Saturday, January 30, 2016

Plan Check Kitchen+Bar - Los Angeles, CA

The Plan Check Burger



Plan Check Kitchen+Bar in Los Angeles is the offspring of Umami Burger. We stopped in for a burger at the Sawtelle location. The place was already buzzing at 6 pm on a Friday night in this bustling neighborhood. 

We grabbed the last spot available at the “Chef’s Bar” facing the kitchen. We loved the fact that the place has a first class cocktail bar. I ordered a Little Osaka Sour ($12). Patricia ordered a glass of wine. In no time our drinks arrived and we placed our food order. 

I ordered the PCB - Plan Check Burger ($12.50) and she got the Short Rib Pot Roast ($16). We also got an order or the Sweet Potato Waffle Fries ($6).

We watched the busy kitchen assembly line making the food and talked to a friendly guest next to us. The food arrived. The burger sat handsomely on an iron mini skillet. The Americanized Dashi Cheese oozed over the sides of the patty. The mixed pickles stuck out and the sesame covered “crunch” bun was perfectly shaped and nicely toasted. The first bite made me think of seaweed. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it was an unusual sensation. Onions were grilled soft and flavorful. The ketchup leather added a rich note. The meat was juicy and tasty. 
Sweet Potato Waffle Fries at Plan Check Kitchen+Bar

Our neighbor cut me off a piece of his Chef’s Favorite Burger ($14) and I must say I preferred it. The bacon slices and bacon Thousand Island dressing combined with the two cheeses (melted Amercian and a cheese crisp) to make a really delightful, if more traditional tasting burger. 

The Sweet Potato Waffles were a good idea. Accompanied by peach ketchup and nicely salted, they had sat too long in the counter before reaching us and weren’t as hot as I would have liked. They stayed crunchy however. 

We ate dessert. The Cruller Donut is a misnomer. Basically it is a circular churro with cinnamon, custard, whipped cream and bananas. It is a creative idea. Once again, not hot when reaching us, but still tasty.  

Overall, I found Plan Check a fun experience and a lively setting. (We walked by a little later and it was packed.) But it does have the distinct feel of a chain-in-waiting, with not as much passion and soul as I would have liked. 

Burger 3.5 spatulas out of 5
Sweet Potato Waffle Fries 3 Spatulas

Plan Check Kitchen+Bar
1800 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
1800 SAWTELLE BLVD
LOS ANGELES, CA 90025
(310) 444-1411
Cruller Donut Dessert at Plan Check Kitche+Bar

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cassell's Hamburgers - Los Angeles, CA

The Patty Melt at Cassell's Hamburgers in Los Angeles' Koreatown.
Cassell’s Hamburgers in Los Angeles, CA is a fabulous spot in Koreatown for catching a burger after a drink. We had just finished a couple of rounds of cocktails at The Normandie Club and slid next door to check out Cassell’s. 

At night it feels like you are in an Edward Hopper painting sitting at the classic tables in the classic styled diner. We ordered burgers. Patricia got a plain 1/3 pound cheeseburger with cheddar ($9.99) and I ordered the 1/3 pound patty melt ($10.99). We also ordered fries ($3.50). 

The staff was a hoot. Our waitress was friendly and talkative. The young man who brought us our burgers was equally delightful. Patricia asked if he had won the lottery. He said no, but  friend in Chico Hills had posted a picture of the $1.5B winning ticket on Facebook. That would buy a lot of burgers. 
Cassell's Hamburgers has the classic diner look. 

The Patty Melt was awesome. Crisp rye. Sweet grilled onions. The swiss cheese squirted out from the bread to form a cheese skirt. The patty was loosely ground and juicy - not too tightly packed. The bread was nicely toasted and tasty. I liked the mustardy sauce on the side for dipping the burger. 

Patricia’s plain cheeseburger was yummy as well. The white bun was firm and spongy. Cheese melted perfectly over the tasty patty. 

The fries were just ok. Medium cut. Probably from frozen. Nothing special. ($3.50)  

We loved the atmosphere and the burgers. Swing by Cassell’s for a trip back in burger time. 

