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Taylor's "bargain" burger

Will Owen Aug 10, 2007 05:07 PM

Boy, somebody sure dropped the ball on this one! I read about the reportedly scrumptious burger at Taylor's Steakhouse in La Cañada, for just $7.95 at lunch, in the Times Food section on Wednesday. I'd been there just once, on someone else's dime, and thought it was pretty good. There's an old school friend who lives up in La Crescenta, and we were overdue for a lunch, so I figured this was as good an excuse as any...

So we rendezvoused at Taylor's and time-warped ourselves into the darkest lunch environment I've experienced since 1972, and by the time we'd ordered iced tea and Coke our eyes were finally adjusted so we could read the menu. H'm, this is odd: Cheeseburger $9.50? Well, the menu looked pretty old - maybe they'd cut the price but hadn't reprinted the menu? Surely if the Times reporter had gotten the burger for $7.95, then that must be what it is...I asked the waitress, who didn't have any idea what the price of anything was, but what the hey. I asked for Rare Medium-Rare (kinda like South-Southwest, if you get my drift), which the waitress thought was Cute.

So after not very long my buddy's tuna salad and my burger plate arrived. Very nice steak fries, not big planks but smaller chips, with remoulade on the side for dippers like me. Excellent coleslaw, pumped up with pineapple like Pann's but much more subtly. The burger looked really good, with the near-statutory lettuce, tomato and red onion on a barely-toasted bun, but the romance went no further. The meat was utterly unseasoned, of a disturbingly flabby consistency, and as flavor-free as cow meat can possibly get - I salted and peppered, and got some salt-and-pepper flavor in there, but that's as good as it got. It was not inedible, it just trimmed my reasons for eating it down to Hunger, which was sufficient...

When the tab arrived, yup, there was the $9.50 charge. Now, this is still one of the two cheapest burgers I've found in this general category, though unfortunately far and away the worst, so I paid without excessive grumbling. Then, after I got home, I scanned the bill and the relevant part of the Times report and sent the picture and a query to food@latimes.com, and then went to Taylor's website. A-HA! There it was, on Taylor's La Cañada Lunch, the cheeseburger for $7.95...so I called the restaurant. The woman I talked to said the Times had gotten the price wrong, that this was the price on the kids' menu, and no, she didn't know about the website. A manager called later, only marginally apologetic, said (a) the website needs updating, and (b) he's been trying to call the Times about the error. Uh-huh, I know, what with all the downsizing you can't get anyone to answer the phone down there...he also said, in response to my query, that they DON'T pre-season the burgers, as though this were some point of pride; Nancy Silverton needs to go up there and knock some sense into those guys.

I shouldn't grouse too much. The burger was lousy, yes, but I've spent a lot more for not much better. The service was oddly better than the server; she was a little flakey and underinformed, but apologized credibly for her shortcomings while correcting them, and she cheerfully kept bringing tea and Coke while we were rehashing school days long after we'd paid up. And if you don't mind '70s-era dimness at midday, it's a pleasant place to have lunch. I think I'll go back for the sand dabs...

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  1. l
    LisaStitch RE: Will Owen Aug 10, 2007 05:23 PM

    Reminds me of last Monday, when I went to the Library Alehouse after reading a post about their "Burger Mondays" where the burgers are $6. Nope - I paid the full $14 for my burger AND it was awful!

    And don't get me started on the LA Times. I still flip through it, but it is so horribly edited it borders on being offensive. Have they gotten back to you yet about their error?

    5 Replies
    1. re: LisaStitch
      Will Owen RE: LisaStitch Aug 10, 2007 05:27 PM

      No, they're probably too busy answering the call from the guy at Taylor's...

      1. re: Will Owen
        biggen RE: Will Owen Aug 16, 2007 07:54 AM

        hey Will email me I need to ask you something jeff_peyton@hotmail.com

      2. re: LisaStitch
        nosh RE: LisaStitch Aug 11, 2007 12:19 AM

        I saw that listing for a special mon burger at Library Alehouse and even told a Santa Monica buddy about it. did you order without asking the price? is there some sorta confusion with their upscale "kobe" or "wagyu" or some other hype burger? did you mention the l.a.times story?

