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Umami Burger: emperor's new clothes?

I’d had a burger craving for about a week and there was Umami Burger, on my way home. I let all the hype over this place sway me and decided to give it a try. Ordered the namesake, Umami burger, and fries.

I ordered the burger medium. The meat was oddly cooked: well done on the outer 3rd’s and bloody the inner 3rd. I could have almost drawn 2 lines separating the layers. Maybe if was cooked on a too hot griddle. Or perhaps it was precooked to a rare and reheated (this is what I suspect because the meat was lukewarm). The toppings were tasty but paltry - a tiny slice of parmesan, the Umami "signature" sauce, grilled onions, 2 tiny reconstituted dry shiitake mushrooms, tomato compote of some kind (couldn’t really make out what it was because it was such a tiny dab). Ok, so that’s 5 toppings. The menu said Umami x 6 so I’m missing something, but could be that it disintegrated into the rest of the burger. Or maybe the burger itself counts as one of 6. I wouldn’t know, because my “this is my second day” server couldn’t tell me what the toppings were.

All this would have been just fine, if the meat had been good. And this is my chief complaint when it comes to most burgers and steaks: it didn’t taste BEEFY. I don’t know why, but I keep having this problem. I stopped ordering filet mignons for this exact reason, opting instead for the New York strip, which is generally fattier and beefier. But I digress. Back to the Umami burger. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. It just wasn’t beefy enough for me. For a $9 burger, it didn’t make me want to have it again. The bun was great but I don’t eat a burger for the bun. I expect it to be good but a great bun doesn’t save a mediocre burger.

Now the fries. I know some people love these fries but I didn’t care for them. They are cut so thick - the thickness of a fat finger. When you bite into it, you get the initial crunch of the exterior, which is nice, but end up with what feels like a baked potato due to the thickness of the fry. I guess I just prefer the higher outside-to-inside ratio of a standard french fry or a shoestring fry. And the house ketchup on a Chinese spoon is just ridiculous. That’s what Jeffrey Steingarten would say, for sure. And it doesn’t hold enough ketchup even for 9 fries. I ran out after 4 fries.

For my money (and when all was said and done, I was looking at $16), I’d rather go to 25 degrees, Lucky Devils or The Counter for “gourmet” burgers. Still haven’t tried Father’s Office… I even prefer the In-n-out burger (though not the fries) to Umami at a fraction of the cost.

Umami: Oooh, mommy, the emperor has no clothes!

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  1. Sonia, if you try the FO's burger and STILL don't think the burger tastes "beefy" then I think we have to conclude your taste buds need to go into the shop for a "tune up"... ;-D>

    9 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Umami = Not beefy
      FO = Cheesy
      OR ELSE
      Sonia = Not peefy

      1. re: RicRios

        Ric, if I were a compiler I'd put you on report for that wild syntax. ;-)

        I haven't been to Umami Burger yet, but I like Sonia's review and hope a few Umamites will address her comments about the odd cooking technique, tiny toppings, amateur service, lack of burgerliciousness, and baked-potato-style fries. Any review that notes the lousy fries at INO Burger deserves applause!

        Sonia, it sounds like you prefer well-aged beef, with its rather dry texture but intense beef flavor focused through water evaporation.

        1. re: sbritchky

          I really like the baked potato fries, but then again I love steak fries too. so go figure. as to the burgers themselves it did seem to be too rare in the middle and crusted on the outside, also ultra-juicy and a beefy (there was definite beefiness to the whole ordeal).

          i'm curious to try their Hi-End chili.

          1. re: kevin

            put me down for one who likes her burger with a nice sear on the outside with an even gradation from brown to pink, and just the thinnest layer of rare meat in the middle. this burger was kind of ... pasty.

            1. re: soniabegonia

              To each their own, granted I'm not a huge fan of the burger nor am I a naysayer.

      2. re: Servorg

        Truly, the FO burger is lame at best. It' really doesn't deserve to be in the same category of other really good burgers in LA. I had one (finally) this weekend. And to say that I was underwhelmed is putting it mildly. It's a nice place, but it's a BAR people. The food is pedestrian at best. IMHO, It's serviceable, but not worth the money or the accolades accorded it on this board and others. After she read my disappointment, my GF wrote and said I should have talked to her first. She said when she used to go FO, she'd order drinks and then order slices of pizzas from Louise's. Oh, SNAP. If that isn't a put down of the highest order, I don't know what it is.

