It takes a lot to turn heads with a burger in this town. Los Angeles is home to Hawkins House of Burgers, where ground beef and grease overload is part of the charm. We’ve got fried-egg burgers, our own Juicy Lucy cheese-filled burger, the exquisite beef at Comme Ca and every scale of beef and bun in between. We don’t flinch when it comes to burgers.
So it’s hard to quantify the upturned faces you’ll see if you happen to order the Pancho Burger from Bouzy Gastropub in Redondo Beach. Listed in the ‘knife and fork’ category, this is a burger that needs every bit of silverware you can throw at it. First, there’s the beef patty, a hefty round of well-seared meat that arrives juicy and glistening. Below that, a cross section of bacon strips, blackened at the edges from a serious crisping under high heat. The bun is just as deeply crusted, with lots of browning from a slap of butter and warm griddle. So far, pretty straightforward.
Then, as your eyes climb up the tower of known burger commodities, you hit on something very unexpected: a thick, deeply charred chile relleno, blistered and sizzling. Inside is a cache of molten cheese, gooey and thin from being heated into submission. Order one yourself, and your stuffed pepper may arrive with a small river of cheese already pouring out, lacing the burger and everything underneath it with a gooey layer of fat and salt. And if all of that decadence weren’t enough, your plate comes whirled with a thinned out Frank’s Hot Sauce vinaigrette. It swirls over everything, permeating your meat and pepper and even your bun with orange-red hot sauce, peppery and vinegary all at once.
Suddenly, the knife and fork start to make a lot more sense. Even with a top bun reserved, there’s just no way to take this burger into your hands without creating a blast radius of cheese, beef and hot sauce. And while the lack of a pick up option may anger some burger purists, the stares and open mouths from the diners around you ought to be enough to convince you that you’ve ordered the correct entree. That is, if the plate itself weren’t enough to persuade you.
Bouzy Gastropub is an interesting kind of dining establishment for the South Bay. Yes, Redondo Beach also has The Standing Room, a spectacular burger spot hidden inside a liquor store, but normally that sort of innovative dining is reserved for the big city to the north. Bouzy is actually the front bar room of the much larger, much fancier Chez Melange, which itself is housed in the Plaza Riviera office building, which looks like a beachy Greek resort, complete with deep blue awnings over all the windows. For a while, there wasn’t even a sign for Bouzy Gastropub; you just had to follow your nose. Now, with the Pancho Burger, Redondo Beach may have found a burger worthy enough to make the rest of us cynical Angelenos turn up our eyebrows.
And all it took was a cheese stuffed chile pepper and lots of Frank’s Red Hot.
Bouzy Gastropub: 1611 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach; (310) 540-1222. chezmelange.com/eat/bouzy