Los Angeles: More is Less for the Burger at The Morrison
3179 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90039 (map); 323-667-1839; themorrisonla.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A new Scottish influenced gastropub serves a burger of a uninspired excess
Want Fries with That? Yes; these spuds were the only bright spot in this darkened tavern
Price: Fillet Burger, $15; french fries, $6
One of the newest bar and restaurants to open in Los Feliz ("The Happy"), my sleepy little neighborhood of Los Angeles, is The Morrison. We're trendy enough and upscale enough to make the opening of an upscale gastropub less a happening than simply another thing that happened. Still, I couldn't help but find myself caught in a moment of bated burger breath. The team behind The Morrison is KLK Restaurant Group, the same guys responsible for the creditable (if imperfect) burgers at Stout in Hollywood.
Yes, there's a palpable nightlife feel from Stout that rears its bad dance music head at The Morrison, but that doesn't mean the food has to be bad. Sadly, as I found out at a recent misspent lunch hour, that's exactly what it means at The Morrison. I sampled their disappointingly greasy fish-n-chips, but it was their over-the-top burger that missed the mark by the widest margin. I'm not sure exactly why the folks who've claimed to sample all of the noteworthy burgers in the Los Angeles area before settling on their Stout burger decided to leave all of that research and development behind.
The Morrison's Scottish-themed menu serves one kind of burger, though it seems like a couple of sandwiches to me. They call it the Fillet Burger ($15) because they top the eight ounces of fatty and very good chuck with a slab of filet mignon. Why? I'm thoroughly confounded. This meat-on-top-of-meat ethos isn't unique to The Morrison, but it's such a ham-fisted attempt at excess it feels like a punchline to a bad burger joke. Along with the filet the burger gets a swath of Port Salut cheese, celeriac remoulade, and marrow butter. This is all piled atop an English muffin.
You can probably already guess some of the basic mistakes of this construction. First off, the beef to bun/English muffin ratio is woefully off. It's such a heaping portion of meat for such a wee bit of bread that I pulled the filet off mine so as to feel like I was eating some semblance of a decently ratio-ed burger.
The beef itself is rather good, and when I heard that the standard temperature is medium rare I was chuffed that I might fnd a beautifully cooked patty. No such luck. The beef came rare, with a cool the center. Add to that an utterly baffling lack of salt and you've got the makings for burger patty heartbreak.
I don't mind Port Salut as a cheese topping. The Trappist monk-developed cheese is a soft mature one with a mild flavor. I eat it on crackers with some regularity. It's an interesting choice for a burger and not entirely out of place (though be careful as it can liquefy with heat). That said, it did little to save this otherwise bland burger. Neither did the celeriac remoulade, nor the marrow butter (though the latter did amp up the fattiness).
The fries ($6) were the highlight of the meal, though considering the weakness of the burger (and some greasy fried fish), that's not saying so very much. That said, I shouldn't be unfair. These were very good fries that had a nicely crispy exterior and were full of flavor.
The insult to this burger injury is that you're going to find yourself forking over 15 bones for this sub-par burger. That's $15 for just the burger! No fries, just some fancy pickles. Clearly they've cooked themselves into a corner with the filet topping. The price point is probably in no small part due to the food costs of this burger. Alas, forcing the customer to pay for your misplaced excess isn't going make anyone happy. Not even those of us that live in Los Feliz.
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.