        Umami, on the other hand is pure bliss for me. I'm talking the burger - not the fries, cause frankly, the best fries in town are at Mariposa in Neiman Marcus (truffle, oh yeah baby!) and not at hamburger joints.

        My fave is the middle east burger ($9), but all the others are $8 and $9 except the truffle burger. I love the joint and tell everyone I know, if they want a darn good burger, try Umami.

        1. re: Ndelible

          I really like the FO burger, got a little late to in the game. but I believe it's one of the best out there. Maybe it functions more as a gourmet sandwich than a burger. but who cares when it tastes so darn good.

          1. re: kevin

            I just don't taste it at all. Way better burgers out there than FO, IMO. As a matter of fact, I prefer the burger from Callendar's to FO, it's cheaper and comes with fries and an apple!

            1. re: Ndelible

              I hate to admit it, but I LOVE the burger at Calendar's (miracle mile), but has incosistency issues sometimes. Fries are real good too!

      3. That sucks. The burger I had there a couple of weekends ago was outstanding ... one of the best I've had in the city (SoCal Burger).

        Maybe it was just an off night?

        6 Replies
        1. re: a213b

          Nope, I had a So Cal Buger for Lunch today and it really was OUTSTANDING...

          IMHO Her comparisons to 25 Degrees and the Counter are no way close. the 25 Degree burger was Meh... and the Counter Burger has inferior meat. Now, I have only tried the Lucky Devil's Kobe Burger, but that was like eating cotton.

          The patty I had today was a generous size of beef, well seasoned and just beefy enough. It TOTALLY reminded me of our home made burgers, we do a course grind, plenty of fat stuffed within so it's nice and juicy. This burger was not so much soft, as it was TENDER... a true rare thing in the world of burgers...

          She however, does bring up some very true points... The way the cooked the patty really reminded me of a Black and Blue Steak... a nice sear on the outside and nice and rare on the inside (Which I love). This helped the burger stay together nicely unlike some other gourmet burgers I've had recently that have fallen apart.

          As for the thick cut fries... I agree with the baked potato part... except I LOVE baked potatoes! LOL! Don't get me wrong, I like little thin crispy fries too, but these really reminded me of a more 'natural' version of my beloved Langers Crinkle Cut. Crisp on the outside (Even after a 20 minute mad rush back to the office) and soft and tender on the inside.

          All in all, I very much look forward to returning!


          1. re: Dommy

            I really like 25 degrees. Sure, the service is a bit brusque at times but the burgers, at least the times I've been there (close to 10 times), have been consistently cooked and the meat delicious and BEEFY! The fries are awesome and you get a generous artery-clogging portion, not this "precious" stack of Lincoln logs with a laughable "modern" Chinese spoon ketchup service. Not that I have anything against modern presentations but seriously, this is fries and ketchup! I want to eat fries until I feel a grease coma. I also forgot to mention in my original post that I wasn't entirely full when I was done and was even tempted to stop at In-n-out for a burger with grilled onions. I didn't, only because it was out of the way. And I'm a petite girl (though admittedly with a healthy appetite). And I still have a burger craving because Umami just didn't fulfill it for me.

            Re The Counter: to be fair, I've only been to the original Ocean Park location and before the franchises started popping up everywhere. I like the build your burger concept and found the meat delicious.

            1. re: soniabegonia

              The Ketchup Chinese Spoon wierdness is annoying. But I found the burger, bun and fries absolutely delish. I had pork but the way Soniabegoina and Dommy! describe the beef patty is exactly how I like it. I mean how YMMY is this -- "The meat was oddly cooked: well done on the outer 3rd’s and bloody the inner 3rd. I could have almost drawn 2 lines separating the layers. "

              Size worked for me too. Not a nausea-inducing giant burger-and-gargantuan-fry-stack but a sensible portion of goodness.

              1. re: soniabegonia

                I too like 25 degrees' burger, They're high on my list of good ones.

