Fat Apple's Restaurant and Bakery~: 7525 Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito
Cost: $9.10 (bacon cheeseburger, fries extra)
~ Honorable Mention
On my Friday off from work, I had my heart set on trying out Circus Pub in Kensington which was a tip from some local burger enthusiasts that I met recently. To my dismay, the kitchen at Circus Pub was closed when I arrived a hair before five. Rather than wait, I decided to try out Fat Apple's down the street since a coworker friend, fellow burger enthusiast mentioned it was designed by the renowned architect David Baker (who happened to be a guest critic in one of my architecture studio finals at UC Berkeley). I thought I'd at least go check out the architecture, although I kind of expected a comparable standard of quality to my positive experience at the location in North Berkeley. Anyway, in contrast to Circus Pub's stark and desolate interior at the time, Fat Apple's was already bustling, but it was soon to get even more crowded.
The instant I got seated, I knew exactly what I wanted. I ordered their bacon cheeseburger "medium-rare" (medium-well is their standard) and a side of fries. The wait seemed endless. I was concerned that they might have been over-grilling the burger since I was waiting a little longer than expected.
Verdict: By the time the order arrived, and the requisite side of mayo was delivered, I dug in. The bread was extra soft on the outside, but toasted on the inside. It was kind of fluffy and soft when I collapsed the burger composition with all the fixings inside. Upon the first few bites, I could tell immediately that the burger was cooked quite rare. It could have passed as completely and unadulterated "rare", but it's not a complaint, since the burger patty was delicious and juicy. Similar to the Fat Apple's in Berkeley, they really deliver the fixings for the burger.
As I was about to finish, my coworker friend, burger enthusiast (who informed me of this Fat Apple's) walked in with his family. I joined their table and postponed the final half of the burger until their orders arrived. At this point, the cheese started to solidify, and the burger blood drippings had started to clot well after platelet formation. It was evident, that this burger had lost it's "freshness". The bun which was previously warm and toasted, was still toasted, but no longer warm. The burger remnant felt kind of lumpy and seemed like it may have gained some weight from the long hiatus.
Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is the burger still tasted great! I couldn't believe I was eating the last portion of this cold burger, but it was still so, so good. I truly can't wait until my next visit to Fat Apple's in El Cerrito.