Niman Ranch Burger – Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen
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Address: 1119 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
On the Web: http://www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com/
My wife and I recently went on an anniversary road trip down the coast of California. Since I was tasked with the planning of the trip, I figured that gave me a little creative license to make sure each romantic destination was near a good (burger) restaurant.
After we left Paul Martin’s American Bistro in Roseville, CA, I hit the long road to Los Angeles. Santa Monica to be exact. I had heard rumblings that there was a great burger to be had at a wine bar of all places. So I made a late reservation on opentable and with the help of my trusty navigation system, I pulled up outside Rustic Canyon Wine Bar with a minute to spare.
If you weren’t looking for it, you could easily pass right by this fantastic place. Tucked away in a line of strip-mall-esque stores (I remember there was a place that specialized in light bulbs a few doors down) is this upscale wine bar and fine dining establishment. From the name, I think I was expecting some type club house style restaurant surrounded by a golf course.
They have one burger listed on their dinner menu and it’s simply titled the: Niman Ranch Burger.
Despite it’s simple name, this burger had a lot of class. It’s got sharp cheddar cheese, an onion fondue, bread and butter pickles, and is spread with an herb remoulade. I added the fried farm egg and confit bacon for +27 indulgence hitpoints.
The bun was just the right amounts of firmness and chewiness to allow you to make it through the burger without disintegrating halfway through the meal. Way better than any bun you could fin on your grocery store shelf.
The burger itself was cooked to a nice medium rare and was well seasoned. The perfect burger temperature combined with the onion fondue and the herb remoulade made every bite super juicy. I love that they didn’t use regular iceberg lettuce. It looked and tasted more like fresh arugula which went right along with the classiness of this upscale burger.
I LOVE fried egg on my hamburgers and whenever I see it as an option, it’s always an addition. I usually prefer them “fried hard” so they’re not runny, but when I asked the server if I could get it fried hard, she simply said “No, it only come one way”. I respected the chef for knowing how their dish is best served, but at the same time I kinda like things “my way” :) I’m glad I listened to the chef in this case because the runniness of the fresh sunny side up egg was a beautiful blanket for this wonderful sandwich. The confit bacon bricks added a nice salt touch and slight crunch that really took this burger over the top.
The fries were not just an afterthought. They were well prepared (my wife stole several) and they came with a delicious dipping sauce on the side.
I would hit up Rustic Canyon again if I was in the Los Angeles/Santa Monica area (which I will be next week for the International Food Bloggers Conference :) The restaurant had a quiet, but lively feel to it and the burger was amazing. Next time you’re in Santa Monica, be sure to make a reservation at Rustic Canyon for a great burger paired with some fantastic wine.
- Burger Juiciness (because a dry burger is just wrong) 9
- Bun Goodness (a quality meat holder is essential) 8
- Burger Flavor (is the meat itself extra tastilicious) 9
- Burger Value (you can pay too much for a .99 cent burger and an amazing burger can seem like a steal at $20…and vice versa) 7
- B Factor (this is that super subjective thing that makes each review unique. That gene se qua, that something special about the experience. Could be the special sauce, could be the atmosphere of the joint, could be the ridiculous shakes that you paired the burger with, or it could be some french fries that make you wanna cry) 9
Total Score: 42pts