              2. re: Dommy

                Yes, people, the fries are very good here. I really got to try their chili burger now. what's the socal burger, lettuce, tomato, processed cheese, onions, and homemade spread???

                have you tried their eponymous Umami burger or the Italian truffle variety?

                1. re: kevin

                  I've tried the chili, umami, pork, and truffle burger. The chili is my favorite of the bunch with the truffle burger second. If you like a good just plain beefy burger, with a hint of truffle, go for the truffle burger. It was good, but I probably wouldn't get it again when the chili is available and cheaper. Unimpressed by the umami and pork.

            2. My burger was outstanding too, although I could have sworn it was $8 when they first opened. I don't know that it was particularly beefy, it just tasted great. Maybe we just have different tastebuds.
              Agree about the fries, though.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chowpatty

                it's still 8 dollars, i believe. while the italian truffle burger is a 3 dollar upgrade, it's probably due to those pricey white truffles straight from Alba (NOt!0

                  1. re: soniabegonia

                    Burgers now range from $10 - $15. Sides from $3 - $7.

              2. I had the umami burger for lunch there yesterday. I thought it was very good. Although I didn't specify how I wanted it cooked, it came very rare. I also had the onion rings which were very nice and light but I thought just slightly undercooked. I have the same problem with the fries that most CH'ers here have already complained about. I know what they're trying to achieve (a very tender, light interior with a nicely crisp exterior) unfortunately, they're just not getting there yet.

                As for price, now all of them seem to be the same ($9). Last time I was there I recall the lamb burger was $11. They continue to tinker, which is not a bad thing.

                1. Try 26 Beach Restaurant for the best burgers around, homemade bun and it comes with either a salad or fries! Since the owner is Japanese, this is the true UMAMI! You can keep The Counter.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                    I been going for 25 years when they first opened. It was family owned, dad did sushi at night, mom waited on tables and one son cooked and the other ran food and did whatever needed. I love the burgers and it is still family, even though mom passed and dad's health is not good. The son Francis is the executive chef and in this day and age of celebrity chefs with groups of investors putting up big money to open up restaurants, take a look at The COunters website and see what kind of financial committment they want. This little mom and pop is pumping out the best burgers and they have been doing it since '82 or '83. Chalk on up for quality and no blog hype, do you see 26 Beach being talked about on GPS or Eater LA or Eating LA or LA Eating? No! They are not the hippest latest thing, they keep pumping out great salads, burgers and amazing french toasts. I am actually going there this weekend for brunch with friends. Ok my ramble is over, sorry about that. Remember, "Enjoy life, eat out more often". Mafia, money laundering....ummmmmmmm I take the fifth!

                    1. re: Burger Boy

                      Thanks! I was really curious as to your constant loyalty there (and also, just teasing). You've sold me though. I actually just moved around the corner, so I do want to try it, and I'll be sure to check out the burger on one of my first go-rounds. I'm looking forward to it!

                    2. re: Burger Boy

                      You can keep the counter? I've heard of places that let you keep your glass, but never the whole counter! ;-)

                      I like your enthusiasm, Burger Boy, and will try those 26 Beach burgers sometime soon.

                      1. re: sbritchky

                        The Breakfast burger with chili is so BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDD, oh my! The Chimichurri is my second fave these days.

                        1. re: Burger Boy

                          Loved the chimichurri, thanks to you, B-Boy! They should put you on retainer, man!!

                    3. I was there last night and I believe I had the best burger in LA. The truffle burger was out of this world. Perfect bun, decent amount of heft, and just a flavor explosion. Out of a group of 4, we had 2 burgers each, and on the first go around we each had the Umami burger. Fantastic, stuff. Nice grind on some parmesan and a meaty sauce that we could not determine. We also split the So Cal Burger, Triple Pork Burger, and the Port Stilton Burger. I really liked the So Cal Burger, as I thought it was a good interpretation of the IN-N-Out Burger. The fries pretty much sucked, they need to revamp the cooking process, and maybe do something else. I enjoyed the onion rings as they were quite flavorful, and the sweet potato chips were worth getting. We ordered the pickle platter which was a nice way to cleanse the palate between burgers. I hope more people hate this place cuz I dont want to wait in line when I walk up da crew.

