Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoma's -- Marina Del Rey, CA

249 Lincoln Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

 The Marinater and I had to do something to put the memory of the over-priced and bland Patrick's Roadhouse behind us. Since The Marinater was already forging checks and prescriptions at the nearby CVS Pharmacy, it was a breeze to make our way across the lot to the nearby hamburger stand. I just had to set a dumpster on fire to distract the security team that was closing in on our big deal.

Thoma's #16 Original World Famous Hamburgers was a classic LA burger stand but with added benefit of indoor seating and some really shopworn video gaming machines. We ordered a couple of combos...double cheeseburgers, fries, and drinks with a side of chili....all for about 16 bucks. Our meals were ready in about 5 minutes. During our wait we enjoyed the familiar sounds of Star Wars "blasters."

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: Thoma's created their cheeseburgers from razor-thin, 1/4 pound patties. The wispy burger patties bowed into lenses as they cooked. The beef was moderately beefy. The patties were standard, food-service, previously-frozen, 80/20 Chuck. The burgers were moderately beefy. The texture of the medium grind patties was a little chewy. The beef was not especially juicy, but it was also not greasy. The beef was average.

The Seasoning: There was none.

The Sear: Thoma's only seared one side of the thin, burger patties. The cheese side caught an adequate sear, but the cheese saturated the sear. That cancelled out the crispness.

The Preparation: The cheeseburgers were quickly cooked to Well-Done. The patties were cooked on a properly hot griddle. These were clearly, pre-formed. The burgers were both served upside down.

The Cheese: Two slices of American Cheese was better than one. The Double Cheeseburger at Thoma's came with two slices of cheese, and this was what tied the dish together. The cheese was nicely melted. This created an appropriately creamy texture. Since the patties were thin, the cheese really worked its way throughout the bite.

The Bun: This was a standard, moist, fresh, non-seeded, mildly toasted, slightly sweet, and slightly yeasty hamburger bun. The bun was fine.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: This was perfect in the case of the double cheeseburger. A single would have resulted in a bun-heavy dish.

The Toppings: The shredded Iceberg Lettuce was fresh and sweet. The tomato slices were perfectly ripe.

The Chili: There was something guiltily satisfying about the creamy chili at Thoma's. It was greasy, meaty, savory, rich, and altogether addictive. I applied it to the second half of my burger and my fries. The Marinater looked on in disgust.

The Fries: The fries were just fine. These were pre-cut, par-cooked, frozen, and bagged fries. The staff at Thoma's fried them up, competently, in hot oil. The fries were crisp and golden.

The Value: $6.99 for a double cheeseburger, fries, and a drink. The value was solid at Thoma's.

This was an average burger for a really good price. We had sampled far more expensive burgers that were far less delicious. The double cheeseburger at Thoma's was nothing to write home about, but it checked all of the boxes. The burger was satisfying but not exceptional.

Burger Review : An average burger, but a superlative value was had at Thoma's #16 Original World Famous Hamburgers. Still, this average burger was superior to the Patrick's Roadhouse burgers in terms of quality, preparation, and value.

Rating...3 Bites

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Patrick's Roadhouse -- Santa Monica, CA

106 Entrada Drive
Santa Monica, CA 90402

The Burger Busters and the Mystery of the Empty Restaurant.

Happy Meal and I had a hankering for some seared beef. This time we decided to sample the burgers at Patrick's Roadhouse in Santa Monica, CA. It was right on the Pacific Coast Highway on the way to Malibu. The Marinater had been suggesting that we try this place for a couple of weeks in a row, since it kept coming up on his Groupon radar. Happy Meal and I swung by the giant crater where The Marinater was doing a sledge hammer workout and beckoned him to join us with the promise of a hot meal. The Marinater obliged. We found parking behind the restaurant, and once we had parked, a valet attendant popped over to inform us that we had to pay for the "service" in spite of the fact that we had parked ourselves, and there was no signage--we looked. $5.50 down the crapper right there...annoying.

