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A vintage dish with a modern appeal – The Denver Post

By Eric Kim, The New York Times

She was not your typical grandmother.

Grandma Fern was an Aunt Mame, the kind to see the world, the kind of grandma who would take you to a piano bar or teach you how to play blackjack. Her exuberant personality matched the lively energy of Pie ‘n Burger, the cool restaurant in Pasadena, Calif., Where she took her grandson Michael Osborn as a child in the 1960s.

Today, decades later, Osborn owns the restaurant.

“For a lot of people it’s like home,” he said of his 35-seat facility.

One menu item, the burger steak plate, has been served for as long as Osborn can remember. But the dish is a bit of a relic – more common on restaurant menus decades ago – and these days it can be hard to find.

At Pie ‘n Burger, it’s a half pound of premium ground beef that’s shaped into a patty, then cooked on a flat griddle. The plate is accompanied by a salad and hash browns made from steamed potatoes, as well as a buttered and toasted bun. Osborn diners treat the patty like a steak, eating it with a knife and fork and adding Worcestershire sauce, Heinz 57, or ketchup for seasoning.

Americans today might ask: why would someone order this over a regular burger or even a steak?

“Sometimes at night people want something other than a sandwich or a burger,” Osborn explained, adding that the burger plate is “a lot more profitable for a customer than a steak.”

Today, Osborn sells far fewer burger steaks than the traditional burgers his restaurant is known for. But he remembers a time in the heyday of the Atkins diet when burger steak was all the rage.