Slater’s 50/50 (Pasadena, CA)

Reviewed by: Kevin

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One of the greatest disappointments of my life was the movie Cowboys and Aliens.  Few movie trailers grab my attention the way Cowboys & Aliens did.  And rightfully so – we’re talking about Daniel Craig, as a cowboy, blowing up spaceships!  There was no way it wasn’t going to be great.  And then it came out, and it wasn’t great.  I mean it was ok, I guess, but I don’t go see movies because I like to shrug and search for half-hearted compliments.

In the same way, I had this review basically written before I went to Slater’s 50/50 in Pasadena, CA.  I mean, a burger made of half beef, half bacon?  There’s no way this won’t be extreme and delicious.  I was ready to draw a sweeping comparison to the band Fun., using the bold exuberance of the song Some Nights as an illustration of what makes a Slater’s burger great.  This burger would be fearless and brash, and that’s why I was supposed to love it.

But I didn’t love this burger.  It didn’t feel risky, or audacious, or even a little Fun..  It was the Cowboys & Aliens of burgers, and it left me shrugging and wanting.

I created my own burger with the 50/50 patty (obviously) on a brioche bun with mozzarella, arugula, jalapenos, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and fried pickles.  It sounded delicious on paper, and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t without flaw, either.  The friend pickles were good in theory, and if each pickle hadn’t slid out of it’s breaded casing, I probably would have loved it.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

The patty itself was cooked a tad unevenly.  Some parts were delicious and bacon-y, but there were too many spots where the patty had burned for me to fully enjoy it.  And, as I’ve already stated, the outrageous-sounding bacon-ness of the patty was less “ridiculous-tasting” and more “balanced breakfast-tasting.”  Not bad, but not what I had hoped for.

There were some great things about Slater’s, however.  In particular, they had a variety of creative, fantastic sauces.  The bacon ketchup was bangin’ and I particularly enjoyed the pumpkin sauce they served with my sweet potato fries.

In the end though, perhaps my expectations were set too high.  But every burger should be cooked to impress, and impressed I was not.

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Burger Flavor:  2/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 2/5

toppingsToppings: 2/5

xfactorX Factor: 2/5


Umami Burger (Pasadena, CA)

Reviewed by: Kevin

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The closest International Burger-makers have come to a controversy, besides over the use of horsemeat, is the debate surrounding “Umami”.  Some consider it an essential component of a burger’s flavor profile; others just think it’s pretentious.  And if you’re a normal person, you likely have no idea what it is.

It’s actually quite simple.  Umami, like Salty, Bitter, Sweet, and Sour, is one of the five basic tastes.  It was discovered about 100 years ago, first by a French Chef (who no one believed), then by a Japanese Chemist.  The term Umami can be used interchangeably with “savory”, but the literal translation from Japanese is “delicious flavor”.  And if Umami Burger in Pasadena, CA gets anything right, it’s delicious flavor.

I ordered Umami’s namesake, the Umami Burger, topped with shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, a parmesan crisp, and special Umami Ketchup.  It was obvious that, as a restaurant named after flavor, great attention was paid to the interplay between the flavors of the burger itself and the toppings that graced it.  It was delicious.  Period.

That isn’t to say that this was a perfect burger. The staff insist that burgers be cooked to Medium-Rare, which is a tad underdone for my taste.  Also as a side, I ordered the truffle fries.  They were both expensive and underwhelming.  The “truffle” component comes from their topping of the fries with their homemade truffle cheese.  Because of this, I alternated between bites of way too much truffle cheese and bites of un-truffled, Steak n’ Shake-like fries.  Considering the care paid to the burger, I was disappointed.

Overall, Umami Burger offers a delicious, flavorful burger at a high price.  If you ever find yourself in Pasadena, hankering for a burger, don’t hesitate to stop in.


Burger Flavor:  4/5

bunBun Goodness: 3.5/5

valueBurger Value: 3.5/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 4/5


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