We walked into a dead empty restaurant and bar. We were the only patrons at 7:00 pm on a Friday night. It was no wonder that Patrick's Roadhouse was posting a Groupon. It was deeply irksome that we paid a valet to NOT park the car only to wind up in an empty restaurant where space was certainly not at a premium. We were seated immediately. We ordered up a trio of burgers including the Dijon Plum Burger, which was the favorite of our server.

The speaker over our table was blaring while cutting in and out. Our server was oblivious to both the noise level and the fact that the equipment was malfunctioning. Since the restaurant was empty, and there was no staff to keep an eye on me, I climbed on a chair and shut that noise down.

Our burgers were ready in about 15 minutes

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: Ooof. The ten dollar cheeseburgers at Patrick's Roadhouse were mediocre at best. The patties weighed in at about 1/3 of a pound. The beef was bland Chuck. Yes, it was fresh, never frozen, 100% angus beef, but it was ten buck Chuck. The patties were moderately beefy. There was a very faint hint of aging., that was it...nothing going on with the beef of any interest. The fat content was about 20%. The beef was not dry or chewy. It just simply completely forgettable.

The Seasoning: There was a weak hint of salt on the exterior of the burger patties at Patrick's Roadhouse.

The Sear: Yawn....there was a faint and sort of spotty, grayish sear on the small, flat Chuck discs.

The Preparation: The burgers at Patrick's Roadhouse were cooked to Medium. The grind was also medium. This barely brought out the beefiness from the bland Chuck. The uniform burger patties were formed daily during shift prep.

The Cheese: We had the choice of American, Swiss, Cheddar, and Mozzarella. We went with American on our burgers. Even the creamy, umami-rich, savory American cheese was not enough to make these burgers interesting.

The Bun: The large buns were of the seeded, meagerly toasted, standard burger bun ilk. The buns were faintly yeasty and moderately sweet. The buns were relatively fresh--mostly the buns were too darn big for the wee burger patties.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: WAY TOO MUCH BUN.

The Toppings: For some odd reason Patrick's Roadhouse served both sweet dill pickle chips and sweet relish with their burgers. The Iceberg lettuce was fresh, and the tomato slices were fine. For an extra buck, we tried a cheeseburger with Dijon mustard and Plum Jam. It was fine...this combination tasted like a richer version of ketchup.

The Fries: The peel-on, potato fries were cut in-house. Sadly, these fries were on the lank side. The were undercooked. The Sweet Potato fries were delivered on a truck, and they were of the crinkle-cut variety. These fries arrives slightly burned. The Truffle Fries came with a wad of grated cheese. The Truffle Fries were lank and somewhat greasier than their non-truffled counterparts. $2.50 for regular fries. $3.00 for Sweet Potato. $5.00 for Truffle Fries with Parmesan. The up charge for these low-quality fries on top of the over-priced burgers was just another fiscal eff you courtesy of the diner-free Patrick's Roadhouse.

The Value: A mockery, an insult, a violation--just plain bad. The cheeseburgers at Patrick's Roadhouse were $9.95, and the Dijon Plum Burger was $10.95. Fries were extra. Even with the 10 for 20 Groupon, we were still out $22.20 (plus parking) on this over-priced shizz show. If we had paid the full boat of 47.70 bucks for that festival of blandness, my head would have exploded from indignation.

The Dijon Plum Burger
We quickly solved the mystery of the empty restaurant. Patrick's Roadhouse was haunted with price gouging mediocrity in a neighborhood blessed with amazing views and FAR BETTER food. Oh...Arnold Schwarzenegger has a table there with a giant metal chair.

Burger Review : This was expensive weakness on an over-sized bun. Patrick's Roadhouse had done an effective job of customer-proofing itself.

Rating...2 Bites (an average burger but a shamefully poor value)

28AUG12...Wayne, the manager of Patrick's Roadhouse engaged me on Yelp to argue about the experience that we had. That exchange is posted below, in its entirety, for your enjoyment:

Anthony H.

