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Westside TavIt had been a while since I last had a burger, tiptoeing around my favorite comfort food in hopes of reinvigorating the palate. In lieu of the patty I was on an Asian binge, I devoured lunch at Lukshon, which was a catalyst for delving further into a Far East bender. Undocumented dinners at A-Frame and Nong La would eventually take me full circle though, as I went fifth wheel to finally order a highly touted burger at the Westside Tavern.

Beside the Landmark Theaters, the Westside Tavern is a contemporary space that offers fine-tuned American fare complimented by a deep beverage program. Reminiscent of Hillstone’s, but not a chain, Westside Tavern relishes its role of convenient date spot for the pre-movie crowd or can act as a beautiful finishing touch to an evening.

With a pair of married couples, we grabbed a booth, catching the last two periods (plus some bonus hockey) of the Ducks vs. Kings game over cocktails and burgers. Well into my bourbon drink and at about the halfway point of the game, the food appeared. From the lens of my iPhone, I best documented the rotund grub, capturing a melted layer of Tillamook Cheddar dominating the landscape; the finely ground, hand-packed patty was completely obscured, supported by a brioche bun with a few leaves of arugula lending color. However, it is what you couldn’t see that seemed to bring the burger down a notch; a mess of caramelized onions and the garlic aioli that were very present on the first bite.

The meat and cheese combo were sterling, but the proportion of caramelized onions seemed to drown out the sandwich. I was essentially eating two things: French Onion Soup from Mimi’s Café and a gourmet cheeseburger on the side. The sea-salt fries were splendid though, helping me reset after a few bites.

Apart from the palate confusion, the burger showed some good qualities like being perfectly cooked and seasoned well when those bites weren’t masked by the overpowering combination of garlic spread and sweet onions.

While I didn’t agree with the acclaimed status of Westside Tavern’s cheeseburger, the restaurant showed that they were more than just a catchall for those on a date—definitely a good spot for a drink. My charitable mood may have had something to do with the Ducks downing the Kings in an exciting shootout, yet I wouldn’t rule out a repeat visit, even if the food failed to capture my heart, or stomach, the way Lukshon did. Back to the drawing board.

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