Lunchbox Laboratory

December 27, 2008

From within this kitschy little kitchen in Ballard comes the most talked-about edible Rorschach test in town: Do burgers this loaded constitute grotesque overabundance or gratifying largesse? A somewhat fanatical cult votes the latter—and there they are now, clustered outside the joint, grateful for the lineup (there’s nearly always a lineup) so they have time to decide which of the six meats, seven toppings, 12 cheeses, and 21 sauces their burger should comprise. (May I humbly recommend the lean buffalo meat with goat cheese and basil aioli burger with the terrific bacon-onion salt fries?) Of course, the grotesque overabundance camp does make a point, amply evident between the grease-soaked buns of chef and owner Scott Simpson’s Hothead burger: ground prime rib oozing pepper-jack cheese, jalapeño ranch sauce, and thick bacon. You remember Simpson, the comfort-food jockey from Blue Onion Bistro who went on to open Capitol Hill’s high-ticket Fork—then close it when an alarming weight-gain threatened his health. Now the burger-flipping chef is lean and healthy; it’s just his milkshake-sucking regulars we have to worry about.

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