San Diego: The KGB at D Bar is Stunning, Minus the Beef
3930 5th Ave, San Diego CA 92103 (map); 602-381-7632; dbarsandiego.com
Cooking method: Grilled
Short Order: A waffle burger that's missing a tasty patty
Want Fries With That? Garlic parmesan fries come standard, but you'll still need to order crüe fries
Price: KGB, $15; Crüe Fries, $5 for a small portion during happy hour, regular size, $9
When I sat down with Keegan Gerhard at D Bar to watch him assemble the Sunshine on a Plate, he clued me into a menu item that I just had to try: the KGB. It's from D Bar's secret menu and features a grilled beef patty sandwiched between two cheese and herb waffles, topped with bacon, caramelized onions, cheese, mayo, and the standard veggies.
Enough time had gone by for me to recover from the waffle woe that was Pete Mayo's Waffle Burger, so I placed the order with full confidence that a restaurant that specializes in awesome desserts (including a few with sweet waffles) could do the genre better justice.
In many ways, that's exactly what happened. Toppings were of a high caliber, the burger was carefully constructed, and the waffle was flawless...but the beef never really showed up to join the party. D Bar uses American Kobe (aka wagyu), and based on the burger I received, it's not money well spent.
The patty was striped with hash marks from the grill, but otherwise it was an unappealing shade of gray. The grind was so fine it looked pulverized, and while there was some crust on the exterior, the interior was cool and mushy, and any flavor the beef had was totally overwhelmed by the bacon. I'll forgive the restaurant, a Denver import, for not knowing about local farms like Brandt Beef and Sage Mountain Farm, and to be fair, Keegan did let it slip that they're considering reformulating the burger by looking into local producers (as well as adding it to the regular, printed menu). Hey Keegan, if you need a beef consultant, my fee is one Cake and Shake.
Garlic parmesan fries come standard. They're tasty, but the garlic was imperceptible, and the cheese wasn't melted, so it felt separate, like some random flotsam strewn about the thin-cut spuds.
See if your server will upgrade to the Crüe Fries, or go during Happy Hour, when a small serving is $5. The addition of creamy mac sauce, ranch dressing, cheddar jack, and bacon doesn't just elevate the spuds, it blasts them to another dimension. Even if you don't plan on eating every last one, you will...and then you'll use the fries that come with your burger to swipe up the remaining sauce.
With a beef upgrade, the KGB would be a hot little number. Here's hoping D Bar gives that wagyu the boot.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax