Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Speak Up Sonny, I Can't Hear You...Your Soup Is Too Salty!--Hamburger Hamlet, Sherman Oaks

Being thirty-mmbzgmmph *hand covering mouth* is soooo not old. But there are times when I just feel old. I feel old, for example, when I can't seem to stay up past 10:30 pm anymore. I also feel old when my idea of a good time on Friday night is pizza and Netflix. The little just-out-of-college entry-level twenty-somethings that I have on my staff are the sweetest and smartest kids ever, but I just can't relate to them. They have so much energy about everything, and at the same time they're so naive, not yet jaded by life. One day, when they asked me how old I was, they squealed "Ohmigawd, you're thirty-mmbzgmmph????? Like you TOTALLY don't look it. We thought you were like twenty-six or something!" Gee thanks. I never said I looked old, I said I feel old.

On the flip side, however, there are times when I feel sooo young. Shoot, it seems like just yesterday that I was able to party 'til the break of day and still finish a term paper that was due the day after. I'm not supposed to be doing grown up responsible things like thinking about retirement or looking into real estate...I'm still a kid! And the fact that my friends and I (who are all around my thirty-mmbzgmmph age) were the youngest customers at Hamburger Hamlet in Sherman Oaks the other day makes being a responsible adult even more puzzling. "See, look!" I said to myself, "I am still a kid!"

The median age of all the customers at lunch that day had to have been somewhere around 50, and I'm really not kidding. This could have been a dining room at my grandmother's senior citizen complex, only you'd never catch my grandmother eating at a place like this. To me right now, it's just Hamburger Hamlet. To my grandma, it's too fancy, too expensive, too "high class" for her tastes. I expect, though, that when I get to be my grandmother's age, I'll probably share her point of view and opt to go to Chinese food or IHOP instead. Yeah, Hamburger Hamlet is bourgeous dining for middle class seniors...they have limo-worthy Grey Poupon on the tables. They have leather booths and dark wood accents. They even have a bar.

Pardon me, but do you have any...

How we four young things ended up at Hamburger Hamlet was all a matter of Lobster Bisque. We'd all been craving it for whatever reason and I'd put a posting on
Chowhound asking where I could get a good bowl. Of course, high-end places like Providence came up from a few Hounds, which I'd have gone to for dinner or a special occasion, but a few other people had suggested Hamburger Hamlet, which I kind of questioned at first but which I also thought was much more affordable and lunchworthy.

For three of us, lunch consisted of a bowl of lobster bisque each and a cobb salad split amongst us. The bisque's consistency and texture was nice--creamy velvety smooth with small chunks of crab and lobster inside. It was, however, too salty, making it nearly impossible for me to judge how the bisque actually tasted. Somewhere in there, I detected the taste of lobster, but again, who really would have known behind all that saltiness? It was also the kind of saltiness that kind of built up as I kept sipping away at the soup. All of a sudden, I had drank two huge tumblers of ice water and still did not have to pee. Also salty were the two slices of garlic toast that came with our soups, but because they were more garlicky and buttery than salty, they were a bit more bearable.

And do you have any lobster bisque to go with your salt?

Our eyeballs and mouths were drying out quickly from our salty bisque, so what a relief our cobb salad was. Cool and refreshing with lettuce, avocado, cubed turkey,
bacon and gorgonzola all tossed in a bleu cheese dressing, the thirst from our shrivelled up mouths was immediately quenched.


became this...refreshing!

It is a Hamburger Hamlet, after all, so what would lunch be without a burger? Well, I didn't have one, but my friend ordered their Western Cheddar burger, a totally more edible version of Carls Jr's. It certainly looked really good, and according to my friend, it was really good, so maybe next time I'm at Hamburger Hamlet (which will probably be at least 30 years from now), I'll order a burger! I can vouch for the fact that their fries were good because I mooched some of those... they were something between fat steak fries and skinny fries, crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside, all arranged standing up in a cup like pencils.

It's called Hamburger Hamlet...duh!

If burgers and salty soups ain't your cup of tea, the Hamlet's menu choices are plenty: they also serve your typical "bar and grill" type sandwiches (BLT's, Clubs, and such), broiled fish and chicken, chili, pasta, various salads, and several Hamlet specialties such as chicken pot pie and jambalaya. Just think of all the ways you'll have to pass the time when you're grown up and retired!

Hamburger Hamlet
4419 Van Nuys Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
other locations throughout Southern California
(818) 784-1183


Kirk said...

Hey Pam - You know why the bisque is so salty...okay, so I won't go into the taste buds die as you get older stuff.....

I once walked into a Chinese Restaurant where I was the only person in the premises with his "own teeth"! Geez, what I've got to look forward to, huh?

elmomonster said...

Oh thank God! Finally a post to push down the photo of that chocolate turd from the top! HAHA!

Great post BTW. I can totally relate. I'm also *MMPHMMMM* in age...but I don't feel it really.

I'll leave you with my favorite line from the movie City Slickers:

Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Pam, i've been over to the Hamburger Convalescent Home in West Hollywood. The second i walked in, i got stares from all the old customers. I was like "wait a minute, what era am i in right now???" I think the food is still better than your typical TGIF/Applebee's/Red Robin's/chotschkie's crap joint, but it just feels so depressing in there. i almost feel like i should get up on the table and start juggling bowling pins with my midget friend in a bozo suit to add some life in there.

Daily Gluttony said...


I know, kinda depressing huh? Oh well, as I always say, "As long as you're young at heart!"


What you couldn't stand the Tootsie Roll turd anymore? ha ha


Does your midget friend live in the midget community in Long Beach? ha ha just kidding!

duckduckgoose said...

The happy hour isn't bad and in the bar you're usually removed from the cocoon. I go to the one in Brentwood or the one on Motor near National. Free parking and cheap fried artichokes.

Bandini said...

I have early childhood memories of being told off by my Mom at a hamburger hamlet. Apparently I jumped up on the table and pull down my shorts and gave the other patrons a sneak preview to an animated movie that wouldn't be released for at least another decade.

Daily Gluttony said...


Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Yeah I heard the happy hour isn't bad. Some of my friends actually go to the Hollywood one for that. Oh, and I love the "cocoon" line!


You prolly gave some of those grannies a heart attack! LOL!