Unlike so many burger freaks who consider flame-broiling to be the ne plus ultra of burgerdom, I find most of those so cooked to be less than wonderful. Granted, it's one way to add interest to an otherwise insipid patty, but I'd prefer to start with good beef, well-seasoned and then dropped onto a blazing-hot iron or steel surface. There used to be two related places up north, one on University Avenue in Palo Alto called Kirk's and the other in Los Gatos, name not recalled, that used a wire-mesh grilling screen over open flame that rendered a fine burger, but aside from some decent back-yard grilled products that's been about it. In fact, the burger I had Saturday at Mike and Anne's in South Pas would have been one of the best ever, had it not worn a coating of bitter char.
So am I alone here? Of all the burgers encountered in my on-and-off quest, the best have all been cooked on a big flat scrape-it-off closed grill. It all has to do with that magic that happens when the meat's juices, trapped under the patty, sizzle and congeal in the heat and turn into beefy goodness. I've been to Ford's, Central Park and l'Orange, Second City Bistro, Harry's, Pann's, The Redwood, Pie'n'Burger, and the Busy Bee in Ventura. Taylor's, too, though that was neither particularly good nor cheap. I have not yet gotten the burger at Oinkster, but that's on my list. How about some other suggestions? For the sake of relative brevity, let's do stick to LA County, or at least close by.