Burger boutique. That's the best way to describe the new Eden Burger Bar in Glendale. Just like on Rodeo Drive, chic surroundings beckon, lovely assistants provide excellent service, and beautiful products, in this case hamburgers, tempt.
When it comes to burgers, I steer clear of the build-it-yourself places. I like to leave it to creative and talented chefs to come up with good combinations under the bun. At Eden Burger Bar, they've engineered nine very different artisan burgers (all $10). With the exception of the vegetarian choice, at the core of each burger is Eden's excellent meat. Flavorful and cooked to perfection (they strongly encourage medium or medium rare), these half-pound patties happily take their toppings.
My favorite is the fig burger. A slathering of fig and olive tapenade on the brioche-like bun adds a crunchy, seedy texture to the balanced combination of sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, gruyere, crispy prosciutto and that superior-quality beef patty with a smoky grilled finish. Not too sweet, not too salty and very filling.
The blue burger is for blue cheese junkies. Stuffed with veiny crumbles and topped with a blue-Monterey Jack blend, this one has fresh lettuce, onion and tomato to offset the robust cheeses.
We found the flavors on the firehouse burger a little off-kilter. The jalapeno bacon, while delicious on its own, overpowered the delicate 35-day dry-aged ground beef. Still, this burger's habanero jack cheese, avocado and giardiniera, a pickled pepper and veggie topping, made it far better than any fast-food offering.
The truffle fries ($4) are as good as they sound and come piled high on a plate with a smattering of fragrant parsley. I'm sure the sweet potato and bistro fries are just as fresh and crispy. Ask for the spicy ketchup on the side.
While the burgers are the stars here, their artisan pizzas capture some of the spotlight. We sampled that night's special: Mexican pizza ($10). My dining mates were not blown away, but I found it unique and delicious. Puffy, yeasty crust held a base of cilantro pesto, then sizable shrimp, chunks of creamy avocado, thin wheels of red jalapeno, the house cheese blend, and a scrumptious, tangy pico de gallo.
Eden Burger Bar would be a great place to stop for a serious snack with friends before or after a movie. They serve fine wines and draft beers to boot. The location is a bit unfortunate, though, as it's close to little nightlife. It might well be a nightlife destination unto itself if the meticulously designed interior is your cup of tea. With purple velvet cushions, crocodile skin chairs, white tuck-and-roll walls, acrylic chandeliers and black filigree designs, it is posh and pretty, but my husband called it one step away from beauty salon. The patio, where hookah-smoking will soon be allowed, may be a better choice.
The service is relaxed and professional, with a strong aim to please. The house wines from the Eden Wine Store next door are very good and priced at a reasonable $7 per glass. The wide selection of hand-crafted and international beers are $5 and up.
Finally, there's no need to valet at this burger boutique — parking is easy in the lot behind.
LISA DUPUY has written about food, travel and entertainment for 25 years. She welcomes comments at LDupuy@aol.com.
Eden Burger Bar
Where: 333-1/2 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale
When: Daily, 11 a.m. to midnight
Contact: (818) 552-2212; www.edenburgerbar.com