Aficionados of high-end hamburgers know that a steakhouse is a good place to look for a great one. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar supports this theory—the restaurant’s prime burger, ground from beef of the same quality as its steaks, is outstanding. At a recent tasting of the “5 for $6 ‘Til 7” bar menu, the rare-in-the-middle, charred-on-the-outside burger arrives on a cushiony, toasted, brioche-style roll, garnished with thick-sliced spicy bacon and a generous slab of cheddar. The meat is so good it almost doesn’t need the toppings… but go ahead and enjoy ‘em anyways.
Something else to enjoy is the price: $6, as part of the bar menu served until 7 p.m. daily. Other $6 food selections are comparably impressive—excellent ravioli with exceptionally delicate, well-made pasta and savory roasted-mushroom filling, tenderloin carpaccio (that meat again) with house-made crostini and horseradish in the dressing, perfectly fried squid with sweet chile sauce and banana peppers, puff-pastry-wrapped baked brie with sweet-tangy apple garnish, and buttery New Orleans-style (founder Paul Fleming is from Louisiana) barbecue shrimp.
Special cocktails and good wines—from a clear, sprightly blueberry martini, to cava, chardonnay, and cabernet, are also $6 each. You can read the menu here. I have to mention—the burger also comes with FAB house-made onion rings. Large, sweet onion slices, perfectly fried (this kitchen is good at frying—don’t miss the squid), with a seasoned crumb coating that adheres in just the right way. A bite is easily accomplished without destroying the entire thing. When I remarked on this admirable structural integrity, chef Chris Hutten told me something of great importance: Each ring has the thin membrane that separates the onion layers removed prior to breading and frying. Some heroic kitchen staffer, by hand, removes the stringy membrane from every single one, so that we can enjoy what might be the Best Onion Rings Ever. That kind of attention to detail is pretty much priceless—but is included in the (teensy) price of admission.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 455 Newport Center Dr., Fashion Island, 949-720-9633