Thursday, November 5, 2009

Foodie Girls Lunch Brigade - Episode 9

I know that we are supposed to be getting more systematic in our grazing*, but it's not working out that way just yet. Montrose for Mexican a week from Monday? Mmm hmm, we all agreed at O'Groats. But when that plan had to be postponed**, instead of scientifically surveying the group or analyzing the queue of suggested places I fell back on gut instinct***. The Golden State, here we come!

Running a few minutes late to lunch, my cell phone rings as I'm exiting the freeway:

FG2: Hey, it's me. The Golden State is closed on Mondays.

Note to self: Next time, go with gut instinct but also check the restaurant hours on the website.

Episode 9 - Umami Burger to the Rescue

My idiocy was the FG's gain. We regrouped about
a mile away at Umami Burger**** and had some gloriously, gut-satisfyingly, great-tasting food. Poring over the menu of available burgers made our mouths water, particularly since FG12, who had been here before, was raving about the choices in detail as we debated. After settling on four options (the manly burger, the truffle burger, the umami burger and the lamb burger),plus side dishes of cheesy tater tots, onion rings and a pickle platter, we sat back and enjoyed the green tea-lemonade coolers and a mini-reunion of the original FGs*****.

The pickle platter, upon arrival, was more like a small plate with little piles of admittedly fresh and tasty things in brine decoratively placed around it. We all enjoyed it, but as FG3 put it, "I don't understand how they can charge $5 for a condiment tray." Amen to that.

The tiny mound on the lower right is pickled watermelon rind. Delicious!

Then the burgers arrived, and blew thoughts of overpriced cocktail onions from our minds. These were like works of art...just the right size, with improbably glossy buns topping a stack of ingredients that melded together into what a gourmet burger is meant to be:

The umami burger. "The fifth taste" x 6, according to the menu.

The manly burger. Girls like it, too!

Prime quality meat grilled to perfection inside that delectable, slightly sweet, warm toasted bread. The umami burger with a crispy disc of Parmesan cheese and sauteed mushrooms. The rich ooze of the truffle burger. The salty contrast of the onion strings, bacon lardons and beer cheddar on the manly burger. The unexpected rightness of apricots and pomegranate glaze on the lamb burger. We were all so, so happy.

And whoever invented those cheesy tater tots and the kick-ass sauces that came with 'em should get some kind of medal.

I think the staff did grow a bit tired of us after a while******, so perhaps we were partially to blame for their inattentiveness. In our defense though, I think our oohs and ahhs and doofy grins of pleasure probably brought in some potential customers who might have been on the fence.

Plans? Methods? Who needs 'em! Gimme last minute Umami every time.

FG Final Verdict? Umami Burger is so ON the list!
Pricing Information: Burgers $9-12, sides $3-6, desserts (which we didn't try) $5 or so.
FG Value rating: Fair deal, except for those pickles. Get real!

* It should be pretty easy to be more systematic than getting an e-mail and saying, "hey, let's go there!", but so far it's been a struggle. See footnote *** and footnote ******
** FG10, who recommended the place, had a child care conflict and we didn't want to go without her.
***OK, it was more like I fell back on FG2's recent e-mail missives, supplemented by the roundup on yelp about their incredible burger:
  • FG2, part I: I'm having lunch at The Golden State on Fairfax (across the street from Animal) and it's great! Must add to list.
  • FG2, part II: Have you been to Scoops on Melrose? I had gelato at Golden State from Scoops that was heaven. I hear they have Horchata flavor. I had coffee/coconut, [my son] had Chocolate Molasses that tasted like Whoppers. Was so good. Sorry to keep annoying you with all of this food talk, but my husband is useless when it comes to gastronomy.
**** Thanks again to FG2, who followed up her "closed mondays" bombshell with "I want to try Umami Burger". Thanks also to a recent column by Jonathan Gold at LA weekly, so I knew what the hell she was talking about and agreed immediately.
***** This was the first lunch in quite a while where all three of the original FGs were able to come. It was a wonderful feeling, being back together.
****** We were waffling big time about dessert. FG12 had sold us on a certain cookie: "It was some kind of a maple cream cookie that cost $4. But I have to say, it was the best $4 cookie I've ever had in my life." But they didn't have the $4 cookie, so we were all kind of at a loss. Maybe this is why being systematic may never work for us.

p.s. I met my husband at The Golden State for lunch the following day. They also make a mighty, mighty fine burger. Juicy, delicious, loosely ground beef, arugula, cheddar, bacon, and another fabulous semi-sweet toasted bun. Freshly squeezed minted lemonade and curry ketchup to go with a big pile of nicely done fries. I'm keeping this one on the list, too!


  1. Alex and I went to Umami for the first time on Saturday after the Silver Lake Art Walk. Initially we weren't impressed by the look of the measly portion but once we put the tasty morsel in our mouths, we were instantly impressed with the burst of flavors. He had the SoCal and I the Casablanca accompanied by thin fries and the delicious Umami ketchup. We will be back! We promise to take Lucas next time.

  2. You're right...the burgers seem too small when they arrive, but they're so rich that in the end the portions are just about perfect!