Plan Check Kitchen + Bar II

The Placeimage

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
1111 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90017

Reservations: 213.403.1616
Bar: Full bar

If you’re a regular reader of this blog or a person, you know about Plan Check.  It’s the apple of Ernesto Uchimura’s culinary eye.  Plan Check operates at the nexus of comfort food shop, chef’s vanity project, and experimental gastropub.  Ignore the whiff of snide opprobrium you may think you detected in that description; I offer this characterization without the slightest pejorative intent.  Plan Check’s eponymous burger – upon which I have conferred high honors – is positively white-hot.

Uchimura has more on tap than just a single burger, though.  Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that I couldn’t stay away.  Accordingly, I went back with Kelsey, her brother, and her future sister-in-law to try out another offering.

The Order: The Bleuprint Burger

The Price: $13

The Burger
In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I love blue cheese.  The creamy complexity of the stuff, the funk that masks without totally hiding a nutty finish, the streaks of mold that cut through the pure white like veins…it all revs my engine.  I’ve tried to control for my bias here, but let it be known that if you absolutely hate blue cheese, this burger will not change your mind.  Stay away.

Now for the rest of us.  There’s a science to making blue cheese.  It’s all a little complicated, but it involves adding two different kinds of mold (Penicillium roqueforti and Pencillium glaucum) to the milk during the cheesemaking process, then basically poking holes into the finished product to let the mold grow.  Those two bacteria are responsible for the blue streaks you see in the cheese.  They’re the reason we call blue cheese, well, “blue.”

See?  Science is delicious!

Seriously, though, blue cheese is a complex ingredient, and if leveraged incorrectly, can really mar a dish.  On a burger, it can be downright offensive.  But there are two things that are clear about Plan Check: first, they don’t shy away from that kind of challenge; and second, they’ll find a way to make it look easy.

In this case, they make it look easy by making it harder.  That is, they take blue cheese and adding another layer of complexity to the flavor profile by smoking it.  It’s hard really to describe smoked blue cheese, but gracious.  It marries the intimacy and familiarity of gouda with the phased, intense, complex nuance of Roquefort.  It blunts the severity of the blue, which makes it a more amicable companion to the other ingredients.  The genius of this preparation of blue cheese is that it creates a foundational complexity to each bite, but you’ll still taste everything else.

And everything else is really worth tasting.  You may not know what pig candy is, but I suspect you won’t much care; it is sweet and umami, thick-enough strips, succulent, juicy, and with a just-so kiss of caramelization.  The peppercress, though slightly wilted, is nonetheless spicy and bright, freshening things a bit.  The fried onions are like reimagined onion rings that one normally would expect to find alongside the burger.  Instead, an abbreviated version tops this presentation, offering a crunch and sweetness.  Even the steak sauce, infused with roasted garlic, is grand stuff, emblematic the kind of masterful playfulness that makes Plan Check so good – though I must confess, I would have liked a touch more of it.  All of this anchored by the signature patty and crunch bun that put this place on the map.

This burger is a textural and gustatory symphony.  It’s about as baroque a burger as I’ve had that I would still characterize as worthwhile.  It’s complex but not cluttered.  It will seize your interest without being precious or novel.  Of course, just as some people don’t like the symphony, this burger is not for everyone.  If you don’t love blue cheese, this burger leans far too heavily on it to appeal to you.  But more than the featured ingredient, the operatic nature of the flavor profile, the boldness of it all, will rankle some who have no axe to grind with blue cheese.  This is a niche product.  If it’s your niche, you’ll love it.  If not, look elsewhere.  There isn’t much in the way of middle ground with this one.  But then, Plan Check never was much for the middle ground.

The Ratings
Flavor: 9.60 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.00 / 10.00
Value: 9.20 / 10.00
Efficiency: 8.30 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 9.80 / 10.00
Bun: 8.90 / 10.00
Patty: 9.00 / 10.00
Toppings: 9.50 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.00 / 10.00
Balance: 9.40 / 10.00

Total: 90.70 / 100.00



Big Dean’s Oceanfront Café

The Place
Big Dean’s Oceanfront Café
1615 Ocean Front Walk
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Big Dean’s is a Santa Monica classic. It was there before Santa Monica was Santa Monica. Just south of the city’s iconic (and still rad) pier, it’s a bustling little dive just off the water. You walk through the charmingly cramped front patio and into a ramshackle bar space, customarily full of affably boisterous people, beer drunk and bleary-eyed. A ramp along the right wall of the room leads you to the back patio, which seems pulled straight out of Inherent Vice.

Sadly, instead of deliciously acid-addled hippies spinning conspiratorial yarns – about what Richard Nixon was really doing during those eighteen minutes and/or how Keith Richards really stayed alive all this time and/or what the White Album is really about – you will find yourself beset on all sides by six-foot-something bros speaking far too loudly about far too little. And if you happen to be a less-than-six-foot Sri Lankan man wearing an Aviator Nation henley, you’ll hear those delightful bros yell, “HEY, LOOK GUYS! IT’S AZIZ!”

Sadly, I’m not taking creative license here. Some drunk idiot bro in fact did yell that as I walked by. It was pretty great. Some people weep for the future. Based on my experience with some of the folks at Big Dean’s, I think the present is kind of a tear-jerker too.

Aberrant (and, let’s be real, woefully unclever) racism aside, this place embodies so much of what’s great about California. It’s got that famously L.A. beach-blown charm, it’s a short walk from stunning views of those famous Pacific shore sunsets, and it boasts a more down-to-earth (though “friendly” probably is a stretch) staff than you’ll find anywhere in downtown, Silver Lake, Hollywood, or anywhere else where the drinks are bourbon-based and the denim is black.

Big Dean’s is the kind of place you come to unwind after a day lazily baking in the sand under oppressively perfect azure skies. A place where you arrive still-glistening from a hike at Point Dume. A place where you bring friends when you want to scream at your favorite (or least favorite) sports team. A place where you come to share tables with strangers and drink unreasonably large beers. A pretty cool place to spend a Saturday afternoon with a buddy.