        1. re: LisaStitch
          Wolfgang RE: LisaStitch Aug 16, 2007 09:03 AM

          I'm surprised that it was awful. The last time I went there they hadn't added the $14 burger to the menu and I had the $8.95 beef build a burger with bacon and cheddar and it was an honest good no gourmet frills burger as usual.

          1. re: Wolfgang
            LisaStitch RE: Wolfgang Aug 16, 2007 02:39 PM

            I had the "Alehouse Gourmet Burger," kobe beef, with Tillamook cheddar and Maple Smoked Bacon. It looked fantastic, but in terms of taste it was such a disappointment - the bun and beef just completely lacked taste, tasted kind of cheap. Insulting at $14, maybe passable had it actually been $6, though it still wouldn't warrant a return visit for me.

            I should have spoken up about the price and asked the waitress if there was a special in existence, but it had been a long day and I was tired and even more passive than usual. And honestly, after tasting the burger, the price just didn't matter to me anymore. Oh, and I saw it on a post on this board, not in the LA Times. Though that wouldn't have surprised me.

        2. tatertotsrock RE: Will Owen Aug 10, 2007 11:36 PM

          The london broil is pretty darned good..one day of the week it is a dinner special.
          Stumbled upon the special one night in march...my boyfriend and I were trying to not become permanant fixtures at Bistro Vurdu (so sad it closed...can't wait till their new shop opens!!!) since we had been going there at least 2 nights a week since Jan...decided to try something new...ran in to one of my clients who was enjoying a great looking martini w/her date (she told me she loves thte martinis there) and she suggested the London Broil...hadn't heard about LB since I was a little girl and then remembered my Grama loved it and always had me ask the butcher at Tip Top Meats in the 70's for our "london Broil".
          It was good...the service was funny...a bit clueless like you said but so friendly...odd and interesting locals at the bar arguing about silly things..very entertaining.
          Yes, even at night it was SOOO DARK we couldn't read the menu.
          I would go again to sit at the bar for drinks....wine list-sad, hard liquor-it looks like they know what to do with it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tatertotsrock
            Will Owen RE: tatertotsrock Aug 11, 2007 04:37 PM

            I get the distinct impression that a lot of the older regulars there are folks who'd be hanging out at Conrad's if they couldn't afford Taylor's, or if Taylor's didn't exist.

            The one night we went there with a group, the guy who was picking up the tab apparently knew the place pretty well - he's a restaurateur himself - and he managed to find some drinkable if not wonderful wine. As we had been through a bit before we got there, though, my judgment may not be utterly trustworthy...

            Yes, I will certainly go back. Even with the so-so food and slack service it was a pleasant hang.

            1. re: Will Owen
              Foodandwine RE: Will Owen Aug 16, 2007 09:48 AM

              I personally like the Koreatown location.. I normally bring a bottle of Bordeaux that they happly open while I am having a drink at the bar if I am waiting for my dinner date to arrive. No decanter though, but nice service and a good rib eye. the garlic toast is nice too very tasty. Prices went up I think about 6 months ago and salad and soup are no longer included. The Bone in Rib eye was tasty. I actually like the low hype no upsell feel of the place. I would normally go early before a Laker game or other Staples event. Corkage went up to 10 or 12, or 8 or 10 and with a 25-30 dollar steak dinner all inclusive without tax and tip I am a happy camper. No its not Cut ( Havent been ) but compared to others I am sure it competes well. what do you think, I will try the burger and london broil in the not too distant future..

          2. m
            malibumike RE: Will Owen Aug 16, 2007 08:53 AM

            I guess they got your message because this wed la times 8/15 on page f3 lower right "For the record" confirms the wrong prices were given.

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