Colin Cowherd's Herd Burger has opened and I have tasted its offerings. The site that brings you the best in-depth sports media analysis and breaking news has officially entered the sports media-themed restaurant review game.
When Cowherd took to Twitter two weeks ago and announced he had opened a burger joint, the staff at The Big Lead immediately decided someone had to review the restaurant's offerings. On November 18, I made the 110-mile trek from my home in San Diego to The Brews Hall where Cowherd's new place is located.
I brought a pair of food experts with me. First up was nationally-renowned, James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author Diane Phillips. The second food connoisseur on the journey was Dr. Charles C. Phillips III, who sampled food in dozens of countries during his 24 years in the Navy and the years after as a world traveler. Let's just say I've known both experts for a long time and their credentials are impeccable.
We arrived at Brews Hall a few hours early. The facility houses Cowherd's spot along with Rock'N Fish Grill, Buzzrock Brewing Co. and George Lopez Brewing Co. Obviously we were only concerned with The Herd, Burgers Bets & Brews.
The ambiance inside appears to be going for a converted garage vibe. There are a lot of TVs, it's loud inside and the communal seating is clearly geared towards conversation.
As we stepped up to order, the menu was wildly simple. That's a positive if you want to get people in the door and through the line quickly. There are five options for entrees: four burgers and an Italian chopped salad. You won't get people staring at the menu agape for long. Plus, if they stand for too long, they run the risk of Jason Whitlock popping up on the TVs in the background.
The staff was friendly and willing to help and two workers even offered to explain the menu. I mean, it's a burger joint, there isn't much to explain, but the offer of help was appreciated.
We ordered a Herd burger, a Herd Burger with cheese and a V-Burger to go along with an order of G.O.A.T. garlic fries and Championship (onion) rings. You order and pay at a counter, they give you a number and you find your own table.
In 12 minutes we had our food, so props to the staff for bringing it to our table in an acceptable amount of time, especially on a busy afternoon.
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The atmosphere would probably be great for a game, but was a bit loud on a Monday afternoon. It's not a frat house, but gives off a party vibe. It definitely encourages drinking and certainly has the potential to be a fun spot. There's work to be done here, but it has potential with the right adjustments.
The meat-based burgers were solid. Herd Burger says it uses Niman Ranch beef, which was excellent. The buns had good flavor and the fairly standard "spread" worked. Complaints came from the use of bread and butter pickles instead of dill, but overall the fixings on the burger were fresh and accompanied the beef well.
The veggie burger didn't get high marks and felt slightly undercooked:
It looked like meat but tasted more like the toppings. This was Diane's first foray into the Beyond Burger world and it failed to pass her test. After sampling one of the regular burgers, she admitted she made a mistake going with the V-Burger. And, let me tell you from experience, getting her to admit a mistake is no easy feat. So thank you for that, Herd Burger.
The burgers got solid marks. Any complaints were minor and could also be a result of a new restaurant trying to work out the kinks.
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These burgers likely couldn't win a championship by themselves, but could be a key part of a title-winning roster. You can't win a title without their contributions, but they won't be the star of the show.
The garlic fries were the biggest disappointment of the day. When you order garlic fries you want garlic on them. Instead these were basically lightly-seasoned french fries. All of us actually wished we had ordered regular fries. There was a tiny hint of garlic flavor and that was really it.
The onion rings were the same ones you'll get everywhere else. Beer battered, and fairly tasty but nothing earth-shattering:
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There was a ton of potential here but a lot of disappointment. With some focus and alterations to their game, the sides at Herd Burger could succeed. As of now, they'll never reach their potential.
Here's the thing: We went to a burger joint and, somehow, dessert won the day. After our minor feast we went back to sample the sweets-- and we were so glad we did. We ordered two ice cream sandwiches (the Mint Blitz and the Strawberry Shortstop) and a chocolate shake.
The Mint Blitz consisted of two chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips sandwiched around mint ice cream in the center. It was insanely good:
The Strawberry Shortstop boasted two sugar cookies, dipped in white chocolate with sprinkles and stuffed with strawberry ice cream. Diane enjoyed it so much she said she'd travel the two hours back just to have it again:
The chocolate shake was excellent as well. It tasted like an intensely chocolate version of a Wendy's Frosty. And who doesn't love a Frosty?
The staff claimed the cookies for the sandwiches were made in-house and prepared at the beginning of every day. They absolutely crushed it with these. In fact, if the burger-centric vibe fails, Cowherd could just turn the place into a dessert shop.
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The desserts are elite already and there's even more upside there -- toppings like whipped cream could put them on another level. But this is MVP-level stuff on the dessert menu and the place just opened. The future is bright.
All in all, we have to say the concept worked. The burgers were good and used excellent beef. The sides left a lot to be desired and could use some improvements. The ambiance was interesting and fit the concept, with a lot of open space, communal seating and more of a "bar" feel than that of a sit-down restaurant.
If that was all there was, we'd say Herd Burger was fine and if you were in the area, maybe stop in. The desserts changed all of that. It's a must-visit at least once to try the ice cream sandwiches and the shakes. They are simply excellent and worth the trip if you're in LA.
The prices aren't cheap, but shouldn't break the bank. For all that food we got out of there with a tab of $81.99.