Anyway, they also have a burger. Eater L.A. called it one of the city’s best last year. Geck took me on a hot date to check it out. We talked about work. We argued about whether Cam Newton is less likable than Richard Sherman. We talked about how Geck eats his fries with mustard because you can take the dude out of Bakersfield, but you can’t take the Bakersfield out of the dude. We talked about the right girls, the wrong girls, the ones that got away, the ones that wouldn’t go away.We talked about letting them down easy and letting them under our skin. We talked about making things work and letting things go. We talked about rejection and acceptance. Things got deep. They got real. Then we forgot about all that emo shit, ate burgers, drank beer, and watched football. Because when in Brome, do as the Bro-mans do.*

*I’m deeply in love with that Bro-mans pun.

The Order: Big Dean’s Cheeseburger

The Price:

The Burger
At the outset, I think it proper to clear up a couple potential misconceptions. First, If you’ve ever looked at the Big Dean’s website, you might believe the burger awaiting you at this beachside dive even remotely resembles the perfectly manicured and crisped specimen on the website. It definitely does not. Second, Eater L.A. says this burger is like In-N-Out with a view. It definitely is not.


It’s odd that anyone would think of Big Dean’s offering in either of those two ways, really, because both ideas really miss the heart of this burger’s appeal. Let’s be real, no one loves Ryan Gosling because of his scintillating personality.

To be clear, Big Dean’s has not made the Ryan Gosling of burgers. To claim that anyone has would be a blasphemy of the first order, not one you’ll read here. This burger’s charm is not in its perfect construction, and it just isn’t In-N-Out. This burger fits this scene perfectly well. It’s got an unpretentious backyard grill quality to it that will make you immensely nostalgic. This is a summer cookout in a plastic basket. It’s lemonade on the lawn. It’s the sun-sizzling air on the blacktop. It’s a sun’s-out-guns-out, long weekend burger. The patty is a thick disc of chuck smashed carelessly together, teetering seductively on the edge of being overcooked. The bun tastes straight from a package. The garnishes are stereotypical, cool and fresh and summery.

I’ll readily concede, it’s not a compelling cast of characters. But the magic emanates not from the star power of any of the players, but rather from the surprising, cohesive harmony of the ensemble. The ingredients play off one another in a way that will be immediately familiar to anyone who has stood by the grill, plate in hand, enduring horrid dad humor while waiting for that burger to cook.

This burger, then, succeeds by way of raw pathos. It will remind you of a time when you were a little more innocent, a little less ruined by the world. It will take you back to the days in which it might actually have been surprising to have someone scream the name of the only South Asian celebrity they know when you walk by. The good old days.

The Ratings
Flavor: 9.20 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 8.30 / 10.00
Value: 9.10 / 10.00
Efficiency: 9.00 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 6.80 / 10.00
Bun: 7.80 / 10.00
Patty: 7.90 / 10.00
Toppings: 7.80 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.00 / 10.00
Balance: 9.90 / 10.00

Total: 83.80 / 100.00

The Oinkster II

The Place
The Oinkster
2005 Colorado Boulevard
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
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It’s pretty safe to say the Oinkster has made its mark on this Project. It was one of the earliest entries, and is linked by blood to the best burger here reviewed to date. Besides that, Andre Guerrero’s so-called “slow fast food” restaurant is quite beloved in its own right. Its house-cured pastrami is some of the best this city has to offer.

The Oinkster’s menu is a tiered affair, at least as far as its showcase pieces are concerned. Their two big-ticket items – the pastrami and the burger (nothing against the pulled pork, but it’s a bronze medalist here) – come in two versions: the first a more traditional iteration (the uncomplicated House Pastrami and the Classic burger) and the second a more, well, exotic version (the Oinkster Pastrami and the Royale).

It’s on this second tier that Andre Guerrero shines. In fact, those first tiers probably exist more as a show of respect for tradition than a reflection of his actual creative impulses as a chef. That first tier will give you a glimpse into his heart, which bears an abiding love for the classics. The more elaborate presentations, though, will show you his soul.

Shannon and I took a trip to the Oinkster last week – the O.G. one in Eagle Rock, mind you; not that Hollywood nonsense. She had an Oinkster Pastrami. I tried the Royale.

The Order: The Royale

The Price: $11.25

The Burger
At this point, you may be a) hungry, b) vaguely disgusted, c) physically uncomfortable at the sight of all that food, d) confused, and/or e) wondering what in God’s name is on that burger. I can help with problem (e); this monster features a 1/3 pound of Nebraska Angus beef, chili, pastrami, bacon, American cheese (though you have choices in that department – you can also have sharp cheddar or gruyere), lettuce, onions, pickles, and Thousand Island.

I’ll just let that sink in for a minute. Take all the time you need.

Yes, your arteries will protest. Yes, you’ll feel it all night. Yes, whatever your doubts are, they’re justified. This burger will take a piece of your heart (possibly quite literally, I can almost feel the sclerosed remnants of this caloric titan blocking my arteries like the bouncer at the door of Hakkasan).

I can’t tell you conclusively that it’s worth it. I don’t know if I think it was worth it for me, let alone for anyone else. But I can tell you this without hesitation or qualification: This burger is the most extravagantly ambitious item on Guerrero’s menu. It is a maximalist paean to the institution of the cheeseburger. It is a Jackson Pollock; what seems chaotic and arbitrary at first blush coalesces as you spend more time with it. By the time you walk away, it makes sense. You may not like it, but you get it.

There is a lot of meat here. The chili is thick and rich and bold. The pastrami is complex, peppery, smoky, salty, and delightful, but is rendered a subtlety by the brazen chili. The bacon adds a rustic crispness. The patty is juicy and cocksure, even in the presence of so many distractions. Its heft is necessary to anchor all the other flavors. Charred on the outside, but radiantly juicy on the inside, this patty is a worthy hub to this gustatory wheel of many spokes.

The other garnishes just can’t compete. The cheese is there, a vague and milky suggestion within an umami khamsin. The onions occasionally get a word in edgewise on the front end or finish of a bite, but don’t otherwise contribute much. The lettuce and tomato are throwaways – literally; they slid out of the burger, and I eventually got exasperated and threw them away. The Thousand Island isn’t good for much besides soaking through the bun and hastening its disintegration, which is a large part of the reason this burger is so hard to finish; the damn thing just doesn’t hang together. It physically falls apart.

