Los Angeles: A Good, Not Great Burger at Modern Eats
2590 N Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90039 (map); 213-665-1008; moderneats.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A new, neighborhood cafe delivers a solid update of the classic diner cheeseburger
Want Fries with That? Yes; these fresh cut spuds are full of potato flavor. The onion rings are just ok
Prices: Modern Burger w/fries, $10
I probably don't have much right longing for another easy, reliable neighborhood spot that serves tasty food considering I live in a part of town that is riddled with good, affordable eateries. But then again, I pay a premium for living in this rapidly gentrifying, hipster section of Los Angeles, so long I will.
One of the newest additions to the scene is the little café called Modern Eats that popped up in a strip mall along the sort-of commercial drag of Glendale Boulevard on the eastern edge of the Silverlake. It's cute little place that offers what I'd term a contemporary diner menu: a bunch of sandwiches, egg dishes, and, of course, my beloved burger. They also tout their homemade baked goods and coffee, which also I tried and enjoyed, but isn't that beside the point here? I came for the burger and I might even come back for it.
This isn't, as you'd guess, a particularly fussy burger though it isn't without its, well, modern flourishes. The Modern Burger starts out with about eight ounces of a sirloin and brisket blend that is the star of the show (more on it later). It's topped with the standard lettuce, tomato, and pickle. The bun is, unfortunately, a genuine brioche that delivers an expected dryness. There is hope, though, since the burger comes with a choice of cheese. I went with the rather standard cheddar.
Let's start with the good because in this case, it's very good. The patty was juicy and full of rich beef flavor. Brisket is a commendable blend option, so let's commend the folks at Modern Eats for choosing it. The sirloin added that nice steak undertone, which was heightened by the patty's excellent sear. The hearty crust was in full effect without sacrificing a warm, pink center. The patty's only drawback is that the grind comes in a little too fine for my taste. A coarser grind would make this an exceptional patty.
The toppings were pleasantly classic. No wild arugula or oven-roasted tomatoes. That isn't to suggest those are terrible choices, but since this place feels like an updated diner, the nod to the classic construction was pleasing. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and I always enjoy the pickle and Thousand Island flavor combination.
So why isn't this a rave review? Quite simple really: the bun. This honking brioche bun not only is out of proportion with the patty (and we're talking a pretty good-sized patty), but also suffers the tragic flaw of being brioche. That means it's flaky and dry rather than that nice spongy bun that properly frames a classic burger.
I sampled the fries and the rings with my burger and was half pleased. The fries were fresh cut and tasted that way, full of great potato flavor. Add to that a properly crisp exterior and I'd call Modern Eats' fries way above average. The rings, however, were just ok. The hefty breading made the onion an afterthought.
There is a lot to like about Modern Eats, but perhaps a lot less to adore. Their food is solid—the classic good-not-great diner food. That's a victory in its own right, but with a few tweaks to their burger they might just be serving something great.
About the author: Damon is one of our roving burger reporters and food writers. When he's not eating more than is warranted or healthful (and then writing about it) he can be found writing and producing for television and film. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.