Location: 1253 Thomas St, Seattle, WA
Health and nutrition are the last things on my mind whenever I take a bite out of a thick, juicy burger. Every sinful bite is shortening my lifespan by about five seconds, but I do not care. As I eat, my taste buds become participants in an orgy of buttery buns, moist meat, caramelized onions, and gooey cheese. A tasty burger truly is one of life’s great pleasures, so it’s not surprising that I seek them out almost every time I visit a new locale. Google led me to discover a joint in the South Lake Union area called Lunchbox Laboratory. Because the menu seemed quirky and it was walking distance from my residence in Belltown, I decided to swing by for a Sunday lunch.
The menu has some interesting items, such as the Dork–a burger with a patty of ground pork and duck. There are also a few familiar choices, such as their versions of bacon cheeseburgers and barbecue bacon burgers, along with a Build-A-Burger option. If I eat at a restaurant, I want to eat the dish that they’re known for, so I opted for what seemed to be the highlight of the menu: the Burger of the Gods.
The Burger of the Gods has a patty of “American-style Kobe beef”, and is topped with bleu cheese crumbles, a gorgonzola spread, and something I’ve never seen before on a burger: candied balsamic onions. It is one tall and hefty burger–the kind that forces you to stretch your mouth open like the figure in Edvard Munch’s The Scream, just to take the first bite.
Despite not being sure about having onions marinated in balsamic vinegar on my burger, the Burger of the Gods turns out to be pretty good. The normally strong bleu and gorgonzola cheeses aren’t overpowering. The balsamic onions weren’t served at warm temperature and had a tanginess I don’t typically see needed on a burger, but their acidity was balanced out by the other elements in the burger. The buns, organic Kaiser rolls from Seattle’s Essential Baking Co., are thankfully hearty enough to hold the meat and toppings cleanly together. The beef itself is expectedly thick, and is cooked to my satisfaction. It isn’t too dry, nor is it undercooked. Accompanying my burger were slices of lettuce, onions, pickles, and tomatoes, along with a bowl of these babies:
With each burger, Lunchbox Laboratory let’s you choose a side of: skinny fries, sweet potato fries (+$0.50), tater tots, housemade chips, or potato salad. Because I’m a traditionalist, I chose the classic skinny fries. You also get more condiment options aside from typical ketchup, in the form of various salts:
The fries, even with moderate sprinklings of bacon and garlic salts, were just okay. Nothing really stood out, but aside from them being cut skinnier than I normally prefer, nothing was wrong with them either. The flavors of the salts are subtle, but then again I deliberately tried to avoid over-salting my fries.
My companion ordered the Homage to Dick’s Deluxe, seen at the beginning of this post. I initially have no idea what Dick’s is, but she tells me it’s a Seattle burger chain that’s been around for many years and has quite the following, especially amongst drunk college kids. Kinda like Seattle’s In-N-Out, I suppose. This is a more traditional burger, with American cheese, onions, and thick slabs of honey-cured bacon all topped off with a “top-secret burger sauce”. I ate about a quarter of her burger, and the burger sauce had a Thousand Island-y flavor. I liked it, a lot. It vaguely reminded me of an In-N-Out Double Double with bacon thrown onto it. Vaguely. I’m not about to say Seattle has an equivalent of In-N-Out (if there is, PLEASE prove me wrong), but flavor-wise it made me somewhat nostalgic for the California chain.
Lunchbox Laboratory does have one downside: the prices. A Burger of the Gods will set you back $12.99, and that’s the cheapest burger on the menu. Other burgers range from $13.99 to $14.99. You can build your own burger starting at $10.50, but after you add your cheese and toppings, you could be well into the $15 range. With prices that steep, it will be hard to come here on a regular basis, which is too bad, because I really enjoy their food. Nevertheless, if you do get the chance, I recommend trying their food once. Well, maybe twice, because…
Bonus: When you get your bill, fill out the comment card and join their mailing list. They will email you a gift certificate good for $10 off your next visit. $10 off! If you go in for a quick lunch by yourself with this coupon, that’s 2/3 of your bill taken off for doing next to nothing. I see another visit in the near future…
Update: For Part Two, click here.