27742 Antonio Parkway
Ladera Ranch, CA 92694
Recently the OC Register's restaurant reviewer, Brad A. Johnson wrote about his top ten destination burgers. Burgers he feels are worth the drive. These are not fast food burgers, but burgers that might be a little more expensive than what you are used to paying, but he reasons that you get what you pay for with these burgers, and I tend to agree with him on that point. I'm not going to shy away from spending $20 on a burger, as long as it is worth it. One place that was pretty high on Brad's list is right around where we live, and has been on our list of places to try, so we met some friends on a recent Friday night at BLK Burgrz.
I usually like to give a restaurant six months to iron out their issues before coming in to review them. I had a hard time waiting six months with this place. I had kept hearing such good things about their burgers, but I stayed away until now. Now open for just over six months, we showed up without a reservation on a recent evening. We were told the wait would be close to an hour and a half, but we were determined, so we put our name in. Lucky for us it was only an hour wait, and we had plenty to talk about with our good friends Tom and Daniele.
BLK is housed in the former Newport Rib Company spot which we reviewed about four years ago. Man, time flies. I barely remember what it was like back then, but now the focal point of the restaurant is the front patio. Real good vibe out there, with music going on around eight. We were going to be talking so we sat inside. Not a huge restaurant inside, maybe 12 or so tables. We were sat at this irregular shaped high top, which I had my doubts would fit the four of us, but we made it work.
The menu at BLK is of course geared towards burgers, but they also have some salads, chicken, and steak dishes for you three people out there that do not enjoy burgers. This is a true build a burger restaurant. Much like Slater's they have a checklist for you to create your burger masterpiece. You choose the size, style, and condiments you want to partake in. I'm always a little nervous that I'm going to screw up my burger when I order like this, especially since you can have as many toppings as you want here, because they're all included in the price of the burger. It's a lot of pressure. Let's see how I handled the pressure when our food started to come out.
One tip I had gleaned from reading others reviews about BLK is that you should forgo the appetizers here, because the House Made Chips are so good, and free. Think of this as their version of a bread basket. These chips are fried crisp, made fresh, and sprinkled with a ranch dressing powder. It took a pretty long time for our food to come out, so we went through four baskets of these, or as Tom put it, a basket per person. That did not make me feel too good, but the chips were addictive, and I was pretty hungry. These were made even better when Tom asked for a side of spicy ketchup, which added a flavor boost to these chips.
We usually do not drink too much when we go out, but it was Friday, we were with Tom and Daniele, so it felt right to have a few cocktails. Katie, the big lush, had a Virgin Moscow Mule ($8). I guess since it's a virgin beverage, that means there's just ginger beer and lime juice in this one. She seemed to like this though. My first drink was the BLK Mai Thai ($9). This was a very sweet version of a Mai Thai. Tom started with a fruity martini of some sort called the Frenchie ($9), but he soon finished that and switched to a more manly beer. He seemed pretty pleased with the beer list here. Daniele started with the Cucumber Mojito ($8), then switched to the Orangesicle ($8), and I followed suit and had one of those too. My first sip of this brought me back to when I was eight, and having a 50/50 bar on a trip we took to Mission Beach, way back in the day. This was definitely my favorite drink of the night.
The burgers finally hit the table, and we'll start with a shot of Tom's creation. I'm not sure of all that he added to this 3/4 LB Burger ($20), but I spotted bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, fried egg, mixed greens, all on a cheddar bun, which Tom questioned whether this was a cheddar bun at all. He seemed pleased with this burger, but ended up taking half of it home. Burgers here include one side, so Tom counteracted all the chips he ate with a side salad. Good plan big guy.
Katie went with one of BLK's stuffed burger options, the Garlic Roasted Red Pepper Burger ($18). Here the garlic and red pepper is blended into the beef. This made the patty very juicy and flavorful. She kept it pretty simple with the toppings; lettuce, Swiss cheese, and asking for the garlic aioli and lemon caper spread on the side, so she could control how much went on this burger. The aioli was her favorite out of the two. She liked the bun a lot, and felt it did a great job of keeping everything together. For her side item she opted for onion rings, which were crispy, while allowing the onion flavor to come through. She left here pretty satisfied with this burger experience.
Man I had a hard time picking what I wanted on my burger here. I ended up going pretty basic. Just like Tom, I had the Three Quarters Pound Burger ($20). My basic burger included guacamole, cheddar cheese, bacon, red onion, and thousand island dressing. I liked that they did not drown this burger with toppings. They were present, but did not hide the great Wagyu beef used here. The beef was juicy, cooked to my desired medium temperature, and the toppings went well with the beef. When I saw the bun I was afraid that it was going to be too bready, but it impressed me with it's sponginess and structure. After Brad Johnson raved about the fries, I knew I had to try them. He was right. These fries are hand cut, and fried very well. Not too greasy, with a nice crunch to them, they were awesome with more of the garlic aioli. Really a solid burger and fries.
After eating a big burger and all those chips, I was not totally ready for dessert, but when I saw that they had a BLK Hot Fudge Donut Sundae ($8) on the menu, I got a second wind. This was not so much a donut, but more of a cronut, the trendy hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut that swelled with popularity last year. Flaky layers were dusted with cinnamon and sugar, then topped with a scoop of ice cream and chocolate fudge. I liked my first introduction to a cronut. The layers were easy to get through, the ice cream was plentiful, but I would have liked a little more chocolate on this. Good finish to our meal though.
BLK Burgrz impressed us. It's the kind of restaurant that I will need to visit a few times to find my perfect burger, but I will definitely enjoy the delicious journey. I look forward to trying their stuffed burgers on future visits, and maybe I'll be brave enough to attempt their deep fried burgers, which just sound awesome. For those of you that bristle at paying $20 for a burger, these are worth it. You get to add whatever toppings you want, and you also get to choose a side to go along with the burger. So in reality it is only a couple dollars more than what you would pay at Island's or Ruby's. As with new restaurants, and this one is still relatively new, there are some kinks that still need to be worked out. The service on this night was okay, but our food did take a long time to come out, and our server was gone for long stretches of time. It also might be nitpicky, but the water glasses were so tiny, that they sat empty for long periods, (and why no ice for the water?, thought it was odd). In the end though, we can not wait to come back to BLK, just like we can't wait to tackle more of Brad Johnson's list of destination burgers. Hope they are all as good as this one.
Out of five airplanes, (because BLK is also the airport code for Blackpool International Airport, which is located on England's West Coast), five being best to zero being worst, BLK Burgrz gets 3.5 airplanes.
For more information about BLK Burgrz, go to their website here: http://www.blkburgrz.com/