In my pursuit to comfortably refer to myself as a foodie (and not feel pretentious about it), I often ride on the coattails of my bona fide foodie friends who are fearless and adventurous in their pursuit of the perfect bite. That’s how I ended up at Slater’s 50/50 in Pasadena on a warm Saturday afternoon. We had all heard great things about the place (and since giving up meat during the week, I was all about a big, juicy burger).
It’s Pasadena, so naturally parking is obnoxious but I figured I could overlook the parking situation if the burger was as good as I had heard.
Sitting on the corner of Raymond and Union, Slater’s 50/50 looks upscale from the outside, blending in with neighboring buildings. The waiting area was essentially nonexistent but luckily we were seated right away at a corner half booth right next to the front door. Our waiter was quick to ask for our drink orders. We decided to forgo the Bacon Bloody Mary and ordered waters all around.
Right off the bat we ordered the Vampire Dip (“three cheese blend, roasted garlic, artichoke, fried pita, sourdough bowl”). It was delicious. It was warm, creamy, and had enough garlic to be yummy without scaring away anyone you planned on being close to the rest of the day.
When the time came to order a burger, my eyes were set on the 50 Alarm (carne asada beef, ghost pepper jack cheese, habanero spread, fresh jalapeños, beer battered habanero poppers, on a brioche bun). I’m down for HOT but I’m not down for signing a waiver in order to enjoy a dish (which is what I would have had to do as well as wear a pair of gloves they provide). Instead, I opted to build my own burger: a 50/50 patty (half bacon, half beef – what they’re famous for), ghost pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños, roasted green chilies, chipotle aioli, on a brioche bun. I figured that ought to fulfill my spicy burger desire.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t. When presented with the burger, I was excited. It looked delicious. The level of scrumptious nosedived once I took a bite. The bread seemed as if it was about to enter stale town. There was too much bland sauce on the thing; so much so that the onions and chilies kept trying to jump ship and save themselves from mediocrity. The jalapeños were pickled and the cheese was as bland as everything else. After a couple more bites, I ditched the bun and opted or a fork and knife. Bad idea. The unimpressive bun and gallon of sauce were hiding the too-tough patty, the same patty that shares the name of the restaurant. In its defense, I should have known better than to order a patty that was half bacon and half beef. My friend said it best: It’s like a meatball. A dry meatball. Not exactly what I had my heart set on.
Luckily I didn’t end the meal with a bad taste in my mouth. We ordered fries and beer battered jalapeños for the table. The jalapeños were also pickled and unimpressive. The fries were generic. However, the bacon/ketchup…well now, that was tasty. I ended up abandoning the second half of my burger in order to wash away its memory with the bacon/ketchup combo.
Alas, the sauce wasn’t enough to save the sinking ship. If you’re looking for a good burger in Pasadena, I’d suggest hitting up Umami (a couple of streets over) because Slater’s 50/50 is a gamble…a gamble I won’t be making again.
The food wasn’t special but their customer service was memorable. At lunch, my friend, having just returned from a European adventure, slid my souvenir across the table: Harry Potter bookmarks, a large bar of Cookies and Cream Cadbury chocolate, both were in a butter beer glass from Harry Potter World.
It wasn’t until a couple of hours later, walking around Pasadena, that I realized I left the souvenirs on the table. I quickly went back and asked the hostess about it. After a little bit of run around she went to ask the bussers. She returned with the cup holding the bookmark but the chocolate in its royal purple wrapping was gone. I asked about the chocolate to which she responded: “Maybe they threw it away on accident.” A valid possibility if the chocolate bar hadn’t been monstrous and sitting IN the cup…nice try. I explained to her that it was the size of a VHS tape (What’s that? Google it). Her next response was my favorite, “Are you sure there was a chocolate bar?” Having started in restaurants and other customer service jobs, I know better than to say such a thing to a customer. My friend didn’t miss a beat and retorted, “You know they ate it” and we were gone, unimpressed with the food and offended by Choco-Gate 2015.