Stout SignNo longer able to ignore Stout, with a beer-thirst peaking and word-of-mouth about the restaurant itself spreading like a SoCal wildfire whipped by Santa Anas, there was more than enough reason to dine out at the burger and beer purveyor. Standing guard on the corner of Cahuenga Boulevard, sandwiched by Hollywood and Sunset, Stout’s original location was the it-spot for lunch.

My friend and I were seated at the last remaining table. Stout was similar to Little Bear in that it was a Beer-friendly environment; that didn’t stop me from looking to see what wines had been relegated to the back page. (Rant warning)*

Skirting the wine, we made our tap selections on the first go with our server. Upon her return, two beers-a-tray, we had decided on the Stout and Morning After burgers with a side of zucchini fries.

StoutNot too many sips into the Mikkeller, two orbicular sandwiches touched down with a share bowl of fried zucchini dividing our table. We took a respectful look at our burgers before digging in. Wedged between the perfect semicircles that would shame mathematicians, were two candied slabs of rosemary bacon atop a blend of Alpine—Gruyere—and blue cheese, coating the grain-fed beef patty with roasted tomatoes and a daub of horseradish cream. In the best way it reminded me of a classy Sourdough Jack minus the sourdough. A perfect medium rare with a soft grind showing off a depth of smoky sweet nuance that was near great. There was something lacking, however—texture. With no snap to juxtapose against the mushy core, the complimentary flavors had no direction and ran amok. The Stout burger was solid, but frustratingly, had the potential to be a lot more. The fried zucchini were an excellent accompaniment, with a creamy green core that was a sight to see, but like anything fried, a little went a long way.

In need of a digestif after the heavy midday affair, only our wallets felt lighter after leaving the beer-first establishment. Attentive service, lively crowd and stellar beer list staved off an average review, as Stout obviously excels in certain aspects. Regarding balance, there’s still a ways to go.

*If you have a top-notch wine list, beer and sake should be integrated seamlessly and the same goes for an expertly crafted beer list. Why does the imagination stop when wine is involved? It’s not okay. Who would want to have a Westmalle Dubbel or Achel Bruin at some joint, and then order a plonk Chardonnay for their girlfriend—and not feel a pang of conscience about it? Craft begets craft!