Anthony H.'s comment on your review:
Hi Pete, We do buy the BEST of every ingredient without exception! We are also full waiter service restuarant at the beach with ocean views.That comes with high overhead. The restaurant is packed at breakfast and lunch daily! Only opened in the evening (when you were there) very recently which explains the lack of patrons. We appreciate your patronage... 

Defending doesn't help your cause....offering a remedy in a public forum is far better. Not responding is a solid move, too.

You simply failed to address the fact that the food was bland.

Anthony H.

We have been serving fantastic burgers for 39 years. That speaks for itself. We thank you for your patronage.

I do find it baffling that you are arguing with an unhappy customer...this would be an opportunity to make it right with a customer that is talking with you.   You can read your full review at http://www.TheBurgerRevi…



Anthony H.

Now I understand. Your promoting your own blog site. Best of luck!


With that spicy attitude toward your customers, I think it is Patrick's Roadhouse that is need of some luck.

Again, I do find it baffling that you chose to argue with an unhappy customer rather than seek a way to make things right.

You are certainly doing your part to keep that dining room empty. If that is your goal, then I commend you on your fine and directed efforts.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fusion Burgers -- Los Angeles, CA

5933 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Loyal reader, Joseph Bacon, hit us up on Facebook to get us to check out Fusion Burgers. Joseph Bacon not only has a kickass name, but he is also the creamed corn wrestling coach to the stars. Fusion Burgers, like Plan Check, had an Umami Burger pedigree. I hoped that the pedigree was from the pre-mediocre days. Umami Burger fell far and fast. Fusion Burgers was in the Highland Park district of Los Angeles. It was FAR (20 miles) from the world headquarters, but we travel far to sort things out for you.

Parking was plentiful and free in the small, attached lot.We were seated instantly. Betty, the manager, was super-friendly and informative. In addition to various facts about the preparation and ingredients, we learned that the newish Fusion Burgers was family-owned. I ordered a Classic burger and settled in for a ten-minute wait. The tasty smell of burgers sizzling on the griddle further whetted my appetite for a cheeseburger.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The cuts in the house-ground beef blend were a closely-guarded combination of primal cuts. I ventured to guess that Chuck, Sirloin, and Short Rib were the component cuts. The fat content was held down to 18% in the 7-ounce patties. The cheeseburger was strongly beefy. The patty was properly juicy. There was a faint flavor of funk from wet-aging. Much of the expected complexity was muted by a really strong note of iron. Other reviews related that the burgers were cooked in cast iron skillets, but Betty indicated that the burgers were seared on a cast-iron plancha. Regardless, the cooking surface was cast-iron. The strong iron taste led me to believe that the cooking surface was not properly seasoned. The bite was just right in terms of firmness and mouth feel. The coarse grind really let the quality of the beef shine through as it lingered on the palate.

The Seasoning: The exterior of the burger patty was dusted with a peppery/savory spice blend. This was appropriate to the beefiness of the burger. It served to further enhance the competent sear.

The Sear: Yes! The sear on the burgers at Fusion Burgers was thin and crisp. That was the advantage of cooking on cast-iron. We saw a similar sear on the burgers from The Brindle Room in NYC. The sear was completely enjoyable and satisfying.

The Preparation: The beef was ground and blended in-house. The burger patties were hand-formed ever so gently to create a loose, hearty bite. Fusion Burgers nailed the request to cook my burger Medium-Rare.

The Cheese: Bah. This was White Cheddar, but it was relatively uninteresting. American Cheese would have amped up the Umami in this burger. Honestly, the burger would have been just fine without the cheese. The cheese was properly melted, though.

The Bun: The bun at Fusion Burgers was a fresh, moist, moderately toasted, seeded Portuguese Roll from Melrose Baking Company. The bun was mildly sweet. Mostly it served to deliver juicy, seared ground beef from plate to face. The bun performed that simple task most adequately.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: Perfect...just perfect.

