Posts Tagged ‘Medium Rare’

Fame: a status that people all over the world desire to attain. In one degree or another, people desire some level of fame that they themselves define. Everybody defines fame differently to a different scope, so one person’s idea of fame can exist on an entirely different plane than another person’s. Local fame can exist when the local community looks up to a person, group, or business. Wider scopes of fame can exist when brought to the attention of all those other people, such as through marketing, advertising, radio, television, and more. Of course, landing a spot on an outlet that reaches many people faces tough competition, and not everyone can attain that. Local fame helps in that regard, and can bolster the spread of that fame. Getting on television usually represents one of the greatest forms of broad advertising, so opportunities to get on television have high competition. Luckily, Grill ‘Em All had what it took to get on television, and since then, everything has gone up for them.

Back in 2010, the Great Food Truck Race debuted on Food Network, which featured a handful of gourmet food trucks that included Grill ‘Em All as a contestant. The Grill ‘Em All crew emerged victorious, claiming the coveted $50,000 grand prize, which went towards a restaurant that they would eventually open in Alhambra in early 2013. Now two years in business, Grill ‘Em All has cemented a solid foundation. Locals cannot stop talking about them, and travelers from across the world anticipate visiting this legendary heavy metal restaurant. In fact, many influential figures in music, metal or not, have appeared at Grill ‘Em All for meet & greets, or just to dine in. Grill ‘Em All has more than just the music theme going for them – their food deserves to sit on the top shelf, a testament to the high caliber set by all the other trendy hip restaurants in Southern California. The transition from food truck to restaurant allowed them to increase the menu items offered, but they still kept the fan favorites on the menu, including the legendary Behemoth. If you could choose one menu item to represent the flagship of Grill ‘Em All, everyone would choose this mammoth grilled cheese burger. When I say grilled cheese burger, I do not refer to a patty melt – I mean a burger placed between two grilled cheese sandwiches used as the “buns” of the burger. Basically, you have four slices of bread with this burger, bacon, BBQ sauce, grilled onions, pickles, and three layers of cheddar cheese: one on the all-beef patty, and a layer in each of the grilled cheese sandwiches. This basically represents a western-style cheeseburger with the BBQ sauce, onions, and cheese, except that instead of hamburger buns, you hold onto two grilled cheese sandwiches to devour this burger. I hope you have a monstrous appetite to down this – all that bread will make this burger a tough foe to thwart.

If you still have yet to visit Grill ‘Em All, why not start with their flagship burger? You can challenge this monster for just $12. Come glimpse at the beast that gave rise to the legacy known as Grill ‘Em All.

Dining out has changed drastically over the past few decades. In the early 1990’s, restaurants had a very homely feel to them, especially since social media and portable media devices did not exist back then. Most restaurants had “safe” menus that generally contained foods that people expected to see, and few chefs in the 90’s dared to serve anything out of the ordinary. Over time, the rise of portable media devices and social media, along with the progressive minds of the current generation of millennials, paved the way for chefs to start experimenting and devising new menu items. Industry news and food trends affected how chefs constructed their menus; for example, many restaurants started serving kale following the rising popularity of it in 2013. Food trends changed constantly, and just like technology, the general populace must keep up with these changes, or fall behind the times. Southern Californian locals never have to worry about falling behind the times when dining at Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra.

Now two years into their restaurant in Alhambra, Grill ‘Em All has cemented quite a legacy over time. Locals cannot stop talking about them, and travelers from across the world anticipate visiting this legendary heavy metal restaurant. In fact, many influential figures in music, metal or not, have appeared at Grill ‘Em All for meet & greets, or just to dine in. Grill ‘Em All has more than just the music theme going for them – their food deserves to sit on the top shelf, a testament to the high caliber set by all the other trendy hip restaurants in Southern California. Anyone can create a list of the best burgers in Southern California, but they bring shame to Southern Californian burgers if they do not list Grill ‘Em All. I can go on and on about this, but to prove my point, just take a look at their rotating burgers of the month. Grill ‘Em All has concocted some crazy inventions in the past, and after going a safe route in February with a classic take on a burger, Grill ‘Em All goes the extra distance with their March burger of the month, The Sadistic Magician A.K.A. The Papa Shango. Named after the song and the wrestler, this burger dips into the breakfast-for-dinner food trend with its creative use of blueberry pancakes for the buns. As for the rest of the burger, a half-pound all-beef patty gets cooked medium-rare and topped with a breakfast sausage patty, bacon, and cheddar cheese, all on a spread of apple butter. You read that right – you get meat three ways in here with the burger, the bacon, and the sausage. The apple butter really helps to accentuate the blueberries in the pancakes, which keeps its form rather well despite holding up a large weight. For best results, flip this burger upside-down the moment you receive it. That way, the bottom pancake will not get too soggy from absorbing the burger’s juices and the apple butter.

Food trends in the past few years dictate that society accepts the notion of breakfast for dinner. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind burger at Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra during the month of March 2015 for just $12. Savor what a heavy metal mind can deliver on a plate.

