Rather than a Restaurant of the Week today, let me say goodbye to one of my regular haunts, Rounds Burgers in Claremont, which (sob!) closes Sunday (May 28). It’s previously been subject of a RofW post, in 2013.
The fledgling chain started in Claremont and West Hollywood and expanded to Sherman Oaks and Pasadena, but WeHo and, er, SherO have closed. Is Pasadena closing too? The Claremont location appeared to change hands a couple of years ago, leading to an exodus of employees, some of whom ended up next door at the ill-fated The Rim. But I kept eating there.
I never introduced myself to the staff or sought to learn about the business. I’m writing this simply as a regular. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why I ate there so often.
It was at the south end of Claremont on Auto Center Drive, not in the Village. The burgers were good, but not my favorite. The custom order sheets could be a pain to fill out. Preferred items were dropped: first pesto mayo, which went great with the Swiss and mushroom burger I assembled, then the whole wheat bun, then the pretzel bun.
Once I had a chicken sandwich that was overcooked and rubbery, which put me off ordering it for a while; not long afterward, they phased out pineapple, a favorite topping for the sandwich.
So Rounds wasn’t perfect. But they offered coupons often, and I liked the place aesthetically. It was spacious, with high ceilings, and generally was at least half-empty. For my purposes, it offered a psychic comfort level, where I could take the Sunday paper or a book, relax for 90 minutes with a buffer zone around me, and not worry about anyone needing my table. At rare times when most of the tables were taken, there were two communal tables, often unoccupied, where I could sit in peace.
The benefits of this kind of semi-public space are not to be taken lightly.
Also, despite the shrinking menu, I belatedly found a sandwich I love: the mucho mushroom (my beloved mushroom and swiss combo), but as a turkey burger. Let me say, generally I don’t order turkey burgers, but this one had a better taste than the beef. Better for me, and better tasting? That’s rare.
Last Sunday I ate lunch at Rounds for what is likely the last time, ordering the sandwich I like, and splurging on chili cheese fries as a last hurrah. Consider this post a tribute to a fallen eatery, one where I spent many an hour. Thanks for feeding me and for the use of the space, Rounds.