The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax
Los Angeles, CA 90036
After walking and shopping through the Grove and the Farmer's Market, we were ready to take a load off and sit for awhile. I had really grown quite an appetite. Bucking the stereotype that people do not walk in LA, we took a short walk up Fairfax to a restaurant that had recently appeared on Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives. I know there is not a lot of love for the host of the show, Guy Fieri, in foodie circles, but I always enjoy going to restaurants that have been featured on the show. Sure some of them have not been so good, but at others we have had some really memorable meals. I was really hoping that this was going to be one of the more memorable restaurants we have been to.
As stated on their own website, Golden State's philosophy is to showcase local makers of food and drink. They are trying to feature everything that makes California so great. I like this philosophy, because I am really proud to be from California, and I know that our products really kick ass. After reading other people's reviews of this restaurant, I was even more excited to try Golden State. Most of the on-line reviews called the burger here one of the best in LA, and Golden State gets a lot of love from Yelpers, with tons of four and five star reviews.
We arrived at Golden State at about half past three on a Saturday afternoon. Kind of between lunch and dinner time. This restaurant, which is right across the street from the iconic Canter's, had a steady stream of customers even at this odd dining hour. Golden State is not a very large restaurant. They have about ten or so tables. The vibe here is kind of on the hipster side, without the douchiness. The brick walls feature some cool paintings, the high ceilings give the restaurant an openness to it, and the laid back aura of the guys behind the counter were all parts of the atmosphere here. The menu is not overly huge. It is highlighted by a number of sandwiches, hot dogs, and salads. They also have rotating offerings of local craft beers, along with other unique non-alcoholic beverage choices. Ordering is done at the counter, and then the food is brought out to you. We placed our order, and this is what hit our table.
Before we get to the burger at The Golden State, Katie opted to get the Tuna Sandwich ($10). This sandwich was made up of tuna salad, lettuce, tomato, and aioli. Katie really liked this sandwich a lot. The tuna was very fresh and seasoned nicely, the aioli did not hijack the sandwich like she thought it would, but the big winner for her with this sandwich was the bread. It had a soft crunch to it, and really held up to the contents inside of the sandwich. One of the better tuna sandwiches Katie has had. With each sandwich you get to choose one side item, which she went with the Golden State Potato Salad. This very good potato salad was made of red potatoes, mayonnaise, chives, egg, mustard and shallots. The potatoes were left in big hunks, and the salad was very moist, without being too soupy. This was one of the better potato salads we have had in a restaurant. The mustard really did not overpower, and the consistency of this salad was spot on.
Now on to the real reason we were here, The Burger ($12). At Golden State they use Harris Ranch beef, the white cheddar cheese comes from Fiscalini Farms, the burger is then topped with apple wood smoked bacon, arugula, aioli, and ketchup. This burger was very well made to start with. The brioche bun was fantastic. Great job supporting the burger, while not being too bready. The insides were more subdued than I had imagined. The beef was cooked perfectly to a wonderful medium rare. There was far too much arugula on this burger, which I easily pulled off, and could have made another salad with. The bacon kind of got lost here, as it was overpowered by the very good cheese. The condiments were used sparingly, but I remedied this by adding extra of the awesome curry ketchup. For my choice of side I had the Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw. This unique slaw combined shredded cabbage, jalapenos, carrots, and a red wine vinaigrette. It was a tad on the dry side when I started to eat this, but the dressing must have settled to the bottom, because as I ate it I got more and more dressing. The heat from the jalapenos really woke up my taste buds, and the crunch of the produce provided a good texture.
I really enjoyed the food at The Golden State. Is this the best burger I have ever had? No, but it is a very well put together burger, and it kind of reminded me of a bigger version of a burger that you could get at Umami Burger. They definitely use great ingredients here. Everything was very fresh, and I really liked the little twists that they used to make everything their own. If I lived in the area I would definitely place The Golden State into my rotation of restaurants that I would frequent. Well worth the block and a half walk from the Farmer's Market.
Out of five saber toothed cats, (because that is the state fossil of California, and one of the most abundant sources of saber toothed cat fossils found is just down the street from this restaurant at the La Brea Tar Pits), five being best to zero being worst, The Golden State gets 3.5 saber toothed cats.
For more information about The Golden State, click here: http://www.thegoldenstatecafe.com/index.html