Structural gripes aside, the meat-centric items on the burger hang together really well. The rest of the toppings fail to make an impression at all. That’s not all that surprising though. Their presence on the burger is an act of tokenism by Guerrero. It’s like the frat boys who let the one funny-looking nerdy dude hang out with them. It may not count for much, but bless their hearts for trying.

The Ratings
Flavor: 8.90 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.40 / 10.00
Value: 8.00 / 10.00
Efficiency: 8.30 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 10.00 / 10.00
Bun: 7.50 / 10.00
Patty: 9.10 / 10.00
Toppings: 8.40 / 10.00
Sauce: 7.80 / 10.00
Balance: 8.80  /10.00

Total: 86.20 / 100.00

Magnolia House

The Place
Magnolia House
492 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.35.29 AM

In June of 2008, my friends and I converged on Pasadena for the summer holidays for the first time since we all had turned twenty-one. We were feverish with anticipation. We would roam free, we vowed, unencumbered by fear of being turned away by dour bouncers. We would paint our hometown red, the way we’d dreamed of doing for years.

It’s important to remember, though, that this part of our story takes place before the current demi-renaissance that Pasadena is experiencing. At that point, the anchor tenants in Old Town were, like, Moose McGillycuddy’s (RIP) and the 35er. Now, while the divey latter is still going strong thanks to the savvy ownership of its tea-party adherent ownership (or something), the former is long gone, as are most of the places that defined Old Town back then.

Suffice it to say, we turned elsewhere for our amusement, and became regulars at a local spot called Magnolia, which was located just a stone’s throw from Caltech. We would go there and order Craftsman beers, talk about the women in our lives (or the lack thereof), cast nervous glances at groups of young ladies in the bar but never work up the courage to go say hello (an affliction which, for some of us (me), stubbornly persists in present day), reminisce about the times gone by, and relish our dreams for those yet to pass. You know, all that sentimental best friends 4EVA bullshit.

A few years back, we were chagrined to find that our beloved Magnolia had closed. By this time though, Old Town was well on the rise, and the process of bar prosthesis was relatively painless. We found Lucky Baldwin’s, T. Boyle’s Tavern, and King’s Row Gastropub, and more recently, the Blind Donkey (an excellent bar with a better selection of whiskey).

Then, like a bolt from the blue, Magnolia reopened as Magnolia House. It had been redecorated, reimagined, and boasted a brand new menu of trendy shared plates (ooh, bone marrow!) and extravagantly named craft cocktails (I bullshit you not, I drank something called a Oaxacan Blood Winter, which sounds like something Cormac McCarthy would drink before unceremoniously killing everyone in a novel).

Anyway, it was reported by a reliable source (Lindsey, Kevin’s older sister) that Magnolia House had a pretty remarkable burger. Obviously, my (figurative) radar started beeping. Kevin, Greg, Sarah, and I met up at Magnolia House for drinks, and Kevin and I – being the most adorable couple at the table – split a burger.

The Order: House Burger, cooked medium

The Price: $13.00

The Burger
Sadly, my camera is acting up, so I have trouble taking pictures of the burgers. Sorry – I’ll fix that post haste. With that unpleasant little prefatory remark out of the way, let’s talk about the food.

The Magnolia House burger features house-made American cheese, bourbon onions, a dill pickle remoulade, and bacon nestled between brioche buns. (More traditional garnishes like lettuce and tomato? Not in this house.) The beef was, per server recommendation, cooked medium. At Magnolia House, this means a warm center the color of a sky teetering on the edge of sunset – just a kiss of pink. It had none of the grill-roughened blackness or sizzling charm of some of its more aggressively charred counterparts. Nor was the meat of any notable quality – for better or worse. It was juicy and well-cooked, but ultimately a fairly pedestrian centerpiece.

The devil, however, lies in the details. And the finer points of this burger are excellent. The cheese was stupendous, a milky sheet with the consistency of magma, oozing languidly over the sides of the patty. Its mild, buttery sweetness didn’t just complement the patty – it elevated it. As I ate it, I found myself surprised that Magnolia House does not advertise this as the House Cheeseburger: after all, the cheese is the star of this show.

Remoulade, for those of you who live normal lives where you don’t use absurd words like remoulade, is aioli’s slightly snobby cousin. Usually mayonnaise-based (though sometimes it’s just spiced-up aioli), it’s not actually that unusual to find chopped pickles in it. So yeah, Magnolia’s decision to call this “dill pickle remoulade” is kind of like saying “cow’s milk ice cream” – there are other ways to make it, but come on.

All that aside, the sauce is good. It’s tangy, and its consistency dovetails nicely with the cheese. They don’t cross-pollinate enough to create a confused gustatory cloud, but they interact well enough to create a suspension. The result on the palate feels like alternating flickering bursts of sauce and cheese.

The bacon and onions are also both just fine. Usually, they find themselves coated in sauce and cheese, which tend to obfuscate their pure taste a bit. In the case of the bacon, that’s not that big of a deal, because the slices are thick enough that the flavor can’t be contained, just delayed. As for the onions, the loss of their flavor isn’t too much of a loss at all, as they’re the weakest garnish. They’re flaccid from booze-drenched caramelization, and weirdly flavorless. There’s a little residual sweetness from that bourbon that’s nice enough, but nothing to write home about.

All told, the meat in this burger is brought to life by a provocative sauce and cheese combination. That’s not a customary recipe for success, but as it turns out, it is a recipe for a pretty damn decent burger.

The Ratings
Flavor: 8.80 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 8.00 / 10.00
Value: 8.00 / 10.00
Efficiency: 8.10 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 8.20 / 10.00
Bun: 8.10 / 10.00
Patty: 7.80 / 10.00
Toppings: 8.70 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.90 / 10.00
Balance: 8.40 / 10.00

Total: 83.00 / 100.00

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

The Place
Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
1111 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90017
Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.37.57 PMAt this point it’s pretty safe to say that Plan Check has blown up. Once little more than an insider’s favorite on Sawtelle, it eased it’s way out to Fairfax before venturing Downtown. Now, apparently, it’s even got plans to take over Pasadena. Now, Plan Check’s expansion isn’t the only indicator of Ernesto Uchimura’s entrepreneurial spirit (or, one might worry, culinary restlessness). The Salty Dog, the progeny of his recent partnership with Princess Cruises (I know), is another indication.

