It’s probably too early to start using words like “dynasty” and “legend” and “the LeBron James of grilling ground beef,” but for the second straight year The Cannibal took home the Critic’s Choice award at Los Angeles magazine’s annual Burgers Bourbon & Beer event, which was held last night at The Victorian in Santa Monica, and included four more categories for guests to vote on.
The judges (our restaurant critic Patric Kuh, Eddie Sanchez from Hungry in L.A., and me, for some reason) tried all ten burgers, many of them twice, sometimes with different types of beer, because a journalist’s job is always to get to the truth. And the truth is—all of the chefs were working outdoors, with propane tanks, miniaturizing their burgers for instant mass consumption, far from the home-field advantage of their kitchens, and none of them disappointed.
The Cannibal (Culver City) won last year with a combo of onion, dry aged beef, and provolone. This year the team brought a new recipe: 60-day dry aged beef, Stilton bleu cheese, and harissa mayo.
Here’s what my fellow judges had to say about it.
Los Angeles critic Patrick Kuh: “Cannibal had everything I look for in a burger. It could be held easily in one hand. It had that fresh-off-the-grill sizzle. What they added to it, contributed. I went back twice with an hour-and-a-half between my visits, and it was as good the second time as the first time.”
Hungry in L.A.’s Eddie Sanchez: “I loved the 60-day dry-aged beef. The beef itself, I could probably just eat that protein-style, so to speak. It had a lot of flavor. The smoke was really good, and the funk from the Stilton blue cheese, with the harissa mayo, a little spice in there. It was very simple, no embellishments, no truffle oil to change the dynamics of it. You could really taste the burger.”
Classic Burger – Summertime Setup: Fresh ground Aspen ridge chuck and short rib, Fortuna wheat bun, week’s aged cheddar, house mayo. Kennebec fries: with trio of house sauces (ranch, mayo, spicy mayo).
Boa Steakhouse (Santa Monica)
French Onion Burger: 40-day dry-aged beef, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onion, French onion spread
Malibu Café (Malibu)
The Malibu Café Burger: Grass-fed beef (New York and rib-eye), 72-hour short ribs, Fontina, pickled red onion, jus
Pono (Santa Monica, Venice, WeHo)
Kuawa Crunch: Eel River ranch organic beef with week’s cheddar, russet potato chips, lettuce, coleslaw, spicy guava rum sauce
Definitely worth a shoutout: Erven’s meatless Beyond Burger patty (which fooled some folks who thought it was meat), the Basement Tavern (and its candied bacon), The Roof on Wilshire (which had more fun than anyone else and served its burger on parmesan-crusted challah bread), Citizen (best chili burger ever), and Grill ‘Em All (that red onion confit and the southern slaw).
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