When you ask Americans what they envision of as “American” food, what do you suppose they think of? Most commonly, responses will include hamburgers, hot dogs, wings, and pizza. Although Americans easily recognize these foods, they all have origins outside of America – hamburgers and hot dogs descended from a German background, while pizza and wings came to us from Italian influences. Instead, Americans categorize food by regions where certain foods reign prominent. For example, Americans often associate barbecue with Memphis, Kansas, or Texas. As another example, a classic food battle exists with pizza between Chicago and New York. Most people who have not traveled to Chicago may not comprehend Chicago’s pizza, which lends way to the dominant abundance of New York style pizza commonly found at your local pizzeria. New York itself exists as a grand mecca for many popular food styles, not forgetting that the infamous Cronut originated there. New York has also served as the inspiration of many different foods all over the world, and Grill ‘Em All certainly has a New York state of mind this month.

Famously known as the winner of the first season of Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, Grill ‘Em All has since evolved from a food truck to their very own brick & mortar restaurant in Alhambra. The theme has not faded away in the slightest – they still sling hamburgers with a heavy metal influence, except now with a full kitchen, they can crank up the volume in more ways than one. With more room comes more content coming our way, such as craft beer availability, special guest appearances, and wrestling themes. Grill ‘Em All uses the latter as a component of the inspiration behind their burgers of the month, such as with December 2014’s burger of the month, The Manowar A.K.A. Tommy Dreamer. Paying tribute to heroes of New York, this monumental burger basically contains two meals in one. The burger basics all reside here: a 1/2-pound beef burger cooked medium rare, mozzarella cheese, arugula, and garlic-buttered buns. The New York style comes in with marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, and the kicker: Funyun-coated deep-fried lasagna. Yeah, that sounds like something one would encounter at a state fair. The lasagna by itself qualifies as a standalone meal, but thrown on top of an all-beef patty, then you have a wallop of a burger. Deciphering how to eat this may pose a challenge. I advise against pressing it down to get it to the optimal size to fit in it your jaw, as that will not only squeeze the sauces and juices out, but break the lasagna. You can tackle this any way you want, but I will suggest two primary methods of breaking this down. For maximal enjoyment, cut this burger into slices/wedges to get every flavor in each bite. For minimal mess, split it in half horizontally by removing the lasagna off the beef patty, creating two open-faced sandwiches. Using the latter means that you would either have to make two cuts to get all the flavor in one bite, or taste something different with each bite.

With colder days coming, this gargantuan burger fits the season quite well. Trek on over to Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra this month, where you can smash your own Manowar for $15, and get a taste of New York in your mouth.

While most people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day traditionally on March 17th, a handful of alternative thinkers celebrate Irish culture differently throughout the year. Some people hold an Irish festival in September, and some people hold an Irish festival in June. Other times, people simply rock the heritage. Whether you come from an Irish clan or just love the culture, we can all agree that the general populace appreciates the Irish lifestyle. Big corporations have taken advantage of this by marketing Americanized versions of traditional Irish products, such as Guinness and Irish food. While Guinness tastes like liquid paper here in the United States, the Guinness in Ireland actually resembles craft beer. Much like how corporate fast food chains have destroyed the perception of Mexican and Chinese food, the media has grossly portrayed what Americans refer to as either Irish food or Scottish food as authentic. However, what we have in America bears little to no representation of the real thing; for example, that explains why haggis in America looks and tastes nothing like haggis in Scotland. Few places get it right, and when places get it right, people talk. When Grill ‘Em All gave it a whirl, people definitely talked about it.

It appears that Grill ‘Em All visits a different country each month in a never-ending tour to discover the culinary depths of each destination. Grill ‘Em All rose to fame as the winner of the first season of Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, and since then, things have only gone up from there for these guys. Just a little under two years ago, they opened the doors to their brick & mortar restaurant in Alhambra, opening the doors to greater heights. This restaurant allows them to not only produce a greater volume of orders, but also experiment with new potential menu items. This experimentation led to the notion of a Burger of the Month, where they devise something so crazy that they can only serve it for a month before it loses its flame. This month, the guys visit Ireland for the inspiration behind the Thin Lizzy A.K.A. The Vince McMahon. Named after an Irish rock band, the Thin Lizzy basically resembles a shepherd’s pie on a burger. A half-pound burger gets topped with cheddar cheese, while a shepherd’s pie consisting of seasoned mince, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, and duck gravy cooks on the side. Once the shepherd’s pie component finishes cooking, it jumps on top of the burger, completely smothering it with the gravy and mince juices. Just to add the cherry on top, you still get a hot-buttered bun to attempt to devour this like a traditional burger. I originally anticipated utilizing a fork and knife to plow through this, but I just had to witness a bunch of guys at the restaurant barbarically manhandling this burger with their bare hands. Undaunted, I smashed my face into this hot face mask and never looked back. I would have preferred to add a bit of hot sauce or something to add a zing to it, as this burger has an otherwise mild flavor. Instead, you end up with a hearty balanced meal, perfect for this month when the weather starts to cool down.

No Lizzy would feel thin after conquering this creation. Whether the weather calls for it, you can smash your own Thin Lizzy at Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra for just $13 during the month of November 2014.

