I love hamburgers. Not skimpy, fast food hamburgers, though they have their place… not even those so-called ‘six dollar’ burgers at Carl’s Jr. that drip more sauce than meat juice. When I lived in Manhattan, my non-fast food choices were numerous – each with its own signature ‘taste.’ One favorite was the landmark tavern, PJ Clarke’s burger… but my personal favorite was at Prime Burger, the coffee shop featured in the movie “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” on E. 5lst, directly across the street from St. Pat’s… I salivate just thinking about them.
When Richard and I moved to LA I searched for a comparable culinary burger experience, but never found one until a little over a year ago when The Village Idiot opened on trendy Melrose Ave at the corner of Martel. When I walked through its doors, I immediately fell in love with the room with its high-beamed ceiling, a substantial bar smack in the center of the restaurant, the exposed brick, the raised booths along a wall of expansive windows, dark wooden floors, dark wooden tables and chairs and open kitchen… OK, not everyone would care about all these things – but I love it when I find a space that’s as beautifully designed as this large room. The place was jumping and I said a little prayer that the burger wouldn’t disappoint. To cheese or not to cheese was now my big question. Should I have my burger plain or with melted gruyere? Or should I try the maytag blue… or the smoked cheddar? I decided to cheese with the cheddar. And when I bit into my thick, juicy burger it was cooked to perfection, dripping with ‘real’ beef juices… and the smoked cheddar just punched up the smoky grilled flavor. I tried my next bite with the fresh balsamic red onion relish that comes with the burger. More perfection.
But I soon discovered that The Village Idiot isn’t just about burgers – this 21st century take on an English pub serves a rock shrimp and scallion fritter that I’d write songs about if I could write songs. The mussels steamed in ale are mussels I dream about, and an order of Brussels sprouts with bacon is a must every time I eat there. Among its other dishes, the menu includes fish and chips with a malt vinegar dipping sauce, miso-glazed salmon, an angus rib eye, braised pork shank, cornmeal crusted catfish, steak and potato pie (a personal favorite of Richard’s), a leek and goat cheese tart, savory oak grilled half-chicken, and, of course, bangers and mash - well, not just your ordinary bangers and mash – but oak grilled pork sausage and Yukon mash with carmelized onions and a port sauce… delicious! As you would suspect, the bartenders make a helluva martini and the ale list is impressive. But, what you might not expect is its short but intriguing wine list.
The Village Idiot is a great neighborhood place where you can drop in for lunch (no reservations), bring a book, your baby or your computer and hang out, then stay for dinner (again, no reservations). Or drop in and have a drink, maybe some fritters or a three course meal at the bar. It’s all cool.