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Wolfgang's Steakhouse: The Minimalist Burger

In a previous thread [here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7418... ], Servorg mentioned that Wolfgang's might be dishing out a mighty fine burger.

So today, it was time to find out what Wolfgang's was up to, burger-wise.

Let's lay out what you get on the plate first. We'll divide the plate into 3 sections.

On the first section, you have the burger, which is this thick beef patty sandwiched between a bun.

Then on another section of the plate you have about what I counted to be 4 slices of iceberg lettuce, topped with big thick slice of tomato, a slice of onion (with nice perfect concentric circles), and some dill pickle slices. Sort of like what you would get a typical roadside diner.

On the last tri-section of the plate, you have what I like to call "frings" a combo of onion rings and fries.

Lets return to the burger, which is why we're here in the first place, right? It's 10 oz. of dry-aged Prime Angus beef (at least that's what I was told). It's thick and you can tell from looking at it that it was properly formed -- i.e., loosely. My burger, ordered medium-rare, was nicely charred on the exterior and nice and juicy reddish-pink in the middle.

Let me just say this now and get it out of the way ... this is one *#@*$&% great burger.

But you know what? To best enjoy this beast, you have to enjoy it just as it is.

Do not make the mistake that I almost did by garnishing the burger with the lettuce, tomatoes, etc. that accompany the plate -- consider them decoration. And, again, do not partake of the "frings" as they will only get in the way of your full enjoyment of the burger. Trust me, your stomach is only so big.

When you order it (and you should), and it is served to you, simply allow yourself to gaze at it for a moment, let it rest and if you're very very quiet (cue: Elmer Fudd) you can almost hear the last echoes of the meat sizzling from its time on the grill.

Then, using both hands (and you have to), pick it up and take a bite and just let all that beefy-goodness overwhelm your senses. Chew carefully and deliberately a few times and you can taste beef -- yes, beef! -- as well as the nuanced texture of beef that's ground properly, not abused in some food processor set on "High" or "Paste".

Having tried this burger, this question immediately popped into my mind, "Is this a better steakhouse burger than the one at Morton's?"

I've been a long time fan of Morton's Burger and if you were to ask me which is better I would only say that both are great in their own right.

The beauty of the Morton's burger is that it's the perfect combo -- a synergistic blend, if you will -- of beef, caramelized onions, bacon and cheddar.

Wolfang's burger, meanwhile, is the perfect minimalist burger, enjoyed best -- both visually and texturally -- without any accoutrements.

In other words, If you run with the 911 GT2 RS crowd, go to Wolfgang's. But if you prefer your Porsche as a 911 Cabriolet with navigation, A/C, and actual door handles, go to Morton's.

Cheers.

-----
Wolfgang's Steakhouse
445 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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  1. i'll have to give this burger a whirl. sounds mighty good.

    1. Sounds fly like a G6 to me.

      1. Talking 'bout salt: did you have to add any?

        1 Reply
        1. I've always maintained that that's the only way to eat a burger.

          1. I would have said "thanks for taking one for the team" but it sounds like you came away smelling like a (well, not a rose in this case) burger. Thanks for the follow up. Now I'm craving one even more than I was before.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Servorg

              I should thank you actually.

              Go, you definitely won't be disappointed.

            2. ipse, do you have a preferred Morton's?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Peripatetic

                I go to the one in Downtown LA. Not because of food preference necessariy, but location preference.

              2. What if you don't like Porsches?

                1. I too am in love with this burger. Just meat and bun and I am good to go.

                  So glad this thread was made.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: A5 KOBE

                    What burger is that in your avatar pic?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Probably the most overrated burger on the planet. The Daniel Boulud burger. I just thought the pic looked good, the actual burger was very average.

                    1. re: orythedog

                      I believe it is sans fromage and was previously quoted at $14.

                      1. re: orythedog

                        $14.

                        You can get cheese. I opted not to.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          The Dinner version as of last night was $22

                          1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                            Really??

