Tasty Places :: Working Class Kitchen

Tasty Places :: Working Class Kitchen

Working Class Kitchen is the newest gift to Long Beach from Michael’s Restaurant Group. The folks that brought the southland’s most celebrated pizza to my city (from Michael’s Pizzeria if you didn’t know – now, you know) – in addition to the elegant Michael’s on Naples and new Naples favorite, Chianina Steakhouse – now offer an every day kind of place for people like me – I certainly am what you’d call a working class kind of gal.

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A sort of gastro-butcher, WCK packs sandwiches with fresh meats brought in daily from local sources. You can pick up a sandwich stuffed with smoked ham, meatloaf, or corned beef, or grab a freshly butchered rabbit or a pork shank as fixer uppers of your own. For lunch, the gang and I were on our way to Los Compadres (as usual) when I noticed a sign for WCK parked on the sidewalk near the Walgreens on the corner of Redondo and Anaheim. Seeing the word “kitchen,” I had to investigate further, Googling the place instantly and deciding that I’d try it out the next day. Sandy agreed to go with me, so the two of us left behind our Los Compadres leftovers the following day, ready to add something new to our lunchtime repertoire.

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I really wanted to try the Chianina burger, which received high praise from those sharing about WCK online. But deciding to postpone a Burger Quest mission to a day when I’d have more time to savor, could pair my burger with a beer, I went instead with the grilled cheese, a wonderfully crisp and melty construction, enlivened with roasted red peppers. Sandy got the smoked ham, a good choice, she said, balanced and rich. My favorite find here, however, were their frites – you know I’m not just a fly girl; I’m a fry girl. And these fries did it for me, greasy and chewy and fluffy, the way fries are meant to be. Can’t wait to have more of these with my burger when I return.

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I was glad their food met my expectations (which were high) but also, the place has a cool factor that is digable. Industrial and bare and rustic, the vibe says it’s a place to sit, to hang, to revel. It’s just what we working class people need. Their motto Sine Labore Nihil is Latin for Without Work, There is Nothing – a stance WCK seems to take on with pride, and one I appreciate, especially when I can treat myself to local spots like these using my hard earned money.

Working Class Kitchen
1322 Coronado Avenue in Long Beach

Burger Quest :: Oh My Burger

Burger Quest :: Oh My Burger

It’s wonderful hearing of new restaurants. As much investigation as I do, as many resources that I have for learning of hot spots and must-have places, sometimes word of mouth is the way to go. As in the case of my latest Burger Quest resto. Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day, I noticed my friend Karen’s post about her meal at OMB. And – gasp! – could it be? A local burger spot off my belly’s radar? After I commented on her post wondering where this magical place was, a different Karin (i instead of e) joined in, telling me that I had to try OMB’s charburger with onion rings. So I was set from that moment, ready to scream Oh My with my first bite.

It’s a pocket-sized place. I almost missed it as I headed west along El Segundo in Gardena. My navigators spotted it, two of my girls and the 27-year-old son I adopted from work (he’s got his own place with his biologicals but often joins us for meals). And so it was on, yet another Burger Quest.

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The work son was many times more adventurous than his mama, opting for OMB’s Oh My Luther, a double bacon cheeseburger packaged between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts (an apparent riff off the savory-sweet combo a la chicken & waffles or a McGriddle). While I packed a lot on my burger, I stayed relatively conservative with my choice of a turkey patty on brioche.

Oh My, they made a sista happy with their selection of Pepsi products (I only do Coke when forced). And not only did they have my beloved turkey burgers but also veggie patties and chicken breasts.

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My burger was not a healthy one, though and that’s a good thing since, despite my public health career, I wasn’t going for healthy. A Burger Quest meal is a treat; a special occasion outing or a once in a while thing, so the heartburn, the bubbling belly that kept me up later that night wasn’t a surprise and perhaps even expected. And worth it – the bold burger flavors meshed well with the slithery onion rings and oozing cheese that topped my burger, and balanced well with the rich and satisfying OMB sauce, basically an aioli on steroids. This burger was on point. The work son said his burger was pretty good, but the doughnuts didn’t really hold up to the contents of the sandwich itself, essentially disintegrating before he could finish it.

