Eden Burger Bar
333 North Verdugo Rd, Glendale CA 9120 (map); 818-552-2212; edenburgerbar.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: This premium burger would barely be worth the trouble at economy prices
Want Fries with That? Yes; they are solidly executed and tasty
Prices: Eden Burger, $10
When reading the ideas behind Eden Burger Bar you could be forgiven for thinking that it's been open a while. The describe their burgers as "Innovative interpretations of classic burgers on a bistro menu that satisfy the most discriminating foodies... Eden's streamlined design and upscale atmosphere is perfect for a business bite, ladies night, or romantic date." I know restaurant trends are moving faster than ever, but this feels more than a little stale. This very new spot in Glendale (just a few miles north of the Downtown Los Angeles bustle) is aspirationally urban chic. Dark walls and white furniture make it feel more like airport lounge modern.
To be fair, things happen at a little slower pace in Glendale and there is always room for another good burger even if the descriptions seems a bit overwrought. The intentions behind the place seem well placed. It's trying hard to make hip evenings centered around premium burgers. I dropped into Eden with an open mind, but alas, reality closed in quickly. The space is self-consciously slick and the burgers were fancy, but not so very tasty.
Their house burger, the Eden burger, comes with a beef blend that apparently they like to keep a secret. My queries were denied when it came to the cuts used, but what they will tell you is that the beef gets 35 days of aging. Let's be clear: that's a lot of aging. Peter Luger only sets up its steaks in the aging room for 21 days. It's the only burger on the menu that claims to be made with Kobe beef; anyone who reads this column (or is hip to this common fib) knows it isn't. It is, of course, American Wagyu, which is fine in its own right, but it's certainly not Kobe. They throw on lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, and onions. The bun is the premium burger standby: the brioche. With the cheese up to me, I chose a slice of cheddar. How did the premium house specialty taste? Not so premium and not so special.
The beef itself lacked any depth from the aging. I asked if it was different than the dry aged beef they use on their other burgers and was told it isn't. I hope this isn't true. if it is, they certainly aren't getting their money's worth out of their aging. The beef was indistinct and almost bland. This was partly due to the fact that my patty was clearly cooked on too low a flame and for too long. There wasn't any definitive char or crust and even less juice. Add to that a mild seasoning and you get an uninspired patty.
The toppings were also underwhelming. The tomato is said to be heirloom, which makes me think of sweet and fruity flavors. Mine was wan and, again, bland. The cheese looked to be melted from the side, but once I cut the burger open it was clear they'd not given it enough time to melt through. Finally, the bun is a true brioche, which—as I've always claimed—is a veritable tragedy. They did manage to put a good toasting on it, but beyond that the crumbly texture (indicative of the class) made the bun a less than pleasing addition.
The bright spot of the meal came alongside my burger. The Eden Burger Bar fries are actually very good. They come in long, slim-cut strands that get a very good frying that makes them mostly crispy, but full of the rich flavor you want from that style of fry. The reason for the success was clearly hewing to rigid technique. I overheard a chef explaining the cooking technique and time to a new employee with admirable detail and precision. They'd do well to give their burger process similar rigor.
I'm sure the folks behind Eden are sincere in their efforts, but there was little about this place that made me want to come back. It's brand new and perhaps I was unfortunate to experience the growing pains that come along with building a smooth running operation, but if this is what burger paradise tastes like to them, they're lost.