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Mar 9, 2008 04:30 PM

Oinkster Burger

I stopped in to The Oinkster for lunch last week and had one of the best burgers I've had since moving to LA - nice hand-formed patty, pleasantly charred on the outside and perfectly juicy medium rare on the inside. I liked the burger so much in fact, that I returned on Sunday with a friend. Based on my recommendation, she ordered the burger as well. Sad to say, it was a major letdown. The patty was still perfectly cooked but it was significantly thinner and the meat tasted like it was of lower grade. In addition, it had a "too perfect" machine formed appearance.

The fries were excellent on both visits.

Also, the staff was very attentive on Sunday when it appeared that our order got screwed up. An additional burger was cooked and offered to our table free of charge.

I sent this in to the Oinkster's website as well. Anyone know if they actually pay attention to diner comments?

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  1. Aren't the fries great :) We went there Sat just for a bite of those fries.
    And yes...I'm pretty sure they pay close attention to customer comments. Next time try and speak to the manager.
    Oh, did you get the 5$ off email? I'm not usually a coupon clipper..but I don't mind printing this one out as an excuse to grab some lunch :)

    8 Replies
    1. re: barefootpris

      The folks at The Oinkster are a class act. Here is their reply:

      I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your feedback. It's
      things like this that we really need to hear. You are absolutely correct
      in your observations about the difference between the two burgers. Over
      the last few weeks we have been exploring different options and ways to
      improve upon our burger. Clearly, this patty is not the way to go. You
      are not alone in saying that our burger is one of the best and it is our
      goal at The Oinkster to keep it that way! I am glad to hear, that
      although our burger was not up to par yesterday, your visit was made
      enjoyable by our staff and I'm encouraged to hear that our fries were
      everything that you expected. Please stop by again soon and say hello.
      Thanks again for your feedback.

      1. re: JeMange

        I missed this thread (wish I'd known) and just had a similar experience with The Oinkster burger (after having sent some clients there with a recommendation for the darned thing). Went tonight to see if the clients' had been right - they were. Burger was dry, packed tight, lacking flavor, and rather unremarkable.

        So I sent off an email to management, relating what I'd observed - hopefully they'll be going back to the "old" way, soon.

        1. re: ElsieDee

          So, I just heard back from Michelle, who manages The Oinkster. After getting some negative feedback, they've (thankfully) returned to the hand-formed patty. They seem to be nice folks, who genuinely care about the kind of food they're serving. They even offered me a gift card.

          Appears to be an efficient and smartly run business.

          1. re: JeMange

            Have you checked out their sister restaurant Max's in Sherman Oaks? Definitely a white tablecloth setting...GREAT food.

            1. re: brattenheimer

              Is that the same Max's as in Glendale??? if so, the last time I went there the philipino food rocked!


              1. re: AteTooMuch

                I think the Max reference is Max Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

                MAX Restaurant
                13355 Ventura Blvd.
                Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                It's kind of a asian/french enfusion cuisine. I'm a huge fan of the lumpia :)

                1. re: AteTooMuch

                  Wow! We went to Max's Filipino restaurant in Glendale a few years back to celebrate my mom's birthday (she's Filipino). The food was disgusting! One of the worst meals I've had in recent memory.

                  The Max's the poster was referring to is in Sherman Oaks.

            2. re: ElsieDee

              Just wanted to update y'all:

              I received a very thoughtful, reassuring email from Michelle regarding the burgers; she says that they're immediately going back to the hand-formed patties. Yippee! Gonna have to go by this weekend and get my fix, I do believe.

              Good to see a restaurant that responds to and cares about patron feedback.

        2. Went to the Oinkster for the pastrami and was not overly impressed. The meat was kind fatty (and not in a good way) and the portions were small. The fries, however, were amazing as was the ube shake. The burgers looked good and will definitely try one next time when I go back for the fries.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carriedushey

            Fatty meat and small portions? They must be playing around with the pastrami too, then - Mrs. O and I swore we'd never again eat both halves of our sandwiches at a single sitting. We could barely waddle out of there, and she didn't want any supper that night. Not only were the sandwiches huge, the meat itself was moist, tender, flavorful and not any fattier than a pastrami lover would normally want.