He did finish it, though.

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I left a few bites behind in my basket, but not for lack of trying to stuff it all down. As ambitious as my mouth was, this stomach of mine can only hold so much. With the fries and all the diet Pepsi fizziness, I did the best I could. So Oh My, I enjoyed an awesome burger at OMB. So how does it compare to the other divine burgers on my list?

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
3. 25 Degrees Number One Burger (turkey subbed for beef) with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, thousand island
4. Father’s Office Burger with arugula, caramelized onions, Gruyere, applewood bacon, and maytag blue cheese
5. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
6.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
7. Oh My Burger BYOMB (Build Your Oh My Burger) turkey with OMB sauce, ketchup, pepper jack, and onion rings
8. Holstein’s California Turkey Burger with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber claw, pepperjack cheese, and Russian dressing
9. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
10. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
11. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
12. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)
13. The Dallas at Bobby’s Burger Palace – spice crusted ground turkey patty with coleslaw, jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and pickles

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. Holstein’s sweet potato fries
4. 25 Degrees Half & Half (sweet potato and regular fries)
5. Father’s Office sweet potato fries with blue cheese aioli
6. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
7. Oh My Burger sweet potato fries
8. The Habit french fries
9. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
10. Bobby’s Burger Palace sweet potato fries
11. Burger City Grill fries
12. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
13. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Oh My Burger
2142 W. El Segundo Blvd. in Gardena

Burger Quest :: Father’s Office

Burger Quest :: Father’s Office

This will be a quick one – nearly all burger. The gang and I had planned our long awaited Eating LA Day (which proved to be bust, but more on that after burger talk) for a Sunday afternoon – lots of food, lots of booze, lots of LA. But first, two-fifths of our team (including the one-fifth scheduled to drive) had a conflict and had to back out (flake?) the day before; and then my oldest kid/babysitter decided to celebrate another of my kid’s 21st birthday with her on some party bus in San Diego (odd decision on her part, right?!), so I had to bring along my 11-year old.

Problem: No kids allowed at Father’s Office. We didn’t find that out until we got there. But we’re a dogged crew, ordering their famous burgers to-go.

I’ve been wanting to try this burger for months now – perhaps longer. It was a must try on my Burger Quest list simply because of the hype; because it’s on just about every LA burger list. Despite it being a beef burger, besides the lack of ketchup, besides chef Sang Yoon’s strict no substitutions policy, I was down. I’ve been down about getting my teeth into this burger.

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So finally! On Eating LA Day, it was scheduled to happen whether I had a seat inside and a beer in hand or not. I was pretty dang glad I did. This burger was full-bodied and savory – a rich experience made full by the burger’s tangy blue and Gruyere cheeses and caramelized onions. And there was plenty of it – I shared mine with my work son to make sure I had plenty of room for the rest of Eating LA Day (a decision I came to regret).

And so I missed a chance to eat inside of Father’s Office, but the outdoors proved just as good an accompaniment to my delectable sandwich, our group grubbing in the courtyard of the Helm’s Bakery District in Mid-Town, a snappy spot for food and furniture. With an unimpressive fried chicken, a regular dessert spot of mine, and a motley collection of food stands that I knew little about making up the remainder of Eating LA Day*, Father’s Office – despite not really eating at Father’s Office – was my highlight.

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But the big question is, how did the burger stack up to the rest of my list? Read on… because this post is already much longer than I hinted it would be.

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
3. 25 Degrees Number One Burger (turkey subbed for beef) with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, thousand island
4. Father’s Office Burger with arugula, caramelized onions, Gruyere, applewood bacon, and maytag blue cheese
5. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
6.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
7. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
8. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
9. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
10. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. 25 Degrees Half & Half (sweet potato and regular fries)
4. Father’s Office sweet potato fries with blue cheese aioli
5. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
6. The Habit french fries
7. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
8. Burger City Grill fries
9. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
10. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Father’s Office
3229 Helms Avenue in Los Angeles
and a Santa Monica location

*We also stopped at Honey’s Kettle Chicken in Culver City, oft-blogged Milk, and LA’s Grand Central Market.

