25 Degrees & Library Bar
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Dining date: 3/23/11
I don’t tend to seek out LA’s top burger joints, but when I do stumble across a notable burger, I’m almost always game. The purpose of this trip actually wasn’t burger-inspired at all; rather, it was to come try Library Bar, also in the Roosevelt Hotel. Here is where Matt Biancaniello crafts innovative market-driven cocktails. Yes, market-driven. Kind of like a chef’s mentality, but with drinks.
25 Degrees sounded like an ideal spot to grab something casual to eat before hitting up the bar. 25 Degrees (named after the temperature difference between medium-rare and well-done) is a newer, small chain serving up some gourmet burgers – 3 signature options are available, as well as a build-your-own option.
The lone “starter” was a spiked milkshake.
Guinness Milkshake creamy vanilla bean, smooth chocolate, Guinness
Thick and creamy; malty, with just a little bit of alcohol on the end to remind you it’s there. It might be a challenge to tackle a burger and fries after this heavy treat.
Our sides came out much before the burgers. This was a very generous portion, and I kind of liked the presentation of the fries spilling out of a Chinese take-out box. I thought the fries were cooked well, crispy, but rather bland. There was an herbal seasoning (oregano was the most prominent flavor to me), but they still tasted somewhat unmemorable.
The onion rings were better, though not particularly memorable either.
Number Two – roasted tomato, crispy prosciutto, burrata, pesto
I ordered this Italian-inspired creation. The burger arrives on a large brioche bun, topped with burrata and crispy prosciutto. All burgers are made with ground sirloin; in the markets, this is always one of the leanest variations of ground beef. However, this burger was cooked a nice medium-rare/medium and was definitely juicy. The pesto had a strong flavor, but I thought it held up well with the meat and creamy burrata, with the prosciutto being a fun substitute for bacon. The roasted tomato was not sliced; rather, it seemed to be cut into large chunks and easily fell out of the burger.
Number One – caramelized onion, prelibato gorgonzola, crescenza, bacon, arugula, thousand island
I tried a bite from this burger as well, another signature. It might’ve just been my bite, but I was a little overloaded on the thousand island; however, the meat was again juicy and cooked well.
Custom Burger – ground sirloin, fried egg, burrata, jalapenos
“Dessert” was a walk over to Library Bar – a small, dark bar…almost hidden. Upon walking in, I was immediately confronted with fragrant smells of a garden – the bar is lined with a ton of fresh produce from various fruits to all sorts of fresh herbs. One of the more colorful bar setups I’ve seen, for sure.
Between the three of us, we were able to sample an assortment of 8 cocktails. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the names or components of each.
Rum, lime, mint; Mezcal, jalapeno; Gin, sage (left to right)
Mezcal, campari, chili
Gin, aged balsamic vinegar, strawberries, St. Germaine foam
My favorite was probably the beer cocktail. Hops-infused gin, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and an IPA combined to make something that tasted sort of like an alcohol-ed-up IPA – the citrus was a key ingredient in brightening it up.
Beer cocktail hops-infused gin, grapefuit juice, lemon juice, IPA, rosemary
25 Degrees makes a solid burger. The sides were a little disappointing, but I think the burger made up for it. More memorable than 25 Degrees was Library Bar, which was packed on this rainy Wednesday night. I thought the cocktails were really interesting and vibrant; not all of them were hits (a spicy mezcal/campari/chili concoction didn’t work with us), but overall I thought they were fun and tasty. I loved the idea of combining some fresh market produce with the drinks, and I’ll be sure to return for more.