With more than a dozen burger-beer joints in Orange County, one has to bring something new to the table to really stand out. At Irvine’s The Stand, it nearly took me half a beer just to decide what to eat. With a menu as big as a Stephen King novel, my crew of first-timers look glazed-over in a pre-food coma for a solid five minutes. “You get the French Onion Soup Burger and I’ll get the Porchetta sando,” said my work mate. The other two also did the divide and conquer method, getting an ironic D.T.L.A. dog (Kosher dog wrapped in bacon) and some $6 gastropub-ish Brussels sprouts. “Chili-cheese fries to split?” We were not leaving this place hungry.
The 14-beer tap list is very Irvine, with several L.A. and San Diego offerings. Good beers in all, although nothing to fish-hook a bearded beer geek. I found solace with a ruby-red Smog City Sabre Tooth Squirrel and heady Boulevard Tank 7 Saison. Being an L.A.-based chain with five locations, the beer selection doesn’t differ much from location to location, although Irvine has more taps than other Stands. Wine is also on tap!
I’m all for a gimmicky sandwich from time to time, but the French Onion Soup burger is how I actually make my patty at home. Get a little Lipton Onion Soup mix, then pound it into your fresh chuck grind, topping it with gruyere and fried onions…it’s heavenly. The Stand’s version is an incredible journey in burger creativity, adding aus jus as a side dipping soup, with Parmesan-crusted bread, ooey-gooey Gruyere, and a healthy pinch of crispy onion strings. The entire bite is airy and inhalable, almost to the point of craving another. This could seriously be my new favorite burger!
Adding to the dozen burgers offered, 10 sandwiches, five salads, and eight signature dogs make up the huge menu. For the creative types, designing your own dog is a thing, with 21 free condiments and 21 loaded toppings ranging from 60 cents to a buck for things like chili and special cheeses, the possibilities are truly infinite.
Manager Cody, complete with a New York accent, sweet talked our table into getting dessert, and their custard cobbler is a childhood favorite. Hot apple goodness under soft serve custard might just be my default side from now on.
The Stand, 5633 Alton Pkwy., Irvine. // thestandlink.com