                      1. The 4 different burgers I've had at Umami were all very good to fantastic and all plenty "beefy". I actually love the baked potato effect in the fries, just wish it was a larger order. 25 degrees isn't even in the same flavor/quality/service ball park. I will be returning to Umami a lot.

                        1. I am saddened by this report. I have read so many good reviews, I was gearing up for a visit sometime soon, probably this weekend. Can anyone convince me this is still worth my while?

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: lotta_cox

                            Lotta, can't believe you haven't been there yet. Shame on you!

                            1. re: RicRios

                              *hangs head*

                              a carnivore such as myself should be committed to trying every burger in town asap.

                            2. re: lotta_cox

                              Lotta, I think you should give it a try and I think you'll like the burger, especially the triple pork.

                              1. re: rednyellow

                                The por...por...pork burger (how P Pig would call the triple out) and the Sea-mami are on my to devour list.

                                1. re: rednyellow

                                  I am mostly tempted by reports of the truffle burger. I am a truffle ho.

                                  1. re: lotta_cox

                                    "I am a truffle ho"

                                    U'R not.
                                    I am.
                                    Call for details.

                                    1. re: RicRios

                                      will the truffle h-------------------o sss. please stand up?

                                      1. re: kevin


                                        I am going to steam some eda mame tonight and toss them with truffled sea salt!

                                        1. re: lotta_cox

                                          Where did you get your truffled sea salt? I got mine from www.saltistry.com

                                          1. re: Burger Boy

                                            It was actually a gift from a good friend. The brand is Fusion Black Truffle Sea Salt. I am trying to remember if it came in an Amazon box or not. It was delicious.

                                            1. re: lotta_cox

                                              Sorry to say this, lotta, but all you're getting is Bis(methylthio)methane, a derivative of the process of petrol distillation. Oh, and some salt as well.




                                              1. re: RicRios

                                                I would believe you except the ingredients label clearly states ONLY salt & black truffle.

                                                my bottle of white truffle oil states olive oil & whote truffle essence.

                                                there is no mention in either product of the compound CH3SCH2SCH3, however.

                                                I am not saying you are wrong in some cases, however, in both these cases the manufacturer/ distributor would have to be falsifying ingredient labels in order to sell these.

                                                1. re: lotta_cox

                                                  "essence", "aroma", "flavor" &etc are all marketing synonyms for the same thing.

                                                  1. re: RicRios

                                                    I'll buy your argument for the oil, anyway.

                              2. You know, I've been a fan of Umami Burger since they opened and have been there quite a few times. I do think they have a few issues that they need to deal with. The service hasn't been consistent, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt since they just opened. Also, they are always out of things. I've been there a couple of times (for lunch) and they were out of one burger or another. I went tonight and they were out of ice (huh?) for the drinks.

                                I really like the food and the owner seems nice so I have been giving them the benefit of the doubt. I went there tonight because I was in the mood for a good burger. The patty on the burger was REALLY rare, to the point where I felt it wasn't warm in the middle. I mentioned it to the waiter and all he said was something to the effect of "that's how we make them" and didn't ask if they could fix it or get me something else. I couldn't eat more than one bite. The owner came by and asked if I wanted to take the burger home (with only one bite taken out of it) and I said no and paid the check. I was shocked that he didn't ask why I had only taken one bite and left the rest. The place was really busy and I think that is one of the problems. They just get overwhelmed. I decided I should try and call them to mention the problem but couldn't get the owner on the line.

                                I like the place and have turned a ton of my friends on to Umami Burger. The Triple Pork burger is one of my favorite things to eat. I really hope they get it together. If you are spending $16 for a burger, onion rings and a coke, that isn't cheap. I want these places to succeed, but these days service and consistent quality are even more important. Trendy only lasts so long.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: bsquared2

                                  Was it the pork burger that was rare? I can deal with medium pork, but rare, no thank you.

                                  1. re: Burger Boy

                                    No. It was a beef burger. I can deal with rare, but this was RARE rare.

                                    I do like the Umami Burger and the Lamb Burger is pretty good. The Triple Pork is the one that stands out. I really hope they get the service end together. I really think they end up getting overwhelmed. But, any restaurant should be able to deal with crowds.

