tokyo burger blog

burgers in tokyo and beyond

an obsessive journey through Tokyo, Japan to find the best Japanese hamburger

Stout Burgers & Beer

Sometimes people who drink beer miss out on the finer things in life.

When you order a beer, generally you say, "I'll have a Stella." Or a Heineken. Or a Budweiser. Or maybe a draft micro-brew if you're trying to be pretentious. But when it comes to pretentious affectation, beer guzzlers can't compete with wine connoisseurs.

"I'd like something dry but not too earthy. I'm ordering escargot, so I want tannins that will just barely cut through the butter."

Beer drinkers miss out. Partially because beer just doesn't pair well with your pheasant (I'm assuming - I really have no clue) and fancy restaurants generally have wine cellars, not kegs. This is because they want you to enjoy all the flavors that a delicate wine will bring out in their cuisine, and also because there is a much higher markup and profit margin on wine. Mostly the latter.

Stout Burgers & Beer, on the other hand, offers the Los Angeles burger and beer set more access to such pretension. Each burger is described in loving detail, along with suggestions on what ale might pair well to bring out the terroir of your ego.

Now, I'm not really a beer drinker - but I do love me some pretension. I only eat real dark chocolate (no, your 56% dark chocolate barely qualifies as chocolate, let alone dark chocolate). Those artisan chocolate producers are cute, but they can't get the particle size small enough with their equipment, so the chocolate mouthfeel is gritty and doesn't melt the same way as a large Swiss or Belgian producer's bar.

Damn. Now that I've used the word 'mouthfeel', I have to take a quick shower.

Ok, I think I've established my pretension bona fides. (Fides should be pronounced as two syllables to get maximum pretension). Stout should really be up my alley. They also have some very nice wines by the glass for quite reasonable prices. They offer french fries with an off-the-menu preparation (melted cheese all over it - of course we agreed to this modification, unable to resist even a semi-secret menu).

The delicious fries were a nice way to ease into the meal. Unfortunately the burger that followed it didn't live up to my expectations. The server warned me that the Six Weeker was sweet. Apparently the Six Weeker's fig jam and brie laden burger pairs well with belgian ales, white porters and lagers. I generally lean toward simple orders, but Stout didn't really have a 'simple' burger. Their signature Stout Burger comes with bacon (I generally avoid bacon on burgers), roasted tomatoes, horseradish, etc. You can ask them to leave something off a burger, but no substitutions.

So yes, although quite pretty, the burger was overly sweet. Even after I wiped off most of the fig jam, it was still rather sweet - but more importantly, the texture and flavor of the beef was underwhelming. The condiments tried to make up for a lack of seasoning. For a burger joint that proudly advertises they grind their own meat daily in-house, I expected more. It wasn't a bad burger, but I didn't finish it.

I don't mind some fanciness. I'm fine with bougie. Whatever you call it. Yet it all starts with the core ingredients. A great chunk of beef cooked well is gonna taste pretty good. This is why steakhouses often can create a pretty decent burger. So while I'm generally a purist at heart (plain dark chocolate, no secret sauce on my burger, etc), I don't mind some flair. Unless the flair is covering up what's underneath.

Ambience 8/10, Burger 6.5/10, Fries 7.5/10