Burger Quest :: Holstein’s

Burger Quest :: Holstein’s

Not sure if it’s due to my childhood years growing up in Cali’s Central Valley, but for decades I’ve had a dear love for cows. Dairy cows were my favorite, my fondness for them sealed after a class trip to the farm where I got up close and personal with pent-up cattle in all their glorious and turdy funk. For years, I kept on my dresser the pressed and cubed hunk of cud we got to take home as swag.

While I’m not as obsessed as I once was (thanks to my husband, who put an immediate halt to my plans to countrify and cowify our kitchen), this cow girl had to try a place called Holstein’s after hearing about it. On my recent trip to Vegas, I added it to the Burger Quest list, convincing my youngest to choose it for her birthday meal.

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If this quest were all about aesthetics, Holstein’s would rule, a funky little space in a red-hot hotel, the Cosmopolitan (also home to Hidden/Secret Pizza and Wicked Spoon). They also have a nice set of pickings, with options to satisfy the various assortments you might have with you on a Vegas vacation. At our table, we had plain sliders, wings, boozy shakes, and a blackened salmon po’ boy.

But I’m all about the burgers. I ordered the California Turkey (I wouldn’t dare order a beef burger at a place called Holstein’s – awkward!), with avocado, sprouts, pepperjack cheese, slaw, and Russian dressing. I had pretty high expectations, which I’d have to say were met. The bun was lofty (though not as soft as I prefer) and a dense and flavorful turkey patty, a hearty balance to the rich avocado and tangy slaw. Only problem is my Quest list is pretty well stacked with some amazing burgers. Even those on the bottom are rather phenomenal in my book.

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So how well did my Holstein’s burger compete?

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. Holstein’s California Turkey Burger with sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber claw, pepperjack cheese, and Russian dressing
8. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
9. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
10. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
11. 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. 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. The Habit french fries
8. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
9. Burger City Grill fries
10. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
11. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

Holstein’s Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South in the Cosmopolitan

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Tasty Places :: La Boulange

Tasty Places :: La Boulange

If you’re a Starbucks junkie, you’re likely familiar with the brand La Boulange, the coffee purveyor’s provider of all things pastry at their establishments. In June, the first La Boulange in Southern California opened, offering an expanded menu from the company’s Bay Area cafes, with burgers, salads, cocktails and beer, and all-day breakfast choices.

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While I wasn’t exactly in the neighborhood, I was on the same street as La Boulange on Sunday night (for those of you who live elsewhere, LA has remarkably long streets) after finishing up as a guest on a KJLH radio show. Though a good 15-20 minutes north, how I could I pass on a trip up La Brea from Inglewood to Mid-Wilshire to give La Boulange a taste? The only convincing that needed to be done was with my road dogs for the evening – fellow food lover and fro-worker Kristina, who’d been on the show with me, and my often moody, always sassy ‘tween, Kourtney.

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Luckily, my kid is always hungry too. So she was down, and Kristina couldn’t resist a cafe-bakery meal. Alas, north we went.

It was a Sunday evening, so we didn’t hit much traffic, found a parking space in the lot. Didn’t have to wait in much of a line. My challenge was saying no to the sumptuous cocktails that appeared on the monitor, one after the next teasing me. With quite the drive back to Long Beach (and with expensive dinner plans for the next day), I’d told myself that I would just say no to alcohol. And I did. But I’m certainly curious about such concoctions as their lemon raspberry panache (pilsner, raspberries, housemade lemonade) or berry fruit fizz (sparkling wine, muddled fresh strawberries or fresh raspberries) – I love a refreshing drink.

The burger and fries were it for me. Since it was offered, I had to get my turkey burger on a croissant bun; although now that I’ve had one, I think I’d opt for the brioche bun instead (the croissant was fine, but what I love most about croissants – the flakiness, the butteriness – competed for my attention with the rest of the burger). I’m not knocking it, though – it was a delicious burger with great turkey flavor. What I fell in love with, though, were their sweet potato fries. I’m big on sweet ps, and many these days are quite formulaic – they taste fine but they aren’t fabulous. These were beyond fabulous, reminding me of some of my favs from other places like Simmzy’s. Dipped in La Boulange’s aioli, each bite was a sweet, fatty nugget of happy – crispy style.

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Kristina dug her smoked salmon sandwich, and couldn’t stop talking about how much she liked the quinoa served alongside her dish. And after sampling my fries, she had to order a to-go bag for her fiance (although I’d bet a full order didn’t make its way back to him). Kourtney’s “kid” burger and fries satisfied her too, as did her “super thick” vanilla shake, and that girl’s picky about her shakes.

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So did I make the right choice by taking a little detour on the way home from Inglewood? You bet I did. Will I return soon? I want to so I can try their breakfast and their cocktails but, dang – I keep finding my way to new tasty food and fun establishments. At this rate, either my funds will tap out or the button on my pants is going to pop off. Well, until one of those things happens, keep tuning in.

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La Boulange LA
359 S. La Brea at 4th

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