Father’s Office – Culver City, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

On Monday we posted our how-to for making your very own Office Burger. And as I mentioned, it certainly will not be putting Father’s Office out of business any time soon but it will be a great addition to your next barbecue and possibly impress your food-loving friends. But I’ll be honest – we did not quite give Sang Yoon’s gift to the LA gastropub scene the proper introduction. The Best Burger in LA is a prestigious title with gourmet burger joints popping up left and right. The Office Burger takes the lead on many of these lists, and rightly so — it’s delicious!

The Office Burger

The Office Burger

A brief introduction to Father’s Office. It’s hard to say if Sang Yoon could forsee just how big of an impact his decision to install a small kitchen in the back of the (first and original) Santa Monica location on Montana would have, but it transformed F.O. from a dime-a-dozen dive bar to one of LA’s most popular watering holes and arguably revolutionized the bar food scene in the US.

The Bar

The Bar

Sang Yoon went on to open a second F.O. in Culver City’s Helms Bakery District, once home to an actual bakery that would deliver bread to local residents like the milk man and his glass bottles on neighborhood doorsteps. This location is newer, larger, offers ample (for LA) parking, and frankly, it’s closer to where we live so this where you’ll likely find us.

Fruitesse

Fruitesse

Let’s start with the “-pub” in gastropub. F.O. features 36 craft beers on tap, ranging from local microbreweries to imported genuine Belgians and more. I think this is the only place that served my favorite Lindemans sweet Belgian lambics on tap, switching from the peche lambic to the framboise and back. Their selection rotates with the seasons but variety is the constant. (Now their resident fruity brew is the Liefmans Fruitesse.) Martin knows his beers better than I and typically partakes in German hefeweizen or Belgian witbier, among his usuals being the Allagash White from Maine. Not sure what to order? Never even heard of these breweries? Just ask the guys and gals behind the counter – they know their stuff and can help you find something you like. They’re like… beer sommeliers, if you will.

Spanish Mushrooms

Spanish Mushrooms

On to the appetizers (or appeteasers… Big Bang Theory anyone?). Though let me say now that the burger is definitely a must-have, there are some noteworthy Small Plates on their menu that you’ll want to check out, especially if you’re hanging out in a group and can share. First, the tried and true – Spanish tapas style mushrooms, served warm and dressed in garlic thyme, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Delicious moist little flavor bombs, I found myself picking up my fork over and over to spear yet another unsuspecting mushroom despite trying to save my appetite for the burger.

Sonoma Lamb Skewers

Sonoma Lamb Skewer

The show-stopper – Sonoma lamb skewer. The presentation of the kabob over the stunning green yogurt sauce definitely caught the attention of everyone at our table. The spiced meat was flavorful though sadly a bit dry the last time we had it.

Uni Crostini

Uni Crostini

The unique – Fresh Sea Urchin Crostini. Don’t forget to check out the LED monitors at each cash register; they often have a small list of daily specials. If you spot the uni crostini, GET IT. Grilled slices of baguette topped with sauteed fennel and generous pieces of fresh uni, probably locally sourced from Santa Barbara. Hot and cold, crispy and creamy, this juxtaposition of flavors initially confused me, then intrigued me, and finally, it won me over and delighted me. And now I crave it but sadly, it has gone under the radar… for now.

The Frites

The Frites

Torture, I know, but before we talk about the burger, let’s briefly go over the sides. Our favorite are the regular ol’ frites. You can add them to your burger basket for a $2.50 charge, or for $5 you can spring for a whole basket. We opted for the latter because we just can’t get enough of these crunchy, thin shoestring fries tossed in salt and parsley, paired with an addictive garlic aioli. Some people say the frites are too thin, but Martin and I are the type to dig all the way to the bottom of a French fry carton to find the extra crispy teeny-tiny bits. These are perfect.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Ahh… the ever-popular sweet potato fries. Thick, hearty strips of crisp-on-the-outside, sweet & soft on the inside goodness. These only come by the basket, but have no fear – you will run out and contemplate ordering another…

The Main Event!

