Burger Grades’ inaugural review: A good cheeseburger and great herbed fries.
Our Review of The Tavern’s Niman Ranch Beef Burger
The inaugural Burger Grades entry is a restaurant local to me here in LA, The Tavern in Brentwood. I had heard amazing things about their herbed french fries, so decided to check out their burger as well. The Tavern’s burger is made from Niman Ranch beef, topped with fontina cheese, and served on a toasted and buttered brioche bun. It comes with lettuce, tomatoes, bread-and-butter pickle slices, and onions (which I had held back). No mayo or other sauces come on the burger, and a single ramekin of ketchup comes on the side. The burger is prepared medium-rare as a default (which is my standard as well).
Tasting the Burger:
The first bite was wonderful, with a juicy, savory flavor to the beef. The bun was perfectly toasted with a bit of resistance to the bite followed by fluffy warmth. In terms of flavor, the bun was definitely understated, not adding much to the sandwich. The tomato, one of the reddest I’ve ever seen, was cool and juicy, but it too lacked a strong flavor. The fontina cheese was beautifully melted, with a subtle flavor that unfortunately ended up a bit overpowered by the beef. The pickles were a crisp and provided a nice accent to the strong flavor of the burger.
The patty was a bit undercooked, definitely falling more into the “rare” range by my estimation. This robbed the center portion of the sandwich of the wonderfully beefy flavor of the outer portions and, coupled with the toppings, made the middle of the burger fall short of the beginning and end.
The fries were indeed wonderful. A thicker cut, not quite reaching steak fry proportions, that were incredibly crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside. The “herbed” flavor was more of a hint than a dominant theme, though the fries themselves were so good that I never thought that it was lacking. The fries were lightly salted which was a very nice accent to the natural flavor of the potatoes.
- The Tavern’s burger was good but not great, and the unevenness of the experience detracted from my enjoyment. I give it a solid B.
- The fries were exceptional, though not quite as good as billed (granted, I had been told they were among the best in America). They’re a solid A.
- Overall, the Tavern burger scores a B+; a very good grade for a very good meal.
- The bill was almost $20 for just the burger and fries, on the high side for Los Angeles, so the cost adjusted grade is a B; still well worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.