The Toppings: The Bibb lettuce was fresh and sweet, and the roasted tomato slice provided a nice hit of sour and umami.

The Fries: These were an extra $2.50, and that was way too much for spuds. Still, the fries were cut in-house. The fries at Fusion Burgers tasted strongly of the earth. I really got the sense that I was consuming a tuberous root. I found the strong potato flavor refreshing. The fries were properly crisp, golden, and salted.

The Value: The Classic burger at Fusion Burgers was $8.50. The fries were $2.50, and a beverage was $2.00. That was $13 bucks for a better than average cheeseburger meal in a location that was a little dodgy. The value was average.

Fusion Burgers served up a cheeseburger that surpassed the then-current quality exhibited by the once mighty Umami Burger. The ingredients were strong, and so was the preparation. The sole failing was the iron-heavy flavor from the under-seasoned cast-iron cooking surface.

Burger Review : Fusion Burgers made a darn fine, high-quality burger without employing the trickery of its Umami Burger roots.

Rating...4 Bites

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big Dean's Oceanfront Cafe--Santa Monica, CA

1615 Ocean Front Walk
Santa Monica, CA 90401

I was bumming around Santa Monica with The Marinater when he suddenly, and without provocation, turned on me. Something to the effect of "If I don't eat soon, I will turn your brain pan into an ashtray" was muttered. I found this especially disconcerting, since the SOB didn't even smoke. Fortunately, another friend had mentioned that I hadn't lived until I had tried a burger from Big Dean's Oceanfront Cafe (Big Dean's). Big Dean's was located just in front of the Santa Monica Pier. It was the sort of place that you really had to seek out, because it was tucked away enough that I would have never stumbled upon it. Big Dean's had been in existence for 110 years.

The vibe and look of Big Dean's was beach bar, and rightly so. Parking was the usual Santa Monica hassle, but that was to be expected on a Friday evening. We found immediate seating in the back patio area where a crowd of locals had already established camp. We ordered a couple of Big Dean's Cheese Burgers. These were double meat and double cheese cheeseburger for $7.75. We could have opted for singles ($6.00), but the nascent threat of my skull being used as a tobacco accessory was still resonating with me. Our burgers were ready in about 10 minutes.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The twin 1/4 pound patties packed a wallop of beef flavors. It was like getting punched in the face with a beef boxing glove. While this was Chuck, it was high-quality Chuck. The fat content was only 12%. In spite of the leanness, the burgers were very juicy. There was a nice funk from some aging. This was Chuck, so it did lack the complex undertone of other cuts of beef. Still, the burgers at Big Dean's Oceanfront Cafe tasted EXACTLY the way that cheeseburgers should. The beef was a straight up winner.

The Seasoning: Yep--salt and pepper on the exterior of the thin patties. The salt and pepper perfectly complemented the strong beefy flavor.

The Sear: Considering the thinness of the burger patties, the sear was really good. It was not a deep, thick monster of a sear, but it was crisp, dark, and rich. The sear added a dimension of flavor from the Maillard Reaction to the burger. This was both expected and welcomed. As expected, the thin patties were cooked to Well-Done, but this was a juicy and properly seared Well-Done.

The Preparation: Everything about the preparation of the Big Dean's Cheese Burgers was as it should have been. The burger patties were formed, by hand, on a daily basis from pre-ground Chuck. As we savored our tasty burgers, a small group of locals told us that Big Dean's was their regular burger fix. For some, this was the first food that they sought out after an out-of-town trip.

The Cheese: American cheese and two slices of atop each burger patty in the double cheeseburger. American cheese has always been my "go to" cheese. In this case, it was perfectly melted. It provided the usual, reliable hits of creamy, gooey, savory, and umami.