While it is admittedly concerning that Uchimura is taking to the seven seas, his innovative impulses and the skeptical eye he casts on the conventional is what makes Plan Check so alluring, and ultimately, so successful. Skepticism is not the same as dismissal. Uchimura does not reject the conventional out of hand. Nor, however, does he respect it simply because it has been done and repeated. His goal with Plan Check seems to be to elevate the conventional.

That, of course, is a laudable goal. And based on the measure of success he and business partner Terry Heller have found with Plan Check, he seems to be on to something. Abbe and I went to evaluate this (and the other highlights of the menu, which include the fried chicken). This dinner brought to light several things, including without limitation a) she’s a relatively big deal, b) I’m not, and c) it was surprisingly easy to convince myself that I had anything to do with the free dessert our server gave us, and d) they serve a burger worth talking about.

The Order: PCB (Plan Check Burger: Americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun)

The Price: $12.00

The Burger

Let’s all admit one thing right out of the gates: none of us really know what any of the ingredients mean. The descriptions are indecipherable, shrouded in a thick fog of hipster pretension. Seriously, Ernesto Uchimura speaks a language so obscure and awesome that only he understands it. He’s like the windtalkers, only he’s making up words. And he’s a hipster. So he’s nothing like the windtalkers.

I may not be able to tell you what they are, but I can tell you how they made me feel: good. The cheese was superlative. It was as gooey as cheese whiz, a dripping, milky, amorphous coat that sits dripping atop the patty upon arrival before being almost absorbed into it. That’s a weird thing: the patty is like a sponge. It sucks in the flavors of the cheese and the dehydrated ketchup (ketchup leather is a deeply unappetizing but oddly apt moniker for it). The meat itself is healthily charred, competently cooked, and subtly infused with the flavors of the other toppings as well as that of the grill and the simple salt-heavy seasoning.

Rather than featuring bold, assertive flavors, the Plan Check Burger suggests them. Whispering remnants of ketchup and cheese and salt and char intermingle with that of the beef, giving it a complexity that far outstrips its inherent flavor profile. Try as I might, I’ll never understand how Uchimura managed that. Science.

The pickles are bright and sour, but delicate enough not to overshadow the subtle interactions between the other ingredients. This is a professionally assembled burger that is masterfully crafted to project deceptive simplicity. But this burger is anything but simple. It is a symphony heard from a distance; a muted assembly of the bold. Even the bun is deceptively simple, offering a gentle crunch to complement its sweet, cloudlike delicacy. Only the onions are forgettable; insipid and blunt, they are lost in the otherwise expert shuffle.

This is an innovative burger. From its solid state sauce presentations and saucy cheese to its impressionable patty and spry pickles, you will be surprised. At the price point, it is something approaching highway robbery. This is one to order and reorder. Though imperfect, it is one you will remember.

The Ratings
Flavor: 9.20 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.00 / 10.00
Value: 9.30 / 10.00
Efficiency: 8.30 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 9.40 / 10.00
Bun: 8.90 / 10.00
Patty: 9.00 / 10.00
Toppings: 8.20 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.80 / 10.00
Balance: 9.70 / 10.00

Total: 89.80 / 100.00

LABP x NYC: Bareburger

Some of you may have been expecting a review of The Spotted Pig. Well, plans change. Bareburger ended up being the choice for a variety of reasons. First, because it’s coming to Santa Monica, which makes it more relevant to the focus of this Project. Secondly, it was voted the best burger in New York City by the New York Post. Lastly (and admittedly, probably most importantly), it’s really, really close to Julie’s apartment, and we were hungry.

I went with Dec, Brittany, and Julie to see what this place was all about. I know this is neither here nor there, but they should consider serving beverages that sound less like deviant sex acts. I’m sorry, but asking whether I want my beer with a cinnamon rim, or if if I want to follow my burger with a hot honey milkshake? Leaving aside that I said yes to both, that’s creepy and weird.

The Place
313 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

The Order: Bareburger, elk patty, aged cheddar, country bacon, pickled jalapeños, stone mustard, tomato fig jam

The Price: $15.25 ($8.80 base; $1.10 for elk; $1.20 for cheese; $1.65 for bacon, $0.75 for jalapeños; $1.75 for tomato fig jam)

The Burger
Okay, so it’s quite possible that I got suckered into the whole gimmicky meat phenomenon here (if there is such a phenomenon), because I saw elk and didn’t think twice about it. One might accuse me, therefore, of missing out on the “typical” Bareburger experience. I don’t know. I’m just anticipating here.

I think anyone who so accused me would be wrong, though, and here’s why. My feeling is that the central (purported) virtue the Bareburger model is that there is no “typical” Bareburger experience. Part of their schtick is that you could go there a few times a week, and never eat two burgers that were even remotely similar to one another over the span of at least a couple months. Bareburger gives the diner the yoke, and with it, the freedom to, as James Mercer wrote, fly the whole mess into the sea.

So you have ten choices of patty (beef, bison, elk, wild boar, duck, grilled lemon chicken, sweet potato and wild rice, black bean, and farmer’s quinoa), four different buns (brioche, sprout, tapioca rice, or a collard green wrapping), nine cheeses (Colby, aged cheddar, pepper jack, manchego, queso fresco, gouda, pimento, amish blue, or vegan cheddar), three bacons (country, duck, or brisket), fourteen garnishes (alfalfa, green leaf, spinach, red onions, tomato, dill pickles, spicy pickles, pickled jalapeños, chickpea onions, stout onions, pickled red onions, sweet pickles, pickled green tomatoes, and wild mushrooms), eleven sauces (mayo, ketchup, buffalo sauce, stone mustard, special sauce, habanero mayo, paprika mayo, horseradish remoulade, curry ginger ketchup, smoke sauce, and buttermilk ranch), and five spreads (spicy pico de gallo, piquante relish, pineapple relish, tomato fig jam, and guacamole).

I know. It’s a lot. Take a minute. I’ll wait.

Now, it’s not clear to me that there is such thing as “too much choice,” but if there is, Bareburger is getting there. At some point, the thrill of customizability is outweighed by the overwhelming multiplicity of options. Decision trees become labyrinthine tangles of equally appealing options. Alternatives become conceptually indistinguishable. And before you know it, you’re more exhausted than you were after dragging your suitcases to your friend’s fourth floor walkup (that was a New York joke).

