Friday, October 16, 2015

Father’s Office (Santa Monica)

Father's knows best?

Welcome to the land of ketchup exile. Chef Sang Yoon enforced a strict code of, “You’ll eat it and like it.” As in do not touch, sully, or sabotage. Yoon fitted Father’s burger to his exact specifications and that meant no ketchup on the premises. Inserting that type of personal perspective was akin to adding a blob of paint to a Degas or editing a piece by Vonnegut. It just wasn’t done.

Actually, it was almost as if Father’s Office was daring you to give him lip about the way he ran things – starting out with getting physically barred at the door by a bouncer’s stiff arm until your ID was checked (21 and up, even during the daytime) or ordering food through the bartenders, who were already busy slinging beers, so you’d have to wait until they got to you.

If you didn’t like it, then leave. They dared ya.

But it was obvious there was heart beneath the tough bravado and a homespun intimacy to the place - bare bones with a handful of wooden tables and chairs; a raw plank designated as the bar. I think the idea was that if you were willing to stick around through a little abuse and minimal fanfare, then Father’s would agree to feed you. We came for the much talked about burger, but I was already coveting other items like the lamb skewers with Japanese eggplant, goat cheese gratin, and spicy, oatmeal stout ribs with orange blossom honey glaze.

Burger (and frites served with garlic, parsley aioli): Caramelized onion, applewood bacon, Gruyere, Maytag blue cheese, arugula

I ordered my burger medium rare, but would probably go for medium next time – a little bloody for my liking, but the quality of beef was so extraordinary that I didn’t mind. A thin patty of caramelized onions seated itself atop the meat like a sweet and savory settee, making it clear why the synthetic sugars of ketchup weren't necessary. Peppery sprigs of arugula blossomed between sticks of bacon and pungent blooms of blue cheese for a bouquet of bold flavors, thoughtfully arranged with all the spontaneity of an English garden.

My only complaint was the choice of bun - some type of French roll that dissolved into a soggy wet-nap due to the burger's juicy center. Besides that, I had to admit it was one damn, good burger. The best burger? I wasn’t sure whether I was ready to call Father’s daddy just yet.

1 comment:

P&D said...

Lauren you have a way of cutting to the core of what's important in a restaurant review! I can taste the food just from your descriptions.

Thanks for this review, it will save me from the embarrassment of going there and asking for something I might want. Curious though how much one would have to shell out for a burger of Yoon's choice costs, $8, $10, $15??? What if you got to tell Yoon how much you should pay for one. Ya, I'll pay you $8 because it didn't have the catsup I wanted.

I love to help destroy places like this because they deserve to be destroyed. There was one in Berkeley but it's gone now, because customers got tired of the proprietor telling them what they should like.

I want catsup on my burger with raw onions, no catsup if sautéed onions, and mayo with raw onions, tomatoes and lettuce. If a proprietor doesn't like that then no tip and I will gladly not return.

Good food, good, friendly service, reasonable prices in a safe, clean environment, are basic ingredients, and a proprietor that wants to please customers, not one who forces them to comply with his or her boutique taste, are requirements for maintaining a thriving eatery.

Looks like Yoon is just there for awhile to stroke his own ego.