It really is quite embarrassing that I haven’t posted about this burger yet. Aside from the fact that the Office Burger is touted as being one of the best burgers in Los Angeles (if not the best), I am about as regular as you can get at this bar. Between the awesome selection of beers and the amazing menu, Father’s Office is definitely a great place to be.
Though the bar has been around for decades, it didn’t quite become the phenomenon it is today until Chef Sang Yoon bought it in 2000. With Father’s Office, he pioneered the idea of “no substitutions, no modifications.” Everything comes as is, and if there’s something in a dish you can’t eat, too bad, order something else. And most importantly, don’t ask for ketchup. There isn’t any and you’ll be given a look like you just walked out of the loony bin in only a jockstrap and fedora (seriously). These days, a lot of places have started to adopt this mentality…after all, it is their job to know how to do what they do better than the average joe customer. And let me tell you, Sang Yoon really does know what he’s doing.
One bite of this burger will change you. The next will convert you. Pretty soon, you’re out of bites and all you want is one more. Though this burger has a lot of hype surrounding it, I can promise you that it will be one you remember. Sadly, great dishes that are touted as being the best are often a let down when you finally get around to trying them, because how can the reality ever live up to the praise? But the Office Burger breaks this cycle. Of the countless friends I have take to Father’s Office to try this burger, not one of them left without a) being blown away, and b) finishing every last bite.
From the French baguette bun to the dry-aged beef patty, the maytag and gruyere combination, fresh arugula, and the amazing gooey mixture of caramelized onions and applewood smoked bacon compote, I start salivating just thinking about it. In fact, I’m salivating right now and thinking about running out and getting one. Though there is a lot to say about the Office Burger, and believe me, I could talk forever about it, this is just one of those times that I must tell you…just go try it. You’ll understand.
Since I’m on the topic of the East Coast, I thought this would be a good time for a post about Five Guys. Though Five Fuys is now a burger franchise all over the world, it started out as a little, family-run burger joint in Arlington, VA. My first experience with these delicious burgers was during my senior year of college. Somehow, I had made it almost all the way through my entire college career before I had even heard of the place. Then, one lucky day, one of my friends decided that we were having burgers for dinner. Words like “handmade patties” and “just like in-n-out” were thrown about, and even though I was extremely skeptical, I went with it.
Now, I am a Southern California girl through and through, and you just don’t compare any fast food burger to In-N-Out. Period. And this was no Double Double. But, Five Guys makes burgers that could fit the description of an East Coast In-N-Out. Plus, they have toppings (pictured is lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese, and grilled mushrooms). These toppings range from the classic ketchup, onions, lettuce, etc, to the more exotic A1 sauce and green peppers. Furthermore, and this is what totally sold me on Five Guys, they have really good fries. As much as I love In-N-Out, I just really don’t like their fries. And not only are the Five Guys fries amazing, but they also have cajun fries, which are pretty much to die for.
I must say that I was slightly devastated to move back to Los Angeles and realize that my Five Guys days were over. But then…I discovered that the closest Ikea happens to share an address with the closest Five Guys. And since I was moving and obviously needed an Ikea trip, what better time to hit up Five Guys?! The best part was the first bite…until I took another…and another.
So who’s heading out to Carson with me for another Five Guys trip?
I spent 4th of July weekend at my friend’s house in Welfleet, MA, out almost at the end of Cape Cod. All of my friends from school were there, and let me tell you, it was quite a blast. One of my friends, who was living in the Welfleet house, is currently a student at the Johnson and Wales culinary school in Providence, RI. Needless to say, the girl can cook.
One night, we were getting ready to grill up some burgers when we realized that we were out of propane. Many delays and failures later, Molly offered to make the burgers meatloaf-style. Now I must admit, I was quite hesitant, as I am not the biggest fan of meatloaf. After the first bite, however, I was a convert. This was probably one of the most delicious burgers I have ever eaten. It was juicy and rich in a way that I have never found in a meatloaf, and it was seasoned to perfection.
