Our first ever attempt to hit up Father's Office a wee while ago was a total bust. Having spent the day playing skee ball on Santa Monica pier, on the way back into town we thought we'd grab a quick burger in the pint-sized bar, housed in an apparent after-thought of a unit on Montana Avenue.
It was a Wednesday at 3pm. We hadn't checked the opening times. We have a right knack of being fucking idiots sometimes.
It wasn't until our next visit to L.A. that we finally got to go, trying the newer Culver City location, on the site of an old bakery turned bourgeois retail park, full of designer furniture stores and photography studios; the perfect place to buy an ornamental porcelain giraffe, and then pose artfully next to it for a few snaps.
We were stopped just outside the entrance by a delightfully congenial F.O. staffer dude. Along with the customary I.D. request, we were casually informed:
"This place works kind of differently to other bars guys."
"Yeah, you seat yourself and order your food and drink from the bar. That cool?"
"So it's a pub then?"
A self-appointed gastro pub to be exact. Gordon Ramsey might be opening, then closing, one every other fucking day over here. But this isn't London, and the concept of the gastro pub is still as novel as walking to the shops in the States. Gastro bar might be more fitting though; Vegas-style buttoned leather bar stools and slickly varnished wood panelled walls skirt the borders between bar and lounge, whereas the impressive zigzagged plethora of beer taps and simple seating elsewhere echo functional sports pub.
The menu adds another curveball nuance: There are a range of Mediterranean tapas influenced small plates for nibbling on, or things that you would see on proper chef restaurant menus like Roasted Beef Marrow and Duck Confit Salads for larger hankerings. You've still your classic bar snacks though, like the crispy pork rinds which are bubbly, crunchy sticks of scratching art.
This is not a burger.
Well, it is. In the sense that it is a sandwich.
There is an audible surprise from patrons who order it for the first time, with Amazonian levels of rocket leaf foliage spewing from an oval bun that looks like the love-child of a dinner roll and French stick. With inspiration coming from the flavour combinations of French onion soup, when you split apart and take a look inside the mechanisms of something fairly unique are revealed.
The patty, with a deep textured char and perfectly cooked vibrant medium-rare pink middle, has an exceptionally puissant beefiness, probably the result of the home dry-aged chuck that is used.
It is an exceptionally tasty and ample, yet perfectly moist, nugget of beef. In fact, everything comes in ample measure. The gruyere and blue cheese impeccably melted over the top offers strong nutty, sharpness. The gloopy thick, jam-like caramelized onions with bacon compote add balsamic with savoury undertones, and the rocket gives a crisp bitterness that slices through the richness.
It's a fucking great, multi-faceted mouthful.
You can pick holes if you want, so let's do it: the toasted bun is pretty crusty and crunchy, a bit like a lightly baked French loaf, with no registrable flavour to it. There is a fuck ton of rocket, which texturally dominates each bite. And the bold ingredients do duke it out in each mouthful.
For forcible comparison, this is in the taste ballpark of the Spotted Pig burger, or Umami's port and stilton offering, but is very individual in its own way.
It's a burger that you will talk about. A lot.
P.S. The salty crisp shoestring fries are served in a miniature shopping trolley, which deserves a mention too we guess.