1) A moral alternative to kings, clowns, and castles
Local Burger gets its beef from the Ruperts of Kickin Bull Ranch, an organic cattle spa in Hoyt, Kansas. The restaurant is in a little glass building across the street from the Lawrence Public Library and right next to one of my favorite parking lots. From the library and the parking lot, it looks like a reasonable place—a little cute, but worth a visit. So I put them on the schedule for Sunday afternoon.
Walking in, the cafeteria décor and cashier caught me off guard. To avoid ordering, I asked for the bathroom. I stalled there for a while, trying to come up with a reason to take Local Burger off my list. It turns out they don’t serve beer. Any burger joint worth its salt serves beer. Emerging from the bathroom, I thanked the young lady at the register and left.
A few Sunday manhattans and a cup of coffee later, I reconsidered. Some of the best burgers break the rules. Miss Ann, for example, grills her ghetto burger for a full 36 minutes and she definitely doesn’t serve beer ($8, Ann’s Snack Bar, Atlanta, GA). Local Burger deserved another shot. I went back for dinner and ordered “The Classic” ($6).
“What kind of protein would you like on that, sir?”
“Umm… beef.” I paid the cashier, mentioning that he hadn’t asked me how I would like it done.
“How would you like it cooked, then?”
“Medium rare, please.” This required a conference with the chef, who, feeling adventurous, agreed.
The red leaf lettuce and onions were crisp, fresh, and flavorful. The pickle was a pickle, but the tomato was mealy and the bun unremarkable. I only mention it because this bun was one of the high-points in a truly unfortunate burger eating experience. I nearly stopped after the first few bites, but I am, after everything, still a Midwesterner.
As far as the quarter inch patty is concerned, the outside was a sickly mottled pinkish gray. This means it had either been frozen or sat out on the counter far to long before hitting the grill. It was moist (but so is wet cardboard) and had no flavor to speak of. The inside reinforced my ‘frozen-patty’ theory, alternating pink and gray regions showing an uneven cook. That’s right—a quarter inch patty with an uneven cook. Even frozen, that is quite a feat.
Final verdict? An excellent point of reference—the ugly but morally correct burger.