                                  2. re: bsquared2

                                    I live nearby and really, really like eating there for lunch (I'm totally in love with the Port & Stilton and the Lamb burgers), but ever since they got the Jonathan Gold write-up and that daily thingy on Yelp's homepage, I avoid going there. Which is too bad because I haven't gotten around to try the Triple Pork burger yet.
                                    I'm waiting for the tide to recede, because Umami is obviously much too small to successfully endure the masses. I don't think any restaurant can handle crowds, not when their footprint is that small (I hear the kitchen is also tiny). But I always had OK service so far (pre-crowds), not the most professional but always very kind.

                                  3. Ok, I have to say this place is beginning to upset me.

                                    I went there last night (taking a friend from out of town), so I could try some of their other burgers (been there - successfully - one other time). I initially planned on going Mon or Tues, b/c I knew they were not (initially) open on Sundays. So, when my friend asked if we could do burgers tonight (last night), I said they're not open, but I'll double check. I go to their website, and alas! they ARE open. 2-9pm. So, I drive from WLA (thankfully, it was Sun, and there wasn't much traffic), only to find them closed. WTF?! This is the 2nd time in the 3 times I've gone there that they have been closed when they were supposed to be open. Post a notice on your website if you are closed when you are supposed to be open!
                                    [/End of rant]

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                      I was going to go last night also. I called to check and they said that they had a "gas problem" and would be closed. Guess it's a case of bad luck.

                                    2. Finally got a chance to try them again, and my god is that a good burger! MY SO and I split the Mideastern burger and the Hatch (new) burger, which is a chile burger. The Hatch burger was amazing! The meat was perfectly cooked, with a nice beefy taste, and the cheese was ooey-gooey goodness! I love their buns too, soft, airy and buttery. The sweet potato chips were solid. The Mideastern burger was good; a great amalgam of flavors, but the highlight was definitely the hatch burger. The Triple Pork burger (the first one I had) is maybe a tad better than the Mideastern burger.

                                      Overall, after trying three different burgers, this is IMO, the best burger in LA (beating out FO). The only places I feel I have yet to try that could compete for that spot are: Morton's, 25 Degrees and Grace(?).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mdpilam

                                        25 degrees can not compete, does not even belong in the same race.

                                      2. I'll throw in my 2 cents...
                                        My SO and I tried them on Saturday.
                                        Armed with all of the knowledge I could amass from this thread we did a few things:
                                        1. Went at 5pm, before the throngs descended. It worked, the place was practically empty, service was great.
                                        2. Specified that we wanted the burgers cooked medium well (the waiter did not ask how we'd like them cooked). The burgers came out perfect to my taste, not bloody, no lines of red/char.
                                        I ordered the Umami burger, my SO got the port and stilton.
                                        I ended up de-mushrooming my burger, I found the mushrooms to detract from the burger too much. Even so, the toppings were only pretty good to me.
                                        Meanwhile, my SO absolutely devoured his port and stilton. The tiny bite I wrestled away from him confirmed that it was very good, simple with well balanced flavors, if just a tad too stilton-y for my taste.
                                        The Umami burger was less exciting. However, the meat and the bun on their own were simply phenomenal. That bun! Buttery chewy toasted perfection. The meat was exceptionally juicy, but the bun just sponged it up, instead of disintegrating like lesser breads would do. I rarely eat the whole burger at most places, usually they're just a bit too much for me. But I just couldn't put this bun and patty down.
                                        We also split an order of fries. It's good to know going in that you are getting a thick very potato-y french fry, but ultimately, I really loved them. They were like a perfect steak fry, super crispy on the outside, nice and soft on the inside. The ketchup serving didn't bother me, but I'm not a big ketchup user and my SO doesn't care for it at all, so we weren't fighting over the small-ish amount.

                                        We also really enjoyed the cake monkey desserts, which I know are available other places, but which I'd never tried before.

