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Shaka ShackWith resolutions still fresh, going back to last year seems an odd but appropriate place to start. I had been recommended the Shaka Shack by a colleague and was finally making good on a promise made months ago.

Toting a few pours worth of 2008 Bodegas Avanthia Mencia, crossing my fingers for a good pairing, while seriously hoping I wouldn’t have any misadventures, I slated a time that worked for a friend and me to share the offerings of my flask over cheeseburgers for lunch.

On the corner of Ocean Park Blvd and 17th Street in Santa Monica sits the little burger purveyor, dressed in tiki-attire with everything surf-oriented. Bringing about instant recall, afternoons spent on the shores of the beaches between Brooks and Thalia Streets in Laguna Beach were flooding my mind.

Shaka BurgerDespite the awesome mural and the interesting menu choices, my fill for the ocean themed eatery had been reached in a matter of minutes. I ordered the Shaka Royale combination with my counterpart following suit, waiting outside to allow myself some time to refresh.

A ten-minute wait yielded two identical combinations that were less than photogenic. Despite the disheveled appearance the food was actually perfect. A soft bun cradling the 1/3-pound Angus beef patty dressed in a nicely melted layer of cheddar with red onion, lettuce, tomato and secret sauce completing the classic sandwich.

MenciaThe meat was tender and seasoned; the red onion added sharpness and crunch while the other vegetables were a supportive chorus. Fresh and simple. The fries were crisp to the tooth but gave way to soft creamy spud innards. Those may have been the best I’ve had in a while.

The wine was a bit of disappointment; the fruit was subdued, showing graphite and woodnotes in its place and a lackluster finish on the highly touted red from the Valdeorras region of Spain.

I went back recently, not believing that the photos I had captured would be able to tell the whole story of this deliciously simple burger convincingly, yet on my second go the presentation was fairly consistent. Leaving me to recite the wise (maybe trite) saying: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Shaka Shack may not conjure Photoshopped images of griddled burgers and perfectly cooked fries immediately, but a trip there serves up a consistent and well-prepared burger. It’s rewarding to follow your resolutions especially when they are met with great results.

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Wine of the Month

Roumier Morey St. Denis 'Clos de la Bussiere' 2008

Eatery of the Month

aguachile

Jesse's Camarones Restaurant

Musical Accompaniment

Glenn Kotche’s ‘Ping Pong Fumble Thaw’  by The Brooklyn Rider Almanac