fundamentalA refined take on the burger was what I’d expected when I’d completed my dinner reservations for Fundamental LA a few Fridays back. What I left with was a remarkable evening centered on familiar ingredients surprisingly repurposed for the betterment and cultivation of one’s palate.

The restaurant’s space in the afternoon is filled with a warming glow and shows off the artfully industrial décor; at night, in the absence of the sun, the eatery heats up, transformed into a chic and grown-up destination that conjures images of dining spaces in the finest big cities in our country. It’s cozy square-footage, intensified by the animated buzz of patrons and staff, completes the day-night metamorphosis.

A menu divided by plant and animal themed fare and creative wine list work hand-in-hand to provide everything necessary for a great dinner at a modest price. However it wasn’t the sides or the elegant 2006 Gigondas decanted into a 1000ml flask that had me hooked. It was rather one entrée—the “bœuf burger.”

fund burgA fifty-fifty blend of short rib and brisket that had been dry-aged for 2-4 days, blanketed by a finely melted Tilamook cheddar, arugula, house made pickles, garlic aioli, ketchup and a brioche bun, arrived halved, flaunting the precise cooking time that achieved a medium rare and highly desired pinkish core.

Ostensibly quotidian, from the familiar ensemble of ingredients to the presentation, nothing appeared novel, but that was belied by the careful attention to detail. Not only was the cooking time flawless, the preparation brought out a savory and well-seasoned patty. Umami! As for the well-worn supporting cast, each played their part in completing a surreal burger; a careful spread of garlic aioli added a sharp undercurrent of flavor while the arugula delivered a peppery element. In this place, I couldn’t imagine their burger served on anything other than a brioche bun.

The burger experience was reminiscent of that girl next door, growing up awkwardly together, seeing her through her first attempts at make-up, and her wildly different fashions, until one day, as if out-of-nowhere, it all comes together gorgeously—no seams exposed—and you are left with someone you’ve known for a long time but that you don’t know at all. The burger at Fundamental LA is worth your acquaintance.