Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Govind Armstrong was so opinionated and critical on the premiere of Top Chef Masters last week that I had high expectations for his burger bar.

     We had a few starters that I want to address first.  Chicken Pot Pie Croquettes: they come out looking like enlarged tater tots, but when you bite into them they taste exactly like chicken pot pie.  The best thing about them though is that they’re served with a delicious paprika aioli.  Mini Kobe Corn Dogs: Surprisingly spicy for a corndog.  Served with a spicy mustard as well.  Deviled Eggs: Very traditional, like eating one of your grandmother’s hors d’oeuvres. Basically with the appetizers we felt like everything was good, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t tasted before.
     Then it was burger time! What I most enjoyed about the burgers was the quality of the meat.  According to their menu they use a “blend of sirloin, tri-tip, short rib and chuck cured in our Himalayan salt-tiled locker.”  It had excellent flavor was tender, but not bloody/greasy so it didn’t get too messy; it definitely made me pause and savor. Samantha ordered the 8 OZ Burger, which has the “classic” toppings and flavors to match.  I opted to build my own and chose to use cave aged gruyere, bacon, a fried egg and garlic aioli.  While I liked my flavor blend, I should have added something with more crunch instead of the egg.  Samantha’s 8OZ had a much better mix of textures than mine and she thought it was a perfect sized burger.  

     Helena chose the Turkey burger with sautéed mustard greens, pickles, onion, and horseradish dijonaise.  Let's just say her plate was clean by the end of the meal! My good friend Dean has to eat gluten free and - lucky coincidence- so does Chef Armstrong’s wife- so all the sauces are gluten free! Dean ordered a burg without the bun, and her plate came out looking like a deconstructed burger that you self-assemble.  Our friend Gertie is a frequent customer and she went with her favorite- the grilled cheese with short ribs. 

     You get to pick whatever sides you want, so we opted for Fried Pickles, Stout Battered Onion Rings and Truffled Potato Skins.  If you like pickles, you’ll love the Fried Pickles, if you don’t like pickles, skip them.  The onion rings were hard to describe! The batter was salty and doughy like a donut, and I think I expected more crunch, but I really loved the flavor.  They’re served with ketchup unless you say otherwise.  Now, for the Truffled Potato Skins: most of us felt they were the best thing we ate all night!  Salty, with good texture, they were definitely something unique and tasty, standing out from the other sides and appetizers.

     When I first saw the drink menu, the Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary (served with a bacon strip stirrer!) caught my eye immediately, and after Gertie tasted mine she ordered one too.  As far as Bloody Mary’s go, its excellent- not too spicy, with a good amount of booze and salt.  It’s made with bacon infused vodka, which I felt you could taste initially, but then the tomato juice took over.  Samantha and I also ordered beers, which were ok on their own, but much better when our food came out.  Dean ordered a Blackberry Collins made with vodka (gin’s also an option), muddled blackberries, lemon juice and soda.  She really liked it and she said you could taste the fresh fruit. Their drink menu is extensively filled with artisan beers, wine, milkshakes and specialty cocktails.  There are definitely a few more I’d like to try, like the lavender mojito!

     The atmosphere was mellow, relaxed and friendly.  Our waiter was attentive and patient (we staggered in one by one, thanks to the LA traffic) and he was able to accommodate our every request and answer our questions.  We loved the tin ceiling and leather chairs combined with the concrete floor; it definitely had a local neighborhood feel with a hearty and indestructible tone.  The clientele started out ranging anywhere from 3 to 70, but as it got later it evened out into a late 20’s early 30’s range.  Everyone seemed to be eating with close friends or family which definitely cozied up the joint and the classic rock music gave it a feel-good vibe.  On our way out we saw Chef Armstrong chilling at the bar, no doubt keeping an eye on the place.
     We paid $34 each including a generous tip and I felt with the cocktails, sides and starters this was reasonable, and my darling friends felt it was worth it.  Having sampled so much this time, I think going back I would have a better idea of what to order (Truffled Potato Skins!) and how to put a better burger together (add crunch!)


  1. The smoky bacon bloody mary looks amazing!

  2. I guess the game Armstrong spat on Top Chef Masters was legit. Everything looks ridiculously scrumptious. Way to be bold on the Bacon Bloody Mary, that thing looks intense! L&L, Hendo.