Friday, September 21, 2007

Oak City Bar & Grill - Menlo Park, CA

Oak City Bar and Grill in Menlo Park is a great place to hang out and eat meat, have a Martini and pretend all is right with the world. I have eaten the 10-ounce Pork Porterhouse and devoured the Sirloin, but I had never tried the Niman Ranch White Cheddar Cheese Burger. "So I Did" as Mick Jagger once cried out in "Far-Away Eyes".

For $16 you get a delicious hunk of Niman natural-fed beef, topped artfully with white cheddar and perfectly cooked grilled red onions. I left the ample amounts of lettuce and tomato off to the side. The Sesame Brioche bun is also impressive.

The first bite of the burger was heavenly - a balanced blending of the cheese, the burger and the onions. I found it a very rich combo that quickly made me full, allowing me to turn my attention to the fries.

The "City Fries" included with the burger are really quite unique. Piled in a large wooden bowl, they are thin as matchsticks and very crisp. With a generous sprinkling of salt, they are addictive. Even as they grow cold, they are still great.

Finishing off my Martini and fries, I thought that Mick could find Satisfaction here - at least for the palate.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 5 spatulas

Oak City Bar & Grill
1029 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Giant Burger - Oakland

Giant Burger in Oakland on Telegraph, must once have been a moshing mecca of meat mastication. The dilapidated exterior and grungy interior, hint at greater days. I love the zigzag awning and old school sign out front. Harking back to days before 3/4-pound whoppers and Wendy's triples, the sign proclaims "1/4-pound" Giant Burger.

Perusing the menu I selected one of only 5 or 6 items not crossed out with black tape. The cheeseburger was $3.85 with fries. The Milk Shake was $2.50.

The burger was cooked right there behind the counter in plain sight. The fries were pulled dripping hot from the fryer just before they were bagged and handed over. As a result, the food was piping hot, save the milk shake which was cold and creamy.

The fries were thick and old-fashioned - a little soggy rather than crisp, but very tasty.

Served with copious amounts of onion slices, fresh tomato and shredded lettuce, the burger was topped with American cheese, mayo and mustard. The soft bun capped it off. That left the burger itself as only a small part of the total package. But somehow I found it quite satisfying. As I happily munched, I imagined a time when this burger and its restaurant were giants.

Burger 3.5 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3.5 spatulas
Shake 3 spatulas

Giant Burgers
2150 Telegraph
Oakland, CA

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Burger Joint - San Francisco, CA

Burger Joint in San Francisco feels like a 50’s diner down to the atomic look and lack of air conditioning. Green laminate tables and red Naugahyde seats complete the look. You order your burger at the counter and retire to a booth. Too bad there are no waitresses on roller skates.

Burger Joint’s claim to fame is serving Niman Ranch naturally fed beef, free of hormones and antibiotics. This isn’t the same as free range, grass fed, because they are finished on grain. But it is a step in the right direction.

While Power Stations’ “Some like it hot”, played overhead, - appropriate on this rare 90-degree day in San Francisco. I ordered the Cheeseburger and Fries ($7.95). I chose swiss cheese and added grilled onions (50 cents additional). Fries by themselves are $3.45. There are no onion rings. An egregious violation of burger joint rules. I also opted to partake of a chocolate shake ($4.75).

The 6-ounce burger arrived juicy and hot. The grilled onions piled on top were sweet and scrumptious. The burger was very fresh tasting and flavorful. I rate it 4 spatulas out of 5. My burger buddies joining me rated their burgers as follows. Juli 3.5, Bill 3.75, Robin 4.

The best thing were the fries. Fresh, fat and hot, skins-on they were fabulous. 5 spatulas. The shake was creamy, cold and not too syrupy tasting. 4 spatulas.

I would recommend Burger joint for a good hamburger, but it wasn’t the transcendent burger experience I expected. The food, the music and the restaurant were all hot. And that is half the battle on a good burger.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 5 spatulas
Milk Shake 4 spatulas

Burger Joint
807 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Other locations on Haight Street and in the International Terminal at SFO.