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Oct 21, 2007 09:45 AM

Burger Lounge in Kensington (SD)

The Burger Lounge is open in the space that used to be occupied by Just Desserts. They were doing a jumpin' business yesterday, so a friend and I decided to jump in and have lunch there.

We ordered a Lounge Burger - the house hamburger, a turkey burger, an order of half fries and half onion rings and a couple of iced teas, picked up a little metal tag with our order number and grabbed a table outside on the sidewalk. Our results were mixed, your mileage may vary.

I always liked the interior of Just Desserts. It was cheery and funky for such a tiny spot. The new owners painted, added counter seating and updated the other seating options with trendy, contemporary selections. It's still a nice, breezy open space. And it's still a little on the noisy side, which was one of the reasons we chose to eat outside. Besides, it was a patented, sunny and 72* San Diego day yesterday, so why not eat outside.

On to the burgers. These are big, sloppy affairs chock full of fresh ingredients. They all come on a nice squishy bun with a meaty slice of tomato, a raft of iceberg lettuce, housemade 1,000 Island dressing (one of my all time favorites, BTW), cheddar or American cheese and crunchy rings of fresh onion. They'll ask if you want the onion or not. Unless you're terribly adverse to onions, I'd recommend it. We ordered onions on both burgers and neither was overwhelmed by it and we did not smell like a couple of big onions afterwards. We split each burger so that we could each have half and both of us came to the same conclusions.

The turkey burger was the better of the two burgers yesterday. It was flavorful, tender and the fresh basils leaves it was garnished with enhanced, but did not over power. All in all, it was quite a nice burger and both of us would order this one again. The hamburger was somewhat less successful. The biggest problem we both had was...well...it didn't taste much like beef. The lettuce provided a nice crisp snap, the tomato some bright accents, the dressing complemented the lettuce and tomato very well and the onion added interest. But for us, the beef got lost in the shuffle. The beef pattie is made with Tallgrass Beef which I believe is a grassfed variety, but I don't think that was the problem. The pattie appeared to be hand formed and was, mercifully, NOT overcooked. Perhaps it was under-seasoned, or perhaps our was just an anomaly, I would be willing to try it again. For both of us the beef simply got lost and did not stand out against the other players in this burger. In other words, the ratio of bun and garnishes to beef didn't work for us...it might for you. The 3rd burger on the menu is a vegetarian option made from quinoa. I'd be will to try that one too. I saw several go by and they looked great, and what a nice change from the basic Boca Burger most places offer. All 3 burgers are listed at $6.95, which I think is a pretty good value for what you get. The portion is large without being obscene and the ingredients can't be faulted for freshness or quality.

Aside from the slight let down with the hamburger, the biggest disappointment of the meal was the 1/2 and 1/2 of french fries and onion rings. Burger Lounge cooks with 100% peanut oil (so if you've got allergies, watch out) which is great for deep frying since it yields a nice crisp, seemingly grease-free end product, and both the fries and onion rings were light, crispy and not grease laden. However, neither were very memorable, and at $4.95 an order, they did not seem to be a very good value and did seem to be a little on the high side for what we got. The onion rings were nice but ordinary.

The french fries caused debate between my friend and I. They are listed on the menu as being "hand-cut" and the server who delivered our plates assured us she had witness potatoes being cut for fries when we questioned her. But I have to say, these fries didn't resemble any "hand-cut" fries I've purchased, made or consumed. Unless they've got a master sushi chef in the kitchen cutting fries, the precision, accuracy and sameness of each fry really speaks more to a machine cut fry...and that machine may be in their kitchen. All I know, is that every fry was exactly square, exactly 1/4" in width and exactly the same. Unless one has exceptionally good knife skills, it's very hard to exactly duplicate fries by hand with the accuracy these fries had. Plus, most of our serving was "short" cuts, less than the size of the last two joints of my pinky finger. This is a pet peeve of mine with french fries and at $4.95, potato stubs are not a good value. Frankly, they looked pretty much like the Stealth Fries put out by Lamb-Weston. How did they taste? They were crisp, they had snap and were appropriately mealy and meaty inside. They were actually pretty tasty. But they were a disappointment in quality and in value. I would order the onion rings again, but probably not the fries.