                                        My SO and I started getting into the whole "best burger in LA" debate at the end of our meal. The difficulty that we came across is that the toppings and offerings have so much to do with our enjoyment, one of the reasons we both enjoy 25 degrees so much. It may not be the best meat/bun, but I just get sucked into the roasted tomato and burrata on top of the one I get.
                                        Anyway, this led to our decision that really, we ought to go around one day tasting the city's burgers, bun + meat only. No condiments, no toppings, and then truly decide which is "best." (for FO, I guess that will mean scraping off the works...)

                                        My guess is that Umami burger would win that competition.
                                        We're making a plan to try it out... I'll let you know.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                          I've thought about doing a burger tasting too (I've done it with pizza and tacos before), but especially w/ FO's burger, I think it would be too much. Though I guess you can split it. Hmmm....

                                          As a side, I was thinking that it would be GREAT if they had shakes. Hardly any of these great burger places have shakes/malts (The Counter is the only one that comes to mind, and they are average IMO - in terms of burgers).

                                          1. re: mdpilam

                                            25 Degrees, 8 oz and Lucky Devil's all offer shakes/malts.

                                            1. re: New Trial

                                              I've only been to 8oz of those listed, and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Still meaning to try 25 deg though.

                                              1. re: mdpilam

                                                yep, underwhelmed (repeatedly-I live close) by 8 oz but LOVE 25 degrees!

                                        2. I was distinctly underwhelmed by Umani burger. The bun is soggy. I looked at other diners ... theirs were soggy too.

                                          The tempura onion rings were greasy. Really greasy.

                                          I do not understand the appeal.

                                          1. We weren't asked how we wanted our burgers cooked - it just came kind of glistening. I agree, I was very underwhelmed and originally had high hopes for the umami burger. It was an interesting combination with the tanginess of the tomato and the scent of the mushrooms, but I couldn't taste the cheese. I guess I had built up my expectations to expect a lot more. Maybe I would've enjoyed the burger more had it not been so hyped up. I also have yet to try the Father's Office burger..

                                            1. I have to chime in here about burgers tasting "beefy".

                                              Ever since I switched to grassfed beef or bison for cooking at home, all cornfed beef tastes like water slicked with rancid fat. I'm serious. I've even had Wagyu that tastes this way, because it's grain fed. I'll still eat any meat placed in front of me. I'm constantly let down. I've tried finding grassfed at most major butchers in L.A. and they shun the stuff, with the butchers at Marconda's practically laughing at me, and I don't trust the grassfed at Whole Foods. So I started buying it at the Organic Pastures stand at the HW farmer's market, as well as from Kathy from Lindner Bison. I pan fry them in good butter in a cast iron, rare, flipped every 30 seconds or so (the Heston Blumenthal method) with a fried egg on top, just a drop of good mustard and ketchup, buttered bun, and that's it. It's juicy, clean, complex tasting, and BEEFY.

                                              If I found a burger like this I would pay top dollar for the convenience of going out and enjoying with friends over some well selected beers. But it doesn't exist. I've tried burgers from most of the places mentioned on this thread. I'm sorry, they all taste weak. The FO burger was probably the biggest let down of all, considering the hype revolving around it. I could barely discern any flavor that I would call "beefy".

                                              I'm not sure what the food cost would be like, but we need a burger joint specializing in grassfed beef.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: fooddude37

                                                I have your answer! The Library Alehouse at 2911 Main St in Santa Monica actually sells the Lindner Bison Burger ($14). My wife and I drive from Valencia to Santa Monica quite often to get this puppy. And beer? They have a great selection. Feel free to check it out. I'm sure you will be quite pleased with the entire experience (ambiance is perfect on the patio). www.libraryalehouse.com

                                                1. re: dalittlebro

                                                  huh. Interesting. Never thought I'd see the day. Thanks! Will check it out ASAP

                                                2. re: fooddude37

                                                  And WHAT, precisely, is wrong with "water slicked with rancid fat"? ;-) Good description, although I'd add that most of the Wagyu I've had skimps on the water.

                                                  My favorite cooking method for both hamburger and steak uses a volcanically hot cast-iron pan briefly on top of the stove and then in the oven, but I'd never turn the meat so often, because it would lose juice and diminish the Maillard reaction.

