The words kept pulsating through my head in the days leading up to my dinner date at The Golden State last Thursday.
During my first visit to the casual burger and beer mecca, I’d told co-owner Jason Bernstein that I was planning to return the following week for the famed lamb burger, a special on Thursday nights. At the mention of the prodigious burger, his face turned grim and serious, as though he was about to warn me about the dangers of Tweeting while driving.
Instead, he locked eyes with mine and said, “Come early.”
I was immediately shaken by his well-meaning advice.
How early was “early?” I wondered. Did I need to run there straight from work? Call ahead of time to stake my lamb claim? Shove well-meaning patrons out of the way upon arrival so I could be first in line to order?
I wasn’t sure.
So I convinced myself that it would be fine if the lamb burger was sold out by the time my two girl friends and I arrived at the restaurant at approximately 6:45 pm last Thursday. I prepared myself for disappointment – even had a different order ready to go. I practiced it in my head as I walked down Fairfax Avenue toward the humble storefront.
“That’s a-ok, Jason. I’ll catch that lamb burger on the flip-side. Just put me down for the turkey burger with some of that sweet sauce Applewood bacon you got there.” I’d say.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to abandon my personality to coin such terminology. When my friend and I went up to the counter to place our orders, Jason informed us that there were still at least 10 lamb burgers left.
I exhaled for the first time in six days.
At his recommendation, I opted for a heavier brew to pair with the burger, which comes with roasted red peppers, yogurt dill, gruyere, arugula, house-made curry ketchup, and a cucumber and feta-intensive Greek salad on the side ($14). The Mongo IPA ($6) was the proper selection – the assertive undertones of grapefruit were hearty enough to stand up to the aggressive flavor of the oregano-seasoned patty and all its fixings.
While the lamb burger typically comes medium-rare, I pleaded with Jason to make mine a little closer to medium and was delivered the glossy-bunned meat package as requested. (Next time, if I’m feeling a bit daring, I might heed his advice and opt to go a little pinker.)
Regardless of the internal temperature of the patty, the lamb burger at The Golden State is well worth the rush (and anxiety) to get to the counter. The high-quality ground lamb is heady with Greek flavors that are finely tuned by the accompaniments. The sweet peppers, tangy yogurt and curry ketchup, nutty glove of gruyere, and peppery arugula accentuate the savoriness of the meat rather than distract from it. Everything is in perfect collusion.
I could scarcely bear to put the burger down to pay heed to the sides – the nicely executed Greek salad, and the oversized sweet potato wedges we ordered to share ($4). Despite my partiality to greens, the soft potato wedges and accompanying garlic aioli were more to my fancy on this particular evening. I badgered most of the neatly stacked “fries” while my dining companions were transfixed with their own burgers.
It’s easy to be transfixed by everything at The Golden State – including the personalized service and personal touch that is injected into every corner of the familial room. Jason and the staff will tell you when the burger should be ordered medium-rare. They’ll tell you what beer they think will pair best with your selection.
And they’ll tell you exactly how to score that picture perfect lamb burger.
426 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036