Los Angeles, CA
Go Burger had its official opening today. They were quite busy for the first day, but it was to be expected as their marketing team got a blurb on at least one TV station and there were two tables of KTLA people surrounding my table and one Anchorman, but I don't watch broadcast TV news anymore so I didn't recognize who he was.
It is located on the South East corner of Sunset and Vine, a terrific, touristy high foot traffic and in that rare Hollywood high rise building which unfortunately only has valet parking for about $8 or metered 1 hour street parking. I bank at Wells Fargo a block North of Sunset which is conveniently next to Trader Joes, so I made a deposit, validate my parking and dash off to check out Go Burger. The interior is beautiful, the front of the house staff very friendly and they seemed to have about twice as many staffers than are necessary, but today is the official 1st day, so that's to be expected. The genera manager, Sterling, stopped by my table for no particular reason, introduced himself and checked to see how I was doing. I was seated just before noon, so it wasn't quite so busy yet, by the time I left 50 minutes later, it was packed and people were waiting for me to leave so they could have my table. So if you must go immediately before they get things sorted out, go early like 11:30am for lunch, otherwise you might have to wait for a table. Which might not be a bad thing as they have some very interesting adult beverages. Milk shakes with booze, love the concept! But just not for lunch. They have a few flat screens and a large bar, so I guess they want the weekend and Monday night crowd. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my poker buddies, Nina the Assist. Manager working there as I haven't seen her in a loooong time!
The wait staff wore some fun black T's that some said Juicy... and another said Tip the Waiter, not the Cow... nice...
I ordered the Ginger Brew that came in the bottle and the directions say, do not serve with ice, but the soda bottle was opened for me and a glass filled with ice was served with the soda. I don't get it as I love my sodas on ice and the drink itself was strong enough that it still tasted delicious and not diluted even with the ice. I like my own homemade ginger ale better, but this one was not bad. For my lunch, I decided to go for the $11 Smash Burger, It's a Philly burger... crappy name... if you ask me... which was a 7oz hand formed patty on a sesame brioche bun with caramelized red bell peppers and onions, pickled jalapenos and normally provolone cheese, however I requested a substitution for the Vermont white cheddar cheese which she cheerfully complied and at no extra charge. I wasn't super hungry unfortunately so I didn't want to order the fries, onion rings and other sides, but they did look good. Next time, I might order their sliders... 3 small sliders for $12 and you can order a different one for each, so that's a great way for a single diner to get three tastes in one sitting.
The burger: I am not too picky and can eat my burgers either medium or med/rare. I cannot eat a regular burger or steak rare. They put a little identifier stick in the burger that said med/rare and to be honest, it was more like medium, but again that was fine by me. The menu says the meat is a grind of chuck, sirloin and short rib and brisket and 100% Black Angus. There was no seasoning so I had to hit it was pepper which is my SOP and I should have hit it was salt as it was just a bit bland. But not their fault. The plate included a nice fresh English cucumber spear that was not pickled or marinated. It also included a very tangy slaw. It was almost too tangy to eat by itself, so I tried putting it on the burger and it was good. The burger didn't have any heat, I didn't feel any heat from the jalapenos at all, I'd recommend to them that they should had several on the side so diners like me can kick up the heat on their own if they so desire. I'm a mayo/ketchup burger guy. But you have to request the condiments... at least they don't charge you extra like some of the idiot gourmet burger places in town.
My major complaint of this place and a majority of the gourmet burger joints is there's a service disconnect and again, my burger sat for a long time, as it was room temperature by the time I received and the cheese had hardened. That just RUINS it for me. Being that I only had 50 minutes for lunch, I had no time to send it back. If I had sent it back, it would have cost me about $6-8 in extra parking fees. It's a terrific location, with lousy parking. Sorry, I'm not going to spend $8 parking for a $11 burger. So in all my tab including tax and tip was about $18 for a burger, no fries and a soda for lunch. If instead I had ordered a $12 adult shake and a order of fries $6 and you are looking at a nearly $40 lunch tab and then add $8 parking and you almost hit $50. Sorry, but that's too much for lunch. I'll go to Tommy's and get a double chili cheese burger, fries and soda TEN TIMES instead. Sorry Nina, I wish I could give a better review.
Burgers are not labor intensive and do not need to use expensive ingredients ordinarily. Yet, restaurants play up the expensive ingredients to justify their expensive prices, but sorry I just don't buy it...With so many gourmet burger joints around these days, I think it's a real mistake pricing these gourmet burgers $10 and over. Most burger lovers slather their burger with ketchup, mayo, mustard or some fancy housemade aioli or ketchup or chutney. Chefs... use some imaginative spice blends and pack your burgers with flavor! It will cost you pennies yet make your burgers memorable. Forget the funk of 20-30 day dry aged beef... That's a waste of money for a burger. End rant...