The Burger Lounge is open in the space that used to be occupied by Just Desserts. They were doing a jumpin' business yesterday, so a friend and I decided to jump in and have lunch there.
We ordered a Lounge Burger - the house hamburger, a turkey burger, an order of half fries and half onion rings and a couple of iced teas, picked up a little metal tag with our order number and grabbed a table outside on the sidewalk. Our results were mixed, your mileage may vary.
I always liked the interior of Just Desserts. It was cheery and funky for such a tiny spot. The new owners painted, added counter seating and updated the other seating options with trendy, contemporary selections. It's still a nice, breezy open space. And it's still a little on the noisy side, which was one of the reasons we chose to eat outside. Besides, it was a patented, sunny and 72* San Diego day yesterday, so why not eat outside.
On to the burgers. These are big, sloppy affairs chock full of fresh ingredients. They all come on a nice squishy bun with a meaty slice of tomato, a raft of iceberg lettuce, housemade 1,000 Island dressing (one of my all time favorites, BTW), cheddar or American cheese and crunchy rings of fresh onion. They'll ask if you want the onion or not. Unless you're terribly adverse to onions, I'd recommend it. We ordered onions on both burgers and neither was overwhelmed by it and we did not smell like a couple of big onions afterwards. We split each burger so that we could each have half and both of us came to the same conclusions.
The turkey burger was the better of the two burgers yesterday. It was flavorful, tender and the fresh basils leaves it was garnished with enhanced, but did not over power. All in all, it was quite a nice burger and both of us would order this one again. The hamburger was somewhat less successful. The biggest problem we both had was...well...it didn't taste much like beef. The lettuce provided a nice crisp snap, the tomato some bright accents, the dressing complemented the lettuce and tomato very well and the onion added interest. But for us, the beef got lost in the shuffle. The beef pattie is made with Tallgrass Beef which I believe is a grassfed variety, but I don't think that was the problem. The pattie appeared to be hand formed and was, mercifully, NOT overcooked. Perhaps it was under-seasoned, or perhaps our was just an anomaly, I would be willing to try it again. For both of us the beef simply got lost and did not stand out against the other players in this burger. In other words, the ratio of bun and garnishes to beef didn't work for us...it might for you. The 3rd burger on the menu is a vegetarian option made from quinoa. I'd be will to try that one too. I saw several go by and they looked great, and what a nice change from the basic Boca Burger most places offer. All 3 burgers are listed at $6.95, which I think is a pretty good value for what you get. The portion is large without being obscene and the ingredients can't be faulted for freshness or quality.
Aside from the slight let down with the hamburger, the biggest disappointment of the meal was the 1/2 and 1/2 of french fries and onion rings. Burger Lounge cooks with 100% peanut oil (so if you've got allergies, watch out) which is great for deep frying since it yields a nice crisp, seemingly grease-free end product, and both the fries and onion rings were light, crispy and not grease laden. However, neither were very memorable, and at $4.95 an order, they did not seem to be a very good value and did seem to be a little on the high side for what we got. The onion rings were nice but ordinary.
The french fries caused debate between my friend and I. They are listed on the menu as being "hand-cut" and the server who delivered our plates assured us she had witness potatoes being cut for fries when we questioned her. But I have to say, these fries didn't resemble any "hand-cut" fries I've purchased, made or consumed. Unless they've got a master sushi chef in the kitchen cutting fries, the precision, accuracy and sameness of each fry really speaks more to a machine cut fry...and that machine may be in their kitchen. All I know, is that every fry was exactly square, exactly 1/4" in width and exactly the same. Unless one has exceptionally good knife skills, it's very hard to exactly duplicate fries by hand with the accuracy these fries had. Plus, most of our serving was "short" cuts, less than the size of the last two joints of my pinky finger. This is a pet peeve of mine with french fries and at $4.95, potato stubs are not a good value. Frankly, they looked pretty much like the Stealth Fries put out by Lamb-Weston. How did they taste? They were crisp, they had snap and were appropriately mealy and meaty inside. They were actually pretty tasty. But they were a disappointment in quality and in value. I would order the onion rings again, but probably not the fries.
Rant about the fries aside, there is a lot to like about the Burger Lounge and it's a nice addition to that end of Adams Ave. I liked that the burgers are served on nice, heavyweight china and not disposables. I liked the quality and freshness of the ingredients. I thought the burgers were a good value for the price. Burgers and fries is probably the quintessential dish and it sparks impassioned debates among even the best of friends. So with that in mind, don't take my word for things, go visit the Burger Lounge yourself, taste and form your own opinions.
Burger Lounge Premium Burgers
4116 Adams Ave