The Bun: The buns at Big Dean's were delivered three times each week by Gallaso's Bakery. These were fresh, moist, yeasty, seeded, slightly sweet, standard burger buns. The buns were nicely toasted, and this provided a bit of satisfying crunch around the edge of the burger.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: This was perfect. The bun contained the juices and molten cheese without upstaging the beef on the palate.

The Toppings: The Iceberg lettuce was fresh, sweet, and crisp. The tomato slices were ripe and hearty.

The Fries/Rings: The fries were just fine. Previously frozen, crinkle-cut, peel-off, and par-cooked. The fries and rings were properly crisped and browned in fresh, hot oil.

The Value: Heck yes! $7.75 for a really, really good double cheeseburger. Big Dean's served up a burger with much better than average value.

It was no wonder that Big Dean's Oceanfront Cafe had attracted and maintained such a loyal following of locals. The restaurant was located in an area that was infested with tourists. Big Dean's could have phoned in the food and still done a fine "one and done" business by over-charging tourists for sub-par chow. Instead, they served up quality burgers with pride. It was a pity that more establishments didn't follow this simple formula. From Eddy, our server, to TJ, the manager, Big Dean's staff was inviting, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.

Burger Review : All burgers should be at least as good at the cheeseburgers at Big Dean's. Basic ingredients cooked with care and pride resulted in a darn fine burger.

Rating...5 Bites (4 bites with a 1/2 point bonus for great service--4.5 Bites)


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Top of the Notch Restaurant--Mt. Baldy, CA

Mt. Baldy, CA 91759

The Burger Busters will go to amazing lengths to seek out and review burgers so that you don't have to. In this installment we went to the top of a mountain to sample a burger in a restaurant only accessible by a pleasant chairlift ride. I guess we could have hiked for several hours, but I was in no mood to carry a whining Happy Meal up and down a mountain.It was the last weekend of Happy Meal's Summer Vacation, and I wanted to end his Summer on a memorable note.We made the hour-long drive from LA to Mt. Baldy.  This took us through Claremont, CA. Claremont is home of the Back Abbey--I hear that burger is great. Happy Meal and I ignored that siren's call and drove 10 or so more miles into the mountains to the chairlifts at Mt. Baldy. From there we rode among the treetops to the lodge near the top of the mountain.

At the end of the ride, we walked over to the Top of the Notch Restaurant, AKA Mount Baldy Bar and Yacht Club. Happy Meal was immediately impressed by the free foosball. We ordered a couple of The Notch Burgers with fries at $10.25 apiece. Our burgers arrived in about 20 minutes.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The beef at Top of the Notch Restaurant was grim at best. This burger had clearly started its day as a frozen, and pre-formed Chuck patty. The burger patty was 1/3 of a pound. The beef was chewy, dry, rubbery, and bland. The grind was quite fine, and this further lent to the dryness and chewiness. The beef was around 20% in terms of fat, but this did not help the leathery mouth feel. This was pretty much a school lunch/airplane quality cheeseburger. This was not entirely surprising,

The Seasoning: There was none.

The Sear: The sear was pretty thorough. In fact, the dry discs that served as the foundation of our cheeseburgers were nearly vulcanized. That sear did not positively contribute to the burger in terms of texture or flavor, however.

The Preparation: The beef discs appeared to have been run through a charbroiling conveyor. The burgers had an even sear and grill marks.

The Cheese: The cheeseburgers at Top of the Notch Restaurant came with a choice of Cheddar, Pepper Jack, or Swiss. We opted for Cheddar on our burgers. The Cheddar was bland and completely lost in the bite. The too large bun and the dry beef rendered the cheese invisible to the palate.

The Bun: The bun was a ciabatta roll. The bun was reasonably fresh. It was relatively bland, and it was not toasted sufficiently to give it any crunch.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: The ciabatta roll dwarfed the 1/3-pound patty.

The Fries: The fries at Top of the Notch Restaurant were fine. These were of the peel-off, par-cooked, and previously frozen variety. The thin fries were properly cooked to a nice crispness. They were finished with an appropriate dusting of granulated salt. The fries were a winner.

