Friday, September 27, 2013

Umami Burger at The Grove

I love a good burger, regardless of how fancy or low-key it may be. My only rule is that is must be shaped by a human and not come in a frozen disc from a factory. During a recent trip to Los Angeles, I not only got to indulge in one of my all-time favorite burgers, the Double-Double Animal Style from In-N-Out (perfection in every bite), but I also visited the Umami Burger location at The Grove.

Double-Double Animal Style from In-N-Out... my favorite!

There's obviously a lot of hype surrounding Umami Burger. Some say it's the best while others have mixed feelings. I fall in the latter crowd, but it may be because my burger choice was not the best. I elected to try the special burger for that location, the Grove Truffle Burger (as opposed to the regular Truffle Burger). 

This is where I may have faltered. I was told later by a friend who also ordered the same burger as me, but usually swears by the other, that the original Truffle Burger is immeasurably better than the Grove variation. I can see how she might be right.

First of all, the Grove Truffle Burger is topped with a Parmesan Fondue and Truffle Sauce. There was barely any sauce to speak of and thus the burger came across as pretty boring without any elevated flavors from these toppings. The original Truffle Burger is topped with truffle cheese, truffle glaze, and roasted garlic aioli. It already sounds better, but for some reason I thought the "special" one would be the one to try. Shame.

The Grove Truffle Burger $14

The bun was very good, fairly dense but had a great structure to it that would hold up to any juicy burger. Unfortunately, even though my burger was medium rare, it wasn't really juicy at all. It wasn't dry either, but there were essentially no juices to speak of. It was a fair burger, but it certainly can't compete with others I've enjoyed in my life. Even In-N-Out which falls into another category all-together would beat out Umami overall as my go-to LA burger.

Truffled Thin Fries $5.50

Alternatively, the side dishes we tried were quite yummy. We got an order of Thin Fries and "Truffled Them," which means they are topped with melted truffle cheese and truffle salt. I loved these fries and really wished I had gotten the burger topped with this cheese. 

An array of dipping sauces, although I didn't try most of them since I liked the truffled flavor of the fries on their own.

I also really enjoyed the Cheesy Tots, which aren't even featured on the menu but I guess you can order them off the menu. It's like a secret. They were very good, but could have been even cheesier if you ask me.

Cheesy Tots

Additionally, note that the bottles of beer on the menu come in larger than average sizes (mine was 22 ounces). At first I was appalled by the price on the menu, but when I realized I was getting a lot more beer than expected, it turned out to be pretty fair.

In the end, my trip to Umami Burger was a lot of fun, mainly because of the amazing company of my friends who took me there. The burgers were good, but not remotely outstanding (especially for the price). I am still very curious to try the original Truffle Burger and would perhaps return to Umami for that reason alone. Umami is worth checking out, but based on my, albeit limited, experience there, I'm not sure it deserves a repeat performance. We'll see.

Umami Burger The Grove
189 The Grove Drive
Suite C-10
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 954-8626


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