6290 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028 (map); 323-327-9355; goburger.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: The BLT restaurant group upgrades their burgers and downscales the atmosphere with this new premium burger chain. Go for the Steakhouse burger.
Want Fries with That? Yes, please; the skinny-cut aren't so skinny, but still very good. The duck fat fries are the one to blow your diet on.
Prices: The Classic, $9; The UltiMELT, $14; Prime STEAKHOUSE Burger, $18
Notes: Spiked milkshakes is one food trend that's more fashionable than the are good, but a pistachio version at Go Burger was excellent.
I first encountered chef Laurent Tourondel's burger at BLT Burger in New York City about four years ago. To sum up the experience as I wrote in my "Grilled" interview on AHT, the acclaimed French chef's burger was a letdown.
The folks behind BLT Restaurants have since split with Tourondel and have decided to remake and rename their premium burger concept. GO Burger (which was named in a contest) recently opened here in Los Angeles and another is about to open in New York City. This iteration is meant to be more casual than their BLT Burger, though with its sleek design and polished service GO Burger feels far from downscale. As this movement of premium burger joints is quickly hitting its saturation point, GO Burger is certainly going to have to work to draw a following. To their credit, they've left behind some of the missteps I encountered at BLT Burger.
The Classic is anchored by a 100 percent Angus patty. Like all the standard burgers at GO Burger, the patty is a blend of sirloin, short rib, chuck, and brisket. That's a complicated mix, but they've managed to find a balance in their blend.
The quality of the beef is evident. I really enjoyed the depth of flavor, but it could have handled a bit more seasoning and coarser grind. While the temperature was right on my patty, there wasn't the hefty crust I look for. The soft bun is a very good rendition of the classic commercial variety that gets a nice toasting. The toppings are all fresh and pleasing and make for a decidedly upscale, yet classic flavor.
Out of GO Burger's three Signature Burgers, one immediately jumped out at me: the UltiMELT, a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches that serve as bun for one of their patties. Sound familiar? Yes, our very own Adam Kuban created an internet sensation a few years ago with his Hamburger Fatty Melt.
The GO Burger version uses slender slices of rye and Gruyère instead of the classic white and American. They also add some caramelized onion and bacon to round out their paean to burger excess. The patty melt-ification is a fun idea, but flavor-wise this one doesn't work for me. Though, to be fair, I don't usually like patty melts of any variety.
What I did truly enjoy was another Signature Burger, the Prime STEAKHOUSE Burger. It was my favorite of the burgers I sampled, but at $18, it doesn't come cheap. If you aren't thrown by the price tag you'll enjoy a custom blend of 30-day dry aged prime beef. In this case, they use brisket, short ribs, and sirloin.
The patty has that fantastic and distinct dry aged flavor, but the beef doesn't reach the full-blown funkiness that can turn some people off. I actually liked GO Burger's mellower version. The caramelized onions were cooked nicely so as to add some sweetness and the patty itself was powerfully juicy.
The Skinny Fries and Duck Fat fries were both delightful. The skinnies (which are actually more akin to Belgian fries in their cut) were nicely executed and balance exterior crispiness and smooth potato interior. That said, the Duck Fat fries are what I'd steer you toward. These long, thick cut fries were delicately handled and so full of flavor they could work as a stand alone appetizer.
There is no mistaking GO Burger's aspirations of replication. All the design elements are thought through and even though it's only been open for a few weeks the service was already smooth. The food was certainly better than I expected from an "instant dining brand" restaurant and better than what I'd had at BLT Burger. That said, I suspect they'll still have to work on raising the bar (especially the less expensive items) to stand out in a crowded premium burger market.
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