Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Column: The Burger Wizard Reviews Larryville Burgers, Volume I

Don't worry, readers, we're not becoming the next with this bit of food reporting, but the burger scene in Larryville is so omnipresent that it needs its own reporter, a fearless Burger Wizard who will devour the city's beef far and wide and pull no punches in his reporting (motherfucking New York Times restaurant-review style!). In this first installment, the Burger Wizard visits Local Burger and does not like it. Please direct all angry comments at him, not us, via his twitter account @mentalplex And stay tuned for future posts from the Wizard. Will he dare to speak ill of Krause's burgers? Will he order one of those $25 stuffed tomatoes to accompany his Pachamama's burger? (read about the tomato here ). Will he risk a knife-fight to chomp on a burger at Haskell Diner?

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 d├ęcor 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.

- @Mentalplex


Local Burger said...

@mentalplex, we're really sorry that you had a bad experience when you visited. We work to make the best burger in town and you obviously disagreed.

We want to let you know though that our grass-fed, Kansas-raised beef is incredibly fresh. We never use pre-packaged burgers. Unlike some, we get it directly from the ranchers who raise the cattle.

In addition to beef, we offer pork, elk, bison, turkey, tofu, adzuki bean and veggie burgers as well as a ton of dishes in addition to burgers. If you did not like the beef when you visited, we encourage you to come back in and try one of our many other options.

We hope that you'll give us another shot in the future!

- All our Local Love, Local Burger

the burger wars begin said...

We knew this was likely to spark a debate. Not a debate on the chicken-art level. But a debate nonetheless.

Will @mentalplex give Krause a pass?

Mentalplex said...

Dear Local Burger,

Thanks for noticing my little review. I'm sure your alternative meat is excellent, but I've sworn off bison since leaving that ranchers daughter ($14,800/acre, Louisville, KY).

Best of Luck!