                                                  On the Library Alehouse: Never been there, and I couldn't find dalittlebro's Lindner burger on their menu, but a google site search turned up not only the bison burger but also information about grass-fed short ribs and other items of likely interest to fooddude37. See: http://www.libraryalehouse.com/librar...

                                                  Library Alehouse
                                                  2911 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                                  1. re: fooddude37

                                                    Grassfed beef tastes grassy to me, though it may just be my imagination. I much prefer the fatty marble of the cornfed kind, environmental concerns aside.

                                                  2. Location link.

                                                    Umami Burger
                                                    850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                    1. soniabegonia, you nailed it. I live stupid close to Umami, but with the micro parking and price (and after dark that stretch of La Brea is a little skeevy for a walk) I'd just as soon go to the Counter where I can easily park for free & get beer. It was fine...but not remarkable. I still think Father's Office is the king, tho, but I really am over the damn 'open seating.'

                                                      1. I completely agree. My husband and I ate at the La Brea location and wondered what all the hype was for a $10 burger. I don't understand why everyone raves about this burger joint. For my money Father's Office is much better.

                                                        Father's Office
                                                        1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                                        1. I am DONE with Umami Burger. This was an actual conversation I had yesterday (9/13) with the bartender at the Studio City location:

                                                          Me: May I have a bottle of coke?
                                                          Bartender: Sure. Are you ready to order?
                                                          Me: Yes. I'll have the Hatch Chili Burger, medium rare with extra cheese and extra green chilies.
                                                          Bartender: I'll have to check with the kitchen to see if we can do that.
                                                          Me: I am willing to pay extra. Last time I ordered the burger I was disappointed at the amount of cheese and green chilies on it. Why do you need to check with the kitchen?
                                                          Bartender: Hold on a sec.
                                                          Bartender: I'm sorry but the kitchen manager says that we cannot do that. You see UMAMI Burgers are precisely...
                                                          Me: Don't even bother with an explanation! I'll take my check for the coke.

                                                          Umami Burger
                                                          12159 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: orythedog

                                                            there are many places that won't do subsitutions or rather modifications. like say at office you can't say more of something on the burger, even though they already put that topping on the burger.

                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                              I wouldn't say many, it is a few and it is pretentious beyond belief especially in a burger joint. So if I don't like America cheese, and I want Cheddar you won't put on my burger? It speaks poorly of the organization.

                                                              I get that some restaurants have to have such a policy for some of their complex dishes, but not a burger joint when there are others just as good that will do what ever you want.

                                                          2. This string has reduced (but not killed) my curiosity about UB, and inspired a thought or two:

                                                            Very, very good (sometimes great) burgers often come from very, very good (or great) restaurants, regardless of whether they hold themselves out as specializing in burgers. In fact, a place that bills itself as a burger specialty joint is asking for disappointment (or at least disagreement) among burger fans who, naturally, show up with their own particular preconceptions and skepticisms.

                                                            Example: I happened to order what turned out to be a truly memorable, first-rate burger at Canyon restaurant, in Anaheim Hills, which has developed an OC-wide reputation as a superior dining spot, but certainly not as a burger joint. Nonetheless, the really tasty ground chuck was nicely charred but pink inside, and the bun and condiments (including pancetta, cheddar, etc.) were just right. About $13, I think.

                                                            1. I was with you right up until you vouched for The Counter I tried it here in Pasadena a few weeks after it opened ... meh.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: ccmccall

                                                                Wow, old post resurrected! This was over 2.5 years ago! I've since been to The Counter twice and agree that it's bland and probably wouldn't return. I've also been to Umami twice since (Cahuenga & SM locations) and had a pretty good hatch burger at Cahuenga and a truly pathetic hatch burger at SM. And perhaps I missed it, but I think they may done away with the ridiculous Lincoln log fries and replaced them with skinny fries. I've moved on to Go Burger for when the craving strikes (I get the smashed burger). Still haven't tried Father's Office! The bar setup/crowd/burger nazi thing is keeping me away but I will try it someday.

                                                                1. re: soniabegonia

                                                                  Office makes a great burger sandwich, really like it, though the set-up, atmo, crowd is not at all bad as you may have previously conceived.

                                                                  the burger may not remind you of the quintessential American burger but it is still very good.