Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Los Angeles, CA

The original Hamburger Hamlet opened in 1950 and quickly became a casual hot spot for the Hollywood elite.  The exemplary service and burgers that made it famous are still relevant sixty years later.

My dad, an ardent supporter of this little burger blog, came up to LA last weekend and after much discussion, failed missions, and enduring an obscene amount of potholes on Sunset Boulevard, we ended up at Hamburger Hamlet, arguably the birth place of "The Restaurant Burger" that fast food joints love to compare their burgs to. The menu’s more diverse than most of the other burger joints, but I scanned my burger options and chose the Gourmet Sliders which would enable me to try almost all of the burgers on their menu in one little (big) meal.  Let me list them for you now: the Caliente, the Classic, the Steakhouse Bleu and the Hickory burger.  Also, let’s not forget the Mesquite fries, extra crispy, and a nice side of ranch to dip ‘em in.

They came out, all in a row, book ended by two dishes of ketchup.  Presentation was charming, shredded lettuce tumbling out onto the plate in every direction.  I moved left to right sampling each one:

Caliente: Pepperjack cheese and caramelized onions balance each other out well.  The Serrano chili spread (looked like pesto) oozed out a little on the sides.  It tasted like a taco- but it was a burger.  But it tasted like a taco!  It was all very confusing.
Hickory: Excellent smoked flavor with crisp bacon. Not quite as strongly flavored as Apple Pan, but still an excellent choice.
Classic: Played right into my love of American cheese on a burger.  It was the definition of its name with great flavor and texture.
Steakhouse Bleu: I like bleu cheese, but not quite this much.  If you are a bleu cheese fan, this is YOUR burger, you’ll be in heaven.  I just brushed a little off and ate some more!

Each burger had a dense, doughy bun, grilled to add texture.  Loved the shredded lettuce, and a few of the burgs had red onions, which were just too strong to keep on the burgers.  My dad pointed out that the tomatoes were the perfect size and cut in such a way that they seemed to cap whatever sauce or cheese they rested on. Fries were absolutely delicious. You can have regular or mesquite, and I love a nicely seasoned fry, so mesquite it was. They come with ketchup but you can ask for whatever you prefer, and the ranch was excellent.  They have a few specialty sodas and shakes on the menu, but I was headed to the spa and didn’t want to consume too much. 

Service was superb. The maitre d’ was kind and gracious; waiters and busboys were polite and efficient.  We ate on the patio, but the inside is all leather booths and has a separate dining room where a pianist plays at night.  It was about $15 for each of us, but if we’d been looking to get shakes and appetizers, it would have been a little higher.  The restaurant was pretty empty to be honest, but I’m sure it’s packed during the week days since it’s surrounded by office buildings, right across from BOA.  I’d recommend making it a lunch spot or coming at night for the piano. Given the choice, I always want the option with the full effect, and sometimes the crowd can make or break a place.

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