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Juicy Umami Burger with parmesan frico and shiitake mushroom

The Umami Burger at Umami Burger in Palo Alto.

The Umami Burger at Umami Burger in Palo Alto.

The juices were dripping onto the plate from the burger as I grabbed it to take my first bite. Knowing how often I end up wearing my food in public, I set the burger back down and started eating it with a knife and fork.

I probably looked ridiculous, but the Umami Burger was the juiciest, melt-in-your-mouth beef sandwich I’ve had in recent memory. I could tell the beef was of top-choice quality, and the medium rare patty was not salty, like some burgers can be. The soft bun was like a sponge for the juices, but it didn’t get soggy or fall apart.

My favorite part about the burger, besides the patty, was the parmesan frico. I had to Google what that was: it’s basically cheese, baked or fried until it turns into a crispy wafer of deliciousness. So, a cheese chip. I loved it, and it just added more savoriness to the burger.

I also enjoyed the Umami house ketchup, which had a sweet and tangy flavor, and I picked up a slight marinara taste as well.

The only recommendation that my friend had was that the restaurant needs some wet wipes at the table, just in case you get beef juices down your hands. Other than that, Umami Burger will be in my South Bay dining rotation and a place I’ll take out-of-town visitors.

Umami Burger in Palo Alto is decorated with tall shelves of books, like a library or study.

Umami Burger in Palo Alto is decorated with tall shelves of books, like a library or study.

Other Details

I try to stay away from reviewing restaurants that have a footprint outside of the West Coast. I’ve done a few in the past, but I quickly realized I wanted to focus on locally-owned establishments.

Umami Burger has three locations in New York, one in Illinois and one in Nevada. However, the restaurant was born in Southern California, and 80 percent of its locations are in this state.

With it being so close to Stanford University, I like that the Palo Alto location looks like a library or study with its tall shelves of books, wooden furniture and artwork. I felt like I could just order a cup of coffee and read a good book for hours.

Umami Burger’s Palo Alto location is situated at 452 University Ave. For more information, call 650-321-8626 or visit www.umamiburger.com.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in burgers, comfort food

 

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Sausage-beef burger, meaty crab cake highlight fun happy-hour at Niles’ The Vine

Close-up of the Vine Burger at The Vine in Fremont's Niles Historic District.

Close-up of the Vine Burger at The Vine in Fremont’s Niles Historic District.

If you’re in the Fremont area one afternoon and looking for a laid-back happy-hour spot after work, give The Vine a try.

The contemporary American eatery and bar in Fremont’s Niles Historic District has a great patio area that features a long, wooden bar, plenty of umbrella-covered tables and a fire pit to sit around and enjoy a drink with friends.With Motown and funk classics playing in the background, I felt like I was at a friend’s outdoor party on a recent night – very relaxing and inviting (check out The Vine’s patio area here).

The Vine prides itself on offering “fine food – not fine dining” and using local produce and sustainable meats. I was impressed by the reasonably-priced small plates (several under $10), like the Tempura Fried Green Beans and Clam Frites, and its extensive cocktail menu that incorporates a sweet potato spirit called soju.

Dish of Choice

Since I only had a bag of Fritos for lunch, I had a big appetite this past Wednesday night. So I ordered the Vine Burger, a patty made with Niman Ranch sausage and beef, dressed with aioli, arugula, grilled tomato and pepper jack on top of a ciabatta bun with a side salad. I added a side of garlic fries.

The Guava Momma at The Vine in Fremont's Niles Historic District.

The Guava Momma at The Vine in Fremont’s Niles Historic District.

I also chose the Crab Cake, which came with a spread of roasted almond and red pepper aioli. For refreshments, I ordered the Mo-Beer-Jito, which was made with pilsner beer, soju, lemon and lime juice, crushed mint and agave nectar. The Guava Momma was mixed with sparkling wine, pomegranate molasses and an orange wedge on the rocks.
Altogether with tax, my bill came out to about $38.

The Taste

The Vine Burger tasted like a burger you would get at a cookout. It had a good charring on the patty and bun; the patty was tender and had a smoky flavor, and the ciabatta bun was grilled on the bottom but still soft on top and in the middle.

The fries were at a nice halfway point between soft and crispy and lightly seasoned with garlic, and the salad had a light, zesty vinaigrette that didn’t weigh it down.

The crab cake was packed with fresh meat, and I liked the small slices of onions and peppers throughout the cake. I also enjoyed the thin, crisp breading (I hate when a crab cake is mostly breading with a smidge of crab).

The Crab Cake at The Vine in Fremont's Niles Historic District.

The Crab Cake at The Vine in Fremont’s Niles Historic District.

The Mo-Beer-Jito was tart, citrusy and had a great helping of mint to make it that much more refreshing. The Guava Momma was effervescent and had a nice sprinkling of citrus fruit and strawberry slices. It was a refreshing girly drink without overdoing it on the sweetness.

Other Details

Happy Hour at The Vine is from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, according to the restaurant’s website. Along with lunch and dinner, The Vine also offers Sunday brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I love brunch, and I am intrigued by the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, made with salmon, scrambled eggs, creme fraiche, caper and red onion salsa and grilled garlic bread. I’ll make my way over one Sunday morning.

The Vine is located at 37533 Niles Boulevard in Fremont. For more information, call (510) 792-0112 or visit www.thevineinniles.com.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2015 in burgers, cocktail, food, happy hour, seafood

 

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Flamin’ Rocket burger brings some heat at Hayward’s Red Rocket Char Grill

The Flamin' Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

The Flamin’ Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

If grilled food is your passion, you might be a fan of what Hayward’s Red Rocket Char Grill has to offer.

The new restaurant, which held its grand opening in July, is focused on its love of grilled food. “The highest quality beef, pork, chicken and sausage cooked the way we love, for people we love,” according to its Facebook page.

