was affected by flareups on the grill, but they didn’t significantly detract from the sandwich.  The burgers at Jimbo's Restaurant were properly turned only once. The burger was served with lettuce, tomato, and onion (standard), which I promptly discarded. 

The Cheese: The patty was topped with two slices of American cheese, perfectly melted. While that amount of cheese would overpower most burgers, it was the perfect amount for the generously-sized patty.  The cheese itself was nothing special, but it provided a nice, creamy texture to balance thedish.

The Bun: The bun appeared to be a standard, seeded, food-service Kaiser roll.  It was very lightly buttered, and it was toasted on the grill.  That made it delicious, and it held up well against a rather large patty.

The Meat to Bun Ratio: Precise. The diameters of the cooked patty and the bun were almost exactly the same.  Weird.

The Fries: Jimbo’s served lightly-battered fries, and they came out crisp and hot. Mello Yello did not care for them. I liked them quite a bit.

The Value: 8 bucks for a giant burger and a generous side of fries? Yes, please.

Tip: Get the onion rings.  They were absolutely delicious.

Burger Review: A solid burger. It was nothing worth cross-country travel, but it was a burger that tasted fine and left me satisfied.  A little more attention at the grill, along with some better ingredients, would make this a home run even without all the gimmicky toppings.

Rating... 3 Bites

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Fix Burger -- Los Angeles, CA

2520 Hyperion Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

It was one of those early Saturday evenings in Los Angeles where it seemed that everyone had to be somewhere, and they were all 15 minutes late. Turn signals were, apparently, optional, and swerving without looking was de rigueur.  On a night like this the 10 miles from the world headquarters to The Fix Burger location over in the Silver Lake neighborhood was a long and harrowing experience. It took 45 minutes to cover the distance, and I hoped that it would be worth it.

The Fix Burger was a small space. It occupied a modest storefront on a busy street, and it was located next to a gym. It would have been easy to pass right by. There was metered parking on the street and a free lot behind the restaurant. The interior was plain and simple--a couple of tables, a long counter, a menu on the wall, and a register where one placed their order. The claim to fame at The Fix Burger was burgers prepared from various exotic meats. Boar and Buffalo were as adventurous as the menu got when I visited. I ordered the lead item on the menu of about 15 burgers. This was the signature Fix Burger at $7.49--$7.99 with a slice of American cheese. It was Saturday night, so I went big and kicked in the extra 4 bits to live it up a little. While waiting the 15 minutes or so for my cheeseburger, I also noted that The Fix Burger was all about being green. The containers and utensils were biodegradable, and the beef was 100% natural...no hormones...no antibiotics...grass fed.

The Burger Breakdown....

The Beef: This was sourced from Myers Ranch. It arrived pre-ground from the supplier. The 80:20 Chuck was quite beefy, and it was nicely juicy. My burger patty quickly saturated the bottom bun. This was an 8 ounce burger, and it was 8 ounces of beefy goodness. No mineral or aged notes were present--this was just fresh, natural Chuck.

The Seasoning: The interior of the patty was unseasoned. The exterior of the burger was dusted with salt as it cooked. The seasoning was appropriate for the flavor of the beef.

The Sear: The Fix Burger kitchen got a sturdy and satisfying sear onto the burger patty. They did this with a hot flat-top and grilling weights. I was dubious when I noticed the grilling weights, but they did not dry out the beef. The sear was solid. The photograph does not do the sear justice. I ordered my cheeseburger sans mayo, but it arrived with mayo anyway. I wiped it off as well as I could.

The Preparation: The Fix Burger took frequent delivery of pre-ground Myers Ranch Chuck. The Chuck was ground to medium coarse. The burger patties were formed into firm, 8 ounce, 1/2 inch thick discs each morning. The burgers were cooked to order on an appropriately hot flat-top with the aid of grilling weights. Judging by the juiciness of the end product, I would have assumed that each burger was only flipped once during its time on the griddle. My burger arrived a juicy and pink Medium as I had ordered it.

The Cheese: There were a number of regular ($.50) and premium ($1.00) cheese choices on The Fix Burger's menu. I went with American cheese. This was nicely melted over the burger patty. The creaminess of the American cheese coupled with the chewiness of the bun and juiciness of the meat created a very satisfying bite.

