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Golden State - 3 strikes and out

After three attempts to enjoy something at Golden State, I'm over it. I live very close and was really hoping it would be good or at least decent, but no. They may have good beer and scoops ice cream, but neither redeems the mediocrity they deliver food wise.
First visit I didn't bother ordering because there were no available seats and the place was crawling with loud rambunctious children. Second visit I had the burger and fries. Small disappointing burger, not cooked as ordered, crumbly bun, under cooked fries and bad curry catsup. Today I tried the hot dogs. Like the previous visits, the room is way too loud and again, kids running around unchecked.
Terrible parents.
I ordered the spicy frank with kraut and grilled onions with a cucumber salad and the italian with peppers and onions with a cabbage slaw. They arrived and the first thing I noticed was how small the buns are, the franks are small and the toppings are small. The sides are big. The spicy frank was totally dry, over cooked, hard on the ends. The italian had no fennel/anise/garlic flavor or any other flavor that you'd expect from a sausage called italian. it seemed more like a bad veggy concoction. It too was dry and over cooked. I tried the "hot" mustard, expecting something like colemans, but no more heat than Frenches. The cucumber salad was lame. tasted like it was dressed with only oil. no seasoning, no acidity, bland. The slaw was very under dressed, dry, under seasoned and tasted more of bell pepper, or something. just bad. The two bad hotdogs were $15 plus tax. The guy at the counter asked me how everything was. I told him it was very disappointing and I told him why. He was very nice and apologetic and asked if there was any way he could make it up to me. I said no. I already ate the food so I wouldn't think of asking for a refund and since six out of six items I tried off their menu were very poor, I saw no point in asking for something else since the kitchen and I clearly have different ideas about what is acceptable for good food. I wont be back.

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  1. It seems as if much of your objection is the ambiance. I agree with you that it really diminishes the experience when there are oblivious or over-indulgent parents around, but I can't really hold that against Golden State. I also agree that Golden State suffers from the prevailing design philosophy that "noisy" => "buzzy" => "popularity". I really wish more place didn't subscribe to this idea, and there are places I avoid because the volume just wears you out (Animal, Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya, Mozza). However, I've been very happy with everything I've had at Golden State. I haven't had the burger yet, but their muffuletta and BLT were outstanding on our visits, and the beer selection is great. Also, I liked the Persian cucumber salad. It doesn't hit you over the head with look-at-me-pay-attention-to-me! seasoning, but I can live without that.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Peripatetic

      "It seems as if much of your objection is the ambiance."

      I read r&y's review as more about his dissatisfaction with the food than the Excedrin headache inducing scene he describes. He obviously knows that if he were to go in at a later hour most of the "ambiance" problems would probably be at home in bed, while the food he found fault with would be the same. So when he says "I won't be back" I see that as much more about the food than any other issues.

      1. re: Servorg

        Agreed, SO. It was a thoughtfully written review of some terrible food. Guess I'm glad to scratch one restaurant off of my "Must Try" list.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          As many others, including myself, have really enjoyed the food, I think it would be unfortunate to dismiss the place on r&y's review alone, but do what you will. I was there on monday night and had the veggie sandwich and it was great (including the delicious breadbar ciabiatta) and i really enjoyed the persian cucumber salad. Really, though, this place is about really solid food accompanying their outstanding beer.

        2. re: Servorg

          right. had the food been good, I would have either dealt with the ambience, or gone back at another hour.

      2. i went there once and tried their vegetarian sandwich. it was good, but nothing special. the sweet potato wedges were also OK, nothing special. this place is close to me as well, and i wish i loved it but i don't. i'll be back for scoops to go. $2 a scoop is expensive compared to what Scoops charges when you order in the store, but it saves me the drive so i guess it's worth it.

        1. I don't think of this place as a food destination per se. More like a place to stop by for a really great beer and watch the game or a quick bite. The burger was very good when I went, cooked to order medium rare and the bun did not fall apart. It wasn't unique like an FO burger but was good. The curry ketchup is one of those "hate it or love it kind" of things. And the old rasputin with brown bread scoops is reason enough to come here. There's no where else you can get that. The atmosphere for me has been laid back without an ounce of pretention. I think if you come in expecting really great food you'll be disappointed, but if you just want a great beer and something to snack on, you'll be well pleased. You can always go to animal across the street for the food.

          2 Replies
            1. Seems like Jonathan Gold loves the Golden State rates the burger among the best in LA......hmmmmmmmmmmmm


              4 Replies
              1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                crap now it's gonna be packed every day

                1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                  yeah, i was considering writing a thoughtful riposte to rednyellow, since i do understand what he wrote, but i just don't agree with any of it, but i think mr. gold took the words right out of my mouth.

                  for the record: the burger bun is not crumbly (it's from rockenwagner), the curry ketchup is bananas good, the hotdog bun is of normal size. and if you peep the other golden state thread, the cucumber salad gets raves--and yeah, it's delicious and refreshing, esp. now that it's hot.

                  but if peeps don't wanna show, so much the better, it'll be easier for me to grab a seat.

