Thursday, August 27, 2009

BURGER NAZI (Father's Office bar/restaurant)

As I reviewed previously, I finally found the ‘perfect’ LA burger at The Village Idiot on Melrose, but a friend heard that the “in” burger in LA was now at the Father’s Office bar/restaurant and suggested we try it. I say “bar,” because when he called to make a reservation, “they” told him that “they” didn’t take reservations because “they’re” a “bar.” No problem… how busy could a “bar” be at 12:30?

Richard and I arrived at the “bar” on Helms Street at 12:00 and the line behind a rope was out the door and down the block. A rope! At noon! Get a grip. And, who knew so many people in LA started drinking that early in the day.

Standing in line while waiting for our friend we noticed that many of the tables were empty. We heard someone ask the guy “controlling” the rope why we had to wait in the hot sun when so many tables were empty. His reply: “Father’s Office is a ‘bar.’ The kitchen needs time to prepare the food for those already sitting and as soon as it caught up on the orders, I’ll let more people in.” Reasonable solution? Hire another cook!

By 12:20 the kitchen had “caught up.” We had already exceeded our blazing sun exposure for the day and opted for a table for three inside the “bar.” There we found out you have to order your own food, get a number and put it on your table so the busboys (there’s no waitstaff) can find you. Just like Carl’s, Jr! A “restaurant!”

For a “bar” the menu included some pretty fancy entrees, including a huge gourmet beet salad someone was eating at the next table. But I was there for the latest “in” burger and since there was only one offered, that’s what I would be ordering as soon as our friend arrived. However, when he did arrive, the keeper of the rope sent him to the end of the line (which had grown in leaps and bounds). My friend explained that his party was already seated but was still refused entrance. When we went to talk to this “Burger Nazi,” he told us that he was “just following orders.” We countered that he should not have seated us until our party was complete as is the policy of other restaurants. “We’re not a restaurant!” he whined. “We’re a bar!” I laughed as I watched more than 50 people at tables eating and eating and eating very “non-bar” gourmet-presented food… most without any alcoholic beverage.

When my friend tried speaking with the “bar’s” manager, security approached him as if he were Al Qaeda. The manager listened to him and a few people waiting on the line who agreed with my friend, then repeated the “bar’s” policy. My friend had to go to the end of the line. At that point, several people waiting on line, left.

First of all, none of us has a problem with waiting our turn. But we’d done that -- for more than twenty minutes.

Second, besides the obvious PR problem this generates, it makes no sense economically. It’s ridiculous to let half a party (in our case 2/3’s) sit at a table for more than a half-hour without ordering when the establishment could be turning over the table. But, hey, maybe good service and turning a profit on food isn’t a concern. This is a “bar.”

So… did I want to sit at the table for yet another 20-30 minutes or so (by now it was 12:45) to have this “in” burger… the only choice being one with caramelized onions, gueryere cheese, maytag blue cheese and arugula... for 12 bucks!?!? The mix of flavors sounded gross. Way too ‘over-the-top” trendy without thinking what tastes would actually blend together to make a good burger. Nah. I didn’t.

So… sad to say, I can’t review LA’s “in” burger. But, I can review the self-serving, “we’re so hot we don’t give a damn attitude.” However, if you find yourself in LA and want a great gourmet burger (with a choice of cheeses and toppings) in a hip restaurant and “bar” with fabulous service and a terrific selection of beers, wines and a great martini, may I suggest you run as fast as you can away from Father’s Office and head straight for The Village Idiot.

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