There are three grades of burger restaurants. McDonalds is the basic level, and a Johnny Rockets style is a step up. At the top of the burger pyramid is The Burger Kitchen that sells gourmet burgers from $9 to $50. Is the quality of the beef and other ingredients worth the extra price? I wanted to find out.
Opened less than a year on Third Street, it’s a family enterprise. Genevieve (Mom) is the designer of the warm and comfortable atmosphere. She grew up in New Jersey and wanted to design a friendly restaurant with a New York vibe for families, couples and an older crowd. Above the bar is a large screen television. During the day she broadcasts classic movies from the TMC channel. Families’ start arriving from 4 to 6pm for early dining and the television is changed to cartoons upon request. Young and older adults grab a gourmet burger and drink, while watching a sporting event as the bar fills up with customers in the evening.
Daniel (son) is in charge of the beverages. He went to NYU and frequented McSorley’s Old Ale House, where he became a bit of an aficionado. The Burger Kitchen offers a variety of unique beers. They list 25 draft beers with 10 on tap. Some of the popular brews are Chimay from Belgian and Mama’s Lil Yella Pils. Drafts come by the glass for $6-$7 or $20 to $28 a pitcher. Daniel also has a nice selection of some of the finest Napa Valley wines. Coppola is the house wine at $6 a glass.
Genevieve shared that they have regular customers who order a bottle of a limited edition William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ’06 at $65, because it’s such a great wine to go with The Natural burger ($26). When hankering a burger and only the best will do, this is the place for you. The beef is flown in from Pat La Frieda meats in New York for The Natural. It’s 40 day, dry-aged prime blend with a secret rub and served on a soft bun with butter lettuce (no iceberg here), grilled heirloom tomatoes and caramelized onions. You also get your choice of Camembert or organic white cheddar cheese. It’s amazingly good and can only be found in California at The Burger Kitchen.
Alan (Father) and Daniel work as a team to create new special dishes and recipes. When they introduced the Boars Head pastrami on rye with Swiss cheese, house made 1,000 island dressing and coleslaw onto their gourmet sandwich ($12) menu, they first served bit size samples to guests to get their feedback. It took weeks to perfect the sandwich before putting it on the menu. Seeing that I was born and raised in Southern California, I never acquired a taste for pastrami. That’s a New York deli meat. Since Alan raved about the sandwich, I was game to take a crack at it. A decent amount of meat and cole slaw appeared on a brown and white rye with melted Swiss cheese oozing down and two pickles on top. One bite and I became a pastrami believer. Now I understand why my New York friends obsess this sandwich. It was terrific.
My daughter is a big fan of Caprese salads and sandwiches, so she decided to order The Godfather ($12). It’s a beef blend with mozzarella, spicy arugula, heirloom tomatoes and a house Italian spread. Molto Buona! She thought it was divine.
I opted for the Veggie Burger ($9) with its vegan patty filled with healthy vegetables and served with sliced avocado, a red/purple heirloom tomato and yogurt and mint sauce drizzled on top. With the delightful fresh bun, it was flavorful and gratifying.
Be sure to order the sweet potato fries to accompany your meal. They are crisp on the outside with a dash of salt and served with a scrumptious garlicky aioli dipping sauce.
Looking over the menu, even a finicky eater will find something they will enjoy. Some of the comfort foods offered are the tomato and basil soup with a grilled cheese sandwich or for Aussie’s there is a turkey with mushroom Australian Meat pie.
Desserts are displayed in a case filled with a triple chocolate cake tower, red velvet cake, and carrot cake. The homemade chocolate chip cookies are served best as a sandwich with vanilla ice cream from MILK. All looked yummy, but will have to wait until my next visit.
It’s a little Los Angeles, a bit of New York and a dollop of Australia all rolled into one great place for the entire family.
Don’t have anywhere to go today for Thanksgiving? The Burger Kitchen will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $25. Come enjoy the holiday with Alan, Daniel and Genevieve. 8048 Third Street, (323)944-0503,
Also read the article in the Beverly Press/Park LaBrea News via How to Build a Better Burger.