Thursday, June 08, 2006
late night at lucky devils.
i find it's always a little bit of a struggle to find good late night food options in los angeles; they definitely exist, and there's an interesting variety available--tofu house for korean on wilshire, the original pantry downtown, daikokuya in little tokyo, to name a few--but i am such a night owl that i feel like i run through my options with alarming speed.
that's why i was happy find a new late night joint: lucky devils. i had just heard about it for the first time on my flight over, on a podcast of "good food", during a segment about great burgers in los angeles (okay, just a quick aside--i really didn't expect jonathan gold's voice to sound like it does). mr. gold recommended lucky devils' kobe beef burger and described it as being in the vein of the much-hyped father's office burger--quality beef, bleu cheese, applewood smoked bacon, onion confit, and arugula on a french roll. mr. gold also amusingly noted that the restaurant is owned by lucky vanous, one of those multi-hyphenated people running about hollywood (actor-model-restauranteur), who is best known as being the hott construction guy in a diet coke advert; vanous, gold said wryly (and still not in the voice i expected), has apparently created a menu that ensures that no one's body will ever look as good as his does.
and that he has. i felt it was only being charitable to check out the burger for burgerhounds reid and pieman's sake, so having found myself meandering through the streets of hollywood late one night, i was rather pleased to find that lucky devils is open until midnight on weekdays (3am on fridays and saturdays; note: the website says it's only open until 10 weekdays, but i'm pretty sure i came in around 11).
the space is modest and modern--concrete and chrome, red walls, and random plasma screens showing random extreme sports images. there's maybe 20 tables indoors, a few outside on the slightly dubious stretch of hollywood boulevard it's on, a refrigerated case filled with various desserts (mostly cupcakes), and what looks to be a dozen microbrewery beer/ale (and one root beer) taps behind a counter. a large blackboard above lists various specials, but the wordy one-page menu throws a few recommendations up on the very top. the menu is solid american fare--salads, burgers, sandwiches, mac and cheese, shakes, beers. shakes with beer (no really--there's a black and tan made with frozen custard and a porter ale that sounds delicious).
one of my companions ordered the chili dog (chili cheese dogs also available), a hefty foot-long beef frankfurter slathered with a slow-cooked non-bean, ground beef based chili, and served with a choice of french fries or green mesclun mix. i was told that the hot dog itself had a good snap and was juicy, but the chili was the star--only very mildly spiced and mildly tomatoey, solidly beefy and hearty.
someone else had the veggie burger, which quite curiously resembled a rare meat burger as it was made from rice, beets, roasted peppers and paprika, then grilled. the result is a rather mildly spicy patty with an almost rare-cooked burger texture. it was served with several slices of avocado and a mild white (cheddar?) cheese, on a butter grilled brioche bun. while the diner enjoyed the unique burger, it was a carb monster, especially when paired with the rather excellent french fries, which were nicely crispy on the outside and fluffy tender within.
i hate to say it, but my photos of the kobe burger didn't turn out. if i return i'll definitely take a photo, but in the meantime, check out kiwichicky's rather excellent review and photos. i wimped out on the bacon cheeseburger, and just got a straightforward burger, which was brought to me somewhere in between medium rare and medium, grilled but not charred, on a bed of a mesclun mix and topped with a nice caramelized onion confit (i think it's described as a chutney on the menu), all on the same butter grilled brioche roll as the veggie burger. i don't eat many burgers, but i rather liked the mild flavour and texture of the kobe beef; in fact, the whole burger, whilst being quite a double-fisted handful, had such a nice balance of sweet onion, peppery greens, butter and beef flavour that i almost inhaled that thing down. i really would have, had i not remembered to stop a bit to really savour the flavour. a very good burger.
we decided to split one of the milkshakes available--sadly, not the black and tan. we ordered the toasted pecan frozen custard shake, which was not so much a shake as a giant blender cup filled with frozen custard and topped with a more than generous amount of choped toasted pecans and whipped cream. it's acknowledged it's not a shake as it came with long metal spoons and not straws. the frozen custard is like a soft-serve ice cream, but with a silky, impossibly light texture that feels like velvet on the tongue and melts almost immediately; that combined with the almost smoky pecans was a simple but truly decadent way to end the meal.
the service was a bit slow, but there was only one waitress with 6 tables to cover, and she was quite efficient (although she seemed more enthusiastic about the beers available than the food). she didn't ask me how i'd like my burger to be cooked, so i assumed it would be medium rare, and was satisfied; the patrons at the table next to me were not, and sent back their meals to be re-cooked. i was rather perplexed by the television screens and the random bits of extreme sports shown, as they seemed completely without a context (maybe vanous is a x-sports enthusiast?) and not particularly conducive towards anything. also, the meal was so enjoyable i think i over-ate, and definitely felt full until mid-afternoon the next day. otherwise, lucky devils was a pleasant surprise in every way. i look forward to another feeding frenzy, although perhaps after a few more laps around the track.
6613 hollywood blvd