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Lunchbox Laboratory – Sample 2

Lunchbox Redux

We returned to the Lunchbox Laboratory this weekend to take a second look at one of the few burgers to earn a 5 star rating from one of the crew at Legit Beef. Never having been, I decided to cast an objective eye on the experience.

Wise men render sage words to first-time visitors of the Lunchbox Laboratory . The consensus among the burger illuminati is to choose one ingredient from each column of the menu: one meat, one cheese, one topping, one sauce. Nothing wrong with this philosophy, but no matter what you do, you’ll still have a burger you can’t fit your mouth around. Be conservative and exercise restraint but adding one or two extra toppings or cheeses is not, inherently, a bad thing. Experimentation is encouraged, it’s a god damned laboratory.

For my burger, I went with 1/2 lb beef patty (obvi), cheddar, maple bacon, candied balsamic onions, and their secret burger sauce. This was freakin’ delectable. Let’s go from top, down. The bun is a Kaiser, toasted to perfection and doing an admirable job of holding together despite the abundance of juices from the beef and onions. The secret burger sauce is solid, pretty standard thousand-islands-esque burger sauce but there’s nothing wrong with that.

The bacon is, in a word, perfection. The slice is not too thick and the bacon is cooked lightly, allowing you to actually taste the maple flavor. They get away with the light cooking because the cut is so lean that it may as well be a slice of ham on your sandwich. The candied balsamic onions were great, trending the burger toward the sweet side but the saltiness of the cheddar cheese helps to keep the burger balanced. There wasn’t a whole lot of input from the cheddar but I doubt if the strongest of cheeses would have overcome the other flavors of the burger to shine through.

The beef is a quality patty but here I find my only fault with the experience. The seasoning they use in their beef is noticeably heavy on the pepper.  The taste of the beef should never be masked by its seasoning, particularly such a quality and juicy blend as they serve. There’s plenty of flavor here, it’s just a shame that the beef was seasoned by a kid who works at Fat Burger before they put it on the grill.

This burger was superb. All of the ingredients are top notch, as evidenced by the $20+ tally for each burger. Well worth it. There’s a great experience to be had here, you just need to find casino games your own. You know what you like but you don’t know if it all works on a burger. That’s half the fun. So long as you keep it reasonable you’re going to have one of the best burgers of your life. I took a shot and it paid off to the tune of a 4.0/5.0. You can easily build a burger here ranging from 3.0 – 5.0 depending on how you top replica rolex watches it. It’s not about building the perfect burger, but building a great, unique burger. This is the place to do that. You miss out if show up and order a plain cheeseburger.

Unbeef: I had sweet potato fries, unremarkable, but the tots are great. You get to choose from 9 different salts too, pretty rad. The shakes look awesome.

+ Excellent bun, perfect bacon, candied balsamic onions I could have eaten alone on a bun

– Peppered patty

Lunchbox Laboratory 1/2 lb bacon cheeseburger with balsamic onions.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

520 Bar & Grill

520 Burger

The 520 Burger, self-claimed “Best in Bellevue.”

The 520 Bar & Grill features an eponymous burger which claims to be the “Best in Bellevue!” It’s hard not to scoff at the claim when you have titans of beef such as Daniel’s Broiler and Jack Howie’s just down the road, not to mention nearly 60 years of burger deliciosity from Burgermaster. Does their claim hold up? Obviously not, but failure is often more entertaining than success, so please read on.

Let’s start with the one thing they get right, the beef. On paper at least. It is quality best replica watches fresh-ground beef which is juicy and delicious. Unfortunately, I asked for medium and received well done. This was no fluke as the same thing happened to my burger buddy’s patty melt. Still the beef was good and a little fire never killed anyone, so we can overlook that. However, things would quickly go down hill from here.

The onion bun looked like it had been sitting in a bag on a store shelf for a couple months, with no hint of toasting on either side. The lettuce wasn’t really lettuce so much as a house salad, mixed greens with spinach. What the hell? I’m a man who values his lettuce, this was befuddling. I gave it a shot, put it on half the burger but my taste buds were having none of it. The tomato was fresh and juicy, providing some much needed lubrication, as there was no sauce or mayo on the burger. The cheese was cheddar, mostly melted but not very flavorful.

In conclusion, I’d say that not only is this not the best burger in Bellevue, it’s not even the best for three city blocks. You watch your mouth, 520 Bar & Grill. It’s too bad though, if the house salad isn’t served as a burger topping, the cooks are more careful and they splurge on a better quality bun, this burger could easily reach 3.5-4.

Unbeef: Fresh cut french fries, decent nachos, cool joint.

+ Quality beef, juicy.

–  Overcooked beef negated its quality, the cheese was meh, the veggies were depressing, and the underwhelming bun appropriately bookended a disappointing burger.