The Bun: This was a seeded, eggy, white, hamburger bun from Restaurant Depot. It was a no-frills bun from that cash and carry wholesaler, and that no-frills bun worked just fine. It was nicely toasted, so that it provided a little crunch to go along with the sear from the beef. It was moist, fresh, and yeasty. The bun was quite good.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: It was ideal when wed to the 1/2 pound version of the burger. I imagine it would have overwhelmed the 4 ounce offering--The Mini Fix Burger ($5.49)

The Fries: The Fries were crisp and golden. They were a little under-seasoned. These arrived at The Fix Burger prepped and frozen, peel off. ($2.99)

The Toppings: The tomato slice was a little under-ripe, but the lettuce leaf was crisp and fresh.

The Shake: WOW! The shake was a stunner. It was so rich and creamy that I assumed it was a heart attack in a cup. I was wrong. It was a blended from low-fat, soft-serve ice cream, milk, and chocolate syrup. It was worth the harrowing drive for the shake alone. (3.99)

The Value: $8.00 for a better than average cheeseburger with no fries was a little steep. It wasn't egregious, but it was on the high side. The beef was from Myers Ranch, and that did come at a premium. Still, considering that the bun was cheap and the fries came out of a bag, The Fix Burger should have thrown a handful of fries on the plate to round out the value part of this burger equation.

The Fix Burger was well out of the way for those living on the West side of Los Angeles, but for Angelenos residing in Hollywood or Glendale, this casual spot was convenient, and it served up a tasty burger and a tastier shake.

Burger Review : A better than average burger for a slightly higher than average price.
Rating: 4 Bites

Saturday, June 11, 2011

BLT Burgers -- Bistro Laurent Tournodel, Las Vegas, NV

At the Mirage
3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109-8923

11:30 AM 09JUN11

BLT Burgers (Bistro Laurent Tournodel) was my 7th stop on the Las Vegas Tour. This was one of the high-end burger joints that started it all. Hubert Keller's Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay was the other old-timer that I had enjoyed in years past. Burger Bar was quickly outpaced and outclassed once the burger movement gained momentum. I wondered if BLT Burger had also been left in the dust.

BLT Burger was already half full of diners when I arrived on a Thursday a little before noon. I met up with Assistant Manager, Michael Smalley. Mr. Smalley's knowledge of the cuisine and its preparation was nearly encyclopaedic. I had almost no unanswered questions by the time the chef arrived. Michael had been with BLT Burger for about a year. His professionalism and gracious attitude were most welcoming. Executive Chef, Juan Zuniga was kind enough to take some time to speak with me. He was educated at The Art Institute of Santa Monica, and he had earned his chops at various private country clubs in Southern California.

I ordered the lead item off of the menu of 8 burgers and assorted sandwiches. It was The Classic, a 12 dollar, 7 ounce burger.  Cheese was $1 extra. There was both a grill and a griddle at BLT, and some patties were grilled and some were griddled. I wanted a griddled sear, so I asked Mr. Smalley if it was uncommon for the kitchen to receive a request for the beef burger patty to be griddled rather than grilled. He indicated the this was a relatively common request. Also, I asked that the burger be cooked to Med-Rare rather than the house-standard of Medium.

BLT Burgers certainly held to the "Bistro" part of the name, and my burger arrived in about 5 minutes.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: A unbelievable amount of work and care went into the beef at BLT Burgers. The BLT Burger butcher had a shop on The Mirage property. The butcher took regular delivery of beef and broke it down for grinding. The blend was relatively equal parts Sirloin, Short Rib, Chuck, and Brisket. The beef was all CAB (Certified Angus Beef), and it was not aged. The burger meat was twice ground but ground coarsely. This served to both tenderize and blend the various cuts of beef. The beef was ground daily and formed into patties by the butcher--900-1,200/day--and brought over to BLT Burgers each morning.  That was a lot of attention to detail and quality.

This attention to detail and quality came through in every aspect of the bite. The beef was an exercise in nuance and restraint. The various cuts of the beef contributed flavor, richness, and texture, while no single element dominated. The beef was flavorful, juicy, mild, complex, buttery, and hearty. It was all of these things and all at once. The beef was completely satisfying, and I could not stop picking at the beef in the other half of my burger. I was careful to only eat 1/2 burgers during my siege of 8 burgers in 3 days, but BLT Burger was beyond my ability to resist.

The Seasoning: The blend was unseasoned. The burgers were brushed with butter while cooking and dusted with the appropriate amount of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors of the beef without overwhelming them.

