The Lab Gastropub at USC [DTLA]

The Lab is a gastropub located across the street from USC. In the spirit of gastropubs and wine bars, like Bar FoodWestside Tavern, and Bacaro, The Lab features nice selection of libations and food.
With dozens beers on draft & bottled to go with reds & whites , The Lab has a drink for almost everyone. The school science themed restaurant has a large outdoor patio with a big fire pit. There’s also a private section for parties, which also spills outdoors to comfy seating. Inside the main dining room, there a couple of large communal tables. I’ve always liked communal tables, since we can people watch and see what others are munching on. With few chalk blackboards around the room, the places maintains the school theme. Even the restrooms and menus, which are presented on clipboards, feature a science feel.
I decided today to have the Beer Can Chicken Sandwich with truffle mac and cheese, while Miss C had the The Lab burger with sweet potato fries. Though these burgers and sandwiches aren’t cheap for 10 and 12 USD, respectively, they aren’t presented and made with inferiors ingredients. With angus beef and apple bacon, they aren’t your typical student dorm cafeteria food. I thought the burger was good and the mac and cheese passable, I didn’t think the prices were warranted. I wish the mac and cheese had more burnt cheese & crust from the panko and flavor (even with the somewhat bland gruyere). I did enjoy the bread on the burger, which held well with a messy avocado. The sweet potato fries were fine, but not as good as ones at Golden State.
As an undergrad at USC, years ago, and a current graduate student, I feel I am quite experienced with the different dining options around the USC area. Since the Lab retains a usc.eduurl, I assume that USC is the owner. They cater towards the students, faculty, and guests of USC. With these high prices, they won’t see many frat parties, like the 501. But I can see deep pocketed alumni stopping by before football games. I think USC has the right idea with the Lab, but I only wish, selfishly, that the prices were a bit lower.
What to Order: The Lab burger and Beer Can Chickien
What not to Order: Mac and Cheese
2 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT
The Lab – 3500 S Figueroa Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (213) 743-1843

Bistro Burger [Shanghai]

Burger Bistro has just introduced their new burger challenge. In 20 mins, one has to finish a Bistro Belt Buster Burger with fries and milkshake. Priced at 160 RMB, the burger is a 3 stack (600 grams total) super burger with extra trimmings, layers of mozzarella, blue, and cheddar cheese. Topped with grilled onions, bacon, fried egg, tomato, lettuce & pickles.

This burger is built with 3 baked pieces of bread. Each of the 3 layers of meat had a distinct flavor – with the top featuring the friend egg, the 2nd layer with the mozzarella cheese, and the bottom with the pickles. The only way to eat this burger was to separate each of the layers and to taste them in this manner. I liked how the burger wasn’t salted prior – which allows you to make it as savory as you wanted. The burger patties, though almost too thick, held together quite well. The buns, which is often ignored, was an important component, since it held everything together quite well.

I conquered the burger with fries and milkshake in about 15 mins. I must confess that I was stressing about the burger since I hadn’t seen it. The manager, Xavier, kinda calmed me down and said that he completed it in 15 mins, as well. I do wish the menu had a picture of the burger, prior to me accepting this challenge. I do also believe the most daunting task of the challenge is not the burger itself, but the milkshake. If they had an option to select a nice large glass of draft beer, I might have liked it more. Anyways. . .excellent burger and something I would recommend – if not a challenge, perhaps to share.

What to Order: Bistro Belt Busting Burger, the Original Burger, the Crispy Fries
What not to Order: . . . If you don’t like your Fries Crispy (I am indifferent about them)

2 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT

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Bistro Burger
富民路291号1楼, 近长乐路
1/F, Mansion, 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu
+86 21 6170 1315

Golden State [Hollywood]

The new burger joint in town poses a threat to Father’s Office famous burger. The Golden State serves up great burgers, hot dogs, fries, and beer.
I have heard about the Golden State and has always wanted to see if the hype was all it was meant to be. And thus it has lived up to its reputation. The burgers are quite good as well as the hot dog that I sampled. But I must say the sweet potato fries are probably one of the best. They are the biggest and juiciest sweet potato fries. The thickly cut and fried to perfection. I’d go back just for the fries.
What to Order: Sweet Potato Fries
What not to Order:
2 Pigs
The Golden State
426 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-8331

Dogtown Dogs [Los Angeles]

Dogtown Dogs is yet another gourmet food truck. But I must commend them on keep it simple.
Hot dogs are meant to be simple. They don’t need to be fancy and have all the crazy trimmings. That’s what sausage is for. Hot dog can have ketchup, mustard, and occasionally sauerkraut. But I guess on this night, when I saw fried egg – I knew I had to have it. Heck you could put a fried egg and serve it with liver and I’d still eat it.
We also had some tater tots. I love tater tots. Even though they are processed potatoes, like hot dogs. They have a great shape and you can pop them in your mouth easily.
What to Order: Any of the dogs
What not to Order:
1 Pigs
Dogtown Dogs
Santa Monica, CA
(310) 663-2911

Lucky Baldwin’s [Sierra Madre]

Lucky Baldwin is an English Pub with fare found from the other side of the pond. You’ll find Bangers & Mash, Traditional Meat Pies, and Fish & Chips.
With a location also in Old Town Pasadena, I choose the quaint bar in Sierra Madre. Its a nice little bar that also happens to serve food. The intimate, yet spacious indoor bar also features a small outdoor seating area. Sierra Madre, with its small town feel, needs a bar like Lucky Baldwin’s. Though I had only been there a couple of times, it seemed like all the patrons knew the bartenders and servers, just like Sierra Madre is.
Mr. J ordered the Bangers & Mash and I had the Fish & Chips. The sausage – the bangers succulent and juicy. The Fish was properly fried just right. I particularly liked the green peas and mashed potatoes.
Lucky Baldwin also features a nice array of beers on draft. I would argue that they probably have the most beers on draft in town and perhaps nearby.
Anyways. . .next time, I would like to try the traditional English breakfast, as well.
What to Order: Fish & Chips, and I want to try the Meat Pies next time, too.
What not to Order:
1 Pigs
Lucky Baldwins Delirium & Cafe
21 Kersting Court
Sierra Madre, CA 91024, United States
(626) 355-1140