                  1. re: scuzm

                    Mr. Gold may like Golden State. I don't. My tastes frequently don't mirror his opinions, which are just that. Mr. Gold raved about the burger at Comme Ca, which I found to be bland and drenched in mayo and considering the price, the worst in L.A.
                    6 out of 6 items I tried at Golden State were poor. The bun my incorrectly cooked burger was served on was indeed crumbly and fell apart in my hands. I fail to see how being from rockenwagner somehow makes the bun crumble proof. Maybe the bun served to me was not fresh, poorly toasted? There are a number or reasons why it could be bad. The point is, it was bad. The bun was crumbly, fell apart and the burger as a whole was very poor. Their curry ketchup was the lamest I've had, flat, no tang.

                    1. re: rednyellow

                      For what it's worth, I think Rockewagner is overrated and I wouldn't be surprised if they put out an inferior bun.

                      And I agree about Comme Ca's burger, although I agree with Mr. Gold 90% of the time.

                2. For what it's worth-- my wife & I stopped for lunch the other day. One BLTA, one burger--both outstanding. Good jalapeno cole slaw. Fresh quality ingredients. Excellent root beer float. Congenial service. But do not make the mistake of looking for ambience.

                  I certainly don't always agree with Jonathan Gold, but I think in this case he got it exactly right.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rudy buci

                    I agree. Though I'm in the 'reluctant to promote' camp for selfish desire to keep the crowds and noise manageable. But I also like the guys who run the place and what they're doing, so I feel compelled to be honest. I love their burger. There. Now please don't try it.

                  2. Ok, finally had a chance to try this place tonight with a group of friends (I had asked in the other thread if it would work with a group). Overall, I can't say I was impressed, nor can I say I was disappointed. The beer was good (but I expected good beer), though the beer I wanted most, the Ommegang Rouge, tapped when I ordered one. I got about a quarter glass (free, thanks!), which I really enjoyed, making me wish I would've had a full glass! But the 1903 was good too. I had the burger and sweet potato fries, and I was a tad disappointed in both. The burger, while solid, was a bit dry - I ordered medium and it came out more medium well than medium - and seemed to lack cohesiveness. Definitely nowhere near Umami's or FO's league. The sweet potato fries were fairly mushy and oily, and the aioli left something to be desired. Again, FO's sweet potato fries puts these to shame, but then again, they're fantastic! I tried some of my friends regular fries, and these were definitely better. I wish I would've ordered the jalapeno coleslaw, but I just can't resist sweet potato anything. I finished with a Beer Float, and this was awesome! First time I've tried it, and I went with Old Rasputin and Guinness Carmel ice cream (I preferred it to the recommended Jim Beam Nutmeg), and I was very happy with this.

                    Overall though I had a good time, and even though the place was a bit smaller than I imagined, I was able to stalk a single table when I got there and move into a booth with three tables to fit all of our group by the time they arrived. The place was pretty much full from 6:45pm to 9:15pm when we left. Service was great and helpful as well. Since I live on the west side, I can't see myself going there all too often, especially since FO is much closer, but if I lived close, I would definitely be a more frequent customer.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mdpilam

                      Yes, I love Golden State, but they do some things better than others. As you pointed out, the regular fries are pretty great, the sweet potato ones not so much. The burger was phenomenal the first 6 times I had it. But the last 2 times fell short, including getting the temperature wrong for the first time. Perhaps they're scrambling to adjust to the post J. Gold bump. The place has been packed to the gills since he anointed it last week.

                      1. re: mdpilam

                        A Beer Float??? Wow. I need to go there now.

                        Will they do a beer milkshake too? I spent a rather drunken evening looking for one of those in Monterey about a decade ago. Which was fun, but ultimately unsuccessful.

                        1. re: mdpilam

                          I've had the burger (wonderful) and the chicken sandwich (good.) And a glass of Old Rasputin is the perfect accompaniment to both! I had a bite of one of their sausages as well, and it was tasty but I can't even remember it at the moment (I was too into the burger to think more about it!)

                          1. re: JustinM

                            I think their burger is really good too. The sweet potato fries need to be rethought, but the regular potato fries are decent. I really like the cucumber salad. That is a really nice idea for a side.

                            The owners are really nice and thoughtful. Every time I've been there they seem to remember me and really want to know if I enjoyed the food, which is more than I can say about some places (Umami Burger?). Sometimes they don't hit a home run. The biggest problem I've had is an undercooked burger. I would recommend Golden State, especially for somebody who lives in the WeHo/Fairfax area.

