I'm pretty concerned about my fiancé's health. I think he may have an addiction. Whew. Though heartbreaking, it feels good to get that off my chest. His urges are pretty intense. Insanely irritable and unable to focus on anything else, he's gotta have what he wants, when he wants it. Then, when he finally gets it, he's immediately in a state of euphoria. His eyes close and he's taken to another land. A land where juicy, cheesy, and almost always, bacon-y, burgers consume his every thought. Yep, Chris has an addiction...an addiction to burgers.
So there was simply no question where we'd go this past weekend when we were both craving the best burger in all of Los Angeles. Chef Sang Yoon's dive bar turned gastropub, Father's Office was the only sensible answer. The award-winning and much-talked about gastropub serves up one irresistibly decadent burger. In fact, the famed "Office Burger" has been deemed the best burger in the country by numerous food critics, Esquire Magazine, Best of LA restaurant lists, and of course, The Today Show.
Needless to say, it was due time we formed our own opinion on the country's supposed best burger. So we took a short drive to the picturesque and boutique-lined Montana Avenue in Santa Monica where Father's Office kinda sticks out like a (delightful) sore thumb. A cozy hole-in-the-wall gastropub, the joint is semi-famous for the specific "rules" its patrons must follow. For one, you have to be 21 just to enter. Also, they won't tolerate menu substitutions and there's absolutely no waiter service. Guests order from the bar and then take a seat wherever they can find one....which can be daunting. And as you can imagine, they don't do reservations either...
We arrived at 6PM on Sunday, a wise move on my part as Father's Office wasn't overly packed yet. Grabbing a place at the bar, Chris and I immediately ordered a couple beers. I must tell you, if you're a beer snob like me, you're gonna love this place. Boasting 36 craft beers on tap, you can find pretty much whatever poison suits your fancy. Oh, and their brews are seasonally rotated, too. Per usual, I went with a delicious and hoppy IPA that our bartender named his favorite. Smart man.
Scanning the perfectly concise menu that features locally-sourced ingredients, I could've ordered it all. From Sonoma Lamb Skewers to Patatas Bravas to their Liberty Duck Confit Salad, it's loaded with supremely decadent and glorified bar food options. While we were definitely on a burger mission, I felt it only necessary I try some other Father's Office goods too. And as a Bacon-wrapped shrimp worshiper, the "Fat Shrimp" seemed like an obvious choice. Indeed it was. Jumbo white shrimp came wrapped in Niman Ranch bacon and sitting in a Cilantro-Jalapeño vinaigrette. The presentation was that of a 5-star fine-dining restaurant but the flavors and textures were so much more.
Since we didn't want to get too full before the burger devouring, we opted for the Spanish Mushrooms as our next small plate. I didn't think the Fat Shrimp were going to be outdone but I was so wrong. The heaping mound of mushrooms delivered delicious aromatics with thyme, garlic, Sherry vinegar, and olive oil. With such rich and earthy flavors, these 'shrooms were in a league of their own.
It was time. The time that we had been anxiously awaiting. It was Office Burger time. Would the stack of meat covered in cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions meet our expectations? Would it possibly take the title of "Best Burger I've Ever Eaten?" Only time (and a few bites) would tell. We decided to share the burger, a decision we won't be making again. For I want that beauty all to myself next time. I'm quite certain the feeling is mutual.
The very second the world-famous burger hit the bar, I began uncontrollably salivating. I hope the bartender didn't notice. The Office Burger was shining in all its glory. The gooey Gruyere and Maytag Bleu cheeses were helplessly dripping from the juicy meat. The Niman Ranch bacon and caramelized onions were making their presence known, too. And the arugula added an awesome pop of green, making us feel just a little less guilty about the gluttony that was upon us.
And then it happened. Eyes were closing and we were both in a state of euphoria. The Office Burger took us to another land. A land of burger paradise.
The meaty and greasy bacon goodness with the sharp bite of the Maytag and the creamy richness from the Gruyere all pairing harmoniously with the sweet caramelized onions and the peppery arugula...it was perfection. And the bun...well, it's not your average burger bun. It's reminiscent of a soft French po'boy loaf and the succulent meat is formed accordingly. Served medium-rare and in a rounded rectangular shape so that every part of the bun is covered with meat, the Office Burger is a piece of art in its own right.
Okay, I get it. I understand why this luscious burger has been hailed the best burger in America. And I don't disagree. Oh, and the frites with garlic aioli that we ordered on the side? Well, they weren't too shabby either...
Father's Office will see me again. They will see me quite often, in fact. With ID in hand, a good eye for a place to sit, and no desire to make even the slightest menu modification, I believe I can obey all of the rules. As long as I can get my hands on that righteous burger...each and every time.