Dining review: Forget your arteries and lap it up at Slater's 50/50
The 50/50 burger of a patty with 50 percent burger and 50 percent bacon, American cheese, sunny-side-up egg, thick cut bacon and bacon island dressing on a bacon pretzlel bun at Slater's 50/50 in Pasadena. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / December 13, 2012)
The moniker 50/50 could stand for 50% bacon/50% football. This is the place to be if you love football and love to be surrounded by folks who love football. The walls are blanketed with flat screens (we stopped counting at 22), showing football or basketball or sportscasters talking about football or basketball.
But the people at the tables are talking about the food. This is not Umami. We're not exploring the fifth taste or appreciating the quiet subtlety of beef cooked with modernist techniques. This is food loud enough to compete with the cacophony of a snowy Packers game, another Lakers loss and the folks at the bar trying to holler above the din. But the food is as fun as the atmosphere.
For appetizers, you can create your own combination plate with two to six choices on your table. The sweet-potato fries are crisp and served with a surprising pumpkin sauce. Fried dill pickle chips are a tart wake-up on the first bite and thereafter just make you feel like you've buried your face in a pile of salt. The onion rings are standard, served with barbecue sauce. The standouts are the beer-battered jalapeños served with cilantro-lime sour cream. These are not the hollowed-out, cheese-stuffed peppers you're used to getting. The slices of pepper are fresh, and they bite. Beside the jalapeños, you'll want the fried bacon mac n' cheese balls. They are ridiculous and ridiculously good, served with Tapatio-spiked ranch dressing.
Slater's serves salads, but these aren't for the waist-conscious. Note the bacon cheeseburger salad. Maybe for those who are off carbs? But if you're off carbs, you probably shouldn't even walk on the sidewalk by this place. If you're on carbs? Try the mac n' cheese. One iteration adds mashed potatoes, sharp cheddar, bacon (duh), sour cream, green onions and covered with a Parmesan panko crust. It is comfort food heaven. Creamy, salty, smoky, cheesy, yummy.
For the burgers, you can order the 50/50, beef, fire beef (peppers added), turkey, portobello mushroom, veggie and on and on. Slater's offers one-third, two-thirds and full-pound patties, all weighed after cooking. There are signature burgers if you don't want to think too hard about what's on your patty. Or you could design your own. We tried several signature burgers. The 50/50 burger is topped with avocado mash, pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayo. It also comes topped with a sunny-side-up egg. We took ours sans runny yolk. It's a good burger for watching football. The patty seemed just that much saltier because of the bacon.
The flaming hot is a beef patty piled with beer-battered jalapeños, roasted green chiles, pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayo. It's as single-minded and spicy as it sounds. Thank you for the free refills, Slater's. The turkey burger, with Gouda, greens, red onions, a portobello cap and pesto could be the winner of the bunch. The outer burger was perfectly cooked, moist, savory, a great combination of flavors. Then we got to the center, flat part of the patty, and bit into the hard char. It was worth picking off the burned bits to finish the sandwich, but why should you need to? We'd still try this one again in hopes that the patty would escape the burn.
Not feeling like a burger? Try the orange chicken sandwich. It's like you got Chinese takeout orange chicken, slapped it on a mayo-slathered brioche and covered it with cole slaw. It's surprisingly good, and unsurprisingly messy.
But if you want the ultimate burger experience at Slater's, try the Design It page of the menu. One in our crew tried the 50/50 patty on white brioche with pepper jack, grilled pineapples, jalapeños, tomato, grilled onions, avocado mash and “bacon island” dressing. The only problem? He couldn't put it down for fear that the precarious tower would topple. But that was one happy, and stuffed, customer.
Slater's may have overlooked one marketing possibility for its Design It burgers. With its gigantic range of ingredients, this could be the ultimate destination for bets, dares and bribes. Hmm. OK, son, if you get all A's on your report card, I'll eat any burger you concoct. Just imagine: rare beef with brie, anchovy, sauerkraut, peanut butter, Spam, country gravy, strawberry jam, Frank's Red Hot sauce, and, to top it all, an egg fried sunny side up. What kid wouldn't strive for a perfect report card to see a parent (or anyone) eat that?
REBECCA BRYANT is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and Caribbean Travel & Life.
What: Slater's 50/50
Where: 61 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
Contact: (626) 765-9700
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Cost: Appetizers, $4.45 to $8.95; salads, $8.95 to $10.95; mac and cheese, $7.95; burgers and other specialties, $8.95 to $11.95; desserts, $7.95 to $8.95