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YLTUp and at ‘em at 3:00 AM, still unwinding from my magnificent midweek dinner at the recently hatched Superba Snack Bar on Rose Avenue in Venice. I was only a couple hours away from starting my big day that would include a free concert and burgers… What else?

My shift began at 5:00 AM with a little more pep, knowing that eight hours later I would be darting across town to see a perennial favorite, Yo La Tengo, promote their latest record with a free show at Amoeba Music. The lines on Ivar Avenue grew around the block as the clock approached 6:00 PM. Once inside, roped off between the clearance records, we enjoyed an abbreviated set from the New Jersey trio.

I got my poster signed and gave a heartfelt thank you to the band. Another buddy met us at the show and it was off to Short Order at the Farmer’s Market on the corner of Third and Fairfax for dinner.

ShortIt was a nice change of pace to venture east to the Farmer’s Market at the Grove to grab a meal, and not just attend another tasting in the area. Seated immediately, we settled into the comfortable woodsy/modern environment, with heat lamps and fire pits ablaze.

The menu reflected a commitment to local and organic—those posh food and drink superlatives—without gouging. The hardest thing to swallow though was the pricing for wine, so I followed my party and went draft.

We each had a burger: one lamb, one dry-aged and one just grass-fed while sharing two sides—my choice followed our server’s recommendation for Ida’s Old School Burger cooked medium rare.

Ida’s burger landed tableside, folded neatly into the wrapper. Protruding was a cascading layer of aged cheddar atop the thick beef patty and a few vegetables not forgotten. The other burgers looked equally appealing.

Short OrderNo longer fooled by a pretty appearance, it would be the first bite that would tell me what I needed to know. Soft and tender, the entire first chew disintegrated in my mouth. I reexamined the burger—the cooking time was flawless—a bright pink core shown through. The bun also stood out, with a soft, pliable texture that was superbly constructed. All combined, Ida’s Old Fashioned Burger was solid, making use of a sweet and savory blend of house-made pickles and griddled onions on Short Order’s classic take. However it wasn’t without flaw. I could’ve gone for more seasoning (a pinch or two more salt to bring out the flavors), and the grass-fed beef didn’t leave me with that jus-dripping goodness that I prize in my favorite burgers.

Around the horn, I heard similar musings; we each liked our individual choices but they fell short of the wow factor. The prices were reasonable ($11-$14 without sides) and our server (Miss. M) was amazing. Excellent service isn’t normally factored in my reviews. Yet it’s an undervalued part of the dining experience and greatly appreciated when received.

By 10 PM it was time to retire; I was starting to feel the effects of my 3 AM wake-up call. I had reached my limit from the night before but not without seeing one of my favorite bands and spending time with friends over gourmet burgers. Not bad for a Thursday.

Recently I broke down; my staunch powers of frugality gave way, or were demolished like the Mulholland Bridge on Carmageddon Day, and I found myself spending a fortune at Amoeba Music. After reeling in my spending, and staying under a Benjamin I was armed with some serious music—mostly in the form of compact disc. The following day I was off from work (retail schedule!) and fixing to get a burger from an interesting place in Redondo Beach. I picked up my Mom in Long Beach and made the journey over PCH to the Standing Room.

Spinning Madlib’s Beat Konducta Vol. 3-4—a phonic voyage to India—we were underway, maneuvering north on the scenic route until we made it to the convenient store that doubles as a gourmet burgery, parking the car close and readying the camera as we entered. The proximity to the beach is enough to heighten the senses, the salinity in the air, the cool ocean breeze and the unobstructed sun glowing radiantly. The outside of the Liquor store marks The Standing Room, with wall art and what I was guessing is an order window (not in use at the time).

Once inside, a fairly familiar feeling rushed over me, like any liquor store outside the web of Circle K and Seven Eleven, one with a little more of an independent ambiance. In the back a small kitchen, next to a television and a myriad of refrigerated beverages completes this mosaic of The Standing Room. I had read good things about this place and was really looking forward to a dynamite burger.

We had a little bit of a wait, talking to others about the credentials of the establishment; they were eager to recommend items like the Soft Shell Crab sandwich, the Napoleon and other assorted items. I was personally ready to snack on something simple, but after a brief talk with the chef, who told me that the “Dressed” put them on the map and it would be a worthwhile choice, I placed an order for the “Naked” and “Dressed” for a $14.75 tag.

After about ten to twelve minutes of waiting we had our burgers in to-go containers and an extra cone of Parmesan truffle fries (a delicious comp) to go with it. We took the food out to the street—seriously, there is no seating—and ate curbside. Allowing the suns rays to provide the perfect natural lighting for the burger as I conducted my photo shoot.

The “Dressed” hamburger was enormous, aside from the ½ inch patty that came with it, when stacked, a fried egg, arugula, caramelized onions, two different layers of cheese (Gruyere and Smoked Gouda), tomato jam and a little aioli completed the half-foot presentation—it was a bit cumbersome to eat.

After the first bite the yoke broke and the sandwich became even richer in flavor. The cheeses added sharpness and smokiness while the sweet jam in combination with the onions completed the pleasant arsenal on all five of my tasting senses. Delightful.

The “Naked” burger, rather, a classic burger in the Standing Room’s view, was fresh, large and enough to make me stop thinking about the fact my Mom was sitting on a curb in the parking lot sampling the burger. It was completely different from her accustomed choice, but proved capable of displacing her favorite Islands burger experience.

The fries—generally, not a favorite item for me—were absolutely perfect; seasoned excellently, crispy and retained the heat the entire time instead of getting limp, cold and soggy like fries often do. The cheese was generous (but not overwhelming) and so were the sprinkles of herbs. The truffle oil helped provide the extra nudge to make these fries a masterpiece, that complex fungi oil lent itself to the seasoning, forcing me to almost perform clean-up duty—mop up every last drop.

We had successfully polished off two heaping hamburgers and most of the side before we threw in the white napkins. The food survived the hype (rare feat, much like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), the portions were beyond fair—ample—and the prices were slightly more affordable than most gourmet burger joints (Rounds excluded). As my Mom and I pressed on for the day, working our way back to the LBC, blasting the rest of Madlib, I could only think of two things to make this place better: Seats and the location being a little bit closer to my home so that I could pair that Soft Shell Crab sandwich with a bottle of wine practically (and legally). I am not one to buckle under a challenge though; I will be back to explore the rest of this exciting menu.

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