Since opening in late 2014, Eagle Rock Brewery's Public House restaurant has refused to serve that ubiquitous staple of the modern gastropub, the burger. The prohibition ended on Father's Day with a friendly — but heated — competition as two of L.A.'s burger chefs took over the Public House kitchen.
Andre Guerrero and Ryan Harkins, the chefs from burger powerhouses the Oinkster in Eagle Rock and the food truck turned brick-and-mortar Grill 'Em All, respectively, are known for their intense — some say insane — burger creations. Grill 'Em All's infamous Behemoth uses two buttery grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns, while the Oinkster nods to Guerrero's Filipino heritage in the occasional adobo burger special.
The two agreed to battle it out. There would be a fan vote and a panel of judges assembled from L.A.'s food press to crown the victor, and the winning burger would be offered on the vanquished chef's menu for a full month.
The Oinkster entrant was built on a house-made potato roll with a medium-rare patty perched atop a layer of mushroom duxelle and topped with a generous wad of gooey Cambozola cheese (a hybrid of triple cream camembert and funky gorgonzola). Two onion preparations — caramelized and crispy fried — and some arugula for crunch rounded out the candidate from Guerrero's team.
Grill 'Em All's towering burger was anchored by the extra-thick patty, and it needed the mass to hold up all the chimichurri-covered carnitas and squeaky Oaxacan cheese that topped the burger. It was all wrapped in a brioche bun, but the real star was underneath the patty: Doritos-coated fried tomatillos.
The brewers at Eagle Rock Brewery had made a special batch of beer for the event — Milo, named after ERB founders Jeremy Raub and Ting Su's first child, who was born just four days previous. Milo is an American pale ale brewed with citrusy hops and oats for a rich texture, and the hazy brew was a perfectly refreshing match to some bold burgers.
In a surprise, the Oinkster burger handily won the fan vote, 81-39, and it was the unanimous favorite of the judges, who called it "balanced" and "very eatable" while praising the rustic potato bun. Su announced the winner, and there were sweaty hugs and handshakes shared between the two teams; even newborn baby Milo made an appearance.