The Sear: My burger was both grilled and griddled. Since the 7 ounce patty was relatively flat, and I had requested that it be cooked to Med-Rare, the sear was about average. It was neither disappointing nor impressive. It was adequate to concentrate the seasonings and juices, while providing some texture to the bite. The cooked layer of beef was thin in comparison to the depth of the patty, and that suggested a very hot cooking surface.

The Preparation: The kitchen nailed my Med-Rare request.  The preparation of the burgers at BLT Burgers was simply flawless in every aspect. This was a well-oiled machine, which had been operating for years. While I met with Executive Chef, Juan Zuniga, it was Sous Chef,  Wendy Porche that was heading up the kitchen while my meal was being prepared. Credit goes to Chef Zuniga for a kitchen that turned out such a high-quality product.

The Cheese: I chose American cheese from the list of 5 cheeses on the menu. The American cheese was properly melted, and it contributed all of the usual comforting goodness in terms of texture and flavor.  It really is hard to go wrong with American cheese.

The Bun: The seeded, brioche-style bun came from Granello Bakery in Las Vegas, and it was delivered fresh each morning. The bun carried almost no sweetness. This bun was all yeasty and savory notes. The texture was supple, moist, toothsome, and tender. The bun was thoroughly buttered and toasted The toasting was accomplished using a commercial, conveyor toasting machine. The beef was so juicy that the bun did not contribute crunch, but it did hold together, so fingers remained dry.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: Perfect.

The Fries: The potato wedges, the thin fries, the waffle fries, and the sweet potato fries were all prepared and delivered frozen by Lamb Wesson. All of these were superbly cooked in a canola/soy blend and perfectly seasoned. WAIT!  The beer-battered, deep-fried, pickle slices were made in-house, and these were spectacular.  I mean, they were share with strangers just to see their faces light up, spectacular.  These were a real standout, and I would forgo the fries at BLT Burgers for those crisp, sour, doughy delights any day.

The Toppings: The tomato slice was fresh and delicious. The shredded Iceberg lettuce actually made sense with this burger. This was mild in both flavor and texture so it would not compete with the carefully balanced beef.  The burger also came with a sour pickle. This was a half-brined pickle spear, which still retained most of its raw cucumber flavors. It matched the burger perfectly.

The Shakes: BLT Burger had an extensive shake menu--9 regular and 5 spiked. The kitchen sent out a flight of small shakes. Pictures below from left to right.
  • Mocha Mudslide: This was a cold, creamy Oreo cookie in the form of a milkshake.
  • Twinkie Boy: It tasted just like a Twinkie
  • Campfire Marshmallow: This was made with toasted marshmallows, and the texture was wonderful.
  • Berry Me: This one was popping with fresh berry flavors, and it was my favorite of the group.
The Value: With cheese, The Classic Burger at BLT Burgers was $13, and this was a reasonable price to pay for something so well-crafted, intentional, and decadent.

BLT Burgers delivered a burger, which was a study in restraint, nuance, and subtlety. Previously, I might  have dismissed this burger, because it lacked a "wow factor", but the beef in this burger was exquisite in its complex interplay of flavor and texture. It was the Professor X of burgers in a town full of Wolverines. Keep in mind that BLT Burgers had to walk a fine line. The clientele at The Mirage was largely Mid-Western, so this French-influenced burger was tailored to satisfy those tastes while remaining true to its disciplined roots. This burger and the fried pickles were good enough that I ate more than I should have, and I blew off my final review of the trip. Sorry Postrio, BLT Burger was too good to put down.

Burger Review : BLT Burgers has stood the test of time. I strongly recommend this burger.

Rating...5 (restrained) Bites

Friday, June 10, 2011

Holsteins -- Las Vegas, NV

At The Cosmopolitan
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109  
The Classic, The Longhorn, The Rising Sun, and The Gold Standard burgers

 9:00 PM 08JUN11

This was the 6th burger in the Las Vegas Burger Tour. Holsteins had been recommended to me by two Las Vegas chefs that I had spoken with on the previous day. Holsteins had opened in November of 2010, so it had been up and running for a little over 6 months when I stopped in. Holsteins had a burger heavy menu, and I had the opportunity to sample 5 of them. Since I didn’t want to orphan my son, Happy Meal, Chef Thomas Cullen arranged to prepare a selection of miniature burgers so that I could get a feel for each one without risking cholesterol toxicity. Even with a sample of 5 burgers, I still only managed to scratch the surface of the expansive and inventive 12-burger menu.

