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Entries in Burgers (23)


Kinetic Brewing Company, Lancaster

Lancaster, California. I know next to nothing about Lancaster, except that my father preceded me here about a dozen times over a ten year period. He never mentioned Kinetic.


I’m always on the hunt for local brew and a pub style meal; Kinetic fit the bill. I started with a pub classic, Scotch egg. I think Scotch egg could be the absolutely perfect drunk and/or hangover food. While I haven’t eaten too many Scotch eggs in my life, my gut says, while spicy, this one was good, just not outstanding. A few misgivings...there was this dark ring around the edge of the white on the egg that leads me to believe the sausage on the outside was cooked a little too long. Additionally, they used a hard-boiled egg, rather than a soft-boiled one. The use of a soft-boiled egg could have really elevated this dish. Truth is, with a hard-boiled egg, they could have fried the sausage separately in a form and placed the cut Scotch egg in it. I thought Scotch eggs were supposed to be served un-cut to show the expertise of the chef?

Alright, enough criticism, the egg was fine, just not great and yes I ate it all.

Burger and home-made chips. No critique of the burger or the chips, they were awesome. The burger patty was cooked medium-rare as requested. The brioche bun was oh so wonderful and stayed completely intact from the first bite until the last. Caramelized onions and cheese help keep everything moist and delicious. Absolutely wonderful burger.


The chips were also a cut above. Without exception, every chip was crisp. Every chip. Seasoned simply with salt, these chips were as good as the Hop Yard Ale House in Pleasanton I had a couple weeks back.

Good overall experience at Kinetic and the IPA is good too.

Kinetic Brewing Company on Urbanspoon


Hop Yard Alehouse, Pleasanton

Another commute to the Bay Area and another stop along the freeway. This time in Pleasanton off the East 580 at Hop Yard Alehouse.

No expectations here other than I figured a brewery pub would have decent fish and chips, sandwiches and burgers. I ordered the Sierra Madre burger. The burger was good, just not outstanding, nor was it cooked to order medium-rare, so I was a little disappointed but not upset. The patty was cooked to medium-plus, but was complemented by a good smoked cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, and decent bread.  All in all, a good experience, just not the best I’ve had for sure.


However, the house made potato chips were worth the price of admission. With each crunch of potato chip, each medium-plus bite of burger faded away. These in-house potato chips were outstanding. The house made potato chips were in a class all by themselves. Simply salted, thick cut potato chips were some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m a bit tired out on French fries unless they’re really well made. I’d almost rather have a salad. I continue to try in-house potato chips, figuring that if they’re going through the trouble of making them, they should be good; which is not always the case. The Hop Yard certainly makes some of the best in-house potato chips I’ve had.

Hop Yard Alehouse & Grill on Urbanspoon


Chef Martin's Bistro Burger (at Pinot Wine Bar)

I know Chef Martin is working on rolling out his food truck. I haven't spoken to him about timelines or if he's going to work at Pinot and his truck. 

However, I did stop in to have a burger and a beer a couple weeks back at Pinot Wine Bar in the Tower. I must say, an outstanding burger Chef! I don't know what Martin's menu is going to be on the truck or if he can bang out burgers; but if he can knock them out of his truck as good as the one I had, Chef Martin will have no trouble being THE force to reckon with in the food truck scene. 

I know, I know, lots of competition for a burger in Fresno. Lots of other sandwiches to choose from. Lots to prove once Martin gets rolling. I know. He'll be judged again in the truck.

Let's just hope that Chef Martin and others thinking about joining the foodie scene is a preview of how good the competition is getting and why I keep writing Open Letters to the first wave of gourmet food trucks and blogger cafes; there's always a fresh face looking to take down last year's number one.


H & W Drive In, Merced

Not far off Highway 99 in Merced; an honest to goodness drive in exists and it’s not a franchise chain. I can park my car in a stall and order right from the driver’s seat. I know Sonic does it, but it’s part of their franchise schtick. I can’t recall the last time I was in a town that had a genuine local drive-in. Nostalgia aside, I didn’t feel like eating in my car, so I ordered at the walk-up window.

