Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., March 11
Turf Club happy hour: First, learn how to grill
Lesson one: take the plastic wrap off BEFORE you toss the patty on...
I just make it into the Turf Club (1116 25th Street, Golden Hill , 619-234-6363)...
...before the end of happy hour. “It’s noon to 5:00 p.m., Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” says Jackson the barman.
As usual, you come in out of the glare and see, well, nothing except the glowing red ceiling. That’s it. Aladdin’s cave.
Then the bar gradually appears, and wow. A whole rack of people drinking, eating.
So I kinda feel my way to a bar stool, cling to the bar, and look for a menu.
Turns out it’s simple, if you’re into HH.
“Burger, chicken sandwich, or two Louisiana hot links,” says Jackson. "All $5.”
He says the burger’s hard to beat, so I ask for that, and splurge a little and get a Ballast Point Sculpin beer. American IPA. I pay $6. Normally $7. Beers are $1 off in happy hour. I could’ve had most others for $5.
So pretty quick, Jackson’s back with my burger.
I notice another flat patty beside it.
“What’s this, dessert?” I ask.
“Uh, no, that’s the patty. Raw. You cook,” says Jackson, like Tarzan speaking to Jane.
So okay, that’s just the first blooper. I ask Jackson about technique.
“Throw it on, leave it there for five minutes, flip it one time and cook it for another five minutes,” he says. He’s patient, even though he must have to go through this routine 1,000 times a night. “And stick some Worcestershire Sauce on.”
This lady Michelle...
...points me to the hot grill, like the tribal fire, in the main room...
...and I’m just about to throw the patty on, when I see it glint in the low light.
Da plastic. It’s wrapped in plastic.
“Yes, we get people doing that,” says Michelle. “But usually later at night.”
Meaning, when they have the excuse of being pretty drunk, I guess.
This guy Dan turns his Del Monico steak over.
The smoky smell’s delicious.
Dan hauls his off, I put mine on, douse it in Worcestershire.
But actually – truth in cooking – Michelle pretty-much does the whole thing for me. So I can take pictures is my excuse.
“There is technique involved,” she says, as she flips mine. “With the rib eye, you want to do it medium-well, so the marbling melts. That fat gives it its great flavor. With filet mignons and sirloins, you can do it as rare as you want. Uh, you need to toast your buns now.”
OK. Not sit on da grill, but put the hamburger buns on. And the cheese slab.
She squirts a lotta ketchup, mustard on the upturned bun...
...scoops the patty from the grill...
...and pretty soon, it’s over.
I sit down and look at it. Smell it. Ooh. Sabroso.
I mean this is fire, your basic element. This is men cooking the hunt. This is primitive stuff.
“Yes, men usually want to do the grilling,” Michelle says. “It’s something about those coals, the flames, the meat.”
Whatever, my grilled patty – it’s a 1/4-lb of ground round sirloin – has that nice burned taste you can’t get no other way.
I settle in, chowing down as I watch other men throw their kill on the grill.
No wonder this place has been unchanged since 1950.
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