                        2. here are some photos (and quick review) from Golden State:


                          i found the burger to be pretty good, but not great. the bun wasn't crumbly, on the contrary it was nice and soft. i don't like ketchup so i ordered without, everything else on the burger was tasty. i do want to try that beer float with the rasputin!

                          1. Can't disagree more with the negative posts. Just went for the first time last night and was impressed. Ambiance is a bit spartan and loud, but in a hip sort of way (we went early to avoid the masses). What we truly liked was the food and beer. Lamb burgers were a special and were outstanding -- served medium rare, with melted gruyere, roasted peppers and a garlicky sauce. Perfect, squishy bun (not at all crumbly). None of us tried the regular burger (next visit). That said, in terms of tastiness, the lamb burger ranked up there with the Umami burger at Umami burger and the lamb burger at Anthos in NYC (which tie for the top spot in my favorite burger list). GS should add the lamb burger to their regular menu. Sweet potato wedges (not fried) with curry ketchup were similarly delicious, as was the Persian cucumber salad. Regular fries were crispy and good -- nothing special. My Allagash Curieux was a perfect way to wash it all down, followed by some Horchata and Cheesecake Oreo flavored Scoops ice cream. Our server/waiter was very helpful with suggestions of things to try. All in all, it was a great experience and we will return.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sweiner

                              i agreee with the above. this place is awesome. love their food. and really LOVE their prices.

                            2. Went on Saturday for the first time, in attempting to support our local (Fairfax) area folks.

                              A big, huge, MEH. Not horrible, not great - not really anything to speak of.

                              3 of us, $45.00. Almost $50.00 for 3 sandwiches, drinks and sides (which are included, not extra). I had a burger (which was suggested as the best thing on the menu), and for almost 20 bucks, had a mouthful of "just ok, all-around". Umami, 8oz, and several others within a 15 minute drive of Golden State will make sure you don't go back for a burger, that's for sure.

                              Great location, average everything else. Save your money.

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: djmedi4

                                You did not pay "almost" $20 for the burger. The burger comes with any of the five sides offered for $10 + tax. Keep your facts straight.

                                $10.98 for the burger+ $6-8(no tax) for any of their amazing micro brews is a great deal.

                                1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                                  $16 to $18 is pretty close to $20. Id say djmedi4's facts are pretty straight. It's a lot of $ for the mediocrity.

                                  1. re: rednyellow

                                    Yeah, with a beer. Why is this still confusing people? The burger is $10.98. If you order more things on top of that, like a beer, it costs more money.

                                    1. re: noahbites

                                      Agreed. We all have different tastes, but I quite enjoyed my burger here. The fries, on the other hand, left much to be desired.

                                      Is it the best burger I've had in the city? Nope. But is it a great experience, especially when you factor in Scoops and the beer selection (and combining the two!)? Absolutely. In fact, I might have to run across the street and visit after Animal tonight.

                                      1. re: noahbites

                                        haha well put sir.

                                        to say the burger costs $20 is asinine

                                        1. re: noahbites

                                          Yeah that is ridiculous, beer + burger is clearly not the same as a burger alone.

                                          Going to Umami is such a consistently miserable experience (bad bad service, understaffed and long wait, awkward location), whereas Golden State always makes me smile.

                                        2. re: rednyellow

                                          i think everyone gets that you don't like the place but how is $10.98 pretty close to $20? Even after tax and tip?

                                          1. re: mollyomormon

                                            Hah! LA Times calls the Golden State burger one of the best deals in town!


                                            1. re: noahbites

                                              Umami's is way better than GS and $9 or $10 - the same or less than GS.

                                              1. re: mdpilam

                                                Golden States price includes a choice of side. Umami's does not.

                                                1. re: mdpilam

                                                  umami is umami-less....golden state's burger is much better (lamb burger is even better)...and can you get a great pint or a mind-blowing beer float

                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                    How is the Lamb burger prepared? I LOOOOOVVVEEEE the Beer floats... but their regular burger and the sides have been just "meh" for me... I didn't even like the Fish and Chips as much as I hoped... :(


                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                      Don't know how it's prepared....but I do know there is a very high fat content which makes it so good...and that they only offer it 1 day a week (i think Thurs) to keep the cost low
                                                      i also don't like the fish n chips and sides so much either...though I disagree bout the regular burger

                                                2. re: noahbites

                                                  The LA Times also calls it "prime beef," which it isn't (it's choice beef from Harris Ranch... something that they proudly point out on their menu).

                                                  1. re: noahbites

                                                    It's too bad the color photo the Times ran in the newspaper isn't available in the online story. It made me want to eat the photo it looked so good. They did mention how many buns they tried out before settling on the Rockewagner brioche bun that they use.