Today for lunch, I had a lamb burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions, and balsamic steak sauce, twisty fries with smoked tea salt, and a chocolate milkshake served in a 400mL beaker. For the second time, Brad, Charlie, and I had the giddy pleasure of eating at Lunchbox Laboratory. Our first visit was last Thursday and we’ve both been not so subtly trying to find excuses to be over in their neighborhood since. Today, we just had to visit a nearby nursery for some essential gardening supplies (that will now sit unused in our garage until June, I’m sure…).
On this second visit, we arrived after the lunch rush, around 1:30, to a nearly empty restaurant. It was nice to have a bit more time to study the menu, without all the eager lunchers waiting behind us as on our first visit. There are so many choices of meats, cheeses, sauces, sides, salts… When I take Henry there, I’m sure we’ll pass the time waiting for our food by figuring out how many possible permutations there actually are; he’s a math geek like me. Also, I’m sure he’ll be into all the old lunchboxes hanging on the wall (Six Million Dollar Man wielding a giant tree, Speed Buggy, The Fonz). Anyway, you could spend a long time trying to decide what to eat, but I actually settled pretty quickly on the “B&O” lamb burger, one of the specials on the “experiments” chalk board. Brad had “The Hopalong,” a prime rib burger with bacon, cheese (can’t recall what kind), onions, and BBQ sauce, skinny fries with bacon salt, and a vanilla shake. Charlie insisted he and I share a chocolate shake. I gotta say there wasn’t much sharing going on, though; Charlie slurped most of it down. The shakes are delicious, thick but not too thick; you can still drink them through your straw! And tasty, so tasty… I love holding the glass beakers (you can take the girl out of the chemistry lab but not the chemistry lab out of the girl?), and seeing the artful way the shake maker painted the inside of the glass with arches of chocolate sauce. Oh dear, I got distracted by the shakes… What of the food?!? Delicious. I was literally licking my fingers after the last bite of burger, wishing I’d been able to eat it more slowly. Lamb and blue cheese is a brilliant flavor combination. The fries were good, too, though I think I would have liked more smoked tea salt.
Oh, I could ramble on and on about this place and their fine food. I’m trying to figure out why I like it so much. It does a lot of things “right” in the Seattle foodie sense (and we are such food snobs here, and don’t even get me going on coffee): grass fed animals, sodas without high fructose corn syrup, bread from a local artisanal bakery, real ice cream, exotic salts. Gotta have that exotic NaCl. So, it’s a cramped, upscale burger joint with funky decor (and the salts!), but I’ve been to plenty of those and not been so smitten. Somehow, it hits all the right notes without being too fussy or seeming too studied. The people who own it also run it, and they care about what they’re doing, and it shows in the food they make and in how they interact with each other and the diners, and that is a thing of great value. The food is obviously not health food, but great splurge food. And it is fun. That’s it. It’s just friggin’ fun.
And, I think I can use all the fun I can get these days. We’ve been down, way down, in the muck of parenting lately, what with the whining, and whinging, and whacking (as in “I accidentally whacked my brother with this hard object I began whirling around even as he was standing not more than a foot from me, right in front of me, but, see, I closed my eyes and so there’s no way I could have known he was still there right in the path of this hard object I have every right to fling around willy nilly…) Repeat often. Yep.