Monday, November 15, 2010

Recon: 26 BEACH

Venice, California

26 Beach is big but has sort of a split layout with a bar in the middle. You can eat in the dining room or in the garden, but they’re both kind of indoor/outdoor spaces. D├ęcor is eclectic- faux copper ceiling, sparkly chandeliers- 26 Beach definitely has delusions of grandeur. I gathered with a team of three other attractive ladies to do some burger sampling.  We started with salads- which were delicious.  Meredith and I shared a Caesar that I very much enjoyed. Andrea and Megan opted for a house garden salad. We chose two burgers: the 26er and the Napa burger.

The 26er is best described as a grown-up version of an In N Out burger. It’s classic ingredients and flavors (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo and special dressing) left us feeling reminiscent of our fast food days in the most mature way possible. The Napa burger has avocado, heirloom tomato, goat cheese, mixed greens, mayo and Dijon on a wheat bun. I bet you’re shocked I didn’t order anything with bacon. The Napa burger was refreshing. The avocado and goat cheese definitely stood out, in a good way, and complimented the meat.  Both burgers were made with angus beef but the restaurant does offer a veggie burger as well as a turkey burger. Presentation was tidy and a little tall. We explained to the waitress we were sharing, but nothing came out cut, so we asked for a knife and stabbed away. Cutting the burgers turned them real messy, real quick, but they never got soggy and stayed together ok.

This place is all about flavor combination. Some of the burgers might seem a little odd at first glance; there’s a sushi burger and PB&J burger that I might initially throw a side-eye at, but my gut says Chef Mori knows what’s up.  We saw several other plates of awesome looking food coming out of the kitchen and it definitely piqued my interest in the rest of the menu. Thursday nights are half off wine night- I swear I didn’t know in advance, it was a happy coincidence- so we ordered the Uppercut Cabernet Sauvignon and I liked it, may be a little woody/dry for some of you but I enjoyed. Tuesdays, it’s buy a burger and get another half off, so you can bet when we go back it’ll be on a Tuesday and we’ll get four burgers. They were generously sized; if I skipped the salad appetizer I could probably eat a whole one.

Now for a wee bit of the negative, the fries were boring. Thick cut, lacking flavor, in all seriousness, get the salad. Burgers come with either or, and I say eat your veggies on this one. We asked for mayo, ketchup and Dijon so I was able to make a dip at the table that livened up the fries but really, skip ‘em. Service was so-so.  Everything we asked for they brought us, but I felt like we had to ask for things that should have been automatic.  It was a nice place to sit and chat with friends and would be a good spot for a date as well. Our bill was $76 and felt reasonable for what we ordered. If you’re feeling brave or open-minded dash over to 26 Beach and sample a more imaginative burger- they have more burgers in the restaurant than listed on the online menu!

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