Thomas Cullen, the assistant chef, exuded a level of confidence, regarding the quality of his kitchen’s output, which bordered on cocky. That is a strong quality in a chef. Cocky chefs take chances and make bold moves with food. We settled on a Turkey Burger, a Rising Sun (Japanese fusion), a Gold Standard (21-day dry-aged steak cuts), a Longhorn (with dry-rubbed, house-smoked brisket), and a Classic burger.

The Burger Breakdown(s)...

The Rising Sun Burger Full Size
The Beef: The beef in the standard 8 ounce burgers was a mixture of dry and wet-aged cuts. 10% of the beef in the burger was 22-day dry-aged. This was a standardized blend of steak trimmings and 20% fat, which were ground by the supplier (Premier Meat Company) and delivered fresh daily.

The Classic burger was a solid offering. The burger led with a strong taste of beef. It followed with the hearty mineral tastes and textures of the coarsely ground, chopped steak that it was. It was seasoned with simple salt and pepper. It was an honest and solid burger. Price: $13.50.

The Longhorn burger was wonderful. The brisket was perfection, and it blended sweetly into the bite of ground beef without adding any chewiness. The crisp, cabbage slaw introduced just the right amount of earthiness and crunch to balance the tender brisket. Price: $16.00.

The Gold Standard Burger Full Size
The tempura avocado on the dauntingly seasoned Rising Sun burger was a revelation in texture…why doesn’t everyone serve that? It was genius. The flavors of that burger were the culinary equivalent of a knee to the face. It was delicious but also very intense. This is a burger that one should share--a full portion of this burger would have been overwhelming. Price: $16.50.

The Gold Standard burger was aptly named. It was noticeably superior in both flavor and mouth feel to its Classic burger cousin. The 21-day dry-aging of he Sirloin came through on all of the expected fronts. It was far more tender than its less premium cousin. A pleasant funk was present. And, the flavor of the beef was mellower. It was dressed with a tasty Aged Goat Cheddar, which set this burger, and Holstein’s, apart in terms of selection of ingredients. The tomato confit was a nice touch as classed up version of ketchup. Price: $17.50. 

The Turkey burger was the only low point of the meal. The patty was a brick. It was 70% white meat and 30% dark.  Without cutting in a lot of turkey skin, it would have been nearly impossible to cook it properly and not have it come out that way. To compensate, Holsteins dressed the hell out of the burger with a variety of wet toppings. Here’s a tip—don’t order turkey burgers…..ever. Price: $14.50.

The Seasoning: The interior was left alone. The exterior the burger patties were dusted with kosher salt and pepper. The seasoning was spot on.

Preparation: The kitchen employed both the grill and griddle when cooking the burger patties…the right way. Each item, which was sampled, was prepared with happy and exacting precision. The small bites were, in fact, fine dining on a bun. Flawless execution was the standing order in the kitchen of Holsteins.

The Cheese: The cheese choices were numerous. American, Provolone, Goat Cheddar, and Gruyere comprised about half the list. The Goat Cheddar on the full-sized Gold Standard was mute. It was completely lost in the bun and beef.

The Bun: The mini buns were a domed white flour/potato flour hybrid. These were just sweet enough, yeasty, fresh, and moist. They were delivered daily by Bon Breads. The bottom bun very competently served to catch all of the juices from the diminutive sampler burgers. The buns were right down the middle in terms of texture and flavor. They delivered without distracting. The full-sized buns were a cake-like brioche, and they were just sweet enough to balance out the savory elements in the burgers. Sadly, they were on the stale side when we revisited.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: In the case of the miniature burgers, the ratio was precise. I took note of the full-sized burgers leaving the kitchen, and they were similarly proportioned.

The Fries and Rings: The skinny fries, potato wedge fries, and onion rings were all Lamb Wesson products, so they arrived prepped and frozen. These were all cooked in neutral canola oil to a perfectly crisp golden brown. They were appropriately seasoned with flaky, kosher salt.
The Cereal Bowl, The Drunken Monkey, and The Strawberry Cheesecake shakes

The Shakes: The kitchen came out with a flight of shakes:
  • The Cereal Bowl was a cereal milk shake with lots of Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch. It tasted like it its namesake.
  • The Drunken Monkey was nicely banana-flavored with copious amounts of chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on the bottom.
  • The Strawberry Cheesecake was a lot like it sounded. 
The shakes were a little less adventurous than the shakes at I Love Burgers, but they were delicious and flawlessly executed.

