Saturday, September 29, 2012

Daydreams of Cheeseburgers

Remember the cheeseburgers of yore? You know the ones I mean - the ones eaten at roadside stands, while riding in the backseat of the station wagon?  Or maybe at the snackbar stand at the City swimming pool on a lazy, chlorine-scented summer afternoons?  From a portable trailer at the County Fair while the Tilt-a-Whirl grinds away nearby?

That's the way I remember cheeseburgers. Wrapped in paper, a mellow yellow slab of American cheese melted over a thin fried patty, crunchy iceberg lettuce and tomato on a toasted buttered bun.

LA is full of deluxe burgers, thick and juicy, made with organic grass-fed beef, served on glossy-domed brioche buns, often with exotic house-made chutneys or compotes and imported cheese. These are all culinary marvels, a bit over-the-top, but good.

But sometimes I want a burger like the ones I remember from childhood. And there's a new place to get them in Santa Monica - Pierburger.

On the Santa Monica Pier just in front of Pierburger is a sign designating this spot as the western terminus of historic Route 66.

Tourists from all over the world flock to the Pier, many of them posing for photos in front the the Route 66 sign.

We'll indulge, them, even though it's not precisely true - Route 66 really ended at the intersection of Olympic and Lincoln Boulevard.

The Pier just has the right vibe.  Pierburger does too. You walk inside the wooden screen door, and order up your burger. Prices are right - $4.50 for a single cheeseburger. The fries are already "supersized" - a regular order easily feeds two people.

The menu includes a hot dog I'll probably never order, a chicken sandwich, and a white seabass sandwich that maybe- just maybe - I'll try someday.

The rest of the menu is devoted to frozen treats. You can get a shake, a float, or a cup of frozen custard. You can also get what they call a "concrete" - frozen custard blended with ingredients like strawberries, bananas, cookie dough or peanut butter cups.

You can sit inside the small store, or you can take a picnic table in the shaded area out back. Pump your ketchup in a little cup and wait for your name to be called on the PA.

The burger comes in a little waxed paper bag, nestled with your fries in a cardboard box. The burger itself is not a thin piece of shoe-leather, but a nice, 1/2 inch burger, slightly pink in the center. The cheese is good, creamy bland orange American cheese. There's a pleasing, pinky-mayonnaise sauce that pulls all the tastes together. One of the things I notice consistently is the high quality of the green leaf lettuce and ripe red slice of tomato  - no pale pink slices here, really ripe tomato.

Oh, yeah. It's a good burger - just like in your daydreams.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Wendy's was my favorite back in the day. (The day when I could eat all the burgers I wanted, and not gain any lbs...)

But I think something else happened over the years...the temperature they cook the burgers was increased to make sure e coli were killed, resulting in a burger that needs cheese on it just to cover the overcooked patty taste.

Mrs. G. said...

The burger and the atmsosphere sound delicious.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Most of the cheeseburgers I've had here are those big bar burgers (can't abide by fast food chain burgers). There are only two places in my neck of the woods remotely like this- Greasy Nick's, officially named Leno's Clam Bar (yeah, its owned distant cousins of Jay's); and the Brewster Red Rooster.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I cannot think of fair rides and burgers at the same time (what goes down might come back up) but the burger itself and the scene surrounding it look fantastic!

Is there a sign at the actual terminus of Route 66?