When the seasons change, many more things change than just the weather. Looking at the weather alone, Southern California currently experiences a massive heat wave that may make you believe that the seasons had not turned yet. A deadly virus threatens human civilization that broke out. A drought threatens the inhabitation of California. As a society, we cannot accurately predict what radical event will change the world next, but we can brace ourselves for anything, as we always have in the past as an enduring society. We can also fall back on what we typically associate with this time of the year. Fall, as we know it, indicates pumpkins, red wine, NFL, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the fall harvest, especially the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, giving us a reason to gorge on Mooncakes. Looking at all these opportunities to feast on favorable foods, we should not overlook outdoor grilling, nor the foods prepared that way. Though the winds will chill the air more so than in the summer, many folks will still utilize the grill up through Thanksgiving. In homage of the veritable fall feast, take a look at these five burgers in the Greater Los Angeles Area that I highly recommend seeking out this season.

5. Belcampo Meat Company‘s Belcampo Cheeseburger

Have you ever visited collective gatherings of food businesses? I do not refer to strip malls or a food court or food truck spots. I refer to a full public market dedicated to providing real estate to local entrepreneurs seeking to enter the food & beverage industry. For example, the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle hosts countless independently-owned businesses, many of which serve unique foods found nowhere else. The Anaheim Packinghouse, which just opened earlier this year, houses a plethora of local food & beverage businesses all serving something unique such that no business competes with each other. Another highly-populated public market exists in Downtown Los Angeles known as Grand Central Market. This dense and compact market holds so many businesses and attracts so many people daily that you literally have to elbow your way through the crowd to get anywhere. If you do that, you may discover great hidden gems, such as the Belcampo Meat Company. This counter, along with its other four California locations, fully functions as both a butcher shop and a restaurant. Their offerings change based on the seasons and the market, but some menu items remain a constant, such as their Belcampo Cheeseburger. They grill a 5.5oz dry-aged & grass-fed beef patty to medium rare, then top it with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, butter lettuce, and what appears to taste like thousand island dressing that they call house sauce. This burger makes it to number five on this list because, although the beef tastes amazingly juicy, the rest of the burger looks rather dull. The lettuce especially gives it a “cheap” look, reducing the overall experience. Honestly, with beef this juicy and full of savory goodness, they can do away with the lettuce, and the burger would look so much better. The price of this burger varies based on the location, but the burger in Downtown LA costs $12.50.

4. Slater’s 50/50‘s Cubano

The empire continues to grow! Now sporting seven locations, the Slater’s 50/50 collective has since expanded outward from its original location in Orange County, with spots now in Rancho Cucamonga and San Marcos. Any Southern Californian local will have heard of Slater’s 50/50, while out-of-towners will want to visit any Slater’s 50/50 location for their namesake, the 50/50 burger – a burger patty consisting of 50% beef and 50% ground bacon. While they sell their trademark 50/50 patty the most, they still sport a large menu of other great items. Their menu claims that they have the “World’s Greater Turkey Burger,” a bold proclamation since typically turkey burgers never quite match up to that of beef or even pork burger patties. I advise you to keep an open mind for their October burger-of-the-month, The Cubano. Slater’s 50/50 builds this massive burger-sandwich hybrid starting with their 2/3 lbs turkey patty, which they top with Swiss cheese, carnitas-style pork, pickled red onions, banana rum mustard, and mint leaves, all on toasted sourdough bread with a side of sliced pickles. Basically, you will receive a panini-style Cuban sandwich with some twists. The mint leaves especially stand out, providing a distinct tease with each bite. For a craft beer pairing, stick with the middle ground, nothing strong or light, such as a pale ale, amber ale, or brown ale. The Cubano makes it to number four on this list because of a few issues. Glaringly, I cannot say that I approve of the bread choice. Sourdough itself bears a flavor that one must savor on its own, so in this sandwich, it would sometimes lose its sourdough flavor with center bites, or overpower the sandwich with edge bites. The choice to toast the bread also brings out two problems: the crunchiness may harm those with sensitive gums, and the bread gets soggy if the cooks do not layer the ingredients correctly, which will happen more often than not. For a burger list, I rarely feature a non-beef patty, as I simply prefer a beef patty unless the patty truly glorifies the burger, such as a chorizo patty. If you seek a Cuban sandwich on an actual burger…

3. Grill ‘Em All‘s Midnight A.K.A. The Konnan

Music truly does hold the title of the most universal language. Lyrics aside, once you have the instrumentals, you can capture an audience from any corner of the globe. From Kawaii metal to fart metal, music resonates well with any individual, even if the music physically assaults anyone listening to it. Much like with music, certain foods gain positive reception around the world. While we can find common foods like burgers and pizza in nearly every country, certain styles also carry over quite well. For example, the typical Cuban sandwich consists of ham, carnitas-style pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. Modifications heavily exist to this, as proved by Grill ‘Em All. Consistently shattering culinary perceptions, Grill ‘Em All knows that keeping with traditions will only keep them in the past. For that reason, they think progressively by reinventing stereotypical foods into amalgams of frenzied burgers that look like they took a spin in a mosh pit or two. For the month of October, Grill ‘Em All reimagines the classic Cuban sandwich into their burger-of-the-month, The Midnight A.K.A. The Konnan. Named after a Cuban professional wrestler, The Midnight takes its name from Medianoche, Spanish for midnight, which also refers to the type of sandwich. Unlike standard Cuban sandwiches, The Midnight follows in the footsteps of the Medianoche by utilizing a Hawaiian bun as the sweet bread. Following that, we have a half-pound burger with black forest ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, dijon mustard, pickles, and whole-grain aioli. The resulting burger tastes like a traditional Medianoche sandwich, but with the added surge of the beef patty. This burger pairs very well with the Iron Maiden Trooper ale that they have on tap here! Do keep in mind that you can only obtain this burger this month only, which explains why this burger only makes it to number three on this list.

