As American as apple pie. That is how the saying goes but it could probably be argued that said honor should rightfully belong to the hamburger. Wherever I have been in the world,it is the one dish which is universally associated with the United States. Fried chicken might be a distant second place.
When you stop and think about most other food we think of as quintessentially American though,most of it has its roots elsewhere. Pizza is clearly Italian. Hotdogs hint back to Germany and anywhere else that served sausage with bread. Even the hamburger’s best buddy the French fry has its roots in Belgium and France.
Hamburgers,however,are about as American as it gets.
Good then to see that we’ve started to take pride in our culinary heritage by demanding more from our fast food hamburgers than a microwaved patty of questionable origin. From Five Guys to Umami Burger and The Counter, higher quality burger experiences are now available across a spectrum of price points. Some of which aren’t too far removed from the drive through giants.
Particularly true in the Los Angeles area where you could eat at a different high end burger joint every night of the week and still not scratched them all off your foodie bucket list.
As with all things,some gourmet burger places in Los Angeles are better than others. Finding somewhere that cooks the burger just the way you like it is part of the battle . From there, it comes down to who does the combination of burger toppings that has you coming back for more.
For the past year or so, that place for us has been Rounds Premium Burgers. Chris was seduced by a spot we saw done on them during a show on The Cooking Channel because the burger they were highlighting – The Western – was a burger without cheese.
He doesn’t eat cheese and so he has either had to avoid most featured burgers on menus or ask to have the cheese left off. Nobody has ever refused to do that but if the flavors were built with cheese as one of the ingredients then he isn’t really getting the experience the chef had intended.
We headed on over to give the Western Burger from Rounds Premium Burger a try and found it to be delicious. The beef patty was cooked to order (medium in our case),dressed with barbecue sauce,bacon and crispy onion strings.
Juicy beef and crispy bacon strips worked together to make the Western Burger a particularly succulent burger. I was a bit unsure about the onion strings because of my life long hatred of raw onions. Cooked onions are good but I straight out hate raw onions and onion rings can be raw onion roulette. If cooked properly they are great but often enough the onion is just the wrong side of raw. Rounds Premium Burgers got it just right. The onion strings were crispy on the outside and had the texture and taste of a grilled onion on the inside. All of it was brought together but a rich barbecue sauce that relies on tang rather than heat to wake the taste buds.
Since that first visit, we have been back to to Rounds Premium Burgers a bunch of times. More often than not, we end up at their West Hollywood branch but lately we’ve gone to the Pasadena one. While the Pasadena branch certainly has a better parking situation, I have to take a moment to say that what really make the WeHo location special is the service.
We have had the same two members of counter staff serve us each time that we have gone and we have never failed to be impressed with their friendliness and quality of service. On our second visit, we were truly impressed that the gent behind the counter not only remembered us but knew our past order as soon as we walked in. The owners of the WeHo branch should make efforts to hang onto their staff because they are something special.
Over our visits, Chris has remained a devotee to the Western Burger whilst I have made my way through their premium burgers menu. The most unique of which has been the PB&J which is topped with caramelized onions, bacon and peanut butter and jelly. Yup, I said peanut butter and jelly on a burger. It was super messy to eat but it worked a lot better than I would have thought. Perhaps they could use the peanut butter to develop some sort of satay sauce for a new burger. I’d be sure to try that.
Apart from their set menu, Rounds Premium Burgers also has a build your own burger option. On recent visits, I’ve been playing around with that.
My latest combination was the burger in the above photo which was made up of a beef patty, mild cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions and a garlic aioli. Nom nom!
I’d feel like I was doing Rounds Premium Burgers a disservice if I didn’t mention their garlic fries. They are super good and not at all for somebody who is even the slightest bit worried about getting garlic breath. Just take a look at them and the chunks of real garlic that is piled on top. My tip is to eat them hot. They are still good when they cool down but hot and fresh out of the fryer is how they are meant to be enjoyed. You will need some strong breath mints afterwards but it is worth it for those crispy garlic fries.