Archive for the ‘burgers’ Category

Baconista Bunch

January 28, 2010

The latest outpost of Orange County’s D.I.Y. burger movement,  Anaheim Hills- based Slater’s 50/50 has caught the eye of the online bacon belt. Of all the niche bloggers out there, few are as  doggedly fetishistic than those who spend their hours devoted to online bacon commentary. But bacon recipes, bacon haiku and depraved bacon-themed videos will have to wait, there’s heavy porcine theming going on at Slater’s. The folks at bacontoday.com can’t get enough of them.  And the people at Moorpark-based baconfreak.com will likely become fans if they take a break  from feverishly filling orders for  this nifty wallet, and pay them a visit.            

            

Slater’s signature burger is fifty percent ground  beef and fifty percent ground bacon topped with an over medium fried egg.  It’s a zaftig affair, pink and voluptuous with the full-flavored savory stickiness and mouthfeel of breakfast sausage. The detonation of the egg gives the burger a pleasant spurt, Grand Slamwich-like in execution, but stacked higher so that you have to unhinge your maw like a death adder to encompass the unwieldy girth of the thing.         

 But the obsessive employment of non-kosher goodness doesn’t stop with the burger. There’s macaroni and cheese : tender pasta elbows enveloped in mild Gruyère funkiness and stippled with flecks of bacon for a  meaty smokiness throughout. And baconaise, bacon salt-infused mayo, is pretty tasty stuff, though a small ramekin of it probably packs more sodium than a bloody mary.            

Baconaise on the side. Do it.

After all the bacon hype, I  couldn’t resist the pork free Flamin’ Hot:  A one-third pound  jalapeño-flecked cayenne-perfumed premium beef patty  with wispy fried onion strings, fire roasted green chilies, pepper jack and chipotle mayo. It’s lip-stinging infernal carnality shimmers with heat alleviated only slightly by the absorption powers of a buttery crusted spongy bun the size of a Max Factor powder puff.        

 Slater’s stocks a condiment called J&D’s Bacon Salt (motto: Everything should taste like bacon!) on every table. Sprinkling it on my bacon-riddled goods seemed a little bit like following a C. C.  straight up with a Glenfiddich chaser, but I’d love to try it on popcorn.  6362 East Santa Ana Canyon Rd. Anaheim Hills, CA 92807 714.685.1103. Dinner for two, 25.00, food only.

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Counter Act

January 7, 2010

Dressed up burgers are peeking from their egg washed bonnets all over town these days. I’m all for affordable indulgence, but certain topping combinations are becoming more overexposed than brawling Bravolebrities. 

Consider A Restaurant’s beef patty the size of a solidarity fist with its buttery brioche bun, caramelized onions, bleu cheese and  bacon. Now ponder Haven Gastropub’s mad amalgamation of pork and beef entangled with pungent pickled red onions and blanketed with triple cream bleu cheese. Sound familiar?   

The fun of  the rapidly expanding 25 branch hipster franchise The Counter is having infinite choices of what to put or not put on your juicy whoopee cushion of grilled goodness, even when the current trend is all about blue-veined cheeses, manipulated onions and pork. 

Whipped avocado, fried tomatillos and pepper jack? Check!

With its powdery blue walls, soft globe lighting and industrial aluminum furniture, OC’s brand new and only branch of The Counter is the latest backdrop for stylish alternative servers with the deliberate bed head of  Himalayan guinea pigs and the ink, but not the vacant poker-faced stares of Travis Barker.   

The treated concrete floor and large retractable wall that bathes the room in light give the impression of an artist’s studio or gallery space, but under its cool facade lies a warm fuzzy ethos. The website says The Counter was ‘anti-established’ in 2003, but the most subversive thing about the chain is the radical step of ditching factory meat and choosing humanely raised and handled Angus beef.  

Did you miss out on waiting tables? There’s still time! At the counter, you take your own order by checking off boxes in five sections of the menu on a clipboard.  While you do this, you will need inspiration. A fifty-fifty combo of sweet, wispy fried onion strings and match-stick thin savory fries served with barbecue and ranch can help. On another visit, the monthly special was a  gritty application of low-end parmesan on fries and the fried dill pickle chips channeled Carl’s Jr.’s slimy fried zucchini coins, but with a sodium-packed punch. This left valuable real estate in my gut for the main course. 

I built a 1/3 lb. manwich with horseradish cheddar, roasted chiles, roasted red peppers, mixed baby greens, grilled onions,fried onion strings and  roasted garlic aioli. In a deft feat of physics, the chefs balanced my seven unwieldy topping selections with Jenga-like precision. Juicy, savory and seared to a pink medium rare, the beef  seemed to absorb all the other flavors and textures on its pliable, crenelated surface. 

If you were fashion challenged  kid swaddled in the Garanimals mix and match separates who learned never to pair the monkey label shorts with the rhino tag shirt, choosing from a legion of toppings and sauces might be tough. My advice: order a malty bottle of Three Philosophers Ale, take a deep breath and go for it! Sun dried tomatoes, herbed goat cheese spread, fried eggs, soy-ginger glaze  and caramelized onion marmalade are just a few choices. Be brave and change it up in 2010! 

The Counter 6416 Irvine Blvd. Irvine, CA 92620.949.336.7272. Dinner for two, $25.00, food only.