2. Dolce Bistro & Bakery‘s Not So Classic Burger

Who can resist a cute little sweet treat? Nobody can deny that dessert tends to come across the minds of everybody at least once a day, especially around mealtime. In recent years, bakeries have soared in popularity, whether they make baked goods, cupcakes, pastries, or whatever. When locally famous Porto’s Bakery announced plans to open in Orange County, the entire county clamored in excitement as a testament to the people’s love of sweets. Plenty other bakeries have had to up their game to make them stand out in the crowd, aside from harsh marketing. Up in Montclair, Dolce Bistro & Bakery upped their game by expanding their bakery into a café and restaurant. Tucked away past the Montclair Plaza shopping center, Dolce Bistro & Bakery essentially combines two of my favorite things into one place: a gastropub and a bakery. On one side, you have the bakery where they dole out cronuts, macarons, cupcakes, cookies, and more. On the other side, you have a full-service restaurant representative of today’s typical gastropubs. Aside from their rotating list of craft beers, Dolce Bistro & Bakery deploys a menu that both sounds and tastes delicious. A handful of the menu items gives off an Asian-fusion vibe, but when you look at their burgers, none stand out quite as much as the Not So Classic Burger. While you may expect a meal, the combination of roasted tomatoes, red onion marmalade, Fontina cheese, aioli, and bacon jam will trick your mind into treating this like dessert, what with this sweet lineup of ingredients. A bakery that also serves a sweet burger? Who could have seen that coming? For those bold enough to attempt to pair a craft beer with this, very few beers can stand up to the intensity of this burger. If they have it, go with a stout, Belgian (tripel), or barleywine, as you need that extra strength to stand toe-to-toe with this burger.

1. Stout Burgers & Beer‘s Stout Burger

When determining the desirability of a business, consumers will often research the longevity of a business. If a business has remained open for at least a handful of years, then you can tell that they have endured the hardships of the first couple of years in business, the period where the entrepreneurs hope to break even with their investment. For many years, I have searched for the best of foods that I can find, asking numerous colleagues and strangers everywhere I travel. During those years, a sole burger restaurant has remained at the top of my to-do list that I have never thought to visit. One day, I told myself: I would finally muster up the courage to make the trek up to Stout Burgers & Beers. Located smack dab in the middle of Hollywood, this gastropub does not beat around the bush, and they follow exactly what their name indicates: burgers and beers. They picked one thing to do, and they do it right – I cannot ask for anything more. Here at Stout, they ground the beef in-house daily, so you can expect a fresh burger every single time you visit. Though their menu contains a handful of choices, I encourage everyone to immediately look at their namesake, the Stout Burger. This burger features such a diverse cast of ingredients that all contribute to the greater picture, a picture of a thousand colors. With blue cheese crumbles, Gruyère cheese, rosemary bacon, caramelized onions, horseradish cream, and roasted tomatoes, each ingredient delivers something different to the palate. From the ingredients alone, you get a sour, nutty, salty, sweet, bitter, and tart, respectively. Oh, and this burger patty? It rivals that of Umami Burger. Yes, I said it. People know how much I swear by Umami Burger, but wow do the folks at Stout know how to prepare a burger. At least I can drive to Umami Burger in less than ten minutes from my place, as opposed to Stout where I have to drive about 45 minutes to get there, then pay for parking. I struggle to find free parking anywhere near Stout, which prevents me from visiting them more often whenever I find myself near Hollywood. Perhaps this represents a sign that I must not overindulge in Stout, and that I should consider it an occasional treat. But please, do not put off visiting Stout like I did for many years – you ought to go very soon to devour one of the best burgers you will ever lay your hands on!

Music knows no boundaries. From the melancholy three chords of punk rock to the rocking beats of EDM, music transcends boundaries and translates universally across the world. Even genres that have a heavy regional fan base may have artists of that genre across the world. For example, I recently discovered a death metal band from South Korea. No body of water can separate music from spreading across the world. Speaking of bodies of water, as a popular musician once said, “Fish don’t gots no good metal to listens to.” The ocean holds many vast mysteries, yet never get any good music for listening to. Nobody ever really has to worry about that though, since the ocean holds so much delicious food. Except for those with specific food allergies, people all over the world appreciate seafood, but do not get to enjoy it as often as they would like. Luckily this month, Grill ‘Em All gives you the chance to savor their food while munching on some underwater eats.

