We are not afraid to tackle the most difficult philosophical quandaries at A Hamburger Today. Many prestigious publications, gutter gourmands, and self-anointed food critics* have dubbed the frou-frou burger at Father's Office in Santa Monica the "Best Burger in L.A." Ninja, please! In the birthplace of Carl's Jr.? In the land of Fatburger? On the native soil of In-N-Out and the Apple Pan?!
This so-called "hamburger," which consists of the confounding ingredients of dry-aged sirloin topped with applewood-smoked bacon compote, Maytag blue and gruyere cheeses, caramelized onions, and arugula on a French roll, is certainly delicious. But is it really a hamburger in the truest, bluest, real McCoy sense of the word?
Not saying a creative take on a classic is wrong, but this high-class perversion of an institution so American that a daily dose is required in most states, does not seem worthy of a "Best Of" label in the face of so many great local spins on a traditional favorite.
A burger can be messy, a burger can be bloody, a burger can be giant, a burger can be topped with guacamole, chili and brontosaurus ribs--a burger can be any or all of the above, but it must resemble an actual hamburger and not force us to reach for a French dictionary (compote? Say quoi?) to have honors bestowed upon it.
Despite its delectability, Father's Office's spices and strange combinations of fresh ingredients do not scream "HAMBURGER." To top off the madness, Father's Office even denies you ketchup and mustard. If I wanted restrictions put on my dining choices, fellas, I'd go to Alain Ducasse. This is America damnit! Give me the choice to slather overprocessed tomato paste on my meat or give me death! Still, the meal is over much too fast, leaving you with a hankering for a real greasy standardand a $14 tab.
Save yourself a trip through the traffic on the 10, and hit up AstroBurger in Hollywood instead. The physical space of Father's Office is like that white-collared weekend warrior who takes his Harley for a drive to the country on the weekend and calls himself a biker. This wood-walled roadhouse is crushed with yuppies; it's usually impossible to find a seat, and the prices are exorbitant.
Still, the wine list (no glasses under $12 when we were there), plus local and Belgian drafts are delicious, the shopping cart full of fries, either sweet or frites, wins serious points for cuteness and taste.
I know many Lost Angels will disagree, but when a burger does not look, smell, or taste like a burger, sorry kids, it ain't a burger. But try it for yourself; there are many I respect who put this one at the top of their lists. And I have been wrong before. Once.
* Ahem, present company excluded, of course...
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