AHT: Los Angeles

Burger reviews in the Los Angeles area.

Los Angeles: A New Year Brings A New Tasty Burger at Hyperion Public

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[Photographs: Damon Gambuto]

Hyperion Public

2538 Hyperion Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90027 (map); 323-761-6440; hyperionpublic.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: This neighborhood pub serves up a delicious, if cheffy burger
Want Fries with That? Yes! These skin-on spuds are beautifully balanced
Price: Burger w/fries, $14

Happy New Year, AHT'ers! I hope that you, like me, enjoyed a pleasant holiday break that was filled with family, friends, and burgers. The first two are always a treat; the burgers on the other hand can be less consistent. So it came as a New Year's treat to find a new pub in my neighborhood had opened (if softly) and is serving up some creditable burgers.

The man behind the attractive new spot Hyperion Public, Paddy Aubrey, comes from a catering background. Normally I raise an eyebrow at a caterer going brick and mortar since the relentless demands of a restaurant kitchen can often disable even a gifted party chef, but judging from the quality and consistency of the food that's coming out of his kitchen, I think Aubrey has just been biding his time on the catering circuit. I recently stopped by during the extended soft open period for a simple lunch and found a complex and satisfying burger that I'd wager is going to get even better.

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The feel of Hyperion Public is casual, but that doesn't mean it's without a distinct appeal. The main dining area has an attractive classic pub feel, but the "hidden" back bar is a dark and sexy little room with a pressed tin ceiling and loads of style. I settled into a table in the dining room (the bar seems to be a night time feature), but I look forward to an adult beverage in the back sometime soon.

When I first read the menu's description of Aubrey's burger ($14), I assumed it would be a muddled mess. It reads like a chef-plosion of self-conscious cookery. The Angus patty (about seven ounces of Niman Ranch chuck) is topped with bacon (also Niman), cheddar and Jack cheeses, a finely chopped mushroom concoction, braised onions, chopped lettuce (tossed with a balsamic dressing), and tomato. All of this comes on a burger bun from the nearby Village Bakery.

"Too much!" I thought. Upon its arrival at my table the look of this piled-high beast gave me little hope. "It's a really good burger," said my charming server Christina. She seemed to sense my apprehension.

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Looks and prejudices can be deceiving. The first bite was an explosion of flavor—the good kind. Fats and acids danced with salt and pepper atop a patty that managed to shine through all of the toppings. The beef itself, beautifully charred and still juicy, was delightful in its flavor and construction. Aubrey chooses to form his patties thin like a drive-in burger, which makes for a fantastic, crumbly texture.

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The rest of the burger was mostly successful. The blended cheeses had the tang of the cheddar and the proper melt of the Jack. The mushroom and onion made their own statement, but it came in the form of sweet and rich undertones rather than punch-you-in-the-snout earthiness. The lettuce and tomato were a salad unto themselves and, to be honest, could have been toned down a bit, but they still added a crunch and acidity that worked. The bun had a light toasting and a subtle flavor in its spongy appeal that suits a burger of this construction. The only misstep for me was the bacon, but a regular reader will know that there's little hope for bacon in my burger-verse. I just think the flavor is too strong for any burger; I'd rather taste the beef. I removed it after a few bites and my burger tasted better for it.

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The fries at Hyperion Public aren't wrought with the same degree of complexity as the burger and that's just fine by me. These skin-on spuds are prepared fresh and have the strong potato flavor of steak fries despite being medium cut. They were crispy and satisfying, though not a revelation.

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Of course, neighborhood pubs aren't tasked with revealing much of anything. Rather, they're meant to help cover up the inconsistencies and insufficiencies of everyday life. Low light and a lager make the world a more attractive place. That said, the burger at Hyperion Public deserves a spotlight. Aubrey and his team are still working through the kinks of being a new restaurant and that means the menu (perhaps even the burger) will be going through some changes in the coming months. I suspect they'll all be for the better.

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 seriouslydamon@gmail.com.

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