The Toppings: Ugh...the tomato slices were hard and greenish. The Romaine lettuce leaves were flaccid.

The Value: We had a Groupon. We spent $29 for two lift tickets and a $20 food voucher. We paid an additional $6 for the tip and drinks. That got us to $35 for a terrific experience but some really weak chow.  Even with the discount, the value was mediocre. I certainly would never advocate that anyone venture to Top of the Notch Restaurant at Mt. Baldy, CA for the cheeseburgers.

Happy Meal was duly impressed by the new experience. I was delighted to have shared it with him. Happy Meal handled his first chairlift ride like a champ. He also took down that burger like a pro.

Burger Review : Terrific scenery and a fun ride. Sadly, what awaits one at the end of this particular rainbow is a dismally bland and over-priced cheeseburger. Pass.

Rating...2 Bites

Editor's Note: Happy Meal and I returned, because he really liked riding the chair lift. On this visit, the burger was much improved. It was juicy and beefy. The bun was sweet and moist. The burger on this visit was just fine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Hollywood Corner--Hollywood, CA

1156 North Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90038

Another weekend, and another Groupon. Again, I busted The Marinater out of the Lompoc Supermax where he was doing a nickel for injecting fruit bats with growth hormone (crazy effer). We found street parking with relative ease. We were quickly seated at the back bar where The Marinater's aggressive, anti-Finnish facial tats (man, he hates the Finns) and my freakish good looks would not startle the other patrons of the busy restaurant. We ordered a couple of the Peoples burgers. The Peoples burger listed at $9.95, but the Groupon lessened the sting. Our burgers arrived in about 15 minutes. During that time, we chilled and got our Olympic Dressage on. We marveled at the fact that we lived in a world where making prancing horses pretty was actually viewed as a sport.

The Burger Breakdown...

The Beef: The burger meat at The Hollywood Corner was 8 ounces of plain old Chuck. In this case, 10 buck Chuck. The beef was moderately juicy. It was about 20% fat, so not too oily. There were no hints of aging, minerals, blood, or other elements that would have made this relatively beefy burger interesting. This was a one-note burger patty. It tasted of beef and that was it--that came from the melted collagen from the Chuck. And that was why we order our Chuck burgers Medium. Otherwise, this would have been a bland disaster. The mouth feel was barely chewy. It just wasn't an interesting burger.

The Seasoning: Only the exterior of the patty was seasoned with a mild hit of salt. It could have used more seasoning to compensate for the tame beef.

The Sear: The kitchen staff at The Hollywood Corner got an adequate sear on the burger with a properly hot gas-fired grill. The sear was not crisp, but it was relatively even.

The Preparation: The burgers were hand-formed during the prep cycle. The patties were not over-worked, so the beef was not chewy. The burgers were turned three times on the grill, and that was two times too many. The burger patties were not pressed as they cooked, so the juices were retained. They did nail the Medium cooking temperature that I had requested. The kitchen staff was competent, but they were working with completely average ingredients.

The Cheese: The Hollywood Corner employed a bland Cheddar. While it was properly melted, it was bland. The cheese was absent on the palate. Even after the dry top bun was removed, the Cheddar still failed to deliver.

The Bun: This was a big, honking, seeded Kaiseresque affair from France Bakery. The bun was probably a lot better on Friday...when it was fresh. That said, the bun was properly toasted. It was mildly sweet and just a little yeasty.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: The big, dry bun was the clear winner of this contest.

The Toppings: The mixed greens and tomato were market fresh and perfectly ripe.

The Fries: The peel-off shoestring fries were delivered par-cooked and frozen. The fries at The Hollywood Corner were crisp and golden...just right. The seasoning was also spot on.

The Value: 10 bucks for a 1/2 pound burger with fries was about average. The value was worsened by the stale bun, but the discounted price sort of made up for that. I would have been far less happy had I paid full boat for this thing.