                            The lunch menu lists it at 13.95. When I left, I specifically asked our server if it was available on the dinner menu, and he said no, but I could order it off the lunch menu for the same price.

                            Strange.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Wow that sounds great. Do they have like conter seating so I can have this burger when the mood strikes? Also, it'll be nice to have a great burger followed by chocolat mousse w schlag. A pristine, dainty Beverly Hills lunch if you will.

                              Thanks.

                              1. re: kevin

                                Well, there's a bar, but dunno if you can order the burger there, however.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  There is an L-shaped bar and you can eat the burger there. According to the bartenders, it's the only place you can have the burger for dinner.

                                  1. re: LATrapp

                                    We were in the dining room at 9:30 pm when we ordered and received the dinner burger at the aforementioned $22 price tag. Maybe it was because we were in the dining room the price shot up.

                                    1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                      Strange- I just had the burger for dinner at the bar for $16.95. So it looks like:

                                      Lunch- $14.00
                                      Dinner (dining room)- $22.00
                                      Dinner (bar)- 16.95

                                      1. re: LATrapp

                                        Even more importantly, how was it?

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          There's just not much in this thread that I don't echo, but here goes;)

                                          I completely agree with those who feel that this burger should just be eaten just with cheese (if desired) and nothing else.

                                          I've had it twice and both times it has been cooked a perfect medium-rare. To me, that's with a nice char on the outside with a nice soft medium layer leading to just about rare in the center. The bun is soft and the meat so loosely packed that it is a nice soft bite full of flavor. I do cut it in half and it has managed to retain it's build without falling apart completely before each half is done. If I hadn't cut it in half, I don't think it would survive in one piece.

                                          First time I had it with american cheese. Second with cheddar. The american cheese version to me is the perfect grown-up version of the ideal cheese burger from childhood dreams. Perfect ingredients prepared just as perfectly. It's simple and brings you back to the time before haute cuisine burgers.

                                          They do put it under a broiler for a minute after topping with cheese. The american cheese had 2-3 tiny blackened 'bubbles' while the cheddar was just well melted.

                                          The cheddar one was great but lost a bit of the 'magic' that having a premier quality burger topped with good ol' american cheese. Again, the american cheese really brought back some memories to the taste buds while simultaneously appreciating the quality of the meat.

                                          It's served with an overly generous portion of onion rings and thick cut fries. You better have a big appetite to join the clean-plate club. The veggies on the side of the plate will be another obstacle of course...

                                          Lastly, the bar service was great.

                                          1. re: LATrapp

                                            I think I'm due for another visit ...

                                            1. re: LATrapp

                                              Now that is more like the Houndly post I was hoping for (and expecting)! ;-D> And you can bet I'll have mine with cheddar when I get there...

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I'm having mine with cheddar too. The only time I have American is for those rare times when I end up at in n out burger. Otherwise. Usu I find American cheese to be pretty vile nowadays.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  I would suggest holding off on the cheese as much as possible. The meat is essentially dry aged steak and I feel it does not need anything else.

                                                  1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                    In that case. I'll hold off on the cheese altogether. And gain bs k those saved calories from a slab of chocolate mousse cake. With a bowl of schlag on the side.

                                                    Btw. If I get there at about 430, will it be considered lunch or dinner?

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      "Btw. If I get there at about 430, will it be considered lunch or dinner?"

                                                      Let's just call it "Linner" and be done with it...and if you're thinking about the pricing issue I'd call and get the information direct from the source.

                        2. Just to help contextualize: what's your favorite burger in LA, regardless of the restaurant genre?

                          6 Replies
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Interesting list; fairly upscale throughout with the sole exception being Ma and Pa? (I work in LB, so I need to try that burger).

                              Glad Apple Pan did *not* make your list :)

                              -----
                              Apple Pan
                              10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                So are you still down with Morton's or is Wolfgang's your new #1?

                                1. re: mc michael

                                  Like I said up above. Apples and Oranges.

                                  If I'm going up to Laguna Seca for a day at the tracks, I'm taking the GT2 RS.

