Thursday, December 3, 2015

Holsteins Has Moo-ved Into OC

Holsteins Shakes and Buns
3333 Bristol St. 
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

As sad as I was to see Charlie Palmer leave South Coast Plaza in May, it softened the blow when I heard who would be replacing them. In came all the cow paraphernalia, which is synonymous with one of the most heralded burger spots in Las Vegas, Holsteins.

We had been to Holsteins, which is located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort, once before. You can read that review here. To summarize, we were pretty impressed with that location, which has won plenty of praise for their food, and had their burgers placed on many of the top burger lists in Las Vegas. I really enjoyed Katie's burger and the vibe of the place, and was anxiously waiting for them to open a lot closer to my home, and in a place where I would not be tempted to gamble my savings account away.

We were lucky enough to be invited into Holsteins shortly after they opened, to have an informal look at some of their smaller bites and shake samplings. As you can see in the above pictures, this only whetted our appetite for a quick return visit to Holsteins. Thanks to everyone at Holsteins, and of course J Public Relations, for this wonderful time. When we were going to be going out with our good friends Tom and Daniele, I did not even hesitate about where I wanted to eat with them. We made a beeline for this restaurant, which is attached to Bloomingdale's at South Coast Plaza.

Daniele had made reservations at 7pm on a recent Friday night. The restaurant was pretty busy throughout our stay. The inside still has the feel of the old Charlie Palmer, but now there's burger artwork on the walls, and the large wine case as you enter the building is now filled with beer instead of wine. Speaking of beer, they offer one of the largest selections that I have seen in awhile around here. The vibe inside the restaurant kind of felt like an upscale coffee shop, which lends to the cool, hip feel of the place.

The menu at Holsteins OC is a little toned down from the Vegas one that we experienced. No fried bacon is on the menu, and they have geared more menu items to the health conscience Orange County lifestyle. The menu offers plenty of starters, a few salads, some entrees, shakes, and of course burgers, which there are 13 varieties, including beef, veggie, turkey, salmon, and lamb choices for patties. Of course I would be enjoying a burger on this evening, but let's see what everyone else had as well.

After a few drinks at Tom and Daniele's house, we definitely needed to get some food in us quickly, so we started things off with this Poutine ($11.50 with egg added). This is probably the closest thing I have ever had to a true poutine. It's base is french fries, then topped with cheese curds, stout gravy, shredded short rib, and the added fried egg. A true poutine has a lighter gravy, and no short rib, but this was a delicious way to start our meal at Holsteins. The cheese curds were not as squeaky as I imagined them to be, but I really enjoyed the melding of flavors on this plate. A very comforting starter.

Since Holsteins is pretty famous for their burgers, it was not shocking that Katie went in the opposite direction, and tried one of the entrees on their menu, the Porter Braised Short Rib ($26.00). After the short rib that was included in the poutine, she had high hopes for this plate. The short rib was very tender, and flavorful, as it was topped with an IPA battered onion ring, and accompanied by a truffle potato puree. Both were winners, but I would have liked a little more sauce with this. Katie had no complaints, as she had no problem finishing this, and would not hesitate getting this again.

Tom selected the burger that I had on my visit to the Vegas location, the Rising Sun Burger ($17 with the optional egg added). This Asian inspired burger came topped with teriyaki glaze, nori furikake, (a Japanese seasoning), a crispy yam, spicy mayo, and to top it off, a tempura avocado. Tom enjoyed this burger very much, and was stuffed by the end. When I had this burger the first time, I felt the teriyaki kind of overpowered, but Tom did not share my sentiments on this evening.

Both Daniele and I opted for the same burger, proving once and for all that great minds definitely think alike. The Gold Standard Burger ($17 with optional egg added) would be our choice on this evening. This is their version of a souped up bacon cheeseburger. It comes with goat cheese cheddar, tomato confit, smoked bacon, arugula, and a garlic chive aioli. I really liked this burger, and the toppings were mellow enough to allow the ground sirloin to be the star of the show. I thought the goat cheese cheddar was going to be a lot more intrusive than it was, but that was not the case. They don't really over sauce their burgers here, which allows the natural flavor of the meat to shine through. The fries were okay, but not as good as their burgers. They had a good crunch to them, but were kind of left to the side until I finished my burger.

My first trip to the Vegas location, I did not have one of Holsteins signature Bam-Boozled Shakes ($13), but I rectified that on this visit. They have ten of these adults only shakes on their menu, with such interesting flavors as Red Velvet, Cereal Bowl, and something called the Fat Boy, which comes with pretzels, Oreo cookies, Butterfinger bits, Reese's, and Cap'n Crunch. That sounded like way too much for me, and as a traditionalist when it comes to shakes, I went with a good old fashioned Cookies and Cream Shake. This was a very creamy shake, with plenty of crushed up Oreo's and chocolate chip cookies inside, and it was made with Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka, which added to the creaminess. I liked this, but I'm not sure I'd get one of these shakes again. I felt the payoff was not enough to warrant the $13 dollar price tag, and I'm not really that big of a shake guy.

Always up for something a little different, we had tried these Nitro Meringues ($1.50 each) at the happy hour event we attended a month or so ago, and wanted to introduce Tom and Daniele to them. They come in three flavors, Peppermint, Stout Beer, and Strawberry. Nitrogen ice cream places are all the rage right now, and this is a fun way to end your meal here. I definitely like the peppermint one the best. They evaporate in your mouth, and you are left with the flavor, and a plume of smoke from the nitrogen. Something a little different from the usual dessert.

Holsteins is definitely my kind of place, and I'm pretty excited that they opened up right in my backyard. I can see us eating here frequently, or as frequently as we eat anywhere, since we are always on the hunt for the next great spot we want to share with you. The burgers were on point, and this is the perfect place to head to if you are in the mood for a more upscale burger. If Katie's meal is any indication, the rest of the menu might be worth exploring for you non-burger lovers. Yes, the prices are a little on the high side, but the quality here is pretty stellar, and this is South Coast Plaza, so it's understandable. We had some very good service on this evening, as our waiter Greg made sure we had everything we needed at all times. I hated to see Charlie Palmer leave, but I'm pretty excited to see Holsteins in OC.

Out of five cruise ships, (because New Holstein, Wisconsin is the birthplace of Edward Schildhauer, the chief engineer of the Panama Canal Project, and a lot of cruise ships go through this on a daily basis), five being best to zero being worst, Holsteins Shakes and Buns gets 3.5 cruise ships.

For more information about Holsteins, head over to their website here:

Holsteins Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. Omg..!!! Drooling at the moment haha!

    1. John - Don't droll too much, they have closed up shop at south Coast Plaza. Now you'll have to travel to Las Vegas to experience Holsteins.