LN2 Bubblegum Meringue
The Desserts: The pastry chef sent out what appeared to be an entire candy store of single-bite confections. Most notable was the ridiculously cool, blue, bubblegum, nitrogen-frozen meringue. This was spooned by the server from a foggy bowl of liquid nitrogen—whee!  These were popped into the mouth, and then the giddy fun began. The second the cryo-frozen meringue hit the tongue, the gas began expanding and this forced cold, nitrogen fog from the mouth and nose. This coupled with the ethereal feel of the delicate meringue and its playful bubblegum flavor was just laughter-inducing fun.  The berry push pop with the pistachio butter was quite nice, as well. There was a clever playfulness present in the desserts, but the flawless execution was still in place.
The candy store

Holsteins was a next-level burger affair. The culinary talent in the kitchen was a force. The speed of innovation in the back-of-house exceeded the front-of-house's capacity to commit all of it to memory. Relentless improvement and adjustment via experimentation was the recipe for the tremendously fine burgers/food in general at Holstein's. The kitchen truly delivered something special in terms of fine dining, because they were able to deliver it on a humble burger bun.  

Burger Review : Fine dining on a bun. Holsteins needs to be on everyone's list of must-try burgers. In terms of execution and quality of toppings, this was the best burger in Las Vegas that I had found so far.

Rating...5 Bites (In the absence of Chef Cullen, Holsteins rated a 4 at best. The average of both visits was a  4.5)

Editor's Note: Happy Meal, the Marinater,  and I revisited Holsteins on 04JUL11. Chef Cullen had departed the previous week, and his absence was already felt. The burgers were quite good, but the precision of the previous visit was now lacking.
  • The buns were a little too dry. The crusts were leathery.
  • The burgers were a little over-cooked. Both came out closer to Med-Well than Med-Rare. The Gold Standard burger ended up being on the dry side.
  • The yam on the Rising Sun burger was cloying, and it overwhelmed the subtle Kobe beef and the sublime tempura avocado. That tempura avocado was tremendous on the previous visit, and it was a shame to see it lost in the dish on this try.
  • The meager portion of the Goat Cheddar on the Gold Standard burger was invisible to the palate. 
The burgers were darn good in terms of the flavor of the beef, but they no longer tasted of relentless perfection. The ingredients no longer worked in perfect harmony.

The value of the Gold Standard burger and the Rising Sun burger at Holsteins were weak. A burger that came in at $17.50 should have been flawlessly prepared. Better burgers for better prices could be located easily and within walking distance of Holsteins.

I had noted that recently, a spate of unfavorable reviews had come out regarding the service, quality, and pricing at Holsteins. That was sad, because this place had a terrific start. I do hope that they get their act together.

I Love Burgers -- Las Vegas, NV

The Shoppes at the Palazzo
3327 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

4:30 PM 08JUN11

I Love Burgers at the Palazzo was my 5th stop on the Las Vegas Burger Tour.  I was just coming off of the high from the great burger that I had discovered at KGB Burgers, and I wondered if I Love Burgers would stack up favorably. 

I had occasion to speak with recently hired Executive Chef, Adam Crisafulli. Adam’s background was in Italian fine dining. The congenial, new chef had made it his mission to make everything at the relatively new I Love Burgers just a little better. He introduced a proprietary bun, a proprietary French fry, and a proprietary seasoning blend. I Love Burgers was all about taking comfort food to a new level, and the menu contained plenty of interesting items in that vein. In particular, the Blueberry Panshake and the I Love Bacon Burger took that comfort food theme to exceptional heights.

I ordered a burger, The Standard, which was the $10 lead item on the menu. The Standard came with cheese. Fries were extra. My burger arrived in about 10 minutes.

The Burger Breakdown…

The Beef: The beef at I Love Burgers was Certified Angus, 80:20 Chuck. This Chuck had been wet-aged for 21 days and then ground in-house. This was the most interesting Chuck that I had encountered. The funk from the aging carried as a single note through the entire bite, but it was muted enough that it was not a distraction. That aged note blended into what must have been mesquite (???) seasoning, and the impression on the palate was subtle bacon, and that was very satisfying. I did check with the kitchen to make certain that they didn’t just cook the burger in bacon grease. There were no notes of blood or minerals, and the bite was moderately beefy. The mouth feel was altogether satisfying. The juicy Chuck was coarsely ground and firmly packed so that it delivered a satisfyingly dense, resilient, but not chewy, bite. The beef was unusual, but I kept coming back to it, because it was so interesting.