Breaking down all borders, even the nonexistent ones, Grill ‘Em All takes no prisoners when deciphering new burgers to serve up. They come up with burgers so off-the-charts that they can only serve it for a month. Some of their ridiculous burgers with enough favor from the fans remain on their menu permanently. Take the Behemoth, for example – a bacon cheeseburger where grilled cheese sandwiches replace the buns, totaling four slices of bread total in this thing. Grill ‘Em All has taken that concept and stepped up their game this month for this month’s feature burger, The Leviathan A.K.A. The Face Melt A.K.A. The Shark Boy. This reimagined patty melt starts with a half-pound beef patty cooked medium rare, topped with beer-soaked onions and Swiss cheese, then sandwiched between two tuna melt sandwiches made with albacore tuna, cheddar cheese, and marble rye bread. Basically, take the concept of using sandwiches as buns from the Behemoth, and throw that concept onto a patty melt, except add some tuna in the sandwich buns. If ordered unaltered, I highly suggest requesting extra tuna in the melts such that the melts resemble actual tuna melt sandwiches, as one can barely detect the default amount of tuna. They claim to purposely put little tuna as to not overwhelm the palate. However, if you plan to vanquish this Deep Sea Behemoth, you might as well go big, or not go at all.

Think you have what it takes to conquer this menace of the deep? Trek on over to Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra this month and put $14 down on the table for your shot at this trophy for your wall.

The hot summer days lends perfectly to grilling weather. As an American tradition, citizens officially start the grilling season on Memorial Day weekend, as that signifies many things. First off, on that weekend, Americans celebrate an important federal holiday to celebrate and honor the lives of those lost while serving for the United States Armed Forces. The weather starts to significantly heat up by this weekend, following the inconsistent weather of April and much of May. As a result of the warmer weather, Americans take advantage of a holiday weekend off of work until the next federal holiday, Independence Day, to gather some friends & family for a party involving grilling. When thinking about grilling for a group of people, what food exactly comes to mind? I guarantee that hot dogs and hamburgers top the list. The notion to purchase these items in bulk contributes to the misconception that these foods do not taste good. The phrase “You get what you pay for” has never applied as much as it does now, as most who purchase in bulk tend to pay low per individual unit. If you seek quality, you will have to drop extra money for it. Hot dogs tend to bear questionable ingredients, but true hamburgers still exist in this world. If you happen to find yourself in Southern California this summer, check out these five places to grab some of the best burgers you will ever have. One bite into these will change the way you look at hamburgers forever.

5. Stefano’s Golden Baked Hams‘ Bur-gini

When you make a product so good that everyone knows you for it, people start to recognize you for that one particular product. In some cases, you just have to go with it, such as with Stefano’s Golden Baked Hams. Located in Yorba Linda, the folks behind the counter churn out more than just sliced pork – they make sandwiches, salads, and drinks too. Often at full capacity during lunch hours, their menu has attracted countless hungry visitors to try their amazing eats, such as the Bur-gini. A burger meets a panini in this interesting twist with a beef patty consisting of a blend of chuck, short rib, and brisket. Bacon, avocado, tomatoes, cheddar, onions, and a roasted garlic & jalapeño cream cheese spread accompanies this unique spin on a patty melt, yielding a hearty bite with a kick. Unfortunately they will only cook the burger no less than well-done, so true burger enthusiasts may not appreciate the firmness of this patty. You can order this fulfilling burger at Stefano’s in Yorba Linda for just $9.50.

4. The Rookery Alehouse‘s The Gunslinger

The popularity of craft beer continues to exponentially rise annually. While more and more people prefer to drink craft beer, many other crafty craft beer fans have taken to cooking with it. The down-home folks at The Rookery Alehouse in Downtown Pomona love beer so much that they incorporate it into some of their menu items. From IPA battered appetizers to ale-braised pork, a customer can find beer in nearly all food that The Rookery has available. For what I can only refer to as a beer shock, try a burger named The Gunslinger. This burger gets the typical supporting cast of tomatoes, arugula, bacon, pepperjack cheese, and that sauce. That dark colored spread on the bun? The Rookery employs a dark ale reduction sauce that gives this burger a sweet flavor with a little bite. Something in the sauce adds the slightest spice, just enough to open up your tastebuds to absorb more flavor from everything present on this burger. All burgers come with your choice of fries or a side salad; personally, I recommend the salad, as the vinaigrette dressing that The Rookery uses provides a tart flavor to help balance the burger. To complete this meal, add some craft beer – an imperial IPA with its bitterness will serve as a palate reset, while a dark ale will sharpen the burger’s juices and sauce. Get this burger in you for just $11.

3. Fusion Burgers‘ Noir Burger

Never judge a book by its cover. Even the scariest neighborhoods can hide diamonds in the rough. When a friend recommended to me to explore her neighborhood of Highland Park, at first I felt skeptical about visiting what I perceived as a desolate and dangerous city. Undaunted, I sought out those recommendations, and one of them landed me at Fusion Burgers. From the outside, this place looks like a hole-in-the-wall. From the inside, this place looks like a hole-in-the-wall. One look upon their burgers, and you will realize this place holds more value than just a hole-in-the-wall. The quality of their burgers rival that of Umami Burger, but cost way less than them. Spoil yourself with Fusion Burgers’ Noir Burger, a spitting image of the Port & Stilton Burger from Umami Burger. The Noir Burger comes with aioli, boschetto a la tartufo (cheese infused with truffles), and a pinot noir sauce. Prepare to get messy with this burger, a burger that takes an umami-coated bat and slams you in the face with it. The pinot noir sauce attempts to tone down the intense savoriness of the burger with its tartness, but simply adds sweetness, intensifying this psychedelic experience. Ask for this burger medium rare, because they will cook it a perfect medium rare. For something that makes top competitors look like child’s play, this burger only costs a mere $10! While the commute here may feel like a chore, the rewards will definitely please you.