The Main Event!

Okay, okay, now for the burger. The infamous Office Burger. The patty – dry-aged ground chuck, juicy and charbroiled to the perfect temperature (the one thing that can vary on their notorious no-substitutions menu). This isn’t your ordinary backyard barbecue, slather it with ketchup and relish sort of burger (although I adore ketchup and relish). No, this gourmet burger is topped with Maytag bleu and gruyere cheeses, caramelized onion & applewood bacon jam, and a mound of arugula, all sandwiched on a toasted French roll. A-MAY-ZING. Each satisfying bite tantalizes the taste buds with the sweet, sweet onions, the rich meat, the sharp cheese, and slight spice of the arugula… This burger is full of flavor and decadence.

Always room for dessert!

Always room for dessert!

I was so excited when Father’s Office added desserts to their menu. Back in 2011, long before Foiehibition, Father’s Office debuted one of their first ever desserts – the foie gras ice cream sandwich. It was house-made hazelnut and foie gras ice cream smooshed between two oatmeal raisin cookies. So good. The foie gras flavor was really delicate but detectable. Unfortunately the sweetness and strong cinnamon flavor of the cookies overwhelmed it a bit. Still, the cookies were moist but substantial enough to make this handheld dessert delicious down to the very last bite.

So if you’re looking to unleash your inner carnivore or perhaps celebrate a long day’s work with a cold craft beer or two, head on over to F.O. and order The Office Burger with a side of frites and a tall glass of whatever tickles your fancy (there’s even a cute fire hydrant tap for pouring water). Have your IDs out and ready (sorry kids, it’s 21+ even if you’re not drinking) and be sure to delegate: group A scopes out seating while group B gets in line and picks up the first round of the night. It helps to have a game plan.

Cheers, my friends!

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Check out Father’s Office – Helm’s Bakery: fathersoffice.com

3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

See their Yelp reviews here!

Copycat Recipe: The Office Burger

Main Dishes, Recipes

Oh Father’s Office — an iconic LA hot spot with two popular locations: Helms Bakery District in Culver City and just off Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. With over 20 beers on tap ranging from local microbreweries to domestic brews to imported, this gastropub features some of Sang Yoon’s most well-known gourmet bar food creations – including the famed Office Burger. Quality ground beef, pungent blue cheese, sweet & sticky caramelized onion jam, and fresh spicy arugula on a French roll. With a strict no-substitutions policy (even, sadly, for the lactose-intolerant), the burger as the chef intended ranks on many lists as one of the best burgers in LA.

The Homemade, Copycat Office Burger

The Homemade, Copycat Office Burger (I know – we need to search out a better bun…)

We just purchased a grill for our balcony, and it was serendipitous that our first project was this restaurant copycat. As one of our friends put it, it’s the onion compote that really makes it. Surprisingly, the flavors were not too difficult to replicate, although it does take an awful lot of TLC. Martin was the grill-master so it was largely thanks to him that this burger was so darn tasty.

Ingredients for Onion Compote

Ingredients for Onion Compote

Onion Compote:

3 slices applewood-smoked bacon

2 medium-sized sweet onions

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon ketchup

Fresh cracked black pepper

(adapted from Will Work for Food)

It's..... bacon!

It’s….. bacon!

All good things start with bacon. Well, not all, but this onion compote does. Heat a skillet on medium-high. Cook the bacon for about 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat, letting the fat render. Meanwhile, cut the onions (the long way, from root to tip) into fairly even-sized pieces.

Bacon fat

Rendered bacon fat

Remove crispy bacon and set aside for snacking. You should have a few tablespoons’ worth of bacon fat in the skillet.