Rant about the fries aside, there is a lot to like about the Burger Lounge and it's a nice addition to that end of Adams Ave. I liked that the burgers are served on nice, heavyweight china and not disposables. I liked the quality and freshness of the ingredients. I thought the burgers were a good value for the price. Burgers and fries is probably the quintessential dish and it sparks impassioned debates among even the best of friends. So with that in mind, don't take my word for things, go visit the Burger Lounge yourself, taste and form your own opinions.

Burger Lounge Premium Burgers
4116 Adams Ave
San Diego
(619) 584-2929

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  1. ok, so how do they compare to the Longhorn? ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: ibstatguy

      It's been too long since I've been to Longhorn I can't adequately compare them. Sounds like taste test challenge to me. I suspect, however, that it's the difference between a yuppie burger and a dive bar burger ;-)

    2. Have been there a few times and the burgers have been mostly very good, some wimpier than others.

      I love love love their version of a hostess cupcake.

      1. I really wanted to love Burger Lounge in Kensington -- I love their hip-retro-mod interior decor and grahics. We finally had lunch there yesterday and I have to agree with other posters: it was unremarkable food-wise.

        The turkeyburgers were ok, not as tasty and sloppy as I would have liked, not much 1000 Island dressing, fairly dry. As another poster indicated, the fries were fairly ordinary, appeared to have some herb seasoning but were actually quite bland taste-wise, and didn't appear to have been handcut. The onion rings were a bit better. The brewed iced tea was weak.

        So, we won't rush to go back, unfortunately.

        6 Replies
        1. re: JeffSD

          Went there today and was pretty happy with the burger. I ordered it medium rare, and it was quite juicy. My only complaint was with the roll, which had a lot of flour on top. Made for an unpleasant flavor.

          1. re: Josh

            What saddens me, after two visits to Burger Lounge, is that Just Fabulous, the previous restaurant in that location, had a FANTASTIC Angus burger with a saffron aioli and also perfectly seasoned crispy Belgium style fries. Burger Lounge is mediocre at best. Think I'll go back to Hodad's.

            1. re: Josh

              I went to the one in La Jolla and my bun had so much flour on top that my friends were laughing at the fact that I ended up with a dusting of flour all over my face and body. This was annoying as well as interfered with my enjoyment of the burger. We purchased the 1/2 and 1/2 and while the onion rings served on top of the fries were tasty the french fries were inedible. They had not been fried enough in the first place then were left to "steam" and become soggy underneath the onion rings. When I mentioned this to the manager or maybe owner she nodded her head and said they had lots of complaints but did not offer to refund my money or even really apologize. At $4.95 I would not order them again.
              My first job was at a french fry place at UTC and all of our fries were "handcut" too and by that I mean I put the potato in a device and pulled a lever and they were cut. I think that is what they mean by hand cut. But those fries were a major disappointment.
              I liked the fact that they are using grass fed beef but I am not sure it is enough given the rough go that I would go back.

              1. re: jturtle

                I agree. I tried their La Jolla location on 3 different occasions and I will not go back. The fries are a rip off. There is NO WAY it is hand cut. The burgers are ok at best.
                At these prices, with Rocky's and the Bareback grill in PB, I have NO reason to go back to the burger lounge. For a few bucks more, I'd rather even go to Nine Ten and get their burger.... Even Kono's in PB has a better burger and fries for a $6.50 combo for lunch.

                1. re: jturtle

                  Ah yes, Boardwalk Fries! I have actually been to both the Kensington and LJ stores a few times now, my experiences have varied a little bit - but overall I think it's ok. Service at LJ can be interminable, but I like the turkey burger and the onion rings - and I've had good fries on a couple of occasions. I do think their salads are overpriced.

                  All in all it's easy, kid friendly and not terribly expensive - in LJ, those things are kind of hard to come by. I believe you're right about the fries, they are hand cut just like In N Out, on a lever press - I'm sure they don't julienne them with a chef's knife, that would be insane.

                  1. re: Alice Q

                    No matter how they're cut, they're still just not all that good and definitely not worth the price they charge for them. The onion rings are the better choice.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. 'famous' this must be something new.

                1. re: cstr

                  I happen to have made a recent discovery last night at costco. Tallgrass beef Burger Lounge's "premium" beef purveyor sells pre made frozen patties now. I knew the burgers at burger lounge tasted frozen and this just proves my point. It seems this is the only way that Tallgrass ships ground meat. Pre formed and frozen not so premium in my book.