520 Bar & Grill’s “520 Burger”

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Five Guys – KP Redux

Get what makes you happy.

Five Guys has a good name in these parts, Drew has spoken highly of them in the past and when it comes to chains, they’re about as highly regarded as they come. But all chains suck, and everybody knows that Drew is mostly full of shit, so I took a look myself.

It took a couple trips to completely wrap my head around Five Guys. The first time I went with the double cheeseburger, with the works. A good burger. However, I felt that all of their ingredients were pretty strong, all up in my grill fighting to be the headliner, overshadowing the burger. They just don’t come together to create a harmonious experience. I could not in good faith review that burger, when my stupid ass asked for the works in the first place. They gave me an out, she asked me if I wanted toppings, my naiveté prevailed.

I resolved then to return and order a burger which came without the frills, all the while maintaining the thrills. Thus I advise that when you go to Five Guys, only ask for the toppings which are completely necessary to your quintessential burger experience. The bacon cheeseburger comes with just those things (bun free with purchase), so when they ask if you want toppings, look into your heart and be honest with the lady. She’s trying to help you.

That’s not to say it’s a Lunchbox Labotomy experience, they only serve the standard toppings here, it’s just… well you get it by now. I decided to get just the burger, bacon and cheese for my second trip. I enjoyed this quite a bit more than the “works.” The beef is juicy and delicious, it’s not gourmet but neither is it low-grade. It’s perhaps the best beef you can find in a fast-food, burger joint environment.

The cheese is American. Drew hates this. Hilarious. Next time you see him be sure to ask him what it’s like to be a communist. I take no issue with American Cheese, especially a good Cooper’s Sharp American … mmm. This is just regular American, however, but it does the job well, achieving the perfect melted/congealed state. Because America is #1.

The bun and the bacon need work. Perhaps if Jimmy Carter brokered a deal between the two to share the crispiness of the bacon with the soft and chewiness of the bun, and vice versa, the world would be a better place. The bacon is too crispy, while the bun isn’t toasted or at least it’s not toasted enough to make a difference. These are nitpickings, neither is bad enough to stand out.

Overall, a very good but not great burger. Maybe next time I’ll do lettuce, pickles and mayo.

Unbeef: Yeah, they make good fries. And they are generous. Free peanuts!

+ Quality beef,  great cheese melt

– Blasé bun, bacon

Five Guys and Fries Bacon Cheeseburger (No toppings).
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Rating: ★★★½☆ 


Herfy’s is a small gourmet burger shop in Redmond that offer a variety of differently themed burgers and sandwiches. There’s enough variety to justify a  couple more trips if they’re able to nail the standard bacon double cheeseburger. Logically, if they have a firm grasp on the foundation, then there may be some merit in the rest of that menu.

A toasted bun! Holy crap. Such a simple step in the burger-making process, but so often neglected. It didn’t really save the bun from becoming saturated, however, it was a light toast with little to no browning or taste alteration. Come to think of it, there’s a possibility that it was just slightly stale instead of slightly toasted. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say toasted.

The Achilles heal of this burger is the beef. Not that the rest is invulnerable, quite the contrary, I conquered and consumed it all. The beef patties are thin, cooked to well-done with little bits of gristle detectable in a couple bites, a major no-no. Where quality beef is the star of the burger, this is far from it, merely becoming a vessel for cheese, bacon and condiments.

Taking part in diminishing the beef, the bacon was excellent and cooked to near perfection. The cheese was American, okay in my book, and melted to a gooey consistency between the patties. Complimenting that wonderful cheese was a mayo-based sauce, working in harmony with the burger. Lettuce, tomato were fine, but the pickles were too plentiful and bitter for my taste.

Unbeef: Good fries, good onion rings, good jalopeno poppers, colon-destroying jalapeno burger (ie. “good”).

+ Toasted bun, great bacon, excellent cheese, solid burger sauce.

– Over-cooked and low quality beef, pickle overload.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 



Fatburger is about as close to fast food as we get, but there are a few key points which make it rateable for us. These burgers are cooked to order with what they claim to be the ‘100% pure lean beef and only the freshest ingredients’, and frankly, they were the only place open when I was out marauding for a burger late on a Friday night. Does their reputation for being a cut above the other Omega Replica fast food titans hold up to legit scrutiny?

Let’s start with the beef. It tastes awful. It’s “seasoned” with salt and pepper, from what I could discern, but the ratio is off and it takes away from what I consider to be okay beef. Credit where it’s due: the beef was cooked to medium-well and had a good texture and sear on the outside. It just tasted bad, is all.

The bun was mediocre, of course not toasted, and you’ll be glad they wrapped it with wax paper by the time you get to the end, as grease saturates the bun and becomes a condiment for your fries. The bacon was a little thin and fatty, but tasted alright. The cheddar cheese tasted more like American and the melt could use a little work.

