Lunchbox Lab

Written by on June 17, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ballard
How I heard of this place: Several friends have mentioned it, but the first was Sheideh, who raved about a great, huge burger…from a place she couldn’t recall the name of. When I heard about it again, and then asked her about it, it was the same place!
Type of cuisine: Burgers and sides with a fancy, Northwest flair.
Ambiance: Small brightly colored space which has just enough room for the ordering counter, one line of patrons and almost not enough space for two plastic fold-out tables lined with seating for 12-14 on benches and folding chairs on either side. Very much a cozy space, extra casual lunch appropriate and a great way to make friends, as diners are seated in very close proximity! There is also outdoor seating with umbrellas for those sunny (or often busy) days. The order counter is lined with old, metal lunchboxes, adding a nostalgic flavor for those of us who grew up with them, and something fun to look at for the children, as they are displayed just at eye level for kids. Three extra large green boards are directly in view (hiding the kitchen staff) with daily specialties, meat, cheese, topping options and beverage selections, which include a large variety of chocolate and vanilla milkshakes.
What I ordered: I was happy to have arrived just before my friend so that I had time to narrow down my favorites based on the large number of options available. I narrowed my selection to the specialty board, first of all, and then to either the Burger of the Gods: super beef with candied balsamic onions and super gorgonzola sauce, the Hot Head: super beef with pepperjack, bacon and jalapeno ranch, or le Truffle Love: super beef with Swiss, bacon Lbox onions and black truffle mayo. At the recommendation of the friendly guy who took our order, I opted for the most popular among women – Burger of the Gods ($12 for a baby 1/4 pound patty; the full 1/2 pound is $14) with a free generous side of Lunchbox shoestring fries. I also ordered, because I couldn’t resist, the $5 Seville Orange milkshake (dark chocolate orange), topped with a heaping helping of whipped cream and decorated with a web drizzle of chocolate sauce on the inside of the large cup. My dining companion was either going to get the Burger of the Gods or the Marsala Mushroom Madness: lamb, mushrooms, Swiss, brown sugar Marsala onion and truffle kissed basil mayo. He ordered the side of the day’s special mac ‘n cheese (for $2 extra), which consisted of a large, rich helping of tomato-garlic-basil mac ‘n cheese, prepared in a skillet when ordered.
What I loved: I loved the balsamic onions – sweet, savory, amazingly tasty and aplenty! The blue cheese melted perfectly onto the burger, smooth and creamy. The bun was buttered, grilled and served warm, alongside cool fresh vegetables (2 slices of tomato, lettuce, red onion and a large slice of pickle). The mac ‘n cheese and shoestring fries were presented in a large, white ramekin bowl/dish and placed neatly next to the fresh vegetables, followed by the burger to the far right, all on a real rectangular plate. Having never been a fan of lamb, I was pleasantly surprised that the lamb burger was well seasoned and grilled to a juicy tenderness that was a balanced complement to the Swiss cheese and mushrooms.
Why I loved it: I love the friendly, helpful staff that work hard, non-stop to quickly serve their fresh burgers to the masses lined up outside. I very much appreciated one young staff member who came by and asked if the people in front of me had cut in line because he hadn’t seen me offer them the space ahead of me as we continued to make our selections. I loved the tight quarters, the bustling space and the diners around us who were interested in splitting burgers so we could try more than just our own! I loved the quality of the burgers, the spiced fries, the fresh BBQ sauce and the fact that they had a “mystery sauce” in a container at the condiment bar. Everything about this place screams friendly neighborhood joint.
Cost: High for a burger lunch, but totally worth the cost ($12-$16 for a burger and a side)

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