Father’s Office: Hawking For Buzz-Worthy Burgers

Gastropub Los Angeles

Father's Office would stand out anywhere, but especially on Montana Avenue.

While my cousin Jimmy and I had a great meal on Friday at Providence, we were still in search of buzz. Buzz is the rare excitement that comes from being at a restaurant with a confluence of good food, pretty people and fun atmosphere. We didn’t find it at THE hot new restaurant, so I dug into my past. Based on previous visits, I figured Father’s Office in Santa Monica would offer more than enough buzz. It serves one of the two best burgers I’ve ever eaten. And every visit, I’ve been surrounded by pretty people with smiles on their faces, swept up by the excitement of just being there.

Typically, it takes up to an hour to get seated. There aren’t many tables, and Father’s Office doesn’t take reservations, or even have a waiting list, so people line up at the edge of the dining area, ready to dash for a table if a woman so much as nudges her purse. Some people get discouraged and eat at the bar, or dine standing up. There’s no table service. You have to wait to order at the bar, which is a struggle, since it’s not often the bartender looks your way. And oh yeah, the restaurant gets loud. And for all the negatives, IT’S STILL WORTH THE WAIT!

Gastropub Los Angeles

We arrived before 5, on a Sunday, and the bar was already bustling. Luckily, we managed to snag the last table, by the window.

According to the Father’s Office website, a local volleyball player known as “Dad” opened the bar in 1953. In the 80’s, Santa Monica got an influx of money, and the bar responded with a torrent of micro-brews. Sang Yoon was a chef at the highly-regarded restaurant Michael’s, nearby in Santa Monica. In 2000, Yoon bought Father’s Office. He refined the interior, re-opened the kitchen and designed “The Definitive Bar Menu”, introduced an authoritarian selection of esoteric wines, and installed a custom-crafted draught system to ensure proper temperature control of the 36 micro-brewed beers.

Though every dish on the 15-item menu is solid, only a jerk would eat at Father’s Office and not order at least one Office Burger. Multiple burger ordering is preferred. The cornerstone of “The Definitive Bar Menu” melds dry aged beef, caramelized onion, applewood bacon compote, Gruyere, Maytag blue cheese and arugula on a baguette.

Hamburger Los Angeles

Sang Yoon allows diners to choose their preferred temperature, but will not remove or add a single ingredient from the burger, under any circumstances. Yoon is convinced he’s created a perfect burger, and I don’t disagree.

When I picked him up, Jimmy was on the phone with his wife, telling her that I was about to bring him to my favorite burger place. I distinctly heard him say, “I’m skeptical.” I just smiled. He told me about a burger joint in Miami Beach that he remembers from when he was a kid called Ollie’s. He said Ollie was so exacting, that if the grill flared up, he’d toss the burger in the trash and start over. And if somebody didn’t finish their plate, they were banned from the establishment. Since Ollie’s closed years ago, Jimmy has sampled burgers across the country to find an ideal replacement, and not one burger could compare to his memory of Ollie’s burger…until now! After the first bite of his Office Burger, Jimmy’s face lit up and he said, “This is as good as Ollie’s was.”

French Fries Los Angeles

Jimmy got his with “frites,” perfect matchstick fries that came with a powerful garlic-parsley aioli for dipping. I ordered sweet potato frites “a la cart” with roasted garlic, Cabrales, and blue cheese aioli.

Sweet Potato Fries Los Angeles

At Father’s Office, “a la cart” means the fries literally come to the table in a miniature shopping cart lined with a paper shopping bag filled with sweet potato fries. You can literally roll the cart across the table-top. The thick-cut sweet potato fries were amazing, possibly the greatest sweet potato dish of my life. They’re crispy outside, fluffy inside, salty, and not greasy at all. Standard frites are also available a la cart.

Salad Los Angeles

I also ordered the day’s only chalkboard special, frisée au lardons ($9): curly endive, two poached eggs, lardons, croutons, and mustard vinaigrette. Lardons are super-charged chunks of salty, lean bacon, which went great with velvety poached eggs, house-made croutons, delicious endive curls and spicy mustard vinaigrette.

Father’s Office also serves steak frites; organic beet salad with Cabrales blue cheese, walnuts, aged Jerez vinaigrette, and pumpkin seed oil; and spicy lamb skewers with Japanese eggplant, roasted radicchio and jalapeño.

There’s even a selection of nine tapas, all interesting:

-Spanish Chorizo: dry cured pork sausage made with sweet and smoked paprika
-Sobresada: soft spiced sausage with cracked pepper, Manchego cheese and shaved onion
-Jamon Serrano: dry cured Spanish mountain ham
-Spanish mushrooms (champiñones): garlic, thyme, Jerez vinegar, olive oil
-House cured Spanish white anchovies: olive oil, sherry vinegar, laurel and lemon zest
-Sweet Piquillo peppers: roasted Spanish red peppers with parsley, garlic, fennel, Andalucian olive oil
-Spicy olives: manzanillas, lucques, obregon, picholine, shaved almonds
-Cheese: aged Manchego, Cabrales de Picon, queso de Manon, quince honey
-Warm Spanish almonds: smoked sweet paprika, Mediterranean sea salt

After eating at Father’s Office, Jimmy was finally convinced he’d experienced a buzz-worthy restaurant. He thought the food at Father’s Office was more interesting and flavorful than what we ate at Providence. There was clearly a prettier crowd. Days later, Jimmy told me he dreamed about Father’s Office. If that’s not buzz, it doesn’t exist.

NOTE: Since Father’s Office is also a bar, nobody under 21 is allowed inside.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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sang yoon - StartTags.com

[…] Lee Jung Jae, Lee Sang Woo, Lee Sang Yoon, Moon Jung Hee, Park Hyo Joo, Park Tam Hee, Yun Jung …Food GPS Father’s Office – Santa Monica, CA – September 11 …Sang Yoon was a chef at the highly-regarded restaurant Michael’s, nearby in Santa Monica. … Sang […]

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