The lettuce was limp, bland, wet; it was everything that’s wrong with shredded lettuce. The rest of the veggies were bland and, over time, something about their combination became offensive. They throw some mayo and mustard on there as well. I didn’t care for that either but couldn’t tell if it was just tainted by the meat seasoning.

This is the kind of food that cuts through you like Drano, however I do acknowledge that Fatburger has a place in the world of burgers. This is one of those burgers that could have been vastly different if I’d been around at a different time of day with a different cook and fresher ingredients during a high-traffic time of day, etc. But the burger before me fell short in so many ways. It’s a step above the big fast food guys, but don’t expect anything more than that or you will be bitterly disappointed.

Unbeef: Open late! Fries taste like death.

+ Good looking beef.

– Beef was seasoned to death. Veggies combine to form the sour megazord. Needs a real burger sauce.

The King Burger at Fat Burger

Rating: ★½☆☆☆



Burgermaster is a true drive-in, the first in my experience. Pull into a parking spot, flash your lights and over comes a friendly man to take your order. Fast, efficient and convenient. But is it more than just a popular Microsoft lunch spot?

The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, not that presentation is high on their list of priorities. The bun bares a striking resemblance to a McDonald’s bun, however the taste, absorbency and quality of the bun are far superior to McDonald’s … which is to say they are average.

Average is a theme here. Beef is alright, veggies are decent, cheese is fine. They went with shredded lettuce, which they get away with by virtue of freshness. Setting this burger apart from lesser burgers was a solid effort in bacon and the fine art of cheese-melting. I had “The Baconmaster” which is just their “Burgermaster” with three strips of well-prepared bacon.

There was no sauce that I could discern, which is just as well because the cheese was melted well enough where a sauce wasn’t necessary. On the subject of absences, Burgermaster omits the pickles and onions by default. While keeping it simple doesn’t detract from the burger, I feel like these missing pieces could be what they’re missing to push them into the next class. It’s just not the flavor explosion you might find elsewhere with a fully loaded burger.

Unbeef: Shake was good. Fries were meh. Going to a real drive-in is rad.

+ It was a tasty burger, all the pieces are solid.

– Average. They could see improvement in almost every area: lettuce by the leaf, a higher quality beef, a nicer cheese or a toasted bun. Needs extra oomph.

The Baconmaster at Burgermaster

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

Teddy's Bigger Burgers

Teddy’s Monster Double

Inconveniently located in Woodinville, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers live up to their name, weighing in at 5, 7 and 9oz sizes, with the option to double up. Claiming to have “reinvented” the burger, the Teddy’s franchise originated in Hawaii and has since spread to the mainland, we put them through the rigorous test of our digestive systems.

The beef is cooked to order, medium with a nice char on the outside. The quality of the meat is good longines replica, well above average, but no Jak’s. The bun gets the job done and the sauce which adorns it is alright, however both are otherwise forgettable. Most impressive was the bacon, which was cooked to chewy but not crispy and never left its rightful throne atop the melted cheddar. The lettuce, tomatoes and pickle were all fresh and a-okay in my book, but Teddy lost me at the onions. A cold mess of raw, thinly sliced white onions sits in the middle of your burger, begging to be released from their prison to die a lonely death in your fry basket. If you’re in the area, stop by for a burger and you won’t be disappointed, but don’t expect a transcendent experience.

Unbeef: fries are very good, menu has great variety, friendly staff, seating area is large and clean (unlike 90% of burger-dedicated hublot replica watches shops).

+ Good beef, good cooks, great bacon.

– Cold, raw, hateful onions. Bun, sauce, cheese, veggies are bogged down by mediocrity.

The monster double bacon cheese burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

Rating: ★★★½☆

Red Mill

Red Mill

Double Bacon Deluxe w/ Cheese

Red Mill is a Seattle joint devoted to the art of the burger and what we call the greater burger experience, a staple among Seattle’s “best burgers” lists. We’re not out to shatter anyone’s perception of the world, this is a quality burger, but how does it stack up to a beef enthusiast’s lofty expectations?

The bun is the standard sesame seed fare, seemingly untoasted. The beef is nothing special, a couple 1/4 lb patties cooked to medium-well. Things begin to pick up with their accompaniments; the bacon is well-cooked but still chewy, the lettuce, tomato and pickles are fresh, crisp and working in perfect harmony. The sauce is good, with a slight kick, however it is slightly overwhelming at times. They absolutely nail the cheese, ooey gooey goodness, barely congealing along the sides of the burger.

Unbeef: Fries were quite good, onion rings were different, but good, milk shake was excellent.

+ The pieces fit: the burger is held together by the exceptionally fresh veggies, bacon and heavenly cheese.

– The bun isn’t anything special and the beef is not the star. That would be okay if we were called Legit Condiments.

The double bacon with cheese at Red Mill Burgers

Rating: ★★★★☆

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