Monday, March 2, 2009

Neighborhood (San Diego)

Our final stop of my whirlwind Hamburger Tour of San Diego. We brought you Crazy Tioli's and Boomerang's and we're finally down to the last restaurant. My (quick) search for the best burger in San Diego has come to an end. Maybe there are better burgers out there, maybe there aren't... but my waistline can only take so many lbs of grilled meat with fatty cheese and oils.

The last restaurant on the list is Neighborhood located in downtown San Diego. When I first read about the place I thought... would this place be too cool for its britches? No ketchup? No tomatoes in my burger? How could this be! HOW COULD IT POSSIBLY BE SUCCESSFUL!?

I then remembered a rather popular gastropub in Los Angeles.. Father's Office. Neighborhood follows (or Father's office follows Neighborhood) their style almost to a T. Like My Uncle's Office.. AMIRITE OR AMIRITE? Fancy veggies, sweet potato fries, copius amounts of unheard of beers/ales on tap but will it meet up to the quality of Father's Office? I do love me a Gourmet Burger.. and I'm willing to try almost everything once. I didn't tell Jeff and Travis about no ketchup before we got to the place in fear they would take over the car, kick me onto the sidewalk, and go somewhere else. A KETCHUP REVOLT!

(Side note: I'm fine if a place decides not to have ketchup, but what are the grounds behind it? If you believe Ketchup isn't "suitable" in its low class form outside of the bottle.. why not do what Ritual Tavern does and make your own? You make all the other sauces... why not put your own twist on Ketchup?)

The restaurant has a very sleek, modern atmosphere. Stainless sheets of metal cover chairs, tables, bars. Where there aren't clean stainless sheets of metal there are dark wooden mahogany looking tables. They have outdoor seating which are all metal tables with metal chairs. I'm a huge fan of the restaurant looking like a robot. I'm half expecting the table and chair to form up and say "AUTO BOTS ROLL OUT". But to warn you, the place is pretty small... probably 6 tables or so with a 4 top for each table (it'd only make one or two transformers).

And if you're a cow, you can graze on the food while you wait for it to arrive. They put out nice little metal containers of grass? I don't know what it is, I'm sure if my cat was here it'd be pawing it and making cooing noises.

Obligatory Jeff and Travis Photo. The restaurant first had no seats so we had to sit on rather uncomfortable metal chairs that had absolutely no back support, but after some glaring and prodding, a table left and we were able to squat upon their oddly shaped wooden table. Btw note to Jeff and Travis, we're in San Diego not the mountains of Switzerland (coincidentally where these two lucky lads are going next week)

As we stare toward the bar area, they have a generous amount of microbrews on tap as well as bottles of wine at a very fair price.

Most importantly, they had Coca-Cola in the glass bottles made for Mexico. If you don't know the difference between Mexican Coca Cola and American Coke is the use of real sugar opposed to high fructose corn syrup. Coca Cola says there is NO difference.. but anyone with working taste buds (aka those that don't have a clear affinity to Burgundy *wink*) can tell the difference. I think Jeff was so excited his eyes popped out of their sockets.

We started our meal off with a plate of Sweet Potato Fries.

The fries are topped with "gold mine shaft cheese crumbs" which almost taste like a very creamy thick version of blue cheese. Has that acidic bite to it but is in a rather soft chunk. Wasn't a HUGE fan of the cheese. THe fries on the other hand had a delicious crisp exterior with a soft sweet interior. The balance of potato to skin was nice.

A malt mignonette sauce on the side helped balance out the saltiness of the cheese. The sauce was tangy with hints of pepper and lemon. It was a bit weird if you didn't get any cheese in your bite because the sauces citrus taste would overwhelm the fry.

Excellent excellent fries, I wish it was just a TAD crispier, but that's just being picky.

All three of us got the Neighborhood Burger

The burger is a very good look-alike on paper to the Father's Office Burger. It's served with carmalized onions, arugala, and blue grueyere cheese. I have no clue which restaurant opened first, I do not care. The biggest difference between the two burgers is that Neighborhood actually uses ground chuck. Father's Office uses ground steak. It makes a GIANT difference in the texture and flavor of the burger. I personally like ground chuck, you have a meatier and less fatty/thick consistency that you get from ground steak.

