4996 West Point Loma Blvd, San Diego CA 92107 (map); 619-224-2884; cohnrestaurants.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A pork-heavy burger with real French flair
Want Fries With That? Yes! Crisp, salty shoestring and tasty romesco aioli come on the side, so you're set
Price: Burger Royale with Cheese, $14; Crispy Brussels Sprouts, $8
With my AHT burger-reviewing count approaching 50, burger cravings are a constant struggle. When we chose BO-beau as our wedding anniversary restaurant, I was determined to resist the lure of the Burger Royale with Cheese and order a classier entrée befitting the occasion. But, as tasty as my duck confit pasta was, I knew it was only a matter of time until we returned. Under the pretense of "trying the brussels sprouts," that happened a week later.
BO-beau's burger is the cheffiest burger I've encountered. It's made with eight ounces of 80/20 ground beef seasoned with cayenne, fresh garlic, and shallots that's griddled on a flattop and topped with Gruyère, and green peppercorn aioli and slices of braised pork belly that are crisped up under the broiler. You can also add an egg for an extra $2.
Whether or not you'll like it depends on how complicated you like your burgers, and how much you like pork, because while it's made with a half-pound of beef, flavor-wise this burger is all about the three little slices of piggy on top.
The patty had a nice crust on the outside and was flecked with tasty bits of char. By itself, the beef was juicy, but the green peppercorn aioli and pork belly really sent it over the edge. The aioli and the fat from the pork belly melted into the patty, infusing it with richness, moisture, and strong pork flavor. The end result was a moisture-bomb of a burger that tasted more like pork than beef, with savory, spicy notes throughout.
Most buns wouldn't stand a chance against a patty this moist, but the toasted buttermilk bun from Sadie Rose Baking Co. did a fantastic job of remaining intact until the last bite.
Whether or not you'll like this burger depends on how flexible your definition of "burger" is. BO-beau's version was so far beyond a classic burger that it eclipsed the genre. If ever there was a burger fancy enough to befit a formal celebration, this would be it.
A gargantuan portion of shoestring fries comes alongside the burger. The lightly fried spuds are tossed with garlic and parsley, plus a generous shake of sea salt. Though tasty on their own, they achieve legendarily delicious status when dunked in romesco aioli. In the highly likely scenario that you don't finish the fries, be sure to ask for a to-go container for the rest of the transcendent sauce and spread it on your toast for breakfast the next morning.
BO-beau's brussels sprouts prove that frying and adding salty pork products are two rock-solid ways to improve anything. The pan-fried sprouts are topped with diced pancetta, shaved parmesan, and a drizzle of balsamic-port reduction that was so fruity, I was convinced there were dried cranberries hidden on the plate. A quick glance at the menu (and later, the recipe) confirmed that all of the sweet, fruity flavor came from the glaze.
When it comes to dining out, I'll take a tiny hole-in-the-wall over the white tablecloth treatment any day, so BO-beau was a good compromise. Sure, there are some French words (with no English translation) on the menu, but the big portions of comfort food make it fit right into the casual, surf culture of Ocean Beach.
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