[Missed an installment? Catch up with 30 Burgers in 30 Days in our meaty archive.]Everything else at Rustic Canyon is sleek and minimal. Small plates of braised vegetables and cured olives. A market-driven menu that changes about as often as most of us change our shoes. Chic yet homey decor. But when it comes to Rustic Canyon's burger ($18) -- so popular it's always available -- more is definitely more.
Meat & Bun: They'll ask how you like your burger cooked. Medium-rare, please, though ours arrived closer to medium. The meat is moderately seasoned, without a distinct or strong flavor. The bun is a standard brioche, toasted on the cut side.
Toppings: The toppings have been chosen and arrayed for maximum impact, and this is where the burger sings. Sure, every self-respecting gourmet burger now features fancy cheese and fresh greens, but the interplay is rarely as striking as it is here, where chef Evan Funke's tart, pickley, Thousand Island-esque dressing (they probably call it remoulade on the menu) pulls it all together -- the sharp cheddar blanketing the burger, the caramelized onions, the heap of arugula. The only downside is that all the wetness quickly makes the bun soggy.
Sides: The fries are perfect. Thicker than skinny fries and with the skin still on, they taste so fresh, we might actually believe the menu when it says they're hand-cut. Eating umpteen variations on the same version of frozen fries dressed up with garlic or parsley, it's easy to forget how thoroughly divorced they are from actual potatoes. Not at Rustic Canyon.These are some of the best fries we've had anywhere.
Dessert: You should definitely try one -- or more -- of award-winning pastry chef Zoe Nathan's creations. Unfortunately, we can't advise you as to which one. Our burger budget is just about maxed out and doesn't include a slice of dense chocolate layer cake or a scoop of Sweet Rose Creamery ice cream. Not that we're underfed.
The Upshot: At $18, this is on the upper end of the gourmet burger price range, but that includes fries. plus, the attention to detail makes this a burger worth a cross-town drive.