For that reason, it’s a little tricky to review Bareburger, per se. I can tell you how the burger I got was, as long as you understand that there is statistically zero chance that you order the same one when you go. I can tell you the elk was prepared with surprising facility, which indicates to me that they know how to work with these meats. It’s nice to know that it’s more than just a gimmick. These patties are prepared thoughtfully.

On the point of thoughtfulness, though, I have to return to the abundance of choices. With so many meat, cheese, garnish, sauce, and spread options, it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that Bareburger is concerned more with quantity than synergy. That is to say, they’ll wow you with the amount of options they have, but there’s no guarantee that any assortment of toppings will work well together (Julie, for instance, was less pleased with her choice). It’s that uncertainty that distinguishes Bareburger from other, superior build-your-own outfits.

But going back to my burger, the cheddar was generously portioned, a thick and bubbling sheet atop the elk. The bacon was rich and smoky. The sauce and spread were uninspiring: the mustard was too scarce to make an impression and the tomato-fig jam was a little insipid. Both were lost in the proverbial shuffle. The jalapeños had no heat, so they were essentially duplicative of the pickles, which themselves were a touch on the sad and soggy end. All told, the toppings were good, not great, and reinforced my nagging suspicion that Bareburger is more committed to quantity than to quality.

I went to Bareburger hungry, and left sated. Was it worth the three-minute walk from Julie’s apartment? Yes. Was it worth the $15.25 price tag? Less yes. Would I be confident that I could get an equally good burger the next time I went, regardless of what I ordered? Not at all yes. So…no. Bareburger’s vast array of toppings pits garnish against garnish. And they don’t always work together well. Ultimately, the abundance of items gives rise to some weird tragedy of the commons, where ingredients stand alone rather than collaborating to form a coherent whole. That makes Bareburger an inconsistent roll of the dice. If you’re feeling lucky, go for it.

The Ratings
Flavor: 8.40 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.00 / 10.00
Value: 7.10 / 10.00
Efficiency: 7.00 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 9.20 / 10.00
Bun: 8.00 / 10.00
Patty: 9.10 / 10.00
Toppings: 7.60 / 10.00
Sauce: 6.50 / 10.00
Balance: 8.00 / 10.00

Total: 79.90 / 100.00

Father’s Office

If anyone ever tells you that The Office Burger didn’t change the game in a completely fundamental way, point them in my direction. Sang Yoon’s restaurant is an institution at least, and a nascent empire at most. First, Father’s Office paved the way for Californian craft beers (way before it was hip), offering all of Anchor’s beers, and later Sierra Nevada and a bunch more.

Then, the Office Burger came along and revolutionized things again. More on that in a minute.

This place is famous enough for banning ketchup and stubbornly refusing any and all substitutions. It’s also a famously nightmarish logistical enterprise – i.e., good luck getting a seat. In spite of all this, Father’s Office is the darling of the denizens of Santa Monica. It is their flagship burger, often-imitated but never matched. They will tell you it’s not just the best burger in Santa Monica – it’s one of the best burgers in the country – NAY, the world.

It may have been obvious that I was going to go here, but Father’s Office falls pretty squarely within the category of “things that people in Santa Monica overestimate just because they’re in Santa Monica.” Let’s be clear, if Father’s Office was just in Culver City, nobody in Santa Monica would give one single shit about it.

It’s important, then, to tune out the Santa Monica exceptionalist noise when you go to Father’s Office. One of the best ways to do that, it turns out, is to go to the one in Culver. So Jules and I did just that after she fit me for an absurd suit. We managed to alienate basically everyone around us, and actually accomplished something I previously thought was impossible: we were so repellent that one party actually gave up their table to avoid being next to us. File that under “unprecedented things.”

Anyway. Let’s talk about this titan.

The Place
Father’s Office
3229 Helms Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034

The Order: The Office Burger (no substitutions, obviously), medium-rare

The Price: $12.50

The Burger
So like I said above, Father’s Office made the fancy burger cool in Los Angeles. Before Sang Yoon dropped this culinary bomb on all of us, you’d have been laughed out of a room for putting arugula on a burger. But put arugula on a burger Yoon did. And caramelized onions, and gruyére and Maytag cheeses. All on a roll – yes, a roll, not a bun. The beef is dry-aged and deeply flavorful.

Yoon gets credit for being the first to fancify the burger. But he does not get credit for being the best. This burger is an unbalanced, inaccessible mess. The arugula dominates early in each bite, profoundly bitter and dry. It tips into the grainy gruyére, the complexity of which is too big an ask following the harsh arugula. The onions close it out, almost too sweet and very sharp. On the finish, the bitter garnishes melt into the sharp cut of the crisp exterior of the patty, leaving very little time to enjoy the delicious, dry-aged, medium rare perfection of the patty.

I don’t use the word “perfection” lightly. So let’s be precise. This is not the best burger in Los Angeles. Not even close. It’s not the best pub burger. It’s not the best fancy burger. It’s not the best craft burger. It’s not the best “gourmet” burger. It is a strong competitor for the best patty in Los Angeles. Sadly, the stellar piece of beef is is crowded out by a bunch of harsh toppings. The toppings are all of superior quality, but they don’t complement one another well. The burger skews too far in the direction of the bitter, the sharp, and the complex. Ultimately, all this makes the burger worse in spite of the beautiful piece of beef. To this patty, I would quote the Bard of Generation X: “You are not to blame for bittersweet distractors.” (Bonus points if you got the reference without Google.)

As it happens, Father’s Office’s unwillingness to make substitutions is reflective of a broader philosophical resistance to change. This burger has failed to adapt with the times. It has failed to compromise to mitigate its shortcomings. While the burger scene has evolved and developed around him, Sang Yoon has dug in his heels and served up the same deeply flawed burger for the better part of two decades. This burger made Sang Yoon famous. Now, it’s holding him back.

