Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Comme Ça Burger

I love hamburgers. More specifically –– cheeseburgers.

I can summon up a pretty ecumenical and open-minded feeling about all sorts of cheeseburgers.

I get cravings for the "animal style" cheeseburger at In-N-Out.

The cheeseburger (with grilled onions) at Pie and Burger is a thing of beauty.

Cassell's is pretty good.

I had the burger at the Bucket once, many years ago, and that was not bad.

When I was a kid, my family was nuts for Fatburger. I like how they pepper their meat.

I'll even sheepishly admit that I get a hankering for the Mini Sirloin Burgers ("riding tall, tall in the saddle...") at Jack in the Box.

And oh, yes! Don't forget Tommy's! I love that chili-cheese burger. Maybe, only once a year, but I wouldn't want to give it up.

Even the Counter is tasty, for a more chichi burger.

I'll order a cheeseburger almost anywhere. And I can, because Los Angeles loves hamburgers.

There are great debates about where you can find the best hamburger in Los Angeles. It's really similar to the Great Pizza Debates. Just check
chowhound.com for the latest heated discussion.

To my mind, as of a couple of weeks ago, there really is no debate to have –– no argument at all. I had one of those transcendent food moments that I am always quietly hoping I am on the verge of having.

I was on my way to meet my friend David for lunch at Father's Office –– a very worthy burger joint, with a delicious, fancified burger with carmelized onions, bacon, arugula, gruyère, and blue cheese –– when David called to say that F.O. was not open for lunch. This is something that I used to know before I had a baby and promptly forgot everything. So a change of plans was in order.

"Let's go have the Comme Ça Burger," David suggested.

So we did. And oh my, was that a great idea.

Comme Ça is a likable enough restaurant, especially if you (cough) love the look of the Pottery Barn. I've never been completely blown away by the food or the dining experience as a whole.

This time was different. I ordered the Comme Ça Burger medium rare and a glass of Burgundy. I know this sounds cliché, but this burger was as close to perfection as I have ever experienced.

When it first arrived, I thought to myself, "Oh, no. This is one of those super tall burgers that I will never be able to fit in my mouth." I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. But I was wrong.

The beauty of this burger is that the bun is ultrasoft brioche that easily compresses in your hands and mouth.

The luscious, rosy-red meat was as yielding as the bun. The meat tastes as if it is ground with equal parts meat and butter.

We asked the kitchen, but they swear there is no butter mixed in with the meat. In fact they say there is absolutely nothing in the meat. They season the outside with salt and pepper and cook it. I just called them two seconds ago to confirm the fact that they do not cook the burger in butter.

This is shocking, because this is the richest, most buttery burger that I've eaten thusfar. They sear it and then throw it in the oven to finish cooking. It is so wonderfully beefy that David and I kept sniffing the meat just to inhale a little bit more of its beefiness.

The cheddar cheese seems to melt into the burger, and is not readily apprehensible as its own discrete entity. It adds fat and flavor, but not the typical layer of cheese feeling in your mouth or to your eye.

There's no ketchup. It isn't needed. Shredded iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced white onion are tossed in aioli and then tucked between the bun and the meat. It's impossible to think of a way to improve upon this combination.

Although the fries were exceptionally good, they aren't really necessary. The Burgundy was, and if it weren't for me trying very hard to live a more frugal life, I would have partaken of just one more glass.

This all sounds so basic. I'm not sure if I'm enough of a wordsmith to convey just how incredible this burger is. Does it help if I say that it blew my mind? Yeah, probably not.

I'd advise sampling it immediately, and then you will surely understand. It was probably the best meal for under $30 that I've had in ages.

Comme Ça
8479 Melrose Ave.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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