Rowdy Red Burger & Wine Bar
515 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
June 3rd, 2009 a couple dozen bloggers and media folk descended (literally) upon Rowdy Red, a newish downtown burger and wine bar in the subterranean mall underneath the high rise at 505 S. Flower Street. This hosted event was organized through Vanessa Krystal of JS2 Communications.
Rowdy Red is named after an heirloom tomato with "an intense flavor, deep-red color, robust 'not for sissies', bold tomatoey flavors, with a firm, juicy flesh that invites snacking in the garden, cooking and canning". In homage to this heirloom tomato hangs a painting on one of the rear walls of Rowdy Red, its color also echoed in the red booths and red touches throughout the restaurant.
Despite the fact that Rowdy Red is only open for breakfast and lunch, and partially because of it, they did some special things with the wine list. First, they offer a house label Cabernet Sauvignon made from Rutherford area grapes. This reasonable house wine is actually very good, with burgers and anything else you might be eating. They also offer a big brand name selection of California wines in the half bottle. Perfect for sharing with a friend during a weekly burger lunch. Protein and a little pampering although not so much you will nap under your desk a la George Castanza. Some of the labels include Patz & Hall, Rombauer, Fiddlehead, Duckhorn and Hitching Post.
Part of the shtick at Rowdy Red is that they serve humane grass fed all natural beef burgers. As part of this angle, the menu proudly displays a list of their vendor partners. Included among their partners are Zacky Farms for poultry, Santa Monica Seafood, LA Specialty Produce, and Peet's Coffee.
I like that their menu offers quite a few healthy options as well as the requisite decadent burgers. And the price point is luncheon friendly.
The burger list was mouth wateringly tempting. I like the idea of a "burger salad", as I tend to love my burgers protein style. The ahi burger would even tempt my so-called vegetarian friend.
Just a nod at a couple of entrees. Rowdy Red is open til 7, so they may get an early dinner crowd some nights. Easy to include an Angus skirt steak and some fish and chips in case of a non-burger lover in the house (is there such a thing?).
Rowdy Red straddles the line between cute and kitsch rather nicely. I love the zebra bar stools, and think they stopped short of overdoing it. Onto the food.
Regular fries. Just plain dope. Not too thin, not too fat, lightly salted. Didn't even need catsup. Or ketchup. You decide. A solid rendition of the American style French fry.
Sweet potato fries. I thought these were a hair overfried, but love the small wedgie shape. I don't think I have ever met a sweet potato fry I don't like, even if one was a touch too crunchy.
Turkey burger. Unsure why any self respecting carnivore would order a turkey burger at a meal hosted by a BURGER bar, for the love of all things heart attack inducing. It's not like D doesn't get enough exercise, is watching his figure or wasn't going to nom all over my sliders anyway. It weren't bad though. It wasn't dry, the great fear of anything made with ground turkey. Juicy and delicious, just something I make at home when making up for all the naughty eating we do when on the prowl.
My sliders. MY sliders. Beautiful little mini cheese burgers on excellent buns.
Served with cheddar and onions deliciously grilled.
The buns on these are great because they are not sweet. Just good, soft bread, similar to White Castle buns.
Giant onion rings, a hair overbattered. I was about to type that they are otherwise good, but overbattering the onion is kind of the death knell for an onion ring.
The piece de resistance...the Peet's Coffee milkshake. This was delicious. HC and his dining companion were super generous about letting everyone have a sip. They really made good use of their partnership here. This giant ice-creamgasm libation was perfect.
I would definitely hit Rowdy Red again, unhosted. Problem is, I drive away from downtown daily for work, hitting all kinds of glamorous places in the Inland Empire, places without good food. By the time I am ready for some dinner, Rowdy Red is starting to close up shop. They are located almost directly beneath Drago Centro and Chaya Downtown, and I am hoping this proximity will bring some business their way, leading them to extend their hours. All they need is some signage above ground so people know there is something less pricey downstairs, but still casually elegant and pretty tasty.