As he preps his thousand new projects, Josh "Mister Cutlets" Ozersky, author of "The Hamburger: A History," and former Citysearch Restaurants editor, finds himself with time enough to file a dispatch now and again for Eater. Here now the very thing, on the matter of The Ozersk's experience at Hollywood scene 25 Degrees.
Whenever I'm called to LA -- as I was this weekend, to shoot some porn in the Valley -- I always make it a point to eat hamburgers. Having been put up by my production company at the Roosevelt, I wasted no time in getting to their resident burger operation, about which I had heard only positive things. Alas, 25 Degrees let me down, and underscored for me yet again the inability of trend-conscious operators to grasp the most basic rudiments of burgerdom. I'm told that this restaurant was designed by one Dodd Mitchell, whom I imagine to be someone wearing big square designer eyeglasses that cost as much as a used car. Certainly, he's not a sweating orc who has spent half his life in kitchens. The fact that I know who the designer is and not the chef tells me all I really need to know about 25 degrees, but I still felt I owed it to them to come here and be displeased by their hamburgers.
This task I performed conscientiously. The burger, composed of chuck, sirloin, and a little bit of pork fat (the hamburger equivalent of sillicone implants) comes with a laughable array of cheeses, including burrata, port reyes blue, crescenza, and st. george. The list of toppings is equally long and preposterous. None of that would matter, of course, if the burger itself was well done. But it wasn't. I ordered it medium rare, and when it came well-done, I sent it back apologetically, giving the kitchen a chance to make things right. They didn't, producing another gray mass. "I'm sorry," I told the tattooed waitress apologetically. "But this one is well-done too." She now began to look at me as an enemy, and when, on a third try, the burger only showed the palest of pinks, such as you might see in a bridesmaid's carnation corsage, it was time to blame the victim. "That is medium rare, sir," she said testily. "If you wanted it less than that, you should have ordered it rare."
This was an especially hilarious misconception in a place named for the difference between the temperatures of well-done and medium rare meat. But I let it go. She knew no better; like her spiritual sister behind the bar at Broadners, who didn't know a martini was supposed to have gin and vermouth in it, she was locked in a cage of misinformation and body art, and doing the best by her lights. (The real reason for the overcooking was the presence of the pork, of course, but nobody thought to tell her that.) No, it was 25 degrees that I blamed, and all the places like it, and not just in LA.