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Groovy Words :: Frisson

Groovy Words :: Frisson

Frisson: noun – a brief moment of emotional excitement: shudder, thrill

Perhaps my pulse hastened and body temperature warmed with the frisson of taking my first bite into a succulent, cheesy burger – but surely not enough excitement to burn off the calories I’d be consuming.

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Ladies Who Wine :: Plan Check

Ladies Who Wine :: Plan Check

It’s been quite some time since the Liquor Ladies got together for a little drink, a little grub. But what better occasion than Mexican Mother’s Day/my half-birthday (as an only child, this is something I celebrated as a kid – still do now just to be annoying)? The idea involved some synergistic planning where four of us were able to sneak away from our Long Beach lives and head away to LA for a few Plan Check burgers and cocktails.

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Ladies in waiting… for me to stop taking pictures

Plan Check has two locations, the newest one settled along Fairfax just north of Beverly. It’s among a couple of blocks teeming with eateries, both long established and fledgling. Boutique and quaint.

An obvious objective of our trip was for me to add another sandwich to my Burger Quest. Additionally, we heard of their daily happy hour that ends at 7:00. After an already packed day of volleyball tournaments and dance rehearsals, I joined my Ladies for a much needed trip.

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We caught the place when it was open. Open, yes as far as hours. But open, its windowed facade lifted garage like, giving the sense the entire restaurant sat on one wide patio. It definitely delivered on ambiance. They also showered us with hip-hop from up above – semi-old school and truly old school, both appreciated by me.

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To drink, I ordered the Tropic Thunder but only because it was on their Happy Hour menu. Their website right now touts $6 Pisco Sours – my favorite cocktail – but that ended up being not the case. I guess I could have ordered one at the regular price, but I wanted to save my cash for other choices. And at least one other drink – this Lady’s on a two drink max budget.

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An Old Fashioned and a citrusy Tropic Thunder

We started with starters – the dollar fifty chicken wing and a round of crab dip. I’ve never been a hot wing kind of gal, but this buck-fifty one at Plan Check was pretty awesome, a perfected buffalo sauce smothering crispy fried chicken. And that dip – that DIP. I had to hold back (as only only child, I don’t share very well), tempering my enjoyment by eating just one dip-slathered toast, and then waiting until the crowd was satisfied with the crab dip and had moved on to their wings before I went back in for the kill, piling the remaining couple toasts with the creamy, briny dip, made interesting by the slivered seaweed sprinkled on top.

The $1.50 chicken wing
The $1.50 chicken wing
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Baked Crab Dip

Next came our sandwiches. I’ll chat about mine on a Burger Quest post later this week, but I also split with fellow winer Kristina the place’s Southern Fry, a chicken sandwich with pimento cheese, duck breast ham (which I slid off and gave to one of the other Ladies), and pickles (okay, I took the pickles off too!).

Southern fry
Southern fry
Chefs favorite burger
Chefs favorite burger
Blueprint Burger
Blueprint Burger
That's a mouthful
That’s a mouthful
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Can’t decide? Get both

The sandwich was wonderful with it’s meaty chicken breast and yummy crunch bun, but my favorite part of our meal (burger excepted – again, we’ll talk about this later) was our dessert – a warm, sugar-sprinkled cruller donut served over the whippiest of creams (only subtly sweet) [and bananas – I did not eat them; call me crazy if you like, but I have a complete and total dislike of bananas].This treat made my Mexican Mother’s/Half Birth Day.

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The fabulous Cruller Donut
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Dining with my work son

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
351 N. Fairfax in LA
Another in West LA, and one on the way in Downtown

Ummmmmami

Ummmmmami

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Say hello to the Spicy Bird from Umami Burger’s secret menu. One of these really turns me on. Is it possible to make love to a food? If so, then I guess I’ve been unfaithful to my man. It won’t be the last time. Let me know if you care to join me anytime. Just know that I don’t share – nah, nah my brotha… You gotta get your own.