After the tasting it felt appropriate to select a burger joint hamburger, as opposed to any gourmet incarnation of the hamburger—glitz and frills were not necessary—we were hungry.

We packed up; wine in flask, strapped to our back pockets and made the trek to Santa Monica. When we spotted George’s Char-Broiled Burgers it had that genuine appearance, synonymous with summer, from the outside; it was the kind of place with one look you knew exactly what kind of burger you were about to eat.

On the inside however, it was barren. No customers to be found but a mess left in their place, the floors were the evidence of crapulous behavior and other components were amiss. I was beginning to doubt the place before we had even ordered.

With our expectations low, we kept the ordering simple, not veering too far from the standards like fries and burgers, except one of the group happened to have a craving for some zucchini fries.

When the burgers made the table, they came dressed in thousand-island spread, with rings of raw white onion, thick slices of hothouse tomato, leaves of iceberg lettuce and quarter pound charbroiled patties sitting between sesame seed buns. They looked picturesque and were definitely a nice surprise from what miserable burger-like thing I was expecting.

We worked the contents of the flasks around the table to be prepared for the first bites. We dug in and our eyebrows perked, we were content with the burgers; they were average—a little singular in their approach on the palate but honest and simple. The ingredients were fresh, the food was ample and the price was right. The wines (Redwood Creek Malbec and the Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon) married well with the charred meats.  Those zucchini fries on the other hand were below average, the batter was bland and copious, overpowering the vegetables on the inside. We were left pining those of Carl’s Jr.

I am happy we stuck it out and tried George’s (it had long piqued my curiosity as I drove to the nearby Whole Foods) because with the surplus of gourmet burgers in Los Angeles, it becomes increasingly harder to find the Charbroiled Joints and now I am aware of a decent one not too far away. With rash planning, I was able to throw a successful blind tasting, while dwindling my countdown (384 left on the year) and spending some quality time with friends over sharing one of my favorite foods. Imagine what I can do when given some serious planning time!