412 Walnut Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
by Beau Cadiyo
Part One of Three
Part Two of Three
The next day found us in Huntington Beach. The last time I visited Frank Gallaher and her boyfriend (now FIANCE!!!), they took me out to sushi at their favorite restaurant, Kappo Honda. Besides the delicious food, Japanese gangsters smoked outside and held the door open for elderly people while we waited for a table, hipsters looked sideways to scope out who else was there, and the hostess didn’t speak English. This time, Frank told me that we were going to a bar for burgers. I was a bit surprised – they went from incredible sushi to a burger joint? Then again, what with the way the economy is going, it was understandable.
But what a burger joint – they were definitely not trading down. Gorgeously textured wallpaper – more wall-cloth – covered an entire side of the room in dark red, with high ceilings and ornamental ceiling-tiles reminiscent of any number of Cleveland establishments (but an unusual sight in California, where few buildings are more than 50 years old). The bottles atop the bar were lit from underneath, which created an underwater effect as the light filtered up through the liquor. Candles fluttered on the tables as surfer-businessmen and trust-fund children sipped and dined. Customers have to grab the first open table they can find, so while there wasn’t a line when we got there, there weren’t many open spots, either. Gallaher beelined to an open four-top and we settled in.
Each burger at 25º is custom made. One gets to choose the temperature at which the meat is cooked, of course – it turns out (hyperlink to L’Albatros) that 25º is the difference between medium-rare and well-done – and choose from beef, turkey and vegetarian patties. Customers can also choose everything else that comes with the burger, except the bun type (Dear 25º: perhaps bread choice should be next?). To break up my recent beef-burger streak, I chose the turkey burger with Benedictine cheese, a fried egg and garlic aioli sauce. We got an order of fries as an appetizer, which was massive and delicious.
The burgers came out shortly thereafter, and they were works of burger art. Mine was so tender and juicy that Frank Hoxha thought it was beef. The bun was lightly dusted with flour, which made it dry at first, but everything else burst with flavor and moisture to balance it out. Frank Gallaher’s boyfriend, Frank Fader, got his beef medium-rare. It came close to being the perfect patty, trapping in both smoke and moisture. The wine and strong drinks rounded out an absolutely incredible meal.