There is a burger out there that is the fairest in all the land.
That cliché is a bit off, but I’ve been driven mad by the previously mentioned burger. Because it is after all perfect, unforgettable, the burger after which eaten ruins all other burgers to come. It’s the burger from Father’s Office in Culver City, California.
And it is, as I’ve said, perfect. From the perfectly cooked patty (rare for me, true carnivore that I sometimes am) to the caramelized bacon onion jam tinted with balsamic vinegar to the mix of gruyere and blue cheeses to the spicy freshness of arugala and finally, to the perfect crispness of the bun-roll hybrid. It’s a burger you want to gobble down and savor all at the same time, and each and every time you’re done, a little voice from down in your stomach says, “you know, we could probably fit another…” Add that to the literal wall of beer taps, and it’s the perfect meal. A burger, shoe string fries, and beer from Father’s Office have definitely been the reward for winning a bet amongst my friends and I. And even the loser is happy to go.
Yes, I love the Father’s Office burger. And my heartbreak ever since I moved out from Los Angeles last December has been devastating. It’s stomach-break, soul-break. Hey, it’s a really good burger.
And so, I’ve come up with an imitation of the original that is, while not quite the same, pretty good. I wouldn’t be worth very much as a food blogger if I waxed on about the glories of the Office Burger, and just left it at that. So think of this as a roadmap for a really tasty burger that is in a way, similar to the Office Burger.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you live within a respectable driving distance of Father’s Office (I would say within two hours…), you should close up your computer and go immediately. It’s at 3229 Helms Avenue. Go to the Culver City one, even if it’s farther. And don’t give it another thought.
If you’re unfortunately like me, and cannot make it to the promised land without a plane, train, or overnight road trip, below is a recipe. It’s quenched my hunger for the time being, and it’s quite delicious. But it’s a mere mortal-burger, not the deity-burger to be found on Helms Avenue.
Recipe on the following page.
An Imitation, Father’s Office, Office Burger
For those sadly residing outside California.
Makes approximately four burgers
Bacon Onion Jam
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut lengthwise into thin slices
4 oz. thick-cut bacon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
There are two ways to approach the bacon onion jam. I’ve tried both, and both are equally delicious. The first requires chopping the bacon into lardons, and then sautéing the lardons and onions at the same time over low-heat, slowly caramelizing the onions and rendering out the bacon fat as you cook. This incorporates the bacon into the jam and is quite tasty. The second takes a bit longer, but has the added benefit of pieces of bacon on the burger. Instead of cooking everything together, you fry the bacon first, and then caramelize the onions in bacon fat. I prefer this way, if only for the seemingly ‘extra’ bacon at the end…
1. Fry the bacon until crispy, reserving the bacon for burger assembly. Pour the bacon fat into a glass jar or ceramic bowl, leaving a tablespoon in the pan. Add the onions to the pan and begin caramelizing, over low heat. It will take about an hour.
2. Stir onions occasionally, adding a splash of water if they begin to brown too quickly. In the last 15 or so minutes of cooking, after the onions have turned a deep golden, add the balsamic vinegar and ¼ cup of water. Cover, and cook for five minutes. Remove the cover and cook until the liquid is gone and the onions have broken down quite a bit. Remove from heat and reserve for burger assembly.
20 oz. ground beef, (preferably a mix of dry-aged chuck, loin, etc., but really, any beef bit is delicious)
4 rolls or buns, or English muffins, or sourdough slices, lightly toasted
8 oz. Gruyere
4 oz. blue cheese, costella, or gorgonzola
1 cup baby arugala, washed and dried
Homemade aioli, or mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1. Shape beef into four patties, about a half to three-quarters of an inch thick each. Season each side with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to cook.
2. Grill patties (for rare, about 2-3 minutes per side). In the last minute of cooking, top each burger with 2 oz. gruyere and 1 oz. blue cheese. Place the buns on the grill and toast.
3. To assemble burgers, spread the top and bottom buns very, very lightly with aioli or mayonnaise. Top the bottom bun with a patty, then 2-3 tablespoons of the caramelized onions, then ¼ cup of the arugala, then the top bun.