07 March 2009
The VB project took us to Lawrence, KS today to eat at the locally and nationally acclaimed "Local Burger." (Bon Appetit named Local Burger as one of its 2008 Top Eco-Friendly Restaurants and Gourmet called Local Burger one of America's Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants.) I was so glad we finally made the trek to this unparalleled restaurant. Indeed, a place with the name "local" in it is very promising. And sure enough, the emphasis on the nearest environs was made evident all around: multiple maps of Kansas on the walls, a list of supplier farms WITH mileage so you know precisely how far your food traveled.
Almost all the burgers at Local Burger are (you guessed it!) local - beef, elk, turkey, etc. The veggie burger - the "World's Best Veggie Burger" (and I think it was) - features a housemade patty with organic quinoa and is distinctly delicious. (The quinoa unfortunately isn't local, but this is the midwest, not the Andes and I'm starting to think my hunt for relatively local quinoa is a wild goose chase. But quinoa is healthy - so I'll add it to the category of exceptions like orange juice.) But if you are a vegetarian and you do prefer something more local, you can get the Tofu Filet Burger with Central Soyfoods tofu from right there in Lawrence, KS. 2 miles away according to the list. The Tofu Filet is what I ordered and it was very good indeed - the tofu was crunchy on the outside with a nutritional yeast coating. And it worked surprisingly well as a burger.
I'm impressed with the level of care and consideration that has gone into the menu - it seems like they've left no dietary preference unturned. (They're clever, too - they even have an omnivore burger, 1/2 veggie patty and 1/2 meat patty. And one of their sides is "progressive potatoes" - a.k.a. french fries.) To meet so many needs successfully with one menu is an admirable feat. The entire restaurant has a fun, relaxed atmosphere and is definitely the kind of place I'd go to frequently ... if it weren't 42 minutes away. However, I read in last month's Tastebud that "2009 is the year for a Kansas City Local Burger!" Really? Could it be true? Could I get a Local Burger that is more local to me than Lawrence? I'm keeping my fingers crossed ...