2. The Factory Gastrobar‘s Glazed Donut Burger

In regards to when in the day people order the most burgers, the most burgers get served during lunchtime. Dinner often sees burgers getting ordered, just not as much as lunchtime. But burgers for breakfast? Does such a thing exist? Burgers for breakfast definitely exist, just not as prevalent as it should. Fortunately, The Factory Gastrobar in Long Beach has capitalized on the concept of a burger for breakfast. Gastropubs hastily and competitively get into the brunch business in hopes of tiding over the mimosa crowd over to the craft beer crowd, and thanks to the introduction of certain beer styles such as oatmeal stouts and citrus wheat ales, gastropubs can function just fine for brunch. The Factory now has undergone its full transfiguration of experiencing every angle of running a restaurant, resulting in versatility unmatched by competitors. Now open for brunch on weekends, The Factory can sling its locally-grown faire under a warm California sun, such as their Glazed Donut Burger. The patty consists of a pork sausage blend, reminiscent of the breakfast links found in supermarkets, but without preservatives or artificial ingredients. This patty sits on a bed of a cherry bourbon preserve and bacon. All this gets sandwiched between two glazed donut halves, then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Each burger comes with a side of scrambled eggs, which I recommend you insert into the burger for an all-in-one meal. Even better, you can order craft beer during brunch hours! I cannot determine the perfect beer to pair with this, as I could recommend anything from an IPA to a wild/sour ale. Whatever you choose, I believe that you will believe in The Factory for what they can accomplish.

1. Messhall Kitchen‘s Mess Burger

If you ask anybody about the top three most important factors in what makes a business successful, you will hear “Location, Location, Location.” Sure that mainly applies to real estate, but honestly, this concept applies to virtually everything tangible in this world. Luckily for the burger connoisseurs, the Messhall Kitchen resides in an easily accessible location in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. This mess hall does not mess around with their menu – they carry a massive variety of bourbon, a rotating selection of craft beer, and a diverse menu sure to please anyone of any background. Any first-time visitor will definitely not want to miss the signature Mess Burger, a burger with so much going on that the mind cannot possibly comprehend its existence. This burger comes with “slow onions” (which I will deem as caramelized onions), Vermont cheddar, garlic-infused pickles, and “smokey sauce” (like a thousand island and aioli hybrid). Why bother going through the hassle of throwing on lettuce and tomatoes when you only need the few necessary ingredients to extract the true flavor behind the seared exterior of the beef? You have these slow onions which provide a slight sweetness, cheddar to provide the creaminess, pickles to provide the tartness with a kick of garlic, and this smokey sauce that just emulsifies it all together. If ordered medium rare, the patty comes out with a perfect warm pink center that extends all the way to the side with a nice sear on the exterior. If you find yourself lucky enough to make landfall at or around Los Feliz, head on over and score this beaut of a meal, which costs $16 during dinnertime or $11 during lunchtime. You can also order this burger as sliders during Happy Hour for just $8! Feed your appetite at any size, just the way you want it!

When talking about something that markets well, people see how well something will perform around the world. Things that people in any country can connect with usually indicate that it works well with or without translation. For example, instrumental music works very well across the world due to a lack of lyrics binding it to one language. Take a look at the history of Lindsey Stirling – she originally appeared on America’s Got Talent, where a judge criticized her that her performance would not market well. Well it turns out that a young attractive violinist that can dance, sing, and mix dubstep could market very well on an international level. The significance of the international market greatly influences any business decision from the top of the corporate ladder all the way down to daily exchanges. Besides music, food translates very well around the world. Everybody around the world has to eat, so food makes for a great way to sell a brand or concept in other regions. When regions clash, you end up with fusion, which Grill ‘Em All has stepped up this month at their restaurant in Alhambra.

Now paying homage to the eastern world this month, Grill ‘Em All continues to ramp up their repertoire of burgers so off-the-charts that they can only serve it for a month. Just like the nature behind the restaurant, expect no formalities at Grill ‘Em All – heavy metal reverberates between the walls here, breaking down any and all barriers, yet accepting all who enter the doors to Valhalla. These doors extend all the way around the world, and this month, those doors greet South Korean death metal band Tokkaebi, roughly translating to goblin. Much like how punk rock has gone global, death metal reaches all corners of the world. To honor death metal around the world, Grill ‘Em All creates this Korean-inspired burger by topping a half-pound beef patty with kimchi (spiced pickled veggies) and Gochujang (savory hot sauce), then placing it over a pajeon (Korean-style pancake), bulgogi (Korean beef), lettuce, and sriracha sauce (really spicy sauce). Although this sounds like a spice attack, everything else in the burger contains the heat rather well. Of particular note, the bulgogi stands out the most. The way that Grill ‘Em All grills the bulgogi makes it crisp with a unique caramelized taste. If you happen to pluck out a piece of the bulgogi to eat by itself, you may find yourself craving only that ingredient.

