Monday, January 26, 2009

Windmill Restaurant - Gonzales, CA

The Windmill Restaurant in Gonzales, California is a convenient place to stop and have a bite on your way between The San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. About 16 miles south of Salinas, it is located just off 101 (“THE” 101 if you are from SoCal) it is easy to get to from the freeway.

The building is an old Wells Fargo bank building on the main drag in the quaint downtown. The main street runs parallel to (the) 101. The inside has been nicely remodeled and is a comfortable hang out to have lunch. The vault is still in place and is used as a walk-in pantry.

We sat down and ordered. I had the Windmill Burger ($8.75). Its long list of accoutrements includes a 1/2-pound patty, BBQ sauce, bacon, avocado, tomato, and grilled sourdough Parmesan bread. I also ordered a vanilla shake ($3.95) and onion rings ($5.95).

The shake came first. It was a pretty concoction with a rolled cookie, cherry and spoon. The yellow straw was fat enough through which to easily suck the thick, creamy shake.

The onion rings were thick, crunchy and very good. I sneaked a fry from my daughter’s plate. Although hot, they were frozen, coated fries and not real distinctive.

The burger was a nice looking thing. It was cut in half and presented with flair on a traditional white diner plate with stripes. The sourdough was grilled and crisp. What an interesting idea to have the cheese flavor be in the bread. The BBQ sauce was tangy and sweet and blended nicely with the crisp bacon and the avocado. In fact all the components blended together nicely into a tasty whole.

Next time you are heading to L.A., stay off of (the) 5 and go down (the) 101. There are lots of great places to stop along the way. I will be reviewing more in the future.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 2 spatulas
Onion Rings 4 spatulas
Vanillas Milk Shake 3.5 spatulas

Windmill Restaurant
346 Alta Street
Gonzales, CA 93926

The Ivy - Los Angeles, CA

The Ivy in Los Angeles is the hang out for seeing stars and paying star prices for the privilege. I ate at the Ivy, Santa Monica a year or so ago, but lost the notes. This will pretty much cover it. Although the atmosphere is different the burger is the same.

We put our name in and were seated relatively quickly, about 10 minutes. We knew there were no stars there because out on the sidewalk on Robertson, there were no paparazzi.

Our table was in the back. Everyone in the restaurant seemed to be looking around to see if they recognized anyone. But if there were stars there, they were dim ones.

Our server took our order. I ordered the 10-ounce burger with fries for an astounding $23.75. It was served on a huge plate along with the fries. Amazingly, the fries were cold. I asked for warm ones. When they came they were thin and hot with the skins on. Pretty good.

The burger itself was okay, the meat was good with a mesquite charcoal flavor. It was nice and juicy. The toasted sesame bun was impressive looking. The jack cheese was nicely melted. All the side veggies were cold and fresh.

Overall, I would say the Ivy is okay for a burger and fun to hang out at. But maybe get a burger somewhere else for $18 less and set up a lawn chair out front and wait for the stars to appear.

Burger 3.5 spatulas out of 5
Fires 3 spatulas

The Ivy
113 N Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fred 62 - Los Angeles, CA

Fred 62 in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood is a great place to hang out with the hip crowd and have a burger. My family and I went south to Los Angeles for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We were excited to check out college campuses for my daughter and burgers for me. We had heard that one of the great burger places in L.A. is Fred 62.

We parked on Vermont Street a block from Fred 62. There are lots of vintage shops and places with unusual things. There is a great T-shirt shop Y-Que that has shirts for each neighborhood in L.A. Also, a great newsstand on the sidewalk with all the low-circulation magazines you can only find in L.A.

All the tables were taken at Fred. It is first-come, first-anarchy trying to get a table. It was an unusually crisp and sunny 75 degrees, so we took a bright yellow table outside. We had just enough of an awning that we didn’t roast in the sun. A lovely platinum-blonde young lady in fishnet stockings covered with red leg-warmers, took our order. Fred 62 likes it dark and goth from the workers to the lettering on its cards and menus. A nice change from the over-used 50s theme of so many burger places, Fred’s is more Rock-A-Billy and tattoos.

I ordered the Juicy Lucy Burger with Fries ($9.99), Chocolate Shake ($4.89), Onion rings ($4.10). The shake came first. The chocolate syrup was not stirred in giving it a pinto effect through the clear glass. Very cool. Also very tasty, creamy and cold.

The onion rings were battered and thin. They were too thin, a little soggy and not that flavorful. Just okay. Fries were medium cut with skins on. Hot and pretty good, but not exceptional. But I liked the presentation of the fries in a little brown bag cut and folded neatly.

The burger itself came on an impressive homemade bun nicely toasted. The 1/2-pound patty was cooked medium rare with Cheddar cheese. Lots of impressive toppings were piled on, all fresh and crisp with tomato, onions and lettuce. There was only a small dab of the promised Thousand Island dressing in the middle. I should have asked for more.

I enjoyed hanging out in Los Feliz and people watching from our sidewalk table. I wanted the food to be better. But I did feel hip for a brief time, so that is worth something. I should have had some ink done.

Burger 4 spatulas out of 5
Fries 3.5 Spatulas
Onion Rings 2.5 spatulas
Shake 4 spatulas

Fred 62
1850 N. Vermont Street
Los Angeles, CA 90027