07 June, 2009
The recent renaissance of hip fashion and hip eateries emerging onto Fairfax Avenue in West Hollywood has brought new life to some ol' faithful dishes. Among the rise of nouveau and pricey gourmet gastrpubs comes Golden State, where your burger doesn't cost more than the couple of beers you drink with it, and it won't leave you angry for splurging on something that you used to buy from a drive-thru line. This burger joint is different, and you can tell the minute you walk through the door.
The simple menu consists of three American staples: burgers, sandwiches and sausages. But these aren't your dad's backyard grilled burgers or dogs. The burger is cooked perfectly medium with plenty of juicy pink beef patty to complement the rest of your colorful plate. Partnered with applewood smoked bacon and Fiscalini Farms white cheddar, fresh arugula, tomato and homemade aioli, the burger looks a bit like a model for how the ideal hamburger should look, but more importantly, taste. The sweet bacon and the creamy cheddar are the savory icing on this burger. You just may have to order two and take one home.
Not to be forgotten are the crisp delicious fries accompanying the burger. These are definitely not the afterthought. And Golden State makes their golden fries also standout by providing Curry Ketchup for those wanting a kick to their taters. It may not be for the traditionalists like me, but combining curry and ketchup will definitely pique the taste buds.
The special of the day (and a frequent and popular special, according to co-owner Jason Bernstein) was the Ale Battered Fish and Chips. The light Atlantic cod was fried in a tangy crisp batter and served over the same great fries (see above). The sweet flavor of the fish will make you forget the malt vinegar - well, I did at least, while the homemade tartar brings the whole dish together. There's no question as to why this is such a popular special among customers.
I possibly fed my eyes before my stomach during my visit, but there's something about a colorful plate of potato salad near burgers and beer that makes it irresistible. The bright red diced bell pepper and the green fresh parsley and chives please both the eyes and the palate. It just may inspire you to go home and reinvent mom's boring potato salad recipe... just don't tell her. And the plentiful portion is enough to split or take home (with that second burger you ordered).
Finally, for those familiar with the reinvention of gelato headed by Tai Kim's Scoops in Silverlake, knowing that Golden State has a distribution partnership with Scoops is music to their ears and gas in the tank. For those not familiar with Scoops, try one of the unique gelato flavors and experience seemingly clashing ingredients that meld so well together, you'll wonder why you can't buy a gallon of Lavender Chocolate or Peanut Butter Oreo at your local grocery store.
I would be amiss if I didn't mention the variety of local beers and ales Golden State offers. My visit was alcohol-free but the options were tempting and will certainly bring me back for a great burger and beer.
Golden State brings a warm neighborhood vibe to a fun neighborhood. Opening a restaurant during the Great Recession is not just risky but ridiculous to most. But great burgers and beer have survived tough times before. Here's to not just surviving, but thriving.