Basic cheeseburger, fries and a root beer for $4.95. Yep; for just under $5 I’m going to have a full belly. I was instructed to find a seat and my order would be brought out to me. In about 5 minutes, here comes the order. The burger is wrapped up in white paper, like any classic drive-in. The fries are ridge-cut and seasoned with a seasoning salt. The root-beer, a super- medium size, stands boldly over my meal in white Styrofoam.

No, my burger is not cooked medium rare and it doesn’t come from grass-fed cows. No, my fries are not hand-cut that morning. I doubt my root-beer is artisanally crafted.  But who cares. It’s a drive in classic that cost less than $5. This isn’t serious food, it’s nostalgia, it’s cheap, it’s fast food that isn’t McDonald's. It’s what McDonald's crafted into a global franchise. It’s food industrialization at its finest, wrapped up into a local business that manages its costs and volume efficiently enough to stay in business. And it seems to be one of the more popular places to eat in Merced.

So next time you’re traveling Highway 99 and you find yourself in Merced and you want a nostalgic burger and fries that isn’t McDonald's, go to the H&W Drive-In.

H & W Drive-In on Urbanspoon


Father's Office, Santa Monica

It’s hip, it’s happening, it’s loud, it’s chaotic, and it’s totally packed dude, like bodasciously mega-packed. I’ve heard about Father’s Office when I was living in LA. “Go for the burger dude.” Thanks Johnny Utah for the advice. 

I was talking with another foodie, James Collier, who was down in LA for a food bloggers conference and the Father’s Office Burger came up. I recall hearing that it was good, but not earthshattering good.

With all these recommendations, it took simply the suggestion from a former analyst and friend of mine, Monica to get me to go. I trusted her as an analyst; so why not trust her foodie senses?

As we walked in, I get carded. Really. This automatically makes me think we’re going to a bar that serves food, rather than a restaurant that serves drinks. All seating is first come, first serve, like a bar. All orders and drinks are taken at the bar. There are no waiters, only expeditors and bussers. The place is a 1200 square foot space with a narrow space in between tables.

The food was above average across the board, but unbalanced. To their credit, our food came out fast, hot, and generally well prepared.

We started with a smoked eel, slivered onions, and coddled egg. The four pieces of smoked eel was outstanding and delicate. I wish I could have had 4 more pieces of eel. However, the softball sized amount of slivered red onion that accompanied the eel was way too much. Talk about onion breath! The coddled egg, while wonderfully cooked, served almost no purpose since there wasn’t a starch on the plate or the table to mop up all that yolky goodness.

We also ordered the sobresada. It was good, but not over the top. The bread was crispy around the edges and not uniformly crispy, which bugged me. I know, I’m being picky. I think I used some of the bread to sop up the egg yolk from the eel dish and the egg, bread, and meat combo worked for me.

As I mentioned, Father’s Office is known for its burgers and the burger didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it was the best burger I’ve ever had, but it was well seasoned and prepared. I ate the burger through our entire meal. Lots of arugula, caramelized onions with balsamic, and medium rare beef all good. I think I might have even dipped my burger into the egg yolk from the eel dish as well. I can’t let quality egg yolk go to waste; I needed bread damn it.

One outstanding, yet simple item were the sautéed mushrooms. I loved these. In fact, I was using my fork and burger to scoop up the mushrooms and sauce (read butter) just so I wouldn’t waste anything. Probably the least technical item of the night, but the simplicity spoke to me.

Lastly, the sweet potato fries were good, but the ubiquitous alternative menu item to the humble,  regular potato fries, I’m tired of. I think I was tired of them 3 years ago. There’s nothing more healthy about a deep fried sweet potato than a regular spud. They’re Deep Fried. And ranch is less healthy than ketchup.

I’d say Father’s Office is an experience. The food is good. The beer is good. A busy crowd is good. As someone who has eaten many a meal alone because of work, I wouldn’t come here alone. I wouldn’t make this my regular stop if I were local either. It’s not an alone type of place. It’s a social place to be quickly served, well fed, and well imbibed. I still believe that it’s a bar, that happens to serve good food. Just not a bar I’d go to alone for a quiet drink and a burger.

Father's Office (Santa Monica) on Urbanspoon