Wednesday, October 19, 2011

25 Degrees - "Bordello Meets Burger Bar" 24-7 at The Hollywood Roosevelt

25 Degrees - To some, it's just 'that bar in the corner' of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  Entourage fans may recognize it, unknowingly, as the backdrop for Season 6 key art.  To others still, it's the only place to get a decent gourmet burger at any time of day or night - and a place that kitschy 'retro' diners could only aspire to be, when they grow up.

I had a fabulous time at Chef Tim Goodell's other restaurant in the hotel, Public Kitchen + Bar, for brunch a little while ago - so was excited when I was invited to a media dinner at 25 Degrees recently.

Photo courtesy of 25 Degrees / Wagstaff
The place is described as "bordello meets burger" - with the sophistication of a wine bar and the ease of a burger joint - style that is reflected in its velvety, lush interiors in sexy burgundy, espresso and black,  balanced by a laid back vibe befitting its 'smart casual' menu. 

Despite its location, 25 Degrees is not all about appearances though.  Chef Goodell raises the bar on the burger with careful attention to each element that goes into it - sourcing high quality ingredients from the patty (natural, no-hormones added chopped sirloin beef from family-owned ranches) to a brioche bun baked fresh daily at Ca'd'Oro with the chef's proprietary recipe, and an artisanal cheese selection, the majority of which come from Cow Girl Creamery.
Photo courtesy of 25 Degrees / Wagstaff
Burgers are made to order either in pre-designed combinations, or you can construct your own by choosing from a list of meats, veggies, cheese, sauces (13 sauces at last count!) and delicious toppings from standard bacon to green chili or even sauerkraut.

Wisely forgoing gimmicky names in favor of focus on ingredients, house-made burger offerings are listed on the menu simply as "number one" "number two" and "number three" ($12 each). 

While all three sounded great, I was drawn to "number two" by key words "burrata" and "prosciutto" (accompanied by pesto and roasted tomato).  With the burger fad that has raged through LA, and Umami at the forefront, that is the natural, instinctive first comparisan to draw when assessing flavors.  Perhaps it is a result of clever marketing, or maybe it is truly in the interplay of ingredients, but for me Umami does have the advantage when it comes to complex interactions that triggers experience of an undescribable "fifth taste" that is instantly addictive.  I didn't get this with the 25 Degrees burger, and the patty I received was unfortunately cooked 'well done' where I had requested 'medium rare'.  But "number two" was definitely a great juicy, tender, well-made burger with a perfectly pillowy bun - the ratio of meat to bread was also just right.  Everything tasted fresh and deliciously rustic, and you could almost imagine that you were eating this on a farm where everything was made from scratch that day, using only items found in their backyard.

25 Degrees had also planned to introduce a "number four" burger - made with yellowfin tuna, butter lettuce, crispy fried onions, and spicy aioli - we didn't get to try it that night but I hope to go back soon for a taste!

Besides burgers, another main attraction at 25 Degrees is its drink list.  There were several interesting cocktails, but - because there's no topping Matt Biancaniello especially when he is just across the hotel lobby at Library Bar - the showstoppers are really the spiked shakes.  They were the creamiest milkshakes so rich you can have them for dessert (which we did) - AND they give you a nice buzz!  Their signature spiked shake, which others at the table loved and raved about, is the Guiness Milkshake ($8), but being not at all a beer fan, this one didn't appeal to me.  It was the Bananas Foster and Night Owl (each $12) which caused love at first sip for me.  Bananas Foster is made with fresh bananas, spiced rum, Myers Dark Rum, butterscotch schnapps and vanilla bean ice cream (this may be my new fav way to get my daily serving of fruit and dairy...), while Night Owl, a new addition to the menu is made with a luscious combination of Kahlua, Godiva dark chocolate liquer, fresh vanilla bean ice cream and housemade chocolate sauce.  You might say, $12 for a milkshake seems excessive - but really as a dessert + cocktail (and a giant glass of it!) it's a pretty good value.  And they are both is so addictive I'm still thinking about them, weeks later. 

[Unfortunately the shakes are not part of their Late Night Happy Hour (Sundays-Thursdays 11pm-1am), but other alcoholic beverages are - cocktails are $7, well drinks $6, house wines $5 and beers $4.]

Spiked sodas are also supposed to be added to the menu soon, with Orange - stoli oranje/salerno blood orange liqueur/orange soda /OJ, and Cream Soda - maker’s mark/vanilla liqueur/ginger beer ($12 each).

Aside from burgers and shakes, 25 Degrees also offers a shortlist of salads, apps & sides, and sandwiches.  We got to try the fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings ($4 each), all very tasty with the plethora of dips (lemon dill, garlic aioli and chipotle were my favs).  I don't usually like salads, but really liked the Heirloom Tomato one ($12 full size / $7 half size), a unique combination of heirloom tomatoes and watermelon plus fromage blanc and tomato vinaigrette, a really refreshing dish that was all kinds of crunchy, juicy, tangy, and subtly sweet deliciousness!

So, the name of the restaurant actually refers to the difference in temperature for cooking between medium rare and well done.  After a fabulous evening tasting from the food and drink menus, my conclusion is that 25 Degrees is both medium rare AND well done.  In a town over-run by burger-mania, 25 Degrees sets itself apart with its gourmet approach and upscale yet fun, laid back setting, and defies the odds - especially in Hollywood - by delivering quality food & shakes over 'scene', and doing it 24-7.

Tastefully done indeed.


While I wait to try the Ahi Tuna burger, 25 Degrees was kind enough to share their recipe.  Those who cook - enjoy! ;)

"Number Four" Burger Recipe

6 lbs. ¼ Inch Diced Saku Tuna
¾ c. Parsley Minced
½ c. Mayo
½ c. and 1 Tbl. Gouldens Mustard
1 ½ Tsp. Wasabi Paste
2 oz. Brunoise Red Onions
2 oz. Soy Sauce
1 oz. Pickled Ginger Minced
1 ½ c. Panko (japanese bread crumbs)

Blackening Spice Ingredients: (Mix all together)
¼ c. Paprika
2 Tbls. Dried Oregano
3 Tbl. Salt
2 Tsp. Sugar
2 Tsp. Cayenne
2 Tsp. Black Pepper

Mix first 8 ingredients together, form into 6 oz. patties.

Dust with blackening spice mix and dredge in panko.

Saute patty in a nonstick skillet with olive oil until browned on both sides.

Serve on a toasted burger bun with fresh lettuce and crispy fried onions.

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 5.5 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$ (2 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%

25 Degrees
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: 323.785.7244

Parking: Valet with validation $6 for first 3 hours, $2 for every additional half hour. (Or park across the street at Hollywood & Highland - $2 first 2 hours w/ validation from any purchase at stores in the complex, $1 for each additional 15 mins.)


25 Degrees on Urbanspoon

*Sorry all the photos are PR shots - my camera (and its operator, actually) is not good enough to take photos in the dark...

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE their burgers!!!
    I'm telling you, you've gotta have the warning badge on the site. I think our IT department is gonna block all the food blogs on my computer soon ;-))



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