After having missed the last couple of opportunities to go to Hugo's Restaurant, we finally got our chance after basketball today.
The first Hugo's was originally a butcher shop in West Hollywood owned and run by a butcher named Hugo. When he passed away, it was taken over by Terry Kaplan who kept the name in deference to Hugo's widow. The popular butcher shop gradually grew into a bakery then a full fledged restaurant, with a second Hugo's Restaurant branching out in Studio City, which was where we went today.
The food there is made with organic ingredients. Even the ketchup offered is an organic version of Heinz's normal restaurant fare. But before you jump to the conclusion that organic means healthy which means not tasty, rest assured that is not the case at Hugo's. They offer a large variety of breakfast dishes, many with a Tex-Mex slant, and also have an extensive list of teas, including various green, black, white, and Chai variants. Slightly less varied are their entrees which put a spin on homestyle dishes, such as their Portabello Stew, Turkey Meatloaf, and Chimichurri Steak.
Friend K-Ham got an appetizer of Garlic-Parmesan Cheese Bread which he shared with the table. It came with about eight slices of whole wheat garlic loaf slathered with a generous amount of garlic, butter, parmesan cheese, parsley, and paprika. This was a good quality garlic cheese toast that didn't cut any corners. The use of a garlic loaf with whole cloves of garlic contained therein meant a double blast of garlicky goodness. Vampires beware.
San Diego Mike wanted something healthy, and opted for the Go Green Frittata. It was an egg white fritatta loaded with green veggies: chard, beet greens, kale, spinach puree, broccolini, zucchini, asparagus, quinoa, and garlic. I didn't try any of it but it looked very green and it oozed healthiness. It was even topped with alfafa sprouts. I believe Mike made the comment that he was going to have to undo all of it with all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ later.
Today I felt like a burger, so I got a beef Hugo Burger with my topping choices of bacon, cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, and guacamole. Other possible topping choices were turkey bacon, veggie bacon, grilled chilies, mozzarella cheese, and vegan mozzarella cheese, with a maximum of five of those options. Vegan mozzarella is a soy-based mock mozzarella, while there is no vegan option for the cheddar. I got my burger medium rare on a whole wheat ciabatta bun, but for an additional dollar you can get the burger on garlic toast. My choice of toppings made for messy burger that was difficult to handle at first. The burger was stacked so high that I almost pulled my jaw muscles trying to take the first bite.
The patty was hormone and antibiotic-free Angus beef, which had a slightly different taste than other burgers. It was cleaner tasting, but had less beefiness to it. The ground beef was also particularly lean, perhaps 85/15 or 87/13, which might have been a factor. Not particularly bad, but I thought it would have been even tastier with perhaps a 3-5% higher fat content. Those who are used to eating your average, hormone-loaded, antibiotic-filled beef might be put off by the clean taste, but it is refreshing and is a different take on beef patties.
The bacon itself was thick cut, and paired well with the beef, especially in the absence of additional fat content. However the sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions were a bit bland, being unsalted. When eaten with the burger it isn't much of a problem, but when you eat them individually it's quite apparent. The guacamole had a tendency to get lost with so much on the burger, but when it popped up it only enriched the experience. The ciabatta seemed like an interesting choice for a burger bun, but the firm outer crust allowed it to hold up slightly better than a standard hamburger bun. Of course the rarer the burger the more juice there is which inevitably soaks into the bun and causes breakup issues, so keep that in mind.
The burger also came with fries on the side. I could have also chosen fresh mixed greens or fruit, but honestly, did I really have a choice? The fries were natural cut and sprinkled liberally with seasoned salt. They were reasonably firm with a crispy exterior, and were to my liking.
The burger and fries were quite solid. It's a dish that holds up well, although could be improved with some minor adjustments. I will probably need to perform additional tastings to form a better assessment of Hugo's overall, but it seems to be a good place, at least to get a burger. And I suppose its being organic makes eating there a little bit more guilt-free.
This pic is only here to illustrate what a combination of mozzarella and cheddar looks like on the burger. This was A's burger, which didn't come with his bacon at first.
Some other notes on Hugo's:
- 4-6 out of 7 on my mess-o-meter, depending on the rareness of the burger and the selection of toppings. 4 means stuff might fall off, 6 means you will need plenty of napkins.
- 6.5 out of 10 on my burg-o-meter, meaning I would be willing to eat there again if I happen to be in the area.
8401 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
12851 Riverside Dr.
Studio City, CA 91607