Burger 4 out of 5 spatulas
Fries 2.5 out of 5

Cassell’s Hamburgers
3600 W 6th St. 
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 387-5502
http://www.cassellshamburgers.com



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WesBurger - San Francisco

The WesBurger with Irish Cheddar, Grilled Onions and Jalapeño Pickle Relish.
Wes Burger is opening soon in the Mission in San Francisco. In the meantime, Wes Rowe is showcasing his formidable burgering skills at a pop-up every Wednesday night. The pop-up is at Mojo Bicycle Club on Divisadero. Wes takes over the cafe and cranks out a different burger and version of tots every week. 

The night we went, WesBurger was concocting a delicious burger with sharp Irish cheddar, caramelized onions, homemade jalapeño pickle relish ($11). I added bacon for $2 more. The burger patty sported coarsely ground brisket, loosely packed and fried in an iron skillet, creating a lovely crisp salty exterior. His white bun is locally produced. 

Before the burger came out we were treated to his weekly tot construction. Dubbed Irish Poutine ($8), the piping hot tots were topped off with shredded cheddar, bacon and a curry sauce, a crazy combination that worked. I stopped myself from eating too much and ruining my appetite. 

The burger arrived to a hearty “Scott!” from chef Wes. We picked it up and headed back to our table by the window on busy Divisidero. One bite and I was on the WesBurger team. The patty has plenty of fat and taste despite my concerns about low fat content from the brisket. Wes told me that he leaves enough of the brisket fat to get it where it needs to be. The Coarse grind allows the fat to melt down through the patty. Bacon was not crisp but very flavorful. The pickle relish was not overly spicy, making a sweet and acidic compliment to the sharp cheddar. 

Beverage note: Wine and beer from the Bicycle club were a nice bonus with the burger. 

WesBurger opens on Mission near 18th sometime in March, they will have 3 or 4 burgers on the menu and a nightly special. Chef Wes is using the pop-up to gauge the favorites. I might have to check back on another Wednesday and place a vote. 
The Irish Poutine with Cheddar, Bacon and Curry Sauce smothering the Tots.

Burger 5 spatulas out of 5
Poutine 4 spatulas

WesBurger

Popping up at:
Mojo Bicycle Club
639-A Divisadero St, 
San Francisco, CA 94117


Chef Wes Rowe

Sunday, November 1, 2015

4505 Meats - San Francisco, CA

4505 Meats Best Damned Cheeseburger with a side of fries at their store on Divisidero in San Francisco.
4505 Meats has always proclaimed the have the "Best Damned Cheeseburger" but I am so in love with their BBQ that I had never tried it. I decided to change that. 

I ordered the single quarter pound patty burger with normal fixings ($9.75). You can add bacon ($2), egg ($2), or another patty ($4). We took our seat out in their great patio dining area. This is always bustling on Divisadero in the lower Haight. 

The burger arrived very pink, medium rare. The meat was good, just salty enough and not too smokey. The Gruyere cheese was nicely melted. Lettuce onions were crisp and fresh. The secret sauce luscious.  The best thing was the bun. Pillowy soft but it held together. It was nicely toasted. 
A rare sight, so line at 4505 Meats in San Francisco.

Fries were medium cut with skins in. Crisp and salty and hot. Very nice. 

Note, my wife got the brisket sandwich. I liked it better. 

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 4 Spatulas

4505 Meats
705 Divisidero
San Francisco, CA 94117
415-231-6993

Note: All the photos here were shot with the DxO One camera connected to my iPhone 6. 

The sign at 4505 Meats in San Francisco.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Volta Gastro - Berlin, Germany

The Volta Burger cuts a handsome figure with its tasty onion ring stacked on top. 
Volta Gastro in the Wedding district of Berlin elicits many questions. Is it an old train station? Old Jack in the Box? (They have a menu item called Jack in the Box.)  Turns out it was a bakery. We took the long taxi ride to the remote Wedding district for a taste of the burger touted by a recent New York Times article. We were treated to annoying German rap music - too loud - and service typical of the "German Service Desert”, as alone local called it.  

But we Americans love our burgers and we ordered none-the-less. The Volta burger is €13 with fries, a pretty steep price.  The burger arrived as an impressive looking stack. The patty was large - probably 6 ounces. Ground loosely and not overpacked, the beef was rather bland, but juicy. Savory mushrooms added nice flavor. The greens were spinach mixed with bbq sauce and mayo giving it an unusual note. Cheddar cheese melted in nicely. A fresh tomato slice made an appearance.  The Kaiser bun was toasted and held up well. The onion ring on top was the best thing - a crispy sweet ring of yum. 