                                  If I'm going to take a leisurely Sunday drive through the canyons to Malibu (and maybe dinner at Saddle Peak Lodge), I'm taking the 911 Cabriolet.

                                    1. re: mc michael

                                      Only if you wash and wax afterwards.

                            2. ok ipse, considering that i can't drive 2 blocks without seeing a Panamera these days, where would you send all of *them* for a burger? gotta be someplace kid-friendly, because the only reason i can see to buy that car would be to have room for the family and still feel like you're driving a Porsche.

                              (the Boxster folks can go have a turkey or veggie burger, because everyone knows they don't count.)

                              and to stay [somewhat] on topic here, you said the burger was seasoned. anything beyond S&P?

                              24 Replies
                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Panamera owners should go for the pork burger at Wood Spoon.

                                Why? Because the Panamera is essentially a hybrid car (not the electric kind), but hybrid in the sense that it's borne of an amalgam of 911 DNA fused into a sedan architecture.

                                Hence, it's the perfect pork burger complement, which in my humble opinion is sort of a like sausage fused into a hamburger form-factor.

                                And re: "because the only reason i can see to buy that car would be to have room for the family and still feel like you're driving a Porsche." ... I would say that's not the Panamera, but the Cayenne.

                                -----
                                Wood Spoon
                                107 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Folks, we removed a bunch of posts that were focused on cars rather than chow. While matching the food to the car is interesting, when the topic shifts to the cars themselves, it's too far afield for our site.

                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                    i had a feeling we took that too far :) sorry!

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      You're always getting me in trouble. I need to find better 'Hounds to hang around with.

                                      :-)

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        suit yourself, but they're not as much fun as i am :) besides, you started it with the car talk in your OP!

                                        seriously though, i have another burger for you to check out and add to the list for comparison. new restaurant - "Vü" - opens today at the Jamiaca Bay Inn in the Marina. here's the description from their lunch menu:
                                        "1⁄2 LB Burger, herb goat cheese spread, dried cranberries, caramelized red onion, poached egg, house fries"

                                        price is $16. for the record, the menu describes the house fries as "triple cooked" and seasoned with cumin & coriander...AND they have truffled tater tots.

                                        methinks you need to check it out ASAP & report back!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I bike by that place http://www.jamaicabayinn.com/ every weekend and have been wondering when the doors were going to actually open. Thanks for the heads up. Dining menus here: http://www.jamaicabayinn.com/dining.php

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Thanks for the rec, ghg, but I just looked up the menu and dunno if this 'Hound plays that burger game:

                                            ______________________

                                            From the menu:
                                            ½ LB Burger
                                            herb goat cheese spread, dried cranberries, caramelized red onion, poached egg, house fries
                                            _______________________

                                            Hmm ... not sure I'm feeling that one right now.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              However, check out that breakfast menu. Outrageous (in a good way).

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I love how they have a side of Spam on the breakfast menu.

                                                For all the Eggs Benedict purists, shield your eyes from the Kona Benedict.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Spam and Hawaii. Like two peas in a podcast...

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      I'll race you there in my Trek Equinox.

                                                      You can order the Kona Benedict, I have my eyes on the "Euro Breakfast". Haven't had bresaola since my last mail order purchase.

                                                      -----
                                                      Kona Restaurant
                                                      16278 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        well then i'll jog over and meet you guys there (i live so close it wouldn't make sense to unchain my Litespeed)...but if i order the egg white frittata will you make me sit at a separate table?

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          If you're going to go healthy on us, you have to order the "Compressed Fruit" with honey yogurt foam.

                                                          I just want to see what it looks like.

                                                          In my twisted mind, I have this vision of a plate with fruit rollups garnished with little mounds of shaving cream.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            ha! if you've read my rants about Top Chef and annoying culinary trends, you know i have "issues" with foam...change "shaving cream" to "saliva" and you've got my mental picture of it.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              You mean like pre-licked fruit-rollups?