The Ratings
Flavor: 7.70 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.80 / 10.00
Value: 8.20 / 10.00
Efficiency: 8.50 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 9.00 / 10.00
Bun: 8.00 / 10.00
Patty: 10.00 / 10.00
Toppings: 6.90 / 10.00
Sauce: 9.00 / 10.00
Balance: 7.80 / 10.00

Total: 84.90 / 100.00

LABP x NYC: Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien

One of my readers told me she was excited to watch me tear New York a new one in this featurette. A few things were noteworthy to me me about that: 1) people read this, 2) I talked to a girl! and 3) she thought I hated New York, and 4) she thought that whatever distaste I have for the city made my negative evaluation of even its best burger a fait accompli.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not nominating myself for a Peabody Award here (that’s your job). When it comes to journalistic integrity, I’m probably more Brian Williams than Walter Cronkite, and probably more Perez Hilton than either one. And sure, sometimes sentimentality gets the better of me. But still, I care about burgers a lot. And my love of burgers is the prime mover here. If the burger is good, I happily will say so.

Having said that, I’m all about context and background, so a comment on the city is in order. There are enough people who sing this city’s praises. So I figured I’d go all Scalia Dissent on the city that never sleeps.

Los Angeles is a wasteland.

It’s a wasteland of casual, laissez-faire cavalierism. It’s a wasteland of surf-salted hair and impromptu long weekends. It’s a wasteland of often-silenced phones and a pervasive repudiation of The Professional Grind. It’s a wasteland where startups will soon outnumber hedge funds, law firms, and consultancies. It’s a place where people go to pursue absurd and wonderful dreams (I want to sell my company to Google, I want to be the next next next James Bond, I want to host a late night show, I want to make chart-topping surf-rock records, et cetera). All that comes with a certain amount of vapidity and obsessiveness about appearance. Our cold-pressed, low-calorie, gluten-conscious, Runyon Canyon hiking, beach-blown lifestyle certainly is not for everyone. I mean, I write a burger blog, for Christ’s sake. You can imagine what I go through here.

But New York is a wasteland as well, and it’s a harder kind of place for me. It is a wasteland of self-satisfaction, of misplaced self-importance, of tall buildings housing diminutive and myopic ambitions, where long hours produce short lists of impactful achievements. It is a place where the best legal minds mire in structuring mid-market bond offers. It is a place where the smartest minds are perverted by the warped minds of the finance world into thinking that mortgage-backed securities are a good idea. Is there more to it than that? Sure. But investment houses and the legal market made New York the center of the universe. Sorry guys, but it’s not your bustling non-profit scene. Just like Los Angeles was built on the back of the entertainment industry, New York lives and dies by high finance.

For every still-exceptional person I know doing exceptional things in New York, there are quite literally thousands of people living life on autopilot, grinding away in some investment house moving around the idea of money. It is a wasteland of squandered potential. It is a place where people get paid to abandon their aspirations in magnificent buildings. It blurs people’s vision with enough fatigue, velocity, cocaine, and booze to make them mistake their paychecks for their dreams.

Where Los Angeles is caked in makeup and exudes laconic superficiality, New Yorkers have the untreated edge that attends an unwavering belief in one’s own superiority. New York, they’ll tell you, is ancient Rome for the modern age. That may be true. But it’s also ancient Rome for the modern age. Here, they drink on Tuesdays because running shit for the whole globe is tiring. In Los Angeles, we drink on Tuesdays too, but we do it to numb the creeping, paralytic hopelessness that stems from our deep, collective insecurity. Boom. AMIRITE U GUYZ?

Anyway, um…right. Moving on.

There’s a weirdly hostile condescension in the way many New Yorkers talk about L.A. To hear them tell it, Los Angeles is a quaint, sun-soaked, beachside hamlet where they make porn. Well, I’m here to set the record straight: Los Angeles is a sprawling, sun-soaked, beachside metropolis where they make porn. So there. And, might I add, a lot of New Yorkers seem to be attracted enough to it. Or repelled enough by New York.

Now, let’s be fair for a second (but only just): I don’t hate New York. I just reject the narrative of unrivaled excellence that seems to have taken hold in the collective consciousness of the city. It’s true: New York is magnificent. I spent my time there in awe of the scope of its greatness, and that awe persists to this day. Without question, New York the greatest city on the face of the planet. It is the ne plus ultra of human achievement. New York is, without qualification, a vastly better city to visit. But also without question, when it comes time to set down roots, Los Angeles is my kind of wasteland.

Why? Because this. And this. And this. And this. And more even-handedly, this.

So how does this all relate to burgers?

Well, New Yorkers pride themselves on having the best of everything. And when it comes to Italian food generally (and pizza specifically), they’re right. They’re the best at those things. The worst slice in New York would be well above-average – maybe excellent – in Los Angeles. A downright mediocre Italian restaurant in Little Italy would absolutely donkey punch nine out of ten similar presentations here.

So New Yorkers also like to think their city has the best of the burger war. Given my passion for Los Angeles burger-craft, I had to put this claim to the test. After soliciting recommendations from my Facebook friends, I decided to check out a couple places. The first was Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien. This spot isn’t exactly a habitual haunt for native New Yorkers. Even so, once upon a time, it was hailed as the best burger in New York. I went with Declan and Brittany to check it out.

The Place
Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien
119 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

The Order: Cheeseburger with “the works” (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard)

The Price: $8.73 (not including fries [$3.90], a Coke [$2.53], and a milkshake [$6.43], for a total of $21.59)

The Burger
From the moment you walk in, one thing is obvious: Burger Joint is trying really hard. It’s artificially cramped. You can write on the walls, which gives it kind of an “aw, shucks” vibe…until you notice there’s one wall reserved for famous people to write on. Which is less “aw, shucks” and more “look how cool we are!” They’re blasting Classic Music from the 1960s, which really reinforces the Genuine Old School Vibe.

The almost impossibly unfriendly staff serves with practiced impatience; they criticized the manner in which I ordered the burgers, which took about 1.4 seconds longer than our cashier would have liked. After yelling at us for not picking up our order, they gave us the wrong order. Then, not sheepishly enough, they presented us with the food we did order…minus one milkshake.

Not to sound like an annoying, entitled Yelper, but I see red when unfriendly service is not counterbalanced by German efficiency. Be a dick if you must (though, must you?), but you better good and goddamn well get my order perfect. And if you’re going to yell at me, it better not be for nothing. My rule is that I’ll be as reasonable and solicitous as the staff – I’ll meet them right in the middle. So I don’t demand absolute perfection from the staff at a restaurant…unless they demand it from me.

