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The Original Father's Office: Still Amazing

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With Father's Office branching out to Culver City with a second location this week, an inspection of the Santa Monica original seemed in order. I'll confess, it was my first trip to the Office, but I'd be happy to spend more than a few 9-5s there. To call the gastropub a burger bar seems inadequate – the Father's Office burger shares about as much in common with its local competitors as a BMW does with a Pinto.

A 7 p.m. arrival and glance around the intimate space quickly confirmed the bar's reputation as a popular post-work destination: it took us a half-hour to stake out a table, though thankfully we weren't kept waiting outside. Once seated, there was ample enough room for comfortable dinner and conversation, and the dim lighting and sleek hardwood of the floor, tables and bar counter lent the Office a refined, romantic air.

The wait for our order wasn't long - 10 minutes, perhaps - and at $12 each, the burgers were worth every penny. Eschewing a traditional bun for bread better suited to a French dip, the thick, flawlessly cooked patty merged with the sweetness of the caramelized onions to create a unique tang akin to barbecue sauce. If the intensity of blue cheese worries you, rest easy: here, its flavor is subservient to the sweet and savory notes of its neighbors. The fries, of the shoestring and sweet potato varieties, were also outstanding, salty without sacrificing subtlety and a perfect match for the accompanying aioli dip.

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While it's easy to pick an entree from the minimalist menu, the 30+ beer selection requires careful decision-making. I chose the Craftsmen Hefeweizen, a local brew from Pasadena. As promised, the hef offered heavy banana overtones, to the point where the fruit threatened to escape the glass and hop back in a peel. Not the best choice for a salty meal, and while hefeweizens are hardly a beer known for their bite, the Craftsmen was nevertheless a shade too light. Still, one can hardly blame the restaurant for my poor judgment; I guess the next time I visit Father's Office, I'll have my work cut out for me.

Father's Office, 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 393-2337

Photo by David Greenwald / LAist