Grill ‘Em All also calls this the Wing Kanemura, which refers to a wrestler if you Google that name. How a wrestler relates to a death metal band, I have yet to discover; perhaps the wrestler used the band’s music as an entrance theme? But I digress – you have until the end of this month (read: next week!) to snag a Tokkaebi Burger at Grill ‘Em All for just $12! Now that Lent has ended, you have no excuse for bringing yourself, your friends, and your family over to Grill ‘Em All for a taste of the East!

All good things must come to an end eventually. Although nothing can last forever, some things can persist in many circumstances. For example, did you know that honey, a naturally-occurring ingredient, never spoils? Other than that, everything moves around in seasons based on the time of year. Much like how fashion varies depending on the season, so too does food vary with the seasons. Different fruits and vegetables grow during different times of the year. As we now move into late fall and early winter, people around the world can enjoy the bountiful harvest of truffles during this truffle season. Chefs the world over seek this rare delicacy for its immense flavor profile that gives nearly any dish a major boost in umami flavor, and when the season comes around, many chefs come up with ways to utilize the truffles. If you want to get in on the season’s harvest, head over to Eden Burger Bar in Glendale to check out their limited-time specials.

Eden Burger Bar observes the traditional take on an American Burger Bar or Gastrobar, and narrows down the focus. In other words, instead of creating many bland dishes, they focus on a limited amount of dishes, but care greatly for the quality and presentation. With a solid selection of craft beer from around the world, the folks at Eden Burger Bar can surely pair the right beer with your meal. Speaking of meals, Eden Burger Bar jumped into truffle season quite early year this, having started in October. Last month, they featured their Black Label Burger as the burger-of-the-month for October. This heavyweight burger comes with roasted garlic aioli, onion confit, black truffles, black truffle cheese, & crispy potatoes. If you want to overload your senses further, add in some Parmesan Truffle Onion Rings – onion rings dusted with Parmesan cheese and drizzled with truffle oil. No ordinary human should ever consume this much truffle in one sitting, as the sensory overload of all that truffle can cause involuntary Truffle Shuffling. Should you decide to brave the truffle elements, I suggest pairing this meal with a nice, refreshing IPA – Eden Burger Bar currently pours Uinta Brewing‘s Hop Notch IPA, and I would choose no other beer than that.

Get on over to Eden Burger Bar quick and order these before the season ends! Eden Burger Bar plans to remove these items within the next two weeks, so go and order it today or tomorrow. You will not want to miss this final opportunity to taste truffles used in such an exquisite preparation.

As we enter April, we enter the start of Q2 2013. The start of Q2 indicates the turn of a new season, and with the turn of a new season comes renovation and innovation. When people quote the phrase “reinventing the wheel,” the wheel in this case can represent practically anything. What approach can one use to identify an existing item or concept, and reconfigure it with typically improved performance? Sometimes, in order to progress and move forward, one has to regress back to the ground level, and decipher a new path to climb the tree. At the very core, what constitutes the foundation? Any tree starts with a seed. On that same train of thought, any good burger starts with the right patty. If you arrive at a restaurant that serves a well done burger by default, you should question the quality of the meat. The best chefs intend to cook burgers medium rare, as that cooks the outside of the patty while sealing the juices and flavor inside to create a full pink color that should run all the way to the ends of the patty. Very rarely do restaurants cook medium rare burgers as they should, but a small handful understand the craft of cooking a hamburger. For the upcoming season, seek out the following five burgers to understand the depth and quality that a medium rare burgers brings to the table. Also keep in mind for the locations that allow customization – judge them on their actual burger, not the additions you selected.

5. Hole In The Wall Burger Joint‘s Pretzel Bun Burger

More often than not, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves better food than large corporate restaurants. Local mom & pop hole-in-the-wall places focus more on authenticity and preserving their culture first over capitalizing on the popularity of food. Once in a while, a chef will play the sly card and open a place with a tricky name that forces unforced double takes. If you ever find yourself at the DMV in Santa Monica, you may have noticed a small strip mall of food places across the street, of which one of the spaces bears the name Hole In The Wall Burger Joint. Fans already know that the place existed elsewhere prior to moving to this new location. The charm of a basic design allows this business to fit in virtually anywhere, and serve a small variety that could satisfy anyone’s hunger. At Hole In The Wall, customers can fully customize their meal using their menu notepad that you can strip off and fill out to hand to the cashier. Customers select the patty, bread, spread, cheese, veggies, and extra additions. Also take a look at their specials that rotate weekly, as that features the burger-of-the-week and salad-of-the-week. First-time visitors should immediately go for the beef burger (medium rare, of course) paired with the pretzel bun. Out of all the breads, the pretzel bun does the best job at retaining the burger’s juices; however, this says much, as Hole In The Wall unapologetically cooks the burgers in such a way that they ooze with juices. Avoid piling on too many extras, as you want to savor the burger for the first time. Once you understand the flavors and juices behind this burger, you can then start throwing on your precious extras.