Now back in California, I recently had some friends over for some BBQing and pool, and once again, one thing led to another and as it got later, the idea of getting the grill going to make burgers was becoming less appealing. I then decided to attempt Molly’s meatloaf-style burgers, since they had been such a success in Cape Cod. Unfortunately, my burgers did not turn out as well as Molly’s but I think the next try will bring much better results. Pictured above is my version of Molly’s burger, made with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and avocado.
Ultimately, this burger is a great example of how to combine cooking techniques to create a new dish. It also illustrates that even the most serious of situations, such as running out of propane, can be remedied with a little outside-the-box thinking.
R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica has a relatively small menu, but every item is interesting and delicious. To supplement the menu, they have multiple specials every day, including a sandwich of the day. This tuna burger is a recurring special sandwich and was actually the first thing I ever ate from R + D. It’s practically bigger than my head and almost impossible to eat, which means I generally end up resorting to a fork and knife.
What I like about this sandwich is that it furthers R + D’s style: American dishes at first glance, yet with enough of an interesting twist that the restaurant is always packed. The tuna burger, for example, is constructed much more like a classic American hamburger than the usual Japanese influenced ahi tuna burger. There is no sign of wasabi or anything remotely Asian on this sandwich, just good old-fashioned lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and a nice mayo. In addition, the tuna was not a rare steak, but instead a patty, served on the rare side. All in all, it almost felt like I was eating a regular hamburger, but with the added bonus that instead of red meat, I was indulging in sashimi grade tuna. It is sandwiches like this, ones that combine familiar flavors into interesting combinations, that continue my love for food.
Another interesting thing about In N Out is their secret menu, or as they call it, their “not so secret menu”. This figures in to the idea I brought up in my last post about food defining social groups. As you can see, my double double has no bun. Instead it is “protein style”: wrapped in lettuce with no bread. In N Out also offers to make the items on the menu “animal style,” or with extra spread, pickles, and grilled onions. Furthermore, if the two patties and two cheese of the double double isn’t enough for you, In N Out offers a 3×3 or a 4×4. In fact, when I was in high school, I witnessed a friend take down a 20×20. That’s right, 20 meat and 20 cheese, and they had to serve it lying down in two to-go boxes.
What is interesting, however, is what In N Out has to say about their secret menu:
In N Out acknowledges the fact that the concept of a secret menu leads to exclusion, and chooses to negate the whole idea. Thus, there becomes a contradiction between what the customer wants, being a part of an exclusive group that knows the secret, and what In N Out wants, for everyone to feel like they are a part of the exclusive group, making it the exact opposite of exclusive. This contradiction, however, does not alienate customers; instead, it makes In N Out accessible to more people, while still making the individual feel special.
On my trip to Santa Cruz a couple of weekends ago, Jess, Alex, and I decided to make a trip to The Counter, a burger restaurant founded in Santa Monica. Jess actually worked at the original Counter, before it was a chain, so it’s always fun to go with her because she’s tried everything on the menu. The menu itself is fun, as it is simply a clipboard with a checklist. Pick your meat, your bun (or lack thereof: the burger bowl), your toppings, your sauce…The Counter serves a seriously customizable burger.
Even though this burger is in a bowl, it still qualifies as a sandwich because the hamburger is probably among the most American of sandwiches. America is often criticized or demeaned for its lack of a national cuisine, but the hamburger as we know it has become a very American foodstuff. Thus, the hamburger is one of the most important sandwiches America has to offer, and it is almost impossible to find a burger outside of the States that could compete. Furthermore, The Counter is an embodiment of a very American eating characterization: customization. Outside of the US, changing a dish is very uncommon. Rarely does one hear “can you add cucumbers?” or “without mushrooms” or “can I have the sauce on the side?” Making a dish suited to the individual is something not often found in other countries, and so The Counter bases itself on one of the most American ideals.