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Kosher burgers were not really the highest priority on my list but living in LA, near me, they are a reality. Never being more than a wild hair that intrigued me, especially after I have embraced cheese as another level of fat to add to the flavor (an unpermitted contradiction for this style), I did not seek this out. However, a few nights ago I was looking to have a late night burger at a place close enough to me, where I would not have to spend too much, and chose to dine at a spot that seemed to be a relatively safe choice, according to Kosher/Food enthusiasts.

Judging by the amount of traffic at 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday evening it seemed that Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory was genuinely a hit with the locals, boating more in even after I left. Good omens abounded.

I surveyed the menu affixed to the wall, tracing over the multitude of sausages served with obligatory accompaniment (i.e. mergez sausage with cucumber and other veggies) on French Rolls that were offered and, instead, remained resolved, by ordering the burger. My buddy had ordered the sausage, so my curiosity would be assuaged, if only vicariously…unless he shared.

The meals arrived shortly thereafter, true to style. Sitting in a paper basket a seeded bun filled with a thin patty of meat (roughly ¼ inch thick) abed shredded lettuce, with a ring of tomato, a pickle and chopped white onion. It was simple and enjoyable, and for not pretending to be anything other than a burger for five dollars, I was happy. There was nothing distinguishing this place from many of the other places that I liked so much but it nailed that classic context that I hold dear. Honestly I think the hotdog looked more exciting and my buddy said it was pretty good but the burger held up its end of the bargain.

We left, only to watch more patrons take our place in an endless rush on kosher fast food. I was thrilled that Jeff’s lived up to its esteemed reputation, delivering value with a kosher seal.

Friday night burgers have been a sporadic tradition this year, a more commonly practiced ritual in 2010, but never the one to give up on good times, I was set on visiting a burger spot that was affordable and was recently reviewed with good marks. I invited two friends to accompany me to West Hollywood to try a spot that fit the criteria—Rounds Premium Burgers—on Santa Monica Boulevard. I would be pairing a bottle of 2009 St. Cosme Côtes du Rhône (# 317 on the year) with their hamburger and hopefully catching the Ducks must win game against the LA Kings.

We met sharply at 7:30, still trying to catch the fleeting daylight—to aid in all aspects of photography and because I don’t have an adequate flash—and be early enough to continue the remainder of the night in downtown. A pregnant agenda.

Across from the Sherriff station of West Los Angeles sits Rounds, a newcomer to the gourmet burger craze that happens to capitalize on the enormous amount of foot traffic that the area receives. When our group arrived, we narrowly averted the rush and were able to order three burgers without waiting.

We took our seats and discussed music, food, wine and civil engineering. Literature and film were on the horizon but were interrupted by the burgers, a seemingly short wait for my original burger and chili fries to be brought to the table, along with the other styles of burger to be caddied over to our group.

We took some ceremonial photos, again trying to catching the waning daylight (apologies), divvied up the contents of the flask—eyeing the Sherriff’s station as we poured—and dug in. The presentation was casual; I could see these creations being served at a bar, packed with a fluffy and obtuse bun encasing the usual suspects: a hefty patty atop lettuce, tomato, pickles, a daub (as opposed to swimming in a thousand island spread) and rings of red onion.

One of my buddies ordered the homage to Father’s office—at a fraction of the price—aptly dubbed The Office burger and found it to be exemplary. As was mine; I thought the meat—which when that charitable, could break the burger—was cooked to a perfect medium. It was not skimpy and showcased a classic California style. The only thing I missed was the pickles and yellow peppers (chiles picantes) that are a staple of my favorite burger joints. The latter can burn the palate in high doses, so best to be indulged in smaller quantities.

The St. Cosme’s peppery profile complimented the burgers well; the alcohol was in proportion, lending the solid body to carry the burger and a good jolt of acidity to ready our mouths for the next bite. The structure of the wine really highlighted the food; it was kismet that they were served together.

As for sides… I am not really a fan; I often feel that they serve as a distraction from the show, not really a true sidekick. However, each new place I explore I feel obligated to try something else on the menu—to test the people making the food. The chili fries were surprisingly good, with copious amounts of burger meat and raw white onion to pack each bite with flavor—they were reminiscent of Ruby’s chili fries, only difference being, Round’s fries were cut thicker.

I am not one to discount value but I am certainly not drawn to a place because it is cheap either but I would highly recommend a visit to Round’s Premium Burgers for excellent quality tailored to reasonable prices and if you are craving some wine look no further than the 09 St. Cosme Côtes-du-Rhône. I think the thing that made this night truly incredible, was catching the last period of the Ducks game, a victory against the Kings (the first of two consecutive wins against the cross-town rivals) and watching them lock up a spot in the playoffs. Friends, burgers ‘n wine and a Ducks win, no better way to spend a Friday night.

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