Food & Wine

Cheeseburger Week Report: Grudge Match at the Top of the Stairs

Vertical Wine Bistro puts up a feisty burger

by JERROD CARDWELL, Contributing Writer
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 | 1:52 AM

The 22 steps leading to Vertical Wine Bistro take you on a hard-boiled (well, sunny side up, but we’ll get to that later) adventure.

A feisty cheeseburger at the Vertical.

Ushered to my seat by the world’s loveliest hostess, the cheeseburger selection is full of walloping action. The M Bison burger is too adventuresome for my taste, and though I consider getting the Classic Kobe Burger (because everyone from around here knows Kobe works better one on one) I settle on The Works Burger. I mean it’s Cheeseburger Week; I can handle it. When my Works Burger arrives we get into a pretty big scrap. I explode into the burger’s face and he explodes into mine.

The thick, lardon-like applewood bacon tag teams with the perfect California avocado to create an unbeatable duo. And in every bite the chipotle sauce is there to add a powerful, flavorful kick to the stout sourdough bun.

After his friends Gruyere cheese, apple-smoked bacon, fried egg, and chipotle sauce get into the scrum, there is a flurry of taste, and then silence. I notice the bun is left on my plate, dislodged. I expect to get shown an X-ray by a burger chiropractor later and get a bill. It’s a juicy burger, so juicy it should be served with a side of Coumadin.

And all the while this is going down, truffle fries and apple garlic dipping sauce look on. I deal with them later and the taste of this victory is delicious.

Vertical Bistro is the kind of place where you can start a beautiful friendship, and tussle with a great cheeseburger; a warm place filled with the classy characters that make this town great.

Once you add a world-class wine list and an exotic list of libations (“Pimms Cup,” “Carpona Antica,” “Luxardo Cherry”) that all look like Lorem Ipsum (Art Center students, please laugh now), then getting back down those stairs won’t be so easy. But that’s the good part; when you can, you’re ready to leave.

But you won’t want to.

Vertical Wine Bistro is at 70 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. (626) 795-3999. http://www.verticalwinebistro.com

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