The Seasoning: Chef Crisafulli left the interior alone, but the exterior was nicely seasoned with a proprietary blend of seasonings. The seasoning was appropriately salty and evenly applied. This caused the beefiness of the Chuck to rise to the surface during the course of the bite.

The Sear: A competent sear was applied to the patties via the expansive, gas-fired flat-top. The sear further concentrated that spice blend and the juices from the beef. The patty was relatively thin, so a really crusty sear would have been very difficult to achieve, but this one did the job. In the case of I Love Burgers, this sear made sense when one took the bun into account.

The Preparation: This was meticulous at I Love Burgers. The Executive Chef had his hand in everything, and the cheerful staff all expressed pride in their work. In particular, the Shake Master (Corrie), was on her game the entire visit and made some spectacular dessert drinks. The burger came out at the requested Medium cooking temperature—this was the recommendation of the house, and it made sense. I wanted a Medium burger so that the collagen in the Chuck would add flavor.

The Cheese: The American cheese worked its usual magic. It added creaminess, savory, and umami to the dish. This complexity was welcome as it added some nuance to the steady bacony note from the beef.  Cheese AND bacon—nice. The American cheese was one of 12 cheese choices.

The Bun: The bun was a yeasty revelation. This was a flat brioche, which was delivered fresh, daily from a local bakery. It was prepared to the specifications of I Love Burgers. The cut surfaces of the bun were brushed with mayo butter and then toasted. The point of the mayo butter was to contain any stray juices from the burger. This also added a pleasant note of richness to this component. The bun was completely and utterly delicious. I ordinarily do not give a lot of thought to burger buns, but this was a bun that I sought out during each bite. It was especially tender. The top of the bun was glazed with something sweet—this caused each bite to lead with a hint of sweetness—that sweetness combined with the cheese and beef flavors was exceptional. The bun was also satisfyingly yeasty. The bun instantly reminded me of the German Yeast Dumplings (Hefekloesse) that my grandmother would make as a treat when she visited us in the U.S. Talk about comfort food!

The Meat To Bun Ratio: This was perfect. The flat bun was ideal for the flat patty, and the first bite was identical to the last.

The Fries: These were absolutely spot-on in the seasoning, crispness, and color. The bespoke, shoestring fries were cooked in canola oil, and they remained crisp even as they cooled.

The Toppings: The vegetation was fresh and crisp. Frankly, I was so blissed out by the meat and bun that I gave little though to the toppings on the side. There were also about 20 sauce options on the menu, and the topping list was extensive, as well.

The Value: It was a tremendous value.

I Love Bacon Burger
The I Love Bacon Burger: I tried a small portion of the house specialty I Love Bacon Burger. I was a little dubious, since I had recently had a less than awesome experience with a similar dish. In this case, however, the bacon was cooked off and chilled prior to being ground into the beef. Here is where it got geeky. The chef used a very particular cut of beef for just this burger. It was the teres major. This muscle only weighs about 4-6 pounds in a full grown cow, and it is part of the Flat Iron steak complex. It was highly flavorful, and it needed to be to counter the potent apple wood smoked bacon. The hybrid patty was topped with Smoked Gouda, fried onions (breaded), bacon mayo, and MORE BACON. This burger was simply the best breakfast that I have ever had on a bun. I am grateful that I did not order the full portion, because the small portion was impossible not to finish. So good!

Blueberry Panshake
Birthday Cake Shake
The Shakes: Corrie, the Shake Master behind the full bar, was terrific with flavors and textures. She brought out a remarkable concoction known as the Blueberry Panshake. It contained chopped pancake, fresh blueberry puree, maple syrup for starters. This shake was the best breakfast that I have ever had in a glass. It was remarkable and instantly satisfying. It didn’t stop there, though. On that day, she had just created a Birthday Cake Shake. This contained chopped Twinkies and frosting. This shake forced an instant smile to my face. It was clever and delicious. The shakes added a carnival element, which perfectly coupled with the rich and satisfying burgers.

Rich, satisfying, familiar, inventive, delicious, and welcoming were all words that sprang to mind as I reflected on the dining experience at I Love Burgers. It was a perfectly decadent detour, which I would gladly take again. Great care was taken by an enthusiastic and talented team to prepare some of the most satisfying fare that I have tried. They delivered happiness on a bun and in a shake.

Burger Review : This was the best burger in Las Vegas in terms of delivering happiness and comforting satisfaction.

Rating…5 Bites

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