HOLLYWOOD Boulevard glitters on the other side of the black chiffon curtains, putting a certain distance between my group, seated in a comfy semicircular leather booth, and the frenetic scene on the sidewalk outside. Japanese tourists hang around the club next door, hoping to catch a glimpse of this or that heartthrob. Meanwhile, down a back hallway, guests at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel lounge on black leather daybeds, sipping flavored vodkas and staring at the ornate 1920s ceiling.
We're at 25 Degrees, the second of two restaurants from Tim and Liza Goodell at the hotel. (They also own Meson G in Hollywood.) And like Dakota, the hotel's steakhouse, the new burger bar is designed by Dodd Mitchell. He's plastered black and chrome mirrored tile on the walls and, in other places, a flocked fuchsia wallpaper. The setting seems quite a bit outre for a mere burger.
But this is no ordinary burger. Nor is 25 Degrees -- named for the temperature difference between medium rare and well done -- an ordinary diner. For one thing, the burgers are great. They're 9 ounces -- just over half a pound -- of freshly ground sirloin, hand-formed into a plump, loose patty, cooked however you like it. They arrive like a dream, wrapped in white butcher paper, with just enough of the patty peeking out to make you want to take a bite. Immediately.
The bun is a glossy chestnut brown color, with a tender brioche-like crumb. The idea at 25 Degrees is to build your own burger. And yes, for those who must, a turkey burger is offered.
You choose the fixings. Free lettuce, tomato, pickles and sliced onion are placed discreetly on the side. You can add one or more handcrafted cheeses, anything from a Neal's Yard Cheddar to a Straus Family Jack at $1 to $2 per. And then there's the good stuff like thick-cut bacon, avocado, jalapenos, etc. You can really go to town and come up with an extravagant made-to-order burger.
For those without much imagination, 25 Degrees also offers "our burger" -- caramelized onions and not one but two cheeses, plus bacon and God knows what else, which to my mind is quite rich.
Of course, you've got to have fries and maybe onion rings with your burger. Get an order of half and half heaped in a white cardboard container. Don't forget to order up a few of the dipping sauces. Tarragon remoulade and the smoky chipotle are particularly recommended (by me).
Other than that, there's a single salad, described as chopped veggies, but it's more an embellished coleslaw with white beans, grapes, cheese and tomatoes in a creamy sauce that could use a jolt of acidity.
Dessert? Just one, described as "huge chocolate cake." And it is that. One slice -- at least 8 inches high -- serves three easily. I love it: not too sweet, so dark it's almost black, a true layer cake.
The wine list is restricted to half-bottles, which severely limits the selection and seems more a gimmick than anything else, plus a few "jug wines" served by the carafe.
And for the kid in everyone, there are malts, shakes, even egg creams.
Fun for a real Hollywood night out.
Where: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
When: Open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Wine and beer (plus one cocktail, a bloody Mary). Complimentary corkage. Valet parking.
Price: Appetizers, $6.50 to $9; burgers, $9 to $12; dessert, $8
Info: (323) 785-7244