Normally, when you hear about a restaurant in a hotel, it is overpriced and pretentious, meant more for business people with an expense account than for the common man. So when I heard that the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel had a delicious restaurant called 25 Degrees, I was a bit skeptical. But then I heard more and more about the place until my buddy over at Burger Conquest told me it was his favorite burger in LA. That was quite a claim for a city filled with the likes of Umami, The Apple Pan and Hole in the Wall, so I took it seriously.
Walking into 25 Degrees evokes memories of a bygone era that was bygone long before I was born. The dim lighting, leather booths, long bar and general swankiness gave me the impression that Clark Gable would have loved to drink a highball in this place. We were seated immediately and took a looksie at the menu. Known mostly for their burgers, 25 Degrees does have some other food, but I was here for some ground beef between two bun halves. There are three burgers on the menu, plus the option to customize. While these three original burgers had glimmers of unvegan glory, they were all tainted by the inclusion of vegetables, so I knew I had to make my own. The sirloin burger starts at 9 bucks, with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle: the four horsemen of the vegapocalypse. I told the waiter I wanted no part of these and proceeded to make myself a real burger. I chose crescenza cheese, prosciutto, a fried egg and parmesan garlic sauce (for a total of $13.50). There was no feng shui to my order, but it sounded amazing in my head. Having ordered my last burger cooked medium and being verbally abused for doing so, I ordered this monster medium rare and got myself an order of fries on the side ($4.00).
My beast of a burger arrived on a massive plate and although the burger itself only took up half the plate, I knew it was going to do me in. I took a peak inside the paper wrapping and found some crispy prosciutto and an egg just waiting to be taken down. Then I went to work. It wasn’t easy to get a bite in because the upper half of the bun was so massive, but when I did I found the perfect blend of flavors. The crescenza cheese was subtle, but added a bit of tartness to balance out the salty flavor of the prosciutto. The prosciutto had been cooked to a crisp, which made it sort of like a blend of bacon and prosciutto, but was delicious and added a much-needed crunch to the interior of the burger. Similar to the cheese, the garlic parmesan sauce added a very subtle taste to the burger that wasn’t really necessary with the creamy crescenza, but certainly didn’t hurt the burger. And the egg, as always, was the perfect burger topping.
Now, if you are siting there scratching your head and wondering why I didn’t just go to the Counter for a few bucks less and a wider variety of options, then you are forgetting one major thing: the beef. The ground sirloin used in this burger was so flavorful and ground so perfectly that I could have eaten it alone like a steak. It was cooked more medium than rare, but was still awesome. The only minor disappointment in this burger was the bun itself. The top half could have dropped a half-inch and that really would have upped the burger from a three-run homer to a grand slam. A minor complaint, but a complaint nonetheless.
As for my side of fries, this could have easily been a full meal unto itself. Spilling out of a Chinese-style takeout box, the skinny fries were fried to a crisp, salted and topped with a lot of dill. The dill could be overwhelming at times, but overall the fries made for a tasty side.
So after much recommendation, I’m glad I finally made it to 25 Degrees. The place truly knows how to make a great burger and holds nothing back, from the delectable selection of cheeses to the ground sirloin. Plus, when your only complaint about a place is that the bun was a little too big, they’ve obviously done a hell of a lot right.
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