There’s a lot of buzz about Father’s Office (F.O.) having the best burgers in LA, but the more I think about how we qualify food, the more I think the word “best” is played out.
That said, the F.O. burger is really good. It’s big enough to split between two people and is served on a French roll, which makes burger purists cringe. I loved the caramelized onions and applewood bacon compote. The cheese is a combination of gruyere and bleu cheese, and arugula is an interesting choice of greens, but it helps balance out the other flavors and textures.
You can’t “have it your way” at F.O. because of a strict “no substitutions, additions or deletions” policy. The only choice you have is how the burger is cooked. If you are a burger purist, like options or a picky eater, then the F.O. burger is not for you. In certain scenarios, I think diners should just trust the chef and eat the food…and this is one of them.
We paired our burgers with both shoestring and sweet potato fries, which were perfectly fried and seasoned, and each has their own specific aioli. I guess this would be a good time to mention that F.O. has a strict “no ketchup” policy, as well. Don’t ask for it either since they don’t have any on hand, and I heard they even crack down on ketchup smugglers.
F.O. isn’t a one-trick pony that only does burgers and fries, and there’s a lot of stuff on the menu that deserves your attention.
The smoked eel topped with a poached egg, horseradish creme fraiche and onions was delicious and lets you know immediately that this is no ordinary bar food.
The roasted marrow bones with toast were a beautiful way to get pure cholesterol into your system in the most delicious way possible.
The grilled octopus salad was pretty good, but the octopus was eclipsed by the roasted fingerling potatoes and the chili dressing.
If you put it all in perspective–this is some pretty amazing food for a bar, and you could argue that F.O. is really a gastropub masquerading as a bar. Speaking of which, F.O. has a great selection of beers. If I was a big beer drinker I know I’d be very happy just coming here for a drink.
Like most bars, there’s no table service, so you have to order everything at the bar and maintain a running tab that you close out when you’re ready to leave. Tables can be scarce when it’s busy, but I avoided the crowds by getting there before they opened…and there was still a line. I’ve never been to the original Father’s Office in Santa Monica, but this second outpost in the old Helms Bakery is beautiful. If it’s sunny out, I highly recommend snagging a table on the patio.
If you’re willing to play by the rules at F.O., then you’re going to have a good time eating and drinking there. This might seem overly restrictive to some people, but I’m glad Chef Sang Yoon had a distinct vision about what he wanted to serve and stuck to his guns in the face of criticism. The decision hasn’t hurt business much since it’s always packed.
If you don’t like the rules, then F.O. has an alternate meaning and you can leave. There are plenty of people waiting in line, including me, that will be glad to take your place.