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Oct 4, 2009 09:36 AM

Umami Burger, Los Feliz - Really?

I have not been to the original. And last night was only their second night in operation, but if that was the way it's supposed to be, who are they kidding?

Homemade pickle plate - $5 for a meager portion of good, but not exceptional pickles.

Onion rings - 5 onion rings that were mushy and greasy. The onions inside were good, but the batter was way undercooked and had soaked up a ton of grease because of it.

Thick fries - they claim these were fresh cut from potatoes. No potato I have ever encountered has the consistency that these did. They tasted like they were mashed potatoes that had been formed into little blocks and then only lightly fried. We sent them back for further crisping. They came back with the exterior crisped okay, but the interior totally mushy. More like inferior, oddly shaped tater tots than anything to do with fries.

My Hatch burger was not particularly good. Oddly flavorless, the bun too thick and somewhat sweet for the amount of meat. I suppose it looks good having the burger by itself on a big plate, but some extra stuff might be nice for $10.

My friend's Manly burger was nice enough, bacony and flavorful, but again, seemed a bit meager on the plate for the price.

My girlfriend's Casablanca burger was the highlight of the three, a good, not too gamy lamb-burger with nice condiments. Still, at $12, it seemed sort of overpriced.

As for the condiments - I'm sorry, delivering them on little Chinese soup spoons is ludicrous. There is not nearly enough of them and they are certainly not special enough in any way to warrant having to pay extra for them. The ketchup may have been marginally better than Heinz or Hunts, but not enough better.

The beer was good. The place was almost painfully loud even though it wasn't quite full. Maybe, just maybe, I'll try it again after a month or two to see if they get their act straightened out. But all things considered, when I want a burger there are any number of places I'd rather go to.

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  1. "Homemade pickle plate - $5 for a meager portion of good, but not exceptional pickles."

    That does seem to make the A-1 Pickle Company's $18 for a 5 gallon container of Kosher dills an even better deal than when I first read about it... ;-D>

    1. I am not a fan of Umami Burger anyway.

      What really put me off was their attitude about ketchup. I loathe ketchup and prefer mayonnaise on burgers. They had none and actually had nothing but distain for my preference.

      1. It was always painfully loud in its prior incarnations as Cobras & Matadors and Hilmont, so this should not be a shock. Would imagine they spent very little on changing the feel and look and acoustics of the place, as opposed to just trying to get it open asap.
        The ketchup thing is beyond dumb - how much does it cost to make homemade ketchup by the vat, or mayo for that matter.
        Trying to turn away all patrons, one at a time.

        1. I've not been to any of their locations. But can someone tell me if the original location is worth a trip?

          3 Replies
          1. re: J.L.

            All I can say is that I've been to the original location about 6 times. I had 4 different really tasty burgers, a good but overpriced ($18) Lobster Roll and one lousy burger that had Stilton which stuck with us for the rest of the day!
            Service has been mixed. One waiter was snotty when I asked about our 2 burgers that were ordered 50 min. earlier and customers that had ordered after us had been served, eaten their meal , paid and departed the joint. Another server, Dennis, has been excellent and would be an asset to any establishment! Owner Adam Fleischman has been helpful when I had questions about his restaurant and forthcomming during conversations about the L.A. and S.F. restaurant scenes.
            Is this place approaching perfection - no. Is it worth checking out - absolutely!

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

            1. re: J.L.

              Burgers on the first three visits to the orig location were excellent (I'm with the others on the weird brick fries (they tasted like frozen to me) wtf?) However, I did not stay to eat on my LAST visit -- I asked for a table inside and was told that the (2-top) tables are for TWO PEOPLE; solo diners will be sat at a counter in the back room facing the wall or can sit outside...

              1. re: J.L.

                I would definitely check it out. The flavor and quality of the meat is great, I enjoyed it but definitely not my favorite in LA.

              2. I've only been to the original, and I love it. I've had 4 different burgers, all very good. The service was fine too. I hope the new location comes up to speed.

                4 Replies
                1. re: rednyellow

                  I agree. I've been to the original 4 times too, and each burger has been exceptional. The sides are more miss than hit for me, though I did like their onion rings, even if they were a bit greasy. I hate their ketchup though, but have never needed it, I prefer a bit of the garlic aioli to add to the burger. But, when the original started, they had alot of problems too; I hope that when the SM location opens, they are running smoothly. :)

                  1. re: mdpilam

                    I've been there 3 times and tried several burgers. My favorite is the Hatch Burger with garlic aioli. Love the pickles.

                    1. re: fdb

                      I like the Manly burger (bacon cheeseburger) boy is that a good burger.

                      1. re: wienermobile

                        i just had the manly burger for lunch and i agree. boy is that a good burger.