Anyway, that gripe aside, let’s get to the food.

This patty is a mix of top sirloin, shoulder, and chuck. All the meat is freshly ground in-house on a daily basis. The patty is not heavily seasoned nor inherently particularly flavorful; the main source of flavor is the grill. And it does impart a hell of a flavor. The patty’s was infused with the aroma of char and smoke. Cooked medium rare, it was a juicy, just-bloody-enough, smoky delight. The one drawback is that, at five ounces, it’s kind of meager.

The cheese was a hybrid of Colby and Cheddar. I’ve long thought that not enough restaurants incorporate multiple cheeses into their burgers, so this was a refreshing presentation. The cheese was perfectly semisolid, neither too messy nor too stiff, and just melted enough to let the Colby and cheddar bleed into one another. By blurring the boundary between the slices, Burger Joint creates a delicious amorphous cloud on top of the patty that rounds out the burger wonderfully. Colby is basically cheddar that hasn’t undergone the cheddaring process (which gives cheddar cheese its lower whey content and denser texture), the combination of the two cheeses essentially eases you into the crumbly, sharp richness of cheddar. It’s a remarkably simple – but totally brilliant – touch.

The garnishes were all pleasantly fresh (especially the tomato – swoon), but poorly arranged in the burger. Specifically, the razor-sharp tangle of red onions were placed almost entirely on one side, making that side overwhelmingly, well, zippy. On the other hand, it gave the burger a sort of narrative arc: you start slow with the mellow, sunny burst of tomato, and work your way towards the gregarious, brash onion. That would be cool, if it didn’t feel completely unintentional.

The price also bears mention. This was a really, really expensive meal. But the burger itself was not outrageously expensive in and of itself, but it’s still quite expensive, pound for pound. Almost nine bucks for a five ounce burger is pretty steep.

All told, the gripes above are relatively minor. This is a fantastic burger that is well-deserving of the praise it gets. I finished this burger inside of ten minutes. It is eminently edible, and each bite commands another. There is something to be said for a burger you just can’t stop eating, and Burger Joint definitely provides that much. So, if you can stomach the silly and contrived milieu, the oppressively unfriendly staff, and the unreasonably long wait, make the hike to the West 50s and give this burger a try. You’ll see what the fuss is about.

The Ratings
Flavor: 9.60 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.50 / 10.00
Value: 7.30 / 10.00
Efficiency: 8.40 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 7.30 / 10.00
Bun: 8.40 / 10.00
Patty: 9.60 / 10.00
Toppings: 9.70 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.70 / 10.00
Balance: 9.30 / 10.00

Total: 87.80 / 100.00

LABP x PHL: Parc

Lest it be heard that I have insular tendencies, I have ventured – in these months of unstructured leisure between the bar exam and the proper beginning of my gainful employ – to explore other parts of the country. The next few posts to follow (and a few more later in the month) will trace my travels in the Far East.

Let’s get one thing out early: If you haven’t been to Philadelphia, you absolutely should go. This is one of the most surprising cities I’ve yet been to. It’s got the charm of Charleston without the silent-but-way-real stigma against interracial dating. It’s got the brick-lined bustle of Brooklyn without the impenetrable cloud of self-congratulation. And if you do go, you should be so lucky as to have tour guides as enchanting as mine – none other than the incomparable Kevin and Rumi.

The first stop was Parc, a Parisian belle epoque revival shop by Stephen Starr, who apparently owns, I don’t know, every restaurant in Philadelphia? Okay, that’s not true, but he owns twelve. Plus two satellites (Morimoto and Buddakan) in the meatpacking district in New York. It’s all disgustingly hip. Anyway, Parc. Tables lined the street, overlooking scenic Rittenhouse Square. Far-flung from the bustle of New York, you could almost hear yourself think.

The three of us stopped for lunch at this picturesque spot. I ordered a burger. Because after all, what do Americans do at charming French restaurants? We order cheeseburgers, damn it. So I’ll tell you about the one I ate, while resisting the temptation to replace every “f” with a “ph”. One thing’s phor certain: It’ll be a stiph challenge!

Okay, I won’t do that anymore.

The Place
227 South 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Order: Cheeseburger

The Price: $16.00

The Burger
Philly’s first offering was a simple one: a pretty substantial patty (our waiter was too busy having a rad man-bun and wearing rad sunglasses and being rad to tell me anything about the composition of the patty besides, “It’s ground beef”) was wrapped in a bubbling cloak of raclette cheese (raclette, a semi-hard melting cheese, is known for its nutty acidity – imagine a softer, oilier gruyère, and you’ve got the basic idea). In the center of this cheese-coated disc sat a tangled mound of caramelized onions.

There was no sauce, save for the ketchup on the side. This seemed a conscious attempt to bring the interaction between the beef and the cheese to center stage. The onions played a largely supporting role here, offering a faint glimmer of sweetness that peeked out coyly from behind sharp bitterness. The beef was juicy and rich enough, cooked to a timidly pink medium-rare. There is no taste of grill here, which, along with the raclette, reflects the ultimately tragically French sensibilities that doom this burger to mediocrity.

At the risk of getting a little too “big picture” here, the best burgers stand out in part because they balance ingredients so well. These ingredients seem like they were put together for all the wrong reasons. Here’s how I imagine the composition of this burger going down:

“Okay, everyone, this is a restaurant in Philadelphia. We need a burger.”
“But it’s a French restaurant…isn’t a burger a little incongruous?”
“Hmm. Interesting point. What if we put a bunch of French-sounding shit on it?”
“Yeah, yeah. That’s smart. Maybe, like, French onions?”
“Exactly. That’s a good idea because it has the word French in it. What about cheese?”
“I don’t know. How about raclette? That’s the Frenchest-sounding cheese I know.”
“Hmm. Maybe. But, to be fair, I said raclette first.”
“Yeah…that’s a really good point. Let’s do that. Okay, what else?”
“I don’t know. I just googled ‘French sounding food’ and didn’t come up with anything.”
“Shit. Oh well, that’s probably good enough. Great work today.”

