DG Burger declared Damn Good by burger expert
Location: Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza
Costa Mesa, CA: The Initial Pleasure of DG Burger
« Return to News & Events
It's a sweltering Sunday in the Orange heart of California, Costa Mesa, and you find yourself convinced that a mall has something you need even if your pocket book might be better served if you left wanting. It's not just any mall—it's the "luxury shopping experience" that is the South Coast Plaza Mall. That is to say, it's an expensive mall. This means if you want to feed yourself you're in for an overpriced meal at ZTejas, The Capital Grille, or the contemporary dining theme park that is Charlie Palmer's. What is a serious burger eater to do? Well, it turns out, Charlie has the answer.
He's turned what looks like it was once the vestibule of his restaurant into a quick and not-at-all-dirty burger stop called DG Burger. Of course, yours truly, couldn't help but entertain a moment of self-delusional curiosity at his choice of initials. Could Charlie be a secret fan and reader of mine here at AHT? Of course not. The DG is not an homage to burger reviewer Damon Gambuto, but rather shorthand for "Damn Good." Do these burgers live up to their initials? Let's eat and discuss.
While sitting in DG Burger means looking at the Charlie Palmer signature architectural wine storage porn, there is nothing else about the menu or experience that goes for the gimmick. You've just a few options and you order them at the register before finding your own table and getting your own plastic utensils. It's pleasingly simple and the prices are surprisingly friendly. My standard DG Burger was only $7.95 and the addition of fries was just two bucks more.
The patty itself is a straight-forward six ounces of Angus beef that gets a nice medium grinding and a heavy char from the grill. The toppings are just slightly nontraditional with the addition of shredded cabbage and an inspired, ultra-thin slicing of the red onion along with some tomato. The bun is billed as a semolina/potato blend and it gets a slathering of DG sauce, which is a secret recipe that makes little secret of its Thousand Island DNA.
The first bite was fantastic. The heavy char played against the spongy, flavorful bun and slightly sweet sauce beautifully. The cabbage added a really pleasing crunch and the tomato and onion a welcomed familiarity. The grind, perhaps slightly finer than I'd choose it, matched the steakhouse quality of the meat. Add to that a fantastic juiciness and heavy salting and I was ready to claim this burger that shares my initials as a perfect match for me.
But then I noticed one small flaw: The meat-to-bun ratio of this burger is off. I am in full support of a six ounce patty (I'd probably name seven as the Platonic ideal), but the heft of the semolina potato bun was just too much for it. The patty could stand at least two more ounces of beef to stand up to the bread. It's an understandable misstep as this bun is truly great, and one imagines Palmer along with his current executive chef Seakyeong Kim deciding to showcase it. In truth, it's a bun that should be studied by the legions of premium burger entrepreneurs who can't seem to see past the brioche bun. That said, there is just too much of it for the patty. If they'd offer an eight ounce patty I'd drive back tomorrow to try it.
Posted by Damon Gambuto for seriouseats.com
Read the complete story here.