It's a shame Eveleigh's burger isn't on its regular menu. Opened in early November, the West Hollywood hotspot (yes, it already is one) has a discreet charm not easy to find amid the most touristy stretch of the Sunset Strip. The unmemorable front-view, most notable for the wooden arch facing Sunset Boulevard, hides a spacious, charming interior all done up in rustic chic. Dark, unfinished wood. Dim lighting. A metal horse head mounted high above the tented indoor "patio." It's like a hip, upscale barn.
The menu isn't cheap. All the large plates, except the orrechiette with broccoli and cherry tomatoes, cost more than $20. At $16, the burger is comparatively affordable. Given how much of a cliché the gourmet burger has become, this is perhaps its greatest contribution to culinary history. Maybe you're the lone low-rent slacker going out with your Friends With Money (we speak from experience). Maybe you're at some upscale restaurant where you find the menu boring, intimidating, pretentious, overpriced or just plain unappealing. You can always fall back on the burger. While your wealthier companions order $15 cocktails and $30 entrees, you can get stuffed on a burger and an ice tea for under $20. (Let's hope they don't want to split the bill evenly.)
All of this is to say Eveleigh makes a damn fine burger, one that's simultaneously more impressive yet elusive because it's served only late night.
Meat & Bun: Eveleigh's burger is only on their late-night menu, a slimmed down version of their dinner menu with two additions. It kicks in at 10:30 p.m. on weeknights and 11:30 p.m. on weekends. (We think.) Try ordering a burger before the appointed time. We dare you. They're as firm about the timing as the bartenders at The Redwood are about cutting off happy hour at 7:01 p.m.
The burger is served on a toasted bun that's equal parts brioche, classic hamburger bun and dense whole wheat pillow that commonly accompanies veggie burgers. It's heartier than the average bun, which gives it a bit more structural integrity, and it's good. It's just hard to define.
The meat itself is thick, gorgeous and well-aged, not greasy but still juicy. We're nitpicking here when we say it could use a bit more flavor, a bit more... meatiness. We'd love to try this substantial but not overwhelming patty, neither too chunky nor too finely ground, with a bit more seasoning.
Toppings: Protégés of the Sang Yoon school of burger deliverance, Eveleigh only serves their burger one way, which is fine, because their way is very good. The way of the Eveleigh burger is a slice of soft, mellow Fontina cheese (perfect for melting), a dab of pungent aoli you may still be tasting after brushing your teeth that night (that's a good thing), thickly shredded lettuce, a slice of red onion, sweet-tart house-made pickles and a lightly sweet tomato compote. Is that a hint of chili we taste amid the relish? Who knows. This last element is a subtle but creative touch and a vast improvement over traditional relish.
Sides: We're pretty sure the green stuff sprinkled on top was parsley, but, like the fries underneath, it was strangely tasteless. Rarely has such a good burger been accompanied by such mediocre fries. These were obviously frozen and not very high in quality. Honestly, the deep-fryers at McDonalds start to look better and better.
Dessert: The late-night menu has only one dessert option: cookies and ice cream, served as a sandwich or side-by-side on the same plate.
Random Notes: Eveleigh's claim to fame is that they make their own tonic water. We didn't try it, but we're very curious. Also, pretend you're "in the know," and pronounce it "ehv-lee" (like "Everly" without the "R").
The Upshot: Eveleigh may be too hip, too posh or just plain intolerable on peak nights, but in the middle of the week, the late-night burger is worth a trip. The burger comes with fries; skip them so you can squeeze into your skinny black jeans.
Exercise: 45-min. elliptical trainer