Executive chef Christian Page has revitalizied Cassell’s Hamburgers, originally opened in 1948, on the ground floor of the Hotel Normandie in Koreatown.
It took me a while to get there, but I finally did earlier this month with my nephew Jeffrey for a late-night snack.
Sitting at a table along the windows facing 6th Street, we liked the fun, classic 1950s diner atmosphere. In addition to great burgers and fries, Page makes his own mayonnaise, potato salad that looks more like mashed potatoes, and potato chips with a sprinkle of salt. He also offers house-made sodas and shakes, a coffee bar and a fully stocked bar.
He and his team grind fresh beef daily into 1/3 pound burgers or larger 2/3-pound sizes. The beef is from grass-fed Angus cows from Aspen, Colorado. Burgers are cooked on Al Cassells’ famous 1940s cross-fire grill at about 500 degrees to get a nice crusty caramelization on the patty. It’s similar to the recipe Cassell used over 60 years ago. Some of Cassell’s original signs and menus are displayed on the walls, however, the new Cassell’s menu has been tweaked a little to appeal to a new generation of burger fans. What makes these burgers even more appealing are the soft and shiny Parker House buns. On the side of the plate is a wedge of iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions and pickles with Page’s secret sauce. You can order it with cheese, grilled onions, a fried egg, chili con carne, pickled jalapenos, nitrate-free bacon, avocado and mushrooms. Each “extra” is an additional charge.
Vegans can order a patty made with faro, chopped mushrooms, zucchini, red onion, miso, flax and vegan cheese. Select from housemade sauces of Thousand Island, blue cheese, house-made mayo, a mustardy mayo or ranch dressing.
Jeff devoured every bite of his cheeseburger as I dipped Kennebec fries into Heinz organic ketchup appreciating the crisp outside and warm, soft inside.
Sandwiches are also offered, like ham and cheese, tuna salad, egg salad (or a combo of both). For hot sandwiches choose from grilled cheese, tuna melt, grilled ham and cheese and a buttermilk fried chicken number. Every now and then, Page offers a “not on the menu” special. While I was dining, it was crispy chicken and waffles.
Breakfast fare includes eggs with nitrate-free bacon or sausage, hotcakes or French toast, a breakfast burrito and even a vegan tofu version. There is breakfast burger that is served on a crispy hash brown bun with avocado, spicy mayo and a fried egg.
Page’s wife Elia is an exquisite pie chef and her apple pie is one of the best in town. It’s a small, whole apple pie, that is perfect to share or bring home to enjoy later. Her pies are seasonal so check back to see what Elia is baking next!
Cassell’s is open daily at 7 a.m. and stays open on Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. $$ 3600 W. 6th St. (213)387-5502.
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