204 North Harbor
Fullerton, CA 92832
I guess it's time to let the cat out of the bag, Katie and I have finally decided to take the plunge and get married next year. So now my world is all about guest lists, color schemes, caterers, and venues. In fact, it is the wedding venue that has brought us up to Fullerton on a recent Saturday afternoon. The one place Katie has come back to again and again is a venue in Downtown Fullerton, right on Harbor Boulevard. So we grabbed my parents and went to check it out, but before we had to grab a bite to eat. I knew instantly where I wanted to go, Burger Parlor, which just happened to be within a block of the the venue.
If you are a keen reader of this blog, you probably already know that we have been to Burger Parlor before. That was back in 2011, when they were sharing restaurant space with Rialto Cafe, which is just around the corner from Burger Parlor's new digs. They have been in this new permanent spot for two years now, and we have finally made it back to see if the burgers are just as good as we remember.
Burger Parlor comes to us from Chef Joseph Mahon. For those of you that do not know his story, he is a classically trained chef, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York. While there, he worked at many big name, New York City restaurants. After graduating, he spent time working in France, then returned back to New York. He later found himself on the West Coast, where he took a job as Executive Chef at LA's infamous Bastide restaurant. Bastide is where his concept for Burger Parlor came from. They held Burger Mondays during his tenure there, and they were such a rousing success, that he knew he had to do something with the iconic burger. Lucky for all of OC, he opened his burger restaurant near where he grew up. I was very excited to see the new place.
This new place is definitely a lot bigger than his old spot at Rialto Cafe. We got here at just about 4:30 on a recent Saturday afternoon, and there was a steady stream of people wandering in from outside, even at this early dinner hour. The space is much more open, with high ceilings, fantastic brick walls, and a number of large, flat screen TVs, which were showing the Stanley Cup Finals on them. The speakers in the restaurant definitely worked, as the indie music was on a tad too high, but it helped drown out some of my corny jokes, so I'm sure my parents and Katie were appreciative of that. Ordering is done at the counter, then the food is brought out to you. Let's see if this would be as good as our first trip here.
We might as well start with the Bride to Be's burger, The Danish Blue ($8.95). Katie selected this burger which came with Danish blue cheese, grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, oven roasted tomato, and arugula. Katie liked the contrasts of this burger. She got the tang from the blue cheese, the sweetness from the onion, and the great meaty flavor from the hormone free beef. This burger was definitely juicy, and the blue cheese was mild enough that it did not overpower this burger. She would definitely get this burger again.
My mom is definitely a burger purist, and that was on full display with her choice of burger on this night. The Parlor Burger ($7.95) is their basic version of a cheeseburger here. American cheese, lettuce, caramelized onion, roasted tomato, and secret sauce top this. Again, the patty was very juicy, there was just the right amount of secret sauce used here, and the bun was sturdy enough to stand up to the moistness of the meat. My mom was pretty pleased by this burger.
My dad got a little more adventurous with his burger, when he got the Kali ($9.99). This California inspired burger came topped with crushed avocado, smoked bacon, provolone cheese, peppers, onions, arugula, and a chipotle aioli. He really liked this burger, but felt there was not enough avocado on this. It did look good from across the table.
Man, I debated what burger to get here, longer than it takes some people to pick out what kind of car to buy. I finally settled on the Smoked Bacon Royal ($13.79). This burger appeared to be right up my alley. It starts with four pieces of bacon wrapped around the patty, then is topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, roughly chopped pickles, and bacon aioli. Just like when I ate the one pound 100 percent bacon burger at Slater's 50/50, this burger overwhelmed me. The first few bites were pure bacon bliss, but as I got further along, the bacon became too much. I'm not really a big fan of pickles, but I was happy there were some here, just to cancel out some of the bacon. If you are an extreme bacon fanatic, this is the burger for you. On my next visit here, I will be trying a different burger though.
We of course had to have some sides to go along with these burgers, so the first of our two sides were these Onion Rings ($3.95). Their menu states that these rings are hand dipped and beer battered to order, and the way they tasted, I have no reason to doubt them. These were some real good onion rings. The beer batter provided a nice, crunchy outer coating, that provided a great casing for the sweet onion inside. Not as greasy as I would have thought, these definitely are a must order when coming to Burger Parlor.
Also worth ordering when you are at Burger Parlor are these DTF Fries ($4.25). I will probably get stoned for this, but I'm not really a big fan of the animal fries at In N Out, (I'm also not really into their burgers either, but that a story for another day). These DTF fries are their version of animal fries, except that they are good. These fries are topped with secret sauce, cheese, and onions, like there In N Out counterparts, but then chili is also added to the mix here, making these almost irresistible. The chili was a very well made, meaty chili, with just a touch of spice. The fries for the most part all stayed crisp, until the last one was plucked from the bowl. You could tell that the fries were fresh, and not frozen. While everyone was eating the onion rings, I was stealing extra bites of these fries.
We had about twenty minutes until our appointment to see our potential wedding venue, so of course we had time to get dessert. My mom is a Chocolate Shake ($3.99) connoisseur, and she gave this one her seal of approval. The shake was nice and thick, and made with Thrifty brand ice cream, which is also used at Farrell's, so you know it's good. The chocolate was not overpowering, which made me think they made this with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Either way it was pretty good. I'm a big brownie sundae fan, so when I saw the Brownie Daze ($6.75) on the menu, I had to have it. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream, with hot fudge, caramel sauce, brownie bites, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and a cherry to top it off with made up this sundae. I was surprised that it was served in a plastic cup, but I suspect that there was some sort of mix up, because it took a real long time for us to receive our desserts. The sundae was still good, with a decent ratio of ice cream to other toppings, which is pretty important to me when eating ice cream desserts. A very good end to our time at Burger Parlor.
Even though my burger kind of overwhelmed me, I still enjoyed this trip to Burger Parlor. It's great to see how this place have evolved from such humble beginnings at Rialto Cafe. There are now 13 burgers to choose from, not counting specials that appear from time to time. They also have other sandwiches and salads for the non-burger eating public out there, (all six of you). I liked the vibe of this place as well. It had a cool vibe to it, without being too hipster. The service we experienced on this night was pretty good, even with the little snafu with the desserts taking ten minutes to come out to the table. The guy at the register was pretty knowledgeable about the menu, and the food runners made sure we had everything that we needed. I think the prices here are a little on the high side, but you are paying for the quality ingredients that they use to create these very good burgers. Glad we came here first before looking at the wedding venue, because it gave me an idea on where to eat before the big day coming next year.
Out of five red hats, (because the social organization, the Red Hat Society was started by a Fullerton resident), five being best to zero being worst, Burger Parlor gets 3.5 red hats.
For more information about Burger Parlor, go to their website here: http://www.burgerparlor.com/