          2. My husband and I go to the Oinkster frequently. He always get the pulled pork combo with fries and loves it. I've tried a few other things. The burger was great once -- thick, juicy, and perfectly medium-rare as requested! But the last time I went there, they gave me a thin, well-done burger even though I'd requested medium rare. When I complained, they cooked me a new burger, but it was well done again! When I gave that one back to them, they tried a third time, only to make another well-done burger! At that point I sadly ate the sad, thin, dry burger. (My friends had already finished their dinners!) And, I figured that they didn''t really train the cooks who were working that night to deliver the kind of burger they'd become known for. More recently, I tried their Chinese Chicken salad which was fresh and exceptional. However, I'd love to be able to get the old-style burger again! This sort of thing is hard to come by these days!

            1. We went last night, and despite these posts saying they were immediately going back to the original burger, it seemed pretty thin and unremarkable. The tomatoes on the burger were good though, and together it was a nice package, but it had nothing on Top's Kobe burger, for example. The pastrami sandwich seemed like a smallish portion but the right size for a normal person -- surely the calories in a Langer's pastrami work out to twice what you should eat in a day. Fries were great, but the roast chicken seemed pretty dry. Still, a good place to take my not-very adventurous kids and meat-loving b.f. and satisfy everyone.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chowpatty

                What a bummer! One of the managers sent me a $10 gift card after I complained. I'd feel weird ordering the burger (for free) and returning it if it still wasn't up to par.

              2. Oinkster has completely fallen apart since a spate of rave reviews:

                The Beef: 100% Angus from Nebraska. The cut? No one behind the counter knew, but judging from the blandness, I'd say that it was 80/20 Chuck. Chuck peppered with connective tissue. The beef had not a hint of aging, but it did have a satisfying iron taste--other than that, it was completely insipid. It came out not completely dry, so a couple of points for that. I would guess that this beef showed up frozen in 5 pound plastic tubes from a facility in Nebraska. When this product is allowed to sit in a thawed state for more than 48 hours, it begins to leak out fluids and flavor, and, in turn, this leads to dryish, bland burgers. That's pretty much what we got at Oinkster.

                The Preparation: Griddled hot to Well Done. They rendered out the majority of the fat and the remaining flavor, sadly. The grind was coarse, and the irregular patties were formed loosely, so that the mouth feel was loose, meaty, and crumbly. As you can see in the photos, none of the juices reached the bun. This truly teetered on the edge of dryness.

                The Seasoning: There was a vague taste of salt on the outside, and NOTHING on the inside--nothing but bits of gristle.

                The Sear: It was a bit uneven, but the 1/3 pound patty could not have tolerated much more heat. The griddle imparted a nice crunch to the spots where there was sear, and that was a nice contrast in texture. Again, since there was no seasoning and there was not much by way of juices, the sear on this bland beef was not flavorful.

                The Cheese: Nicely melted American.

                Halfway to a good sear/crust
                The Bun: The (spottily) seeded, hamburger bun was barely toasted. It must have come from a specialty bakery, because only a specialty bakery could turn out a product this useless. The bun was bland and flimsy. It simply fell apart and away from the burger patty as it was being eaten, and I used no condiments. Happy Meal fared worse, because his pickles and ketchup added moisture and weight to the already WEAK bun. He was displeased.

                The Meat to Bun Ratio: Hard to tell since the bun was in the business of disintegrating, and business was good. If I'd had to guess, I'd say it was correct for a single, but way too little bun for a double.

                The Fries: YECH...they called them "Belgian Fries," so I can only assume that "Belgian" was code for something that is greasy, lank, and undesirable. The fries were very "Belgian." They were also unsalted. Finally, there were two ketchup ketchup and a chipotle ketchup. Neither of these choices was worth a damn, since both were heavy on the acid and sweet flavors which created an overly "bright" taste to them--a lot like sugary, malt vinegar. Neither of these so-called ketchups featured the customary hearty, tomato flavor, which is why one uses................................ketchup. The muted, sturdy flavor of a Heinz would have been much preferred.

                The concept at Oinkster was high-quality, American, comfort food. They called it "Slow Fast Food." In practice, the Oinkster quickly delivered an assemblage of so-so ingredients that comprised a bland and mediocre whole. If you live in Los Angeles, you can safely skip Oinkster--you'll save money on gas--you will miss out on nothing. The value was poor--18 bucks for 2 baskets of bland and a couple of cokes.


                2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                2 Replies
                1. re: TheBurgerBusters

                  Oinkster used to be one of my favorite places but it has been in a death spiral over the last two years. Each visit has been more disappointing than the previous one. I still hope they get it together because the menu is great and the atmosphere is great.

                  2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    That really is sad, because it appeared to be a gem at one point. I am sorry to have missed out.