Actually I lie, the biggest difference is Neighborhood isn't full of blowhards that don't allow you to sub ingredients out of your burger. IF I AM ALLERGIC TO DAIRY PRODUCTS I AM SH*T OUT OF LUCK AT FATHER'S OFFICE. "No cheese? Go F*ck yourself, you eat whatever the hell I put on this burger and you will like it." HOW HARD IS IT not to put a piece of cheese on a burger. Did I create some sort of hardship for your people.. like wandering in the dessert for 40 days by asking for no cheese Mr. Owner of Father's office? I'm not asking for you to lightly sear my burger with extra grilled onions, sub in tomatos, only have the leafy part of the lettuce, and to lightly grill my bun on one side and not on the other... I'm asking for NO CHEESE. How bout, when I put the order in, you let me go into the kitchen and remove the piece of cheese. Will that create an undue hardship? Geez.

*end rant.

You can have your burger with a side of fries *for a few extra bucks, or it comes with a nice little bag of fresh made chips.

They are Idaho fries thinly cut and served with Garlic Herb Mayo. I love these fries, they strike a fine balance between the thickness of shoe string fries and In&Out fries. I had the opportunity to sneak a few from Jeff while he wasn't (and was) looking. If I wasn't so into the Sweet Potato fries I'd get the Idaho fries in a heart beat. IN FACT I think I just might cheat on the sweet potato fry for the Idaho fry like a mistress on the side. (Btw I do not condone cheating in any fashion on your significant other, fries yes, but people no!).
Ah now on to the burger. A nicely dusted Ciabatta bun sandwiches the perfectly formed patty. The blue Gruyere cheese melts itself perfectly around the patty like plastic wrap on my living room chair. A thin layer forms itself on every crevice of the patty so you are NEVER lacking in the nutty sharp blue gruyere flavor. Do you see the layer around the burger? This is what I provide copious amounts of pictures for yes? You don't have to imagine anything from my un-clevely crafted words, just use your eyes.

A generous handful of peppery Arugala balances out the sharpness of the cheese. Whomever thought of putting Arugala on a burger deserve a medal. Scratch that, TWO medals. Then you add in the sweet carmelized onions? just the perfect amount of onions where the strong reduced flavors of the carmelized onions don't overpower the light pepper of the Arugala.

Now the Patty itself was mind-numbling good. The juices are tightly seared into the patty so the moment you bite it, it explodes into your mouth with beefy goodness.

Put it all together? you get yourself an A+ Burger. Absolutely top notch. Best thing about it? $2 less than Father's Office... and 15 minutes from my apartment.

I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this place. I bet you'd have a smashing good time with a few beers and a burger.

So ends my meat fest of burgers.. unfortunately I'll be going vegetarian for a few weeks (for fun! maybe I'll even lose a lb or two) but I have a great backlog of restaurants and home cooked meals (PORK BELLY ANYONE?) that will satisfy your appetite till I start eating like a normal person again.

777 G St
(between 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
San Diego, CA 92101



sygyzy said...

I am surprised at how many times you alluded to the idea that this place could have possibly been the inspiration for Father's Office or even preceeded it. It's a complete rip off. I don't have a problem with this since, great, it gives San Diegans (sp?) a good burger joint but cmon, use some common sense.

Roger. said...

lol zomg. I was going to post my Neighborhood experience later today. You are reading my mind! Or maybe it's the other way around!

Charlie Fu said...

Sygyzy: I hate to accuse anyone of anything. But I'm sure you aren't stupid and can read between the lines yes?

Roger: I knew it!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm looks great!! Will have to try!

Tracey said...

I like this place a lot. It's a must for beer-lovers. Great selection of imports too. I liked the cajun burger.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You sound like quite the piece of work...

Charlie Fu said...

Anonymous: Thanks E-bob-er!

Nancy Deprez said...

Hmmmmm this argula and gruyere combo on the burger seems to remind me of the Father's Office burger!!!

Nancy Deprez said...

Okay never mind, I see that this has already been addressed! said...

A great deal of useful information for me!