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                              "...caesar foam
                                                              mustard ice cream
                                                              pistachio suds..."
                                                              Methinks the chef saw the 60 Minutes a while back that featured Ferran Adrià.
                                                              While I usually have no problem with 'creative' burgers, I'm not a fan of goat cheese or eggs on my burgers and with no simpler options I probably will leave this one to other hounds!

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I'm more intrigued by their "triple cooked" french fries ...

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        maybe you need to start a fry comparison. you're already off & running with your recent post about Wendy's...

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    It might be a good taste but it sure doesn't sound like a burger.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I have been amused by the "breathtaking views" promise on the signage (of Mother's Beach? The Cheesecake Factory?) but look forward to walking over to try the new kid on the block.

                                                      1. re: New Trial

                                                        if you're "walking" over, then we're neighbors. maybe we really should all plan a Chow meetup in the 'hood!

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          If I lived much closer, I could get room service. A meet-up sounds like a splendid idea!

                                            2. Hadn't heard of this place...thought it was a Wolfgang Puck restaurant.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: observor

                                                you'll be hearing from wolfie's legal team shortly about testifying in his suit against this place...

                                              2. My first visit to Wolfgang's Steakhouse was a revelation. Chef Gonzalez was rocking the kitchen, and the burgers were amazing. I rated it one of the best burgers in LA.

                                                On the second visit a couple of days ago, things took a turn for the worse:

                                                The dining room smelled a little/lot like sour mop water, and there was a thick layer of dust on every horizontal surface except the tables. Chef Gonzalez was not in the kitchen on that day--Chef Jaime was running the show. Even though there was only one table seated (10 top) in the entire restaurant when we walked in, AND that table had already placed their orders before we were seated, the kitchen's first attempt at my burger came out after a 40 minute wait.

                                                That cheeseburger went wrong in the following ways:

                                                * Luke warm
                                                * Overcooked to Med Well
                                                * No sear
                                                * No seasoning
                                                * Over-toasted, dry bun
                                                * Cheddar cheese instead of the American cheese that I ordered
                                                * The rings were shoddily battered, limp, and unseasoned
                                                * The fries were undercooked, not crisp, and under-seasoned.
                                                * It was merely an average cheeseburger--3 Bites.This was based solely on the quality of the beef.

                                                I sent that burger back, since it was not cooked properly, AND it barely resembled the burger from my previous visit. The second burger came out about 12 minutes later. It was very different from the one that I sent back...

                                                * Hot
                                                * Med Rare...as ordered
                                                * Still not seared as well as what we saw on our initial visit but an improvement.
                                                * Properly seasoned
                                                * American cheese...as ordered
                                                * Properly battered and crisped rings with good seasoning
                                                * Crisp, well-seasoned fries.
                                                * It was like a different kitchen prepared my burger.
                                                * This was a damn good cheeseburger 4.5 Bites.

                                                Consistency is key--Umami Burger has managed to put out a quality burger every time that I have visited, and Wolfgang's Steakhouse fell well short of the mark in that respect. This was a matter of attention to detail in the kitchen, and on this visit, that attention was sorely lacking. In fairness, the burger was comped by our waitress, Jill.

                                                I would strongly urge readers to call ahead and check who's running the kitchen before they show up.

                                                www.theburgerreview.com

                                                -----
                                                Wolfgang's Steakhouse
                                                445 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: TheBurgerBusters

                                                  What a downer. Too bad to hear.

                                                  Love the blog, by the way.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Thanks much!

                                                    They did comp the burger, and it was much better on the second try. Still, 50 minutes is way too long to wait for a cheeseburger in a nearly empty restaurant.

                                                    1. re: TheBurgerBusters

                                                      BurgerBusters-

                                                      Last time I was there they mentioned your website. So they are aware of your reviews...hope they see this one too!

                                                      1. re: TheBurgerBusters

                                                        Well, there must have been some reason for the delay, I would think...I don't think they were back there playing poker. I don't know I would hold that against them. But the lack of consistency is awfully disturbing. I think that indicates a poor cohesiveness, and no one should have to telephone to find out if they are going to get good food at a place. However, comping it was rather nice.