Last May, Bon Vivant and I decided to host a series of outings where we would take my dining group for a different "burger" experience every month until the end of the year. For the first "Great Burger Quest", we went to Father's Office in Santa Monica for the famous Office Burger.
Hearing about its small space and how crowds line up to get in, we got there about 45 minutes before it opened and thank goodness we did. Half hour before the doors opened, there was already a long line behind us, even though it was a holiday weekend and it was for lunch. Amazing. What people will do for good beer and goof food.
Finally, the hallowed portals opened and we streamed in towards the counter to place our orders. Everyone in my group went for the burgers and fries, either sweet potato or regular. I did the same, but ordered a starter of spicy olives and almonds, which were quite yummy by the way. Now the thing about the Office Burger is that substitions are not allowed nor can you ask them to remove and/or add additional ingredients. What you get is what they give you.
The only choice you had was how you wanted your burger cooked and even then, those in our group who ordered differently still got their burgers medium (and a couple of instances more medium rare). From what I've heard in the past, the restaurant preference for their Office Burger is medium. Asking otherwise is apparently ineffectual, so you might as well just accept that and move on.
Before the burgers made their appearance, out came the french fries. The majority of the group ordered the sweet potato "frites" a la carte and wouldn't you know it, the lightest, crispiest, most flavorful sweet potato fries I've ever had showed up in a mini metal shopping cart
What was sad was I didn't understand at first what the deal was with the shopping cart, but then the lightbulb went on. Shopping cart for "frites" a la carte. Get it? Hopefully, you the reader, caught on much faster than I did. By the way, can you tell by my waxing so poetically about the sweet potato fries that I adored them? Oh my gosh, truly the best I've had so far.
Finally, the famous Office Burger arrives and I have to admit to being a bit puzzled when it was first put before me. In fact, I had to take a peek at everyone else's Office Burgers to make sure that I didn't get the wrong item. What surprised me was the bread. Instead of a bun, it reminded me more of a bread or French roll that would be used for a submarine sandwich. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has two definitions for a hamburger:
1 a: ground beef b: a patty of ground beef
2: a sandwich consisting of a patty of hamburger in a split typically round bun
Hmmm...by using the word "typical", what defines a burger becomes more open to interpretation. Although, when you look at the patty melt, perhaps not. Hamburger meat is used, but between two slices of bread; hence, the different name. Maybe, the Office Burger is more of a Burger Sub or Burger Roll. Oh well, it's amazing how easy it is to question things when the "order of the universe" is somehow shifted, even in something as simple as the lowly hamburger.
Anyway, putting the contemplation aside, the Office Burger was tremendous. The combination of the spicy arugula, the sweetly caramelized onions, the pungent bleu cheese, along with a burger patty that was moist and cooked just right made me a happy burger girl. After my first couple of bites, that whole adage of a "rose by any other name" came to play.
Burger bun or roll, this is a truly excellent hamburger. To be honest, this was my first real experience with a "gourmet" burger and I'm hooked. Not that having a basic burger still won't hit the spot, but when you use ingredients that take food to another level, you look at it with new eyes and simply want more.
Although it's been a few months since my first visit, I can still remember each and every bite of that burger and the sweet potato fries and I am more than ready to take the drive all the way from the Eastside down Santa Monica way very soon. Maybe, I'll even see some of you there as well.
To see pics, go to:
1018 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403