                  1. re: SDGourmand


                    FYI, recently I was talking to Tallgrass' local distributor and it came up that Tallgrass does not ship ground meat (frozen, preformed or otherwise) to BurgerLounge, the man told me BurgerLounge developed their own custom grind over time to get just the flavor/composition they want. I don't know how BurgerLounge's operations work beyond that. Tallgrass is excellent beef, by the way, and 100% grass fed -- I suspect even their Costco patties are quite good.

                    I am a little biased for BurgerLounge because I love their burgers (and the rest of their food) and dining there, and have had great experiences with their management. I think they're classy people and the real deal. Coronado is my local, at least until the Little Italy location opens.

                    1. re: jayporter

                      What do you think about the Burger Lounge clone that's in Little Italy? Forget the name, but they're next to where Bud's used to be, near Waterfront.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Mightn't it be it the actual space where Bud's was? Either way, no thoughts to share, I haven't eaten there. I don't find myself on that stretch of Kettner very often any more, since I dialed back on the hard liquor (ahh, but one does love the Waterfront).

                        1. re: jayporter

                          Yeah, guess it is where Bud's was. Supposedly grass-fed beef, though I was on my bike and didn't go in to ask where it's sourced from. Toronado also now does grass-fed burgers from Estancia.

                          1. re: Josh

                            that's only on Tuesdays though isn't it?

                          2. re: jayporter

                            Burger Lounge in Little Italy is where Sushi Fix was on India.

                            "Just Burger" was where Buds was, but now defunct.

                            Santana's is now in the space that Bud's occupied.

                        2. re: jayporter

                          I think the Little Italy location is open now

                        3. re: SDGourmand

                          Which Costco is this? I was just at the Morena Blvd. location and didn't see this.

                          1. re: Josh

                            for some reason chow nazi mod deleted my last post.

                            Carlsbad costco carries the tallgrass.

                            Jay burger lounge is all yours and I'll end it at that.

                            1. re: SDGourmand

                              No, your post on Tallgrass was not deleted, you posted it on another thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4527...

                              1. re: SDGourmand

                                Funny comment on the purported ModMove.

                                Went to the LJ location today.....had Hodad's yesterday, comparatively, Hodad's was way better, burgers to burgers. Plain cheeseburger, ketchup, bun and a cola.

                                Specifically, Hodad's burger tasted more like beef, compared to BL which tasted like nothing really. $8.00 @ Hodad's vs $12.00 for BL. Price is not the issue, just using it for comparison. I WANTED to like BL, as I like the concept of a "better burger" and it may be healthier, but was not better.

                                I did prefer BL's bun....slight chewiness would hold up better to a mound of toppings imo, than Hodad's traditional white bread bun.

                                Best Regards,

                                Steven Garsson

                                1. re: STevenGarsson

                                  That is my precise problem with burger lounge. I really like the concept, but I find the burger has NO flavor.

                                  1. re: STevenGarsson

                                    I find your comment "tasted more like beef" kind of puzzling. If ruminants evolved eating grass and not corn, then logically it would follow that grass-fed beef is actually what beef is supposed to taste like, and that the fattier flavor of corn-fed beef must therefore taste *less* like beef.

                                    Hodad's certainly will taste more like the beef we all grew up eating. Grass-fed beef has a much different flavor profile since the cattle eat a different diet, and are much leaner than their corn-fed brethren. I quite like the cleaner flavors of the grass-fed beef. It's sweeter, and reminds me of buffalo.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      "I find your comment "tasted more like beef" kind of puzzling." - I don't think it is really puzzling because I heard that a lot of American tourists in those parts of Europe (e.g. Germany, Denmark, Sweden etc. ) which serve mainly (grassfed) Argentinian beef complain that that beef doesn't taste like beef.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        I have eaten a reasonable amount of grass fed beef in steak form, filet, sirloin and strip steaks....as you know, each cut has a different flavor, and I found the meat different, yet still quite enjoyable. It could be the cuts that BL uses, or how long it is or is not aged, be that as it may...feel free to enjoy yours.

                                        I worked in a slaughterhouse my sophomore year in high school, and know up close and personal what my food looks like when it is alive...and like you, try to be very conscientious when purchasing my beef.

                                        I get Buffalo from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Iowa Meats, chuck and sirloin, and grind my own, and find NO similarity between Buffalo meat and the Burger Lounge burger I had today.

                                        Best Regards,

                                        Steven Garsson

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