Before heading out on the road for work this past week, I decided to toss the Seattle Weekly Voracious Dining Guide into my bag as something to read during takeoff and landing.  Not only was it perfect reading material, but it reminded me that there are so many great places in Seattle I have yet to try.  So, rather than coming home and heating up some leftovers, I decided to swing by one of the restaurants that I’ve yet to try.  Since it was lunchtime, and I was heading to my home in Ballard, I decided to stop by Lunchbox Laboratory on NW 15th.
Driving up to the restaurant, I realized that I had probably driven by it nearly a hundred times and never really noticed it, let alone deciding to stop by.  I wonder how many other places there are like this…but I digress.  The Lunchbox Laboratory is a small, non-descript shop next to a small nail salon on NW 15th, with a sign that is barely noticeable above the trees that line the street.  Walking through the door on the side, you are immediately greeted by the smells of hamburgers crammed into a very small space (maybe 20 people could squish together at the tables.  There were multiple menu chalkboards to look at.  The first is the specials which are the pre-configured burgers.  Below that is the shakes and malts, and around the counter where you place your order is the options menu so you can build your own burger.  I took a quick look at all the menus, and then decided, to go with a special.  I narrowed it down to the “Le Truffle Love” and the “Dorkfather” (dork being a combo of ground duck and pork).  After a mental coin flip, I decided on the 1/4 lb. “Le Truffle Love”, a burger containing “Super Beef” (a combo of prime rib, sirloin and rib eye), bacon, onions, cheese, and black truffle mayo; as well as a side of sweet potato fries.  All told it was $13 ($2 more for the 1/2 lb. variety), not bad for a potentially good lunch.
While waiting for my order, I perused the simple decor, made up primarily of old school metal lunchboxes and thermoses adorning the walls.  I didn’t see any that I had used, but I started school in the era of platic lunchboxes.  There were only a couple of other people in there, but I assumed that it had more to do with the fact that it was barely after 11 in the morning than anything else.  After about 5 minutes I was handed a very large bag of food.  I walked out and headed two minutes to home.

Opening the bag when I got home, I noticed one bag that contained the fries, a side of dipping sauce, an aluminum foil wrapped burger that appeared much bigger than I expected for a quarter pounder, and a small box that contained the lettuce, tomato and pickle.  I was actually impressed that they put it on the side so that I could add what I wanted, but more importantly, so it stays fresh until I’m ready to eat it.  I put everything on a plate, cut the burger in half, and got ready to dive in. 

The first bite was very good.  I got a mouth full of bacon and onion and burger, with juices running down my hand and back on to the plate.  I made quick work of the first half of the burger before taking a couple bites of fries.  The fries were just perfect, nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.  The sauce was a nice accompaniment, though I couldn’t really tell what was it in it…kind of a southwest style.  As I started into the second half of the burger, I realized that there was something just a little off.  A couple more bites and I realized what it was…I was missing the burger and the mayo.  By this I mean that there was so much bacon and onion that it was overwhelming everything else (I know, too much bacon??  Is it possible?).  The burger could have been ground chuck and I never would have noticed.  It wasn’t until I got to the last couple of bites where most of the bacon was gone that I finally got the full combination of flavors in my mouth, and it was much better.
Overall, the Lunchbox Laboratory makes a very good burger.  There was definitely a lot of flavor, but the toppings were a little overwhelming and the burger was a tad too well done for my tastes.  But it was definitely good enough to convince me to go back and try again, probably the dork next time.  And I would probably put it in the top 3 burgers I’ve had in Seattle, somewhere behind the Red Mill Deluxe and the Tillamook Cheddar Burger at Sport.
Lunchbox Laboratory on Urbanspoon

Final Verdict – 3.5 Stars

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