Frank and I have been to the outdoor bar at SLS twice before, we were met with high beer prices and unfavorable service. I'll never understand why a beer garden has a wall of vodka, but anyhow... We finally gave Umami Burger a try. The Code sent Frank 50% off for his birthday. It seemed like a good excuse to give it a whirl.
Service was attentive. Our waitress got started on our Union Jack ($9) and Mama's Little Yella Pils ($8) while we looked over the menu. We settled on the Manly burger ($12) for him and the Umami aka Original burger ($12) for me. Both prepared medium rare. We ordered two secret menu items: Cheesy Tots ($5) and Manly Fries ($6.50).
Prior to our food coming out, we were given house condiments: jalapeno ranch, mega spicy and garlic aioli. We were warned of the spiciness but didn't believe it would be as hot as it was. We enjoy spicy too. We didn't like the aioli at all, but the jalapeno ranch was the standout. It livened up the original burger and it was good on the tots and fries. Also, better than the housemade ketchup.
The Umami burger is topped with caramelized onions, roasted tomato and one shiitake mushroom, and parmesan frico. The burger to bun ratio is good, the bun was decent. I like the branding of buns - it's a good emphasis of their brand. The patty was of good size. All of which are good things, but why was it so bad? I wondered. It came down to the meat being overdone. It was dry and bland. There was no juiciness at all. The caramelized onions and parmesan frico were the only redeeming qualities. What's with one shiitake mushroom? You better enjoy that single bite.
The Manly burger is topped with beer cheddar, bacon lardons, onion strings and slathered with ketchup and mustard. It was not cooked medium rare, it bordered on medium to medium well. This was, however, the better burger of the two. Still, both were pretty disappointing.
The sides, though, were quite good. The tater tots were salty, potatoey, crisp on the outside and gooey in the center. I really enjoyed them. The manly fries were quickly consumed. Crisp shoestring fried topped with beer cheese, bacon and onion strings, kinda hard to go wrong there. I guess the secret menu is where it's at!?!
In the future, I'd order a beer and tots for snack, but I'd definitely skip the burgers.