Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Burger Roundup: Magnolia and 140 South Cafe
Being a burger fiend, I make it my business to sample as many burgers around town as possible. Here are few good ones and those you can skip.
Most interesting buns
Rockenwagner 3 Square Cafe & Bakery (left) has the much hyped pretzel bun and as much as I like the German chef's other offerings, the burgers weren't my favorite. I like softer buns but the slider sampler was fun and came with bun variations that gave burgers an interesting twist.
Most unlikely decent burger
Magnolia's (right) downtown outpost seeks to be a swanky bar but while the ambiance and most of the food don't accomplish that, its burger has a very serviceable patty that was juicy and cooked just right -- medium rare. The sesame bun was on the dry side but I would return for the burger. The atmosphere isn't much to write home about. Good if you have a concert or game coming up at LA Live or Staples Center.
This is somewhat of a tie between The Park in Echo Park and Cafe 140 South in Pasadena. The Park (left) has burger nights on Wednesdays where you can get a burger and a side for only $5.
Cafe 140 South (below) offers a burger, curly fries and a solid pint of Craftsmen beer for $11.50. Craftsmen is a Pasadena brewery and its IPA went perfectly well with the bloody meat.
The portions were generous in both, but ultimately, the patty at Cafe 140 won out over the slightly pasty patty in the Park. The fries were also better at Cafe 140 although the curly fries would have been better spicy. Many places had a hard time serving piping hot, fresh out of the fryer fries.
The bun at Cafe 140 was on the dense and dry side. It needs to be softer and more fresh. The shredded iceberg lettuce could be replaced by butter lettuce or arugula.
I was disappointed at the burgers at Hal's Bar & Grill on Abbot Kinney and Hole in the Wall Burger Joint in Santa Monica.
Hal's came overcooked with room temperature fries. Great live jazz but wouldn't return for the food.
Hole in the Wall (pictured left) is known for its build-your-own burger and message boards raved about the pretzel one but it didn't do anything for me.
I also tried burgers at fancier venues like bld and the gorbals (pictured below -- full review coming soon) but while ok, they didn't measure up to my all-time favorite burger at Houston's or its sister Bandera on Wilshire Blvd. I had to send an overcooked burger back at the Gorbals and they replaced it with a bloody one and also generously took it off the bill. The compressed sesame bun was interesting but I prefer the soft bun.
I also tried the burger at Le Grand Orange Cafe in Pasadena and it was a juicy enough burger, especially enhanced by the roasted poblano chiles topping.
I am looking forward to trying many more burgers dripping in their juices with, ideally, sweet potato fries and a cold pint of IPA.
I'm also not going to list the restaurants' addresses and phone numbers if I link them.