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Federal Bar

MarkC Aug 2, 2013 09:31 AM

I was at Federal Bar in NoHo last night, and ordered their signature cheeseburger. I've lived outside the U.S. for the last twenty years, so I have a perhaps dated idea of what a hamburger should be like (particularly in an upscale establishment). When it arrived it was swimming in their "aioli" sauce (read mayonnaise). WTF?? Like a bacon cheeseburger isn't fattening enough? The whole mess was so slimy I could barely hold it in the bun. It was loathsome.

Then it occurred to me that this is how everybody does it now. It's the new American calorie cuisine. I'm hardly a diet Nazi, but this is over the top. And the French fries were some mega bomb of salt, parmesan cheese and truffle oil, which I couldn't stop eating, not because it was delicious, but it was hitting some low pleasure center in the reptile part of my brain.

Are there any other Rip van Winkles out there who know what I'm talking about?

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  1. Will Owen RE: MarkC Aug 2, 2013 02:47 PM

    Funny - twenty or more years ago every restaurant or lunch counter burger came completely condiment-free, and the only ones on the table would be catsup and mustard. I got in the habit of asking for mayonnaise, and would be lucky not to get Miracle Whip …

    I have to say, though, that while I like both mayonnaise and aioli (they aren't utterly the same), if the burger comes pre-treated the buns have an annoying tendency to start dissolving almost immediately. I will therefore ask for all condiments to be on the side, unless I know that this is their practice anyway (as at the Oinkster, for instance).

    As for the observation about "new American calorie cuisine," the source of that is partly the widening understanding that these things are not and can never be diet food, and partly the popular championing of fuller flavors over "puritanical" restraint. Okay, I'm almost as fond of bacon as these guys, but the only sandwich I want it in is a BLT or bacon-and-egg.

    1. ipsedixit RE: MarkC Aug 2, 2013 07:02 PM

      I totally hear you.

      I love the Black Label blend that Minetta Tavern uses for their eponymous burger, but those fuckers drench the damn thing in butter and then bathe it in butter before plating.

      If I wanted hamburger cum pie crust, then ... well, I just wouldn't want such a thing.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit
        Will Owen RE: ipsedixit Aug 3, 2013 12:42 PM

        Sorry it causes you so much suffering, Ipse.

        Okay, now: where is Minetta Tavern, and how much is that, umm, ghastly burger? I wish to share your suffering …

        1. re: Will Owen
          mc michael RE: Will Owen Aug 3, 2013 01:27 PM

          I think he's referring to a high end Manhattan spot.

          1. re: mc michael
            ipsedixit RE: mc michael Aug 3, 2013 06:01 PM


            1. re: ipsedixit
              kevin RE: ipsedixit Aug 3, 2013 10:19 PM


              His restaurants are all pretentious garbage and hipster fubar'd hob knobbing.

              No thank you.

              I'll take Shopsins any day of the week.

      2. k
        kevin RE: MarkC Aug 2, 2013 07:17 PM

        Rip wan Winles ?????

        6 Replies
        1. re: kevin
          PeterCC RE: kevin Aug 2, 2013 07:21 PM

          Please don't tell us you need that explained...

          1. re: PeterCC
            kevin RE: PeterCC Aug 2, 2013 07:24 PM

            Come on, man.

            It's before my time. :)

            1. re: kevin
              Servorg RE: kevin Aug 3, 2013 07:19 AM

              You may have been asleep when it was mentioned in school...

              1. re: Servorg
                mc michael RE: Servorg Aug 3, 2013 09:35 AM

                He was eating, of course.

                1. re: mc michael
                  Servorg RE: mc michael Aug 3, 2013 09:37 AM

                  Rip Van Crinkle (cut)?

              2. re: kevin
                MarkC RE: kevin Aug 3, 2013 06:35 PM

                LOL. It was before my time too, about two hundred years before my time. What may have been before your time is a decent education (not your fault, of course).

          2. m
            MarkC RE: MarkC Aug 3, 2013 08:56 AM

            I think that the foodie revolution has so lifted people's expectations that the restaurants need to add more high calorie flavor vehicles to meet them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MarkC
              Servorg RE: MarkC Aug 3, 2013 09:11 AM

              The problem comes when the flavor vehicle is an aioli tanker truck and it jackknifes, spilling its entire load onto your burger buggy. In that case we need to call out the trucks with the absorbent, mop up material to clean up the road... (g)

              1. re: Servorg
                kevin RE: Servorg Aug 3, 2013 09:27 AM

                That's pretty darn gross.

            2. f
              farmertomato RE: MarkC Aug 4, 2013 11:44 AM

              We went there a few months ago to hear some music and ate upstairs. We found the food to be pretty grotesque, a lot of it as you described: pleasantly calorific, but grossly overdressed and misprepared. I've heard there have been changes in the kitchen since then, but we won't be returning until we hear reports that are more encouraging than yours, which suggests that little has really changed. Thanks for the update.

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