The Onions: At The Beginning

The Onions: At The Beginning

Add the 0nions. Sprinkle with salt. Stir to combine and let them start to sweat on medium / medium-high heat.

5 minutes in...

5 minutes in…

After about 5 minutes, sprinkle with sugar to help facilitate the caramelization process.

7 minutes in...

10 minutes in…

Let this go until the onions turn deep brown but not burnt. For the first 20 minutes or so, you will want to leave it alone and stir only every few minutes.

10 minutes in...

15 minutes in…

If the edges start to darken too quickly, lower the heat.

15 minutes in...

20 minutes in…

It was at this point that I realized the importance of cutting even pieces. The larger ones took longer to cook down than the little bits.

20 minutes in...

25 minutes in…

It took me 20-30 minutes with gentle stirring every 5 minutes until the last 10 minutes or so when I needed to stir every minute. This is about when you will need to pay close attention to the onions. They can easily scorch at this point and all of your hard work would be for naught.

The 30-minute mark

The 30-minute mark

Look at that gorgeous sight! When just about all of the pieces have passed the translucent stage and browned beautifully, add the liquids, using the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.

Deglazing the pan

Deglazing the pan

Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, letting the acidity burn off. Set aside.

Onion Compote: The Finished Product

Onion Compote: The Finished Product

This will yield enough topping for about 4-5 burgers.

NomNomCat Tip: I was able to accomplish this in my IKEA nonstick skillet. Don’t let the naysayers tell you that you have to go out and purchase a stainless steel or All-Clad just to get some good browning action (although a quality pan is definitely a great asset to the kitchen!).

The Burger

The Burger

Ground beef, about 1/4 lb per patty *

* I used 80-20 packaged ground beef from Trader Joe’s, but if you have a meat grinder, I’ve heard that the best blend is a 50-50 mix of dry-aged rib-eye and ground chuck.

Garlic salt (or salt and granulated garlic)

Black pepper

Drizzle of Worcestershire sauce (about 1 tablespoon per 1 lb)

Bleu cheese (I bought the kind from Trader Joe’s, but you could go fancy with Maytag or Point Reyes)

Gruyere cheese, grated

Arugula, washed and dried (salad spinner, anyone?)

Buns! Don’t forget the buns. The first time we made it, we used regular white burger buns. To really recreate the Father’s Office experience, you’re going to want to track down some French demi-baguettes.

Oh, and ice cold beer (not really an ingredient)

Yummy patties

Yummy patties

Season the ground beef and mix well to combine. Form consistent patties for even cooking times. I like thick patties since I prefer my burgers rare, but you can flatten them for quicker cooking.

The cheeses

The cheeses

Get the grill nice and hot. Cook one side and get a good sear. A medium-rare patty will take about 5 minutes per side. Flip once. Sprinkle on a small spoonful of each cheese on the seared side of the patties. Toast the buns.

Almost ready!

Almost ready!

Serve the patties cheese-side-up. Top with a generous dollop (or two!) of the onion compote. The saucy goodness packs a punch of flavor!

Ready for nomming!

Ready for nomming!

A handful of arugula and this burger is ready to sit alongside an ice cold glass of beer, just like an Office Burger would. Dig in and make sure you get a taste of everything in each bite! Not gonna lie, I was pretty darn impressed, even with the boring ol’ white bread buns. We are definitely going to be making this party favorite more often now that it’s the perfect weather for grilling. But first… the search for the perfect roll/baguette/bun continues. I’m thinking a Brioche or French roll brushed with melted butter before being tossed on the grill.

This homegrown version isn’t going to put the father of the gastropub out of business any time soon, but it is a great dressed-to-impress recipe for your next summer barbecue! If you try it, let us know how it goes — pictures or it didn’t happen!

(PS: Come back on Wednesday for our nom adventure / restaurant review post for Father’s Office in the Helms Bakery District. I know we did things a bit backwards, but our fans demanded the recipe and that’s what we wanted to provide!)