Cali Cuisine: Burgers Galore

One of the most important parts of a holiday has to be the food. American food is great, unless your on a diet of course. Luckily for such people, L.A is ridiculously health-conscious. To the fine people of Los Angeles an apple juice just won’t cut it; you obviously need to add some kale or weird Chinese berries to it. This can be annoying for people like me who just want some goddamn mango juice without half of some health-freaks garden in it.

Luckily this can be avoided when it comes to food. So far I have eaten at the Cheesecake Factory, Unami Burger and Urth Cafe. I have previously written of the Urth Cafe and don’t think I will be going back in a hurry. The Cheesecake Factory was great, possibly in part because Penny from The Big Bang Theory works there in a fictitious world. This made it a bit more exciting (I’m such a kid). Anyhow, the place was extremely busy and we had to wait for 40 minutes before we were seated. We waited at the bar where I attempted to get a beer, but they were quick to ID me. I reckon since I’m legal in the UK I should be aloud to drink wherever the hell I want. They didn’t agree.

We got a table and ordered quickly. We had been closely studying the colossal menu for the last 40 minutes. The menu is by no means a normal one. It is closer to a Tolkien novel than a menu with almost any kind of dish you can imagine. No curries though… I opted for the smokehouse BBQ burger and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a beast. I highly recommend The Cheesecake Factory for a reasonably priced and decent meal. The variety of food is immense and it is a great place for people-watching.

Umami Burger was an experience to say the least. We went to one at The Grove. The menu is dedicated to burgers and they pride themselves on their rare meat. I was given the option to ‘mamify’ my chips, and went for the manly option. In America that means add loads of bacon and cheese. It was great, who doesn’t love bacon and cheese?

The chips came first as some kind of starter for us to munch on while waiting for our burgers. I went for the truffle burger which is the classic and most ordered one. It had aioli and Parmesan in it. My sister ordered the especialle which came with a fried egg and rocket (L.A health kicking in). While waiting we were suddenly approached by our friendly waitress who informed us of some bad news. They had run out of buns. How they managed that is beyond me. Surely someone would realise they were low on buns… Seems like an integral part of a burger to me. We were offered our burgers in lettuce (did I mention L.A is very health-aware)? We turned down this option and waited for more buns. The whole debacle reminded me of the Come Fly With Me sketch ‘we got lettuce, we got beef, but we ain’t got no buns’!

When the burgers finally arrived they were a bit of an anti-climax. They were a bit small and too juicy for my liking. If you ever go, I recommend a bigger burger. Hopefully, my next L.A meal will be more adventurous than a burger.

UPDATE:
I have managed to eat something that isn’t a burger. This is actually surprisingly difficult in America. Mainly because the burgers everywhere sound so good, and there is always an idyllic picture of the perfect mouth-watering burger. On my last day in LA I had lunch at Le Pain de Quotidian in Santa Monica. The place is Belgian surprisingly, and I had previously been to one of the many situated in London. Inside the place is very nice, with an urban and somewhat very Londony feel to it. I ordered a chicken and mozzarella tartine which is just an open sandwich coated in lettuce, tomatoes, chicken and mozzarella. I kid you not, it was sublime. Like seriously, no fucking around, it was heavenly. Tickled the taste-buds ome might say. This might be because I was very hungry and could have eaten almost anything, but either way it was brilliant. If you are ever confronted with this establishment make sure you go in and order one of their fine tartines. Also, tartine is a pointless word. Why not just stick to open-sandwich. Bloody French language complicating things again. It’s not even remotely similar to a tart…

In the evening I went to C&Os Trattoria in Venice, Santa Monica. C&OS is an Italian restaurant with a uniquely brilliant atmosphere. The place was bustling with locals and the staff were very friendly. It was someone’s birthday and they all crowded around the table to sing happy birthday in high spirits. As the night progressed they took the roof of to let in the refreshing sea-air. Yes that’s right, it’s a convertible restaurant. How futuristic. I got the chicken fettuccine Alfredo which was nice but a little too rich and creamy. The main win of the evening was getting served. Not having any alcohol for over a week is hard for a 19 year old student… I was over the moon when the waitress had no beef with my order of a corona. I have to say with C&Os that the food is great, if a little average, but the atmosphere is what makes the place and is definitely worth eating at.

Yesterday, on the drive out of LA I found myself at the Marmalade Cafe in Malibu. The Marmalade Cafe had a very pleasing interior, and was very Malibu. Yes, I know what very Malibu means (stereotypically beach-surfery and chilled). It’s the kinda place the turtles of Finding Nemo would live if they were actual people (if only they were…). Anyhow, we were served by a lady who had just finished her first year of university at Edinburgh University, which was a tad weird as Edinburgh is only an hours drive from where I grew up. Small world…

We were there for brunch so I adapted to the LA health bonanza and ordered a smoked salmon scramble. Honestly, I was looking for anything flooded by bacon, but that wasn’t in the menu. The smoked salmon scramble was basically smoked Scottish salmon entangled in scrambled egg and green onions with a side serving of fruit. How healthy am I? Not very, that was probably the healthiest I’ve been since my mum used to force-feed me vegetables as a baby. The meal was amazing though. I was surprised, considering I was expecting it to somehow have a million calories hidden beneath the eggs. Luckily it didn’t and it tasted great.

UPDATE:

You know what’s a great name for an Italian restaurant? I’ll tell you. The Little Noodle Pasta House. Not sure why I like it so much, maybe it’s their superb food. It is a quiet little place in good old Monterrey, with a slightly sophisticated ambiance to it. But me-oh-my do they serve some good pasta. I got a sumptuous serving if their chicken and pesto pasta. It was the quickest I had eaten a meal in a while, yes that good. If your ever in Monterrey (or in need of pasta and willing to travel to Frodo Baggins lengths) then go to this place!

The day after this meal was a bit of a drop in standard to put it modestly. My first meal in San Fran was at another Italian, this one called Calzones. It had a nice interior but the food didn’t match. I got the chicken and asparagus fettuccine as the menu had little to offer. The portion was…small. Sorry, tiny. If I had a microscope I would be closer to spotting a new solar system than finding my meal. That’s a bit harsh, but I was tired, hungry and disappointed. Three mouthfuls and it was gone. Luckily this was slightly rectified by the garlic fries…

Then again it wasn’t as bad as tonight’s Applebee’s experience outside of Sacramento. Moments after being seated we found our table peppered with ants and had to move tables. Yet in the defence of the staff they were cleaning that table until we left. It was pretty impressive, if they cleaned it anymore the table would of ceased to exist. The meal itself was not great, I got yet another burger (when in America…) and the bacon was so burnt it was like plastic, and the chips were barley warm. But it is Applebee’s, so I wasn’t expecting anything to amazing. Less ants, normally cooked bacon and warm chips would of been nice though. On the bright-side their mango lemonade was very nice…

GO TO GEOFFREY’S IN MALIBU. Honestly its great and well-priced and everything. Its located about 5 miles past Carbon Beach and looks over the Pacific Ocean. What more can you ask for? Good food I hear you cry. Well they have that, a lot of that. I got another burger (I think I’m getting addicted as this makes 7 in 2 weeks). It was amazing; coated in aioli, shallots, cheddar, lettuce and tomatoes. It was no ordinary slab of beef either, it was a Kobe burger. I have no idea what this means (Kobe is a place in Japan right?) but it sure is a great piece of meat!

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