Shoestrings fries with skins were hot, but limp and not impressive

In the end, I enjoyed the burger. Our initial aloof server was replaced with a charming young british woman and things ended on an up note. One other thing, they have full cocktails and the Dark and Stormy was pretty good with the burger. 

Burger 3 our of 5 spatulas
Fries 2 spatulas

Volta Gastro
Brunnenstraße 73
Berlin, Germany
0176 77 55 64 22

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Burger de Ville - Berlin, Germany

The Burger de Ville double cheeseburger features 100 percent organic Angus beef and is an oasis for burger eaters in Berlin.
Burger de Ville in Berlin, Germany is an Airstream Trailer in the middle of the Kurfurstendamm shopping district. It's weird seeing food trailer in the middle of glass buildings. I had never had such luck with burgers in Europe, but it appears that Berlin is serious about Hamburgers. There we burger joints everywhere. 

The Burger de Ville cheeseburger (€4,60)  and double cheeseburger (€7,00) are from organic Black Angus. They are fabulous. Meat is tasty and fresh, griddled rather than flame broiled. Cooked medium well but still very juicy. Green leaf lettuce, pickle, tomato slice cheese special sauce top the patty. The sesame bun by Meisterbäckerei of Berlin toasted. Someone did their research. This burger would kill in the U.S.  
This Airstream Trailer is the home for Burger deVIlle in Berlin and is surrounded by tall glass office buildings. 

Fries were piping hot. Medium cut with skins, they tasted fresh cut.  Very tasty ketchup accompanied the fries. 

No smell billowed from the trailer. Their clever system pumped the air from the grill vents and filtered it. So if you get to Berlin, it is worth searching out one of the Burger de Ville Airstreams. You will feel right at home.

Burger 5 out of 5 spatulas.
Fries 4.5 spatulas. 

Burger de Ville
Kurfürstendamm 22
Berlin, Germany
+49 30 68073949

Hot tasty fries from Burger de Ville. Great with their special ketchup. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Grumpy's - Ketchum, Sun Valley, Idaho

The 1/2 Pound Cheeseburger at Grumpy's in Ketchum, Sun Valley, Idaho
Grumpy’s in Ketchum, Idaho’s Sun Valley is a place everyone told me I had to go. I had been to Sun Valley many times over the last 22 years, but for some reason had never heard of Grumpy’s.  Why didn’t I hear about it before? “Sorry We’re Open” proclaims their website. The people working at Grumpy’s were not grumpy, as advertised but were very pleasant, calling those in our party “honey” and “sweetheart”. 

Grumpy’s location has a classic burger joint lived-in feel, pleasantly dilapidated. Beer cans line the wall. Lots of memorabilia litters the walls. Graffiti, wall carvings and mementos abound. Most of the seating on this sunny day was outdoors. 

I ordered the 1/2 lb burger ($7.75 added) and added ham by suggestion of the woman at the counter, since they did not offer bacon. I added fries ($1.50). Everyone else got the 1/4 pound burger. We grabbed our seats outside under an umbrella. A golden retriever who seemed to know its way around came over and greeted us. Within a short time a young man emerged from the restaurant and yelled “Scott” and brought us our burgers. 

The burger and fries shared a basket lined with white paper. The sesame bun, lightly toasted, surrounded the burger patty along with shredded lettuce, onion slices, pickles, special sauce and american cheese. The burger patty itself was charcoal-broiled, charred crispy on the outside and cooked medium on the inside. A very smokey flavor masked the meat flavor. The patty was not very juicy and was relatively unremarkable so maybe the smokey taste was a relief. By comparison the 1/4-pound burgers were cooked clear through and grey in the middle. Get the 1/2 pound burger and eat half of it. 

The thin fries were your typical frozen, industrial style fries, slightly under-coooked and not that hot.  

Overall, I was unimpressed with Grumpy’s but it was a pleasant place to have a family burger on a beautiful day in Ketchum. 

Burger 2.5 spatulas out of 5
Fies 2 spatulas

Grumpy’s 
860 Warm Springs Rd. 
Ketchum, ID 83340
208-720-3171
grumpyssunvalley.com


http://www.grumpyssunvalley.com