4. Silver Trumpet‘s Burger

Although hole-in-the-wall places tend to carry more authentic food, this does not mean that fancier places do not cook their food well. Even for a place that touts themselves as a bar & lounge, Silver Trumpet dishes out some amazing bar-like food. Located within the Wyndham Costa Mesa complex, Silver Trumpet serves your typical American cuisine – steaks, seafood, chicken, pasta, etc. However, slide on over to the bar & lounge area for an entirely new hip vibe not present in the main dining area. Here at the bar, you can order goodies like Lobster Corn Dogs, Crab Cakes, or Surf & Turf (Scallops & Pulled Pork, Carnitas style), while still ordering from the full bar and gazing at the TV if they show any games at the time. For the ultimate bar snack, you can order The Burger and slightly customize it with extras. This burger comes with cheddar, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, and a caper aioli. The aioli alone tastes wonderful and pairs well with any meat, not just the burger. Customers may choose to add bacon, avocado, a fried egg, caramelized onions, and/or sautéed mushrooms to their burger. Take care when selecting extras, as this burger already has a lot going on, especially with their aioli. However, nothing shall stop you from going extras crazy and adding them all, so… more power to you.

3. Slater’s 50/50‘s Peanut Butter & Jellousy A La Mode

We move from the hole-in-the-wall to the fancy, and now we venture into the eccentric. If you ask a random person on the street what they like on a burger, any item they mention not a vegetable will relate to some sort of salty or savory taste. People love their cheeses, bacon, sauces, and anything else as long as they can fulfill their sodium cravings. What about those bearing a sweet tooth? Sweet burgers do exist, but so few and far in-between that anyone seeking such a rare treat likely requires a guide. Luckily, I can say right now that Slater’s 50/50, with their dashingly sharp minds, has concocted strange creations involving flavors not typically associated with burgers, and their creations have landed a permanent spot on their menus. By now, most people have heard of a burger with peanut butter, jelly, and bacon, thanks to a few strong burger places in Southern California. Slater’s 50/50 would like to take that concept a step beyond by throwing in a scoop of ice cream to generate the Peanut Butter & Jellousy A La Mode. A spin on an existing menu item, customers can choose between a beef patty or the 50/50 patty, and that receives bacon, peanut butter, strawberry jam, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Every time I mentioned this burger, people always ask “Why though?” Truthfully, like their Donut Burger in the past, the vanilla ice cream does a great job at synchronizing the salty and the sweet, and brings it all together quite nicely. Whereas the original burger pitted salt versus sweet, the vanilla ice cream calms the two sides down so that they can embrace in the middle of the burger. This burger hides no tricks – as soon as you receive it, consume it immediately before the ice cream melts. While you chew your way through this burger, you can ask yourself what will Slater’s think of next.

2. Hopscotch Tavern‘s The Duke

Throughout all the restaurants in the world, few dedicate themselves to the art of grilling burgers. In today’s society where restaurants strive to serve the tastiest and most unique entrées, often times food items deemed as kids’ food get left behind, especially the burger. Thanks to the gastropub movement, the popularity of burgers has revitalized, so patrons understand that gastropubs will carry amazing burgers. Even if a gastropub follows a specialty, such as how Hopscotch Tavern specializes in slow-cooked foods, they will incorporate a burger on the menu somehow. Hopscotch carries burgers in a small section of their menu, but one particular burger deserves a space of its own rather than sharing a small room on the menu. Dubbed The Duke, this behemoth burger consists of a custom grind stuffed with cheddar cheese. This patty gets topped with pulled pork, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and American cheese. Consider this burger a modified double bacon cheeseburger, as it contains twice the amount of normal cheese, bacon strips, and a custom patty that contains more beef than their other burgers. Oh, and they threw in some pulled pork… just to call it something else besides a bacon cheeseburger. Bite through to the middle to get to the best part, where the cheese and juices of the burger slowly ooze out. Remember to get a little of everything on this burger in every bite, including the pulled pork. You must get messy while eating this burger to absorb the full experience of this burger.

1. Kings Row Gastropub‘s King’s Burger

Ever since an unmentioned chef developed his legendary burger, many others have crafted their own version of that hit burger. Some quote about imitation and flattery applies here, but sometimes the imitation bears the necessary means to surpass the original. Of all the burgers in this same category of burgers, Kings Row Gastropub has secured a bullseye in crafting a burger so scrumptious that customers return over and over just for it. If you ever find yourself in Pasadena, stroll into Kings Row and order their King’s Burger, cooked medium rare as always. This patty of 21-day dry-aged beef receives a generous helping of St. Agur Bleu Cheese, duck fat onions, and arugula, while aioli and white cheddar finish off the burger. The clashing flavors of the onions and cheese opens the palate, allowing customers to take in all the glory of the beef patty. Praise whoever discovered that combination – although the flavors clash, they still taste amazing together, likely due to their properties of opening the palate. I say they clash thanks to the massive up-front flavor rush from the duck fat and the overwhelming scent of the bleu cheese. Some customers cannot handle this burger due to both the duck fat and bleu cheese – to them I say hold your nose and just bite through it. If you want a great burger, you have to find them at a gastropub, and Kings Row has the burger you need in your life and in your belly.