Chef Gary Robins seems to be the Where’s Waldo? of the Los Angeles and New York food worlds, just when you find him and finally taste his thoughtfully tasty food, he disappears. And, just as in Martin Handford’s Waldo series, we never know where the colorful main character will end up next.
Hell, he left Moko just a week after Jonathan Gold and I ( happened to write him up on the same freaking day too, haha) wrote him up. I was first impressed by his pretty bad ass fooding skills when he did his little pop up at Georgio’s Cucina. His food is, well, how shall I say…thoughtfully structured and deftly executed? Which seems to make for food that is foolhardy but yet somehow always spot on. He seems to adapt pretty damn well to whatever cuisine is placed before him. Well, at least the two (polar opposite) ones I have been fortunate to try myself.
This last weekend the unsung hero did a weekend warrior’s rendition of a pop up at Biergarten. And thanks to the burger “connect” homie Eddie Hah, I was informed about this earlier in the week and planned to show up to see what the guy had up his sleeve this time around.
I was rolling deep with the rest of YMFB (Young Money Foodbloggers yo!,) Garrett Snyder of Los Angeles Magazine and Los Angelicious Times foodblog. We showed up at around one in the afternoon to an unfortunately empty dining room.
First things first, we each got a beer. They tapped into a couple of Oktoberfest-style Dunkel German beers and we immediately spotted them on the menu and zeroed in for the thirsty kill. I went for Hacker Pschorr seasonal rendition of the celebratory Marzen, not as heavy as say, an Optimator but still as satisfying in the way only a German beer that is brewed in accordance to Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law is, always palatable. As we banged our frosty glasses hard in cheers, Garrett informed me of the German tradition of looking dead straight into the other person’s eyes as you did this or else you would get seven years of bad sex; we basically had a staring competition at this point.
The guy actually remembered me and decided to send out a couple of his tater creations to supplement his “Shnitzel Burger” that Garrett and I decided to try.
The German potato pancakes got the traditional Robins treatment, keeping true to the essence of the original dish but chef-ing it up just enough to add a delightful twist. The rectangular Kartoffelpuffer looked and crisped up like his Korean Jeon pancakes at Moko. It was a tad saltier than I would had liked but the sashimi-like salmon topping the perfect hash brown pancake made up for it.
The latter pancake was similar but even a little more golden brown and delicious with a creamier center. They reminded me of a fancier truffled version of those hashbrown tater tot things from Burger King…in a good way.
Also in traditional Robins style, they made everything from scratch. From their Bavarian pretzels to their hand-straddled custom sausages, just for this dining event. He sent out his two fleshy creations for us to try by themselves but they are traditionally served on a roll for a complete meal. Both were juicy as hell but of course my favorite was the venison one. Leaner and more flavorful like only Bambi meat could be.
Not surprisingly, the burger was the most complex and amazing thing on the menu. After all, esteemed 8 oz. chef, Eddie Hah, is the main cook any other day at Biergarten. The breading was brown, crispy and non-greasy. In fact, the breading was so light, when poked with a fork, the ground veal’s translucent juiciness exuded through the stuff. It was hella delicious with every burger element covered, a rich, full flavored cheese, skillfully cooked meat, a tangy dressing and accoutrement and even some esoteric, peppery greens.
The $12 price tag for this monstrously delicious burger is actually a bargain when you take into account that the juicy veal is all from Niman Ranch. It will fill you up good too.
Garrett and I were pretty freaking stuffed and mildly buzzed by the end of the heavy meal. Garrett spent some time studying abroad in Germany and said the food was not too different than the type of stuff you ate over there. As always, I did not feel let down and will be looking forward to whatever cuisine or restaurant he cooks up next. I hope Los Angeles will finally start to realize and appreciate his food before it’s too late and we end up with yet another great chef lost to the East Coast!
Oktoberfest at Biergarten
Happening again on October 1st and 2nd
206 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Open for lunch