The Hollywood Corner served up a really average burger and some pretty good fries. It didn't merit the price tag. I certainly wouldn't seek it out on purpose for a second go around.

Burger Review : Average, nothing special, meh.

Rating...3 Bites

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bloom Cafe -- Los Angeles, CA

5544 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Bloom Cafe had been recommended to me by someone. Fortunately, I had already forgotten who suggested this spot, because this was not a happy experience in terms of burgers, service, freshness, accuracy of the menu, or...anything.

Happy Meal and I found metered street parking less than a block away. We were seated promptly in the 1/4 full restaurant. We ordered a a couple of Grass Fed 8oz Burgers, and then we settled in for a 25-minute wait. Our waiter, rather than checking on the status of our order was occupied with texting....neat. When our cheeseburgers finally arrived, mine was cooked to an blistering Well-Done. I sent it back with a request to deliver the re-fire in less than 25 minutes. Our waiter proclaimed. "I do not work in the kitchen." Our waiter was not very good at his job.The kitchen managed to get out the second burger in 15 minutes. That was a 40-minute wait for a burger. I took a few bites and realized that the burger was scorched, and the toppings and sides were of such low quality (rotten and cold) that I could not have taken even one more bite. Upon noting my clear displeasure, the waiter: "What is wrong with it this time?" I provided the top three reasons why the burger was inedible, and again the reply, "I do not work in the kitchen."

The Burger Breakdown...

First Try (25 minutes)
Second Try (15 minutes)
The Beef: Bloom Cafe proudly announced that they served grass-fed beef. What I tasted was greasy, bland Chuck. It was not remotely beefy in flavor. There was not a single hint of aging, minerals, or anything interesting in the burger. What I did get was a overwhelming note of carbon, which told me that my cheeseburger had been sitting in the smoke of its own burning fat as it cooked. The fat content was about 25%. The grind was medium. Based on the quality of the preparation, I promptly lost all interest in the origin of the beef. The kitchen did not care enough to prepare to food with care, so it was safe to assume that the ingredients were nothing special. This was an oily, bland, scorched mess.

The Seasoning: If bitter carbon was a seasoning, then Bloom liberally seasoned the hell out of the exterior of my burger. I detected a faint note of salt on Happy Meals less jacked up cheeseburger. The seasoning was weak and careless.

The Sear: Bah! The burger received some average grill marks.

The Preparation: Careless.

The Cheese: Bloom Cafe offered Bleu, Swiss, and Cheddar. I went with Cheddar. It was bland, and it was lost in the greasy, scorched beef of the burger patty.

The Bun: This was an average and bland brioche. The bun was meagerly toasted. It seemed that 15 minutes was not enough time to cook a Medium burger AND toast a bun. I was not a fan of the oily exterior of the bun...the burger was greasy enough.

The Meat To Bun Ratio: This was probably fine, but I lost track during the avalanche of failure.

The Topping and Sides: This was even more appalling than the service or the poor quality of preparation. The "Live Lettuce" was, in reality, the past-its-prime, brown-veined center leaves of a head of Iceberg Lettuce. The tomato was rubbery and bland. That was as good as it got. The side salad that came with the burger contained rotten, blackened bits of greens. This was indicative of being in the bag for too long and being served by a staff that did not care. The brown rice that I opted for in lieu of fries was cold in the center. BLEAK.

The Fries: Shockingly, the fries were pretty good. They were crisp and nicely seasoned.

The Value: The cheeseburger at Bloom Cafe would have been an awful value at $1. At $10, it was simply offensive. My burger was comped, but this was still an utter waste of time and gas.

Bloom Cafe didn't set the bar low--Bloom Cafe threw the bar on the ground, and then the Sunday crew tunneled under the bar as if to perform some sort of subterranean limbo. Bad ingredients, bad service, and bad preparation all led to an inedible burger.

Burger Review : Epic Fail.

This what passed for Live Lettuce at Bloom Cafe
Rating... 1Bite (one of the worst ever)

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