My point is that this burger is less a carefully constructed synthesis of cooperative ingredients and more a menagerie of things that sound like they’re “French” (leaving aside is that raclette isn’t French). It doesn’t require culinary training to intuit that a burger needs more than meat, onions, and cheese to pass muster. Not to sound jingoistic, but there are some things that are uniquely American – and uniquely un-French. If Parc is any indication, the cheeseburger may be one of them.

The Ratings
Flavor: 6.90 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 8.40 / 10.00
Value: 5.50 / 10.00
Efficiency: 7.30 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 6.10 / 10.00
Bun: 8.50 / 10.00
Patty: 8.50 / 10.00
Toppings: 6.70 / 10.00
Sauce: 0.00 / 10.00
Balance: 6.80 / 10.00

Total: 64.70 / 100.00


The Chicken Sandwich
The Chicken Sandwich
The Spicy Chicken Sandwich
The Spicy Chicken Sandwich

In 2012, Chick-Fil-A’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Dan Cathy, went on The Ken Coleman Show and voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage. The corporation, it was revealed, donated money to groups that opposed same-sex marriage.

A total shitshow followed. Never before had chicken sandwiches been so prominent in the public consciousness. Chick-Fil-A became an avatar for bigotry to progressives. Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, said he would prohibit the company from opening franchises unless they disavowed their statements. An LGBT ally went to a Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and verbally assaulted a Chick-Fil-A employee in the name of tolerance. It backfired.

Boycotts and sit-ins ensued. The Christian right launched a strident, artery-clogging counterattack, spearheaded by none other than America’s most affable maniac: Mike Huckabee. They crowed about the victimization of white Christians (which…um…). Millions of people lined up outside Chick-Fil-A restaurants all around the country to show solidarity with a company that, in their view, had been unfairly maligned. It’s anyone’s guess as to how many really understood why they were there.

These sorts of faddish expressions of support don’t really impress me. Not only do I not share the morally exhibitionist impulses of many in my generation (on all sides of the political spectrum), but I like fried chicken. So I carried on eating at Chick-Fil-A, annoyed by the lines of socially conservative culinary philistines who had no interest in experimenting with different sauce-sandwich combinations, but were just there to prove a point; annoyed by the hordes of self-righteous idiot undergraduates blocking the sauce station, eager to post photos of themselves being socially aware for their Facebook friends to see and then go home and find something else to pretend to care about. Just annoyed. And hungry.

Many of my more progressive law school classmates wanted to stop eating Chick-Fil-A. They wanted to show solidarity and help bleed dry the homophobic corporate monster. They wanted it so badly. But the biscuits are just too goddamn fluffy. The chicken is too goddamn juicy. So they ate. They ate with guilty relish. They drew straws to see who would drive and pick up sandwiches for everyone. They couldn’t quit Chick-Fil-A, no matter how repulsive its organizational gestalt.

What we have here, then, is something special. It’s not special because I ignored social currents out of a love for fried chicken. That expression of my metasociopathy will surprise nobody. What’s special is that we have here a chicken sandwich that made self-righteous law students mortgage their socially progressive principles. When a chicken sandwich overcomes the preening moral awareness of the most insufferably self-righteous subset of the population, that warrants attention.

Shanil and I went to Chick-Fil-A for his farewell lunch, a fitting tribute to his two weeks in the land of the free before his return to the freedomless tundra of Canada. We had to put the most controversial (and incidentally, the most popular) sandwich in America to the test.

The Place
1700 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91106

The Order: Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chicken Sandwich

The Price: $3.39 (Chicken Sandwich); $3.69 (Spicy Chicken Sandwich)

The Burgers
There really can be no controversy about one thing: these sandwiches are pretty delicious. Chick-Fil-A is quick to point out that they didn’t invent the chicken (God did that)…just the chicken sandwich. And they present the dish with the masterful simplicity of the inventor. There are no bells and whistles here. Each sandwich is cheeseless. On a sweet but too-thin white bun sits a thick chicken breast, breaded and fried to perfection, adorned only by a few meek pickle chips. The flavor profile is spare. Sauce is optional (I recommend the honey roasted BBQ). There is endless room to innovate: some add combinations of sauces. Others add a weblike layer of waffle fries. Still more are purists, allowing the sandwich to stand alone.

There is little to say here. The fried chicken is crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside. The standard chicken sandwich features flavorful breading, golden and summery. It crunches like deep fried sunshine, giving way to a perfectly prepared, succulent piece of chicken. The spicy version is similar, but with a sassy little kick on the front end. It’s got personality. It’s got spunk. The honey roasted BBQ, my sauce of choice, adds a creamy, mellowing sweetness that dovetails nicely with the pickles and complements the complexity of the chicken admirably. Sure, the composition lacks that inspired creative spark, and therefore there is little to balance. But it’s a delicious sandwich. No matter which version you order.

The unadorned beauty of these sandwiches are their primary virtue. They have the unprepared, untreated charm of Eliza Doolittle. But at the end of the day, Eliza Doolittle was still Audrey Hepburn. Who, you know, was a knockout. Another remarkable feature of these sandwiches, though, is the price point. At less than four dollars apiece, these are a serviceable alternative to In-N-Out if you aren’t in the mood for beef, but still don’t want to break the bank.

Don’t let the controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A fool you. It had nothing to do with the food. And for the most part, it seems as though eating there is no longer a slap in the face of the gay rights movement. As a testament to that, Chick-Fil-A is thriving in West Hollywood, a city where a rainbow flag flies at city hall. So the controversy has passed. And the food is still delicious.

The Ratings
Chicken Sandwich
Flavor: 9.00 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.00 / 10.00
Value: 10.00 / 10.00
Efficiency: 10.00 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 5.00 / 10.00
Bun: 7.70 / 10.00
Patty: 8.30 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.90 / 10.00
Toppings: 6.80 / 10.00
Balance: 7.90 / 10.00

Total: 82.60 / 100.00

Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Flavor: 9.00 / 10.00
Freshness/Quality: 9.00 / 10.00
Value: 10.00 / 10.00
Efficiency: 10.00 / 10.00
Creativity/Style: 5.50 / 10.00
Bun: 7.70 / 10.00
Patty: 8.70 / 10.00
Sauce: 8.90 / 10.00
Toppings: 6.80 / 10.00
Balance: 8.10 / 10.00

Total: 83.70 / 100.00