Red Rocket has the feel of an old-school diner with a modern twist and has a good variety of burgers and sandwiches to choose from.

The Dish of Choice

I ordered the Flamin’ Rocket burger, which is dressed with jalapenos, avocado and pepper jack cheese and is accompanied with all the fixings like tomatoes, lettuce and onions. All burgers are cooked medium well, unless otherwise specified.

I also ordered a side of fries and a small fountain drink. With tax, my bill came out to about $14.

The Flamin' Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

The Flamin’ Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

The Taste

I had to press down on the burger a bit to be able to fit it into my mouth. The burger had a generous amount of sliced avocado on top, and the cheese was melted just right, covering all sides of the burger. The jalapenos obviously added spice to the meal, but I think someone who prefers mild foods could handle it.

Although I prefer my beef cooked medium rare — I think it’s more juicy and flavorful this way — the burger did not lose its succulence. It had a nice char-grilled flavor, like a burger you would eat at an outdoor BBQ. Beware: you might get some condiment drippings on your shirt, like I did (I’m a messy eater, admittedly).

Red Rocket served a large portion of fries, which were fresh and cut close to steak-fry size. They easily could have been split with another person. I restrained myself to only eating half my meal and saving the other half for later.

Other Details

I had good customer service at Red Rocket. The staff was very attentive and made sure to come by my table and ask about my meal.

The diner has a modern feel, from the metallic-tiled backsplash on the walls and counter to the large flat-screen televisions that show a digital version of the menu and live programming.

Along with burgers, the restaurant also offers chicken, fish, steak and sausage sandwiches, as well as salads. It also serves up milkshakes, desserts, beer and wine.

Red Rocket is located at 1057 B St. in downtown Hayward. For hours and more information, visit www.redrocketchargrill.comwww.facebook.com/redrocketchargrill or call (510) 885-8999.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in burgers, sandwiches

 

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Juicy, homemade-tasting burgers served up at Jeffrey’s Hamburgers in Menlo Park

The Mushroom Burger at Jeffrey's Hamburgers in Menlo Park.

The Mushroom Burger at Jeffrey’s Hamburgers in Menlo Park.

I’ve been very good lately when it comes to eating healthily (translation: lots of salads). But last Thursday, I was in the mood to get my grub on and eat some greasy, good-but-not-good-for-you food. I had driven by Jeffrey’s Hamburgers in Menlo Park once, and it piqued my interest. According to its website, Jeffrey’s hand makes and grounds its certified Angus beef burgers every day. I was game for trying it out.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the mushroom burger, which comes with mushrooms sauteed in fresh garlic and soy sauce. You can order your burger cooked the way you like, so I ordered mine medium rare with a slice of swiss cheese. I also ordered the single size of chili cheese fries and a regular soda. My bill came out to about $15, including tax.

The Taste

The patty itself was thick, and the meat was tender and juicy. It tastes like a burger that your mother would make for you at home. No commercial taste. If you love mushrooms, then you will love this burger because it was smothered in mushrooms, just like the menu said. The soy sauce used to saute the mushrooms add an extra savoriness to the burger.

I like the fact that the chili cheese fries were served with actually chili with beans instead of meat sauce, and real cheese instead of cheese sauce from a can. The chili cheese fries were filling enough to be a meal on their own if upgraded to the basket size.

The Chili Cheese Fries, single size, at Jeffrey's Hamburgers in Menlo Park.

The Chili Cheese Fries, single size, at Jeffrey’s Hamburgers in Menlo Park.

The Ambiance

Jeffrey’s Hamburgers has the theme of a 1950s/1960s dinner and malt shop, with music from that era playing over the speakers and vintage Coca-Cola signs and memorabilia on the walls. There is also a cool mural of a red classic car painted on the right wall of the main dining room. It’s a casual restaurant to go grab a burger or a milkshake with family and friends in a welcoming, nostalgic atmosphere.

Other Details

Jeffrey’s Hamburgers is located at 888 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. It also has a location at 42 South B Street in San Mateo. Hours for both locations are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call the Menlo Park location at (650) 322-1959 or visit jeffreyshamburgers.com.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in burgers

 

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Juicy, tender burgers served up at St. John’s Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale

The Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Burger at St. John's Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale.

The Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Burger at St. John’s Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale.

With selling half-off hamburgers all day on college football Saturday, St. John’s Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale was extremely busy. When my parents and I arrived, there were at least 15 people ahead of us, waiting to order at the counter. However, the line went by pretty fast and we only had to wait about 5 minutes to order and 10 minutes to get our food. The service was top notch.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the roasted garlic and blue cheese burger, which came medium well with whole pieces of roasted garlic, a good portion of blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. The burger came with a bag of chips, but I also ordered a side of garlic fries to split with my parents (I obviously wasn’t concerned about my breath). With a glass of water and my burger being half off, my order cost about $9.

The Taste

The meat was tender and juicy, and the bun was warm and soft. I liked that the garlic was not minced, and there was just enough blue cheese on the burger without being overwhelming. The side of garlic fries was definitely enough to split with two other people and had plenty of garlic to go around.

Garlic Fries at St. John's Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale.

Garlic Fries at St. John’s Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale.

The Ambiance

St. John’s Bar and Grill feels like a typical neighborhood sports bar and seems like a great place to go watch a football game and have a burger and beer with friends. It was bustling, so don’t go if you want to have a quiet afternoon out. I’ll have to go back there again to watch some college football games.

Other Details

St. John’s Bar and Grill is located at 510 Lawrence Expressway, Suite 110. The bar has happy hour and daily food specials. For hours and more information, call (408) 738-8515 or visit stjohnsgrill.com.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in burgers

 

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