The burger: Diners have two options for engaging in the ordering process at Lunds & Byerly’s Kitchen, the new dining-supermarket prototype in downtown Wayzata. The high-tech alternative involves tapping the selection into one of the seemingly zillions of iPads affixed to the dining room’s tabletops (mirroring the same setup at the restaurants up and down the G Concourse at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport). It’s quick and relatively intuitive, but every time I resort to the self-checkout setups at Home Depot or Target, I can’t help but think that I’m contributing to the loss of someone’s job. Also, I prefer to deal with an actual human being. An iPad is efficient but not terribly hospitable.
Which explains why I was standing at the counter. The employee taking my order was brimming over with such a prodigious amount of I’m-so-happy-to-here attitude that I couldn’t help but make a mental note: Try to find this kind of enthusiasm in your own work. And straight off, she asked one of my favorite burger-related questions: “Pink, or no pink?” she said.
I chose the latter, she swiped my credit card and I took a seat. As a frequent solo diner, I’m always on the lookout for favorable counter seating. This place has it, to burn, in the form of a handsome, horseshoe-shaped bar, which is curved to maximize conversation and roomy enough to order a slew of plates and spread them out in front of you.
Anyway. The burger arrived in just under eight minutes, and I’m not sure if it’s because I was crazy-hungry or because of the burger, but the aroma that floated up off that plate was intoxicating. The thick third-pound patty had a char that bordered on crusted. One tantalizingly charbroiled bite in and it was obvious – in such a good way -- that the kitchen favors the rare end of the pink spectrum. This was a burger that just ran juices, and that velvety rare beef was imbued with a subtle mineral-ey quality.
It gets better. The toppings were spot-on. The patty was draped in a thin, melty layer of smoky Gouda. What a smart choice, as it totally complements the featured attraction, a chopped onion compote that’s simmered to sweetness in beer and teased with smoky bacon. There’s a generous pool of tangy mustard aioli, served on the side, and it’s also first-rate.
As for the bun, it’s ok: Nicely soft smf gently toasted. Its best attribute is that it’s content to remain in the background rather than compete with that expertly grilled patty, or those clever garnishes. I consumed the whole thing, a rare Burger Friday occurrence. I’ll definitely be back.
Fries: None. There’s a side of potato chips. They’re fine.
Keeping it local: How great is it that the bar taps into so many Twin Cities-brewed beers? There’s Surly, Excelsior, 612, Summit, Lift Bridge, Harriet, Badger Hill and Fulton, and probably one or two that I'm overlooking. It speaks volumes when a mass-market grocer – even one as savvy as Lunds and Byerly’s – embraces the local craft beer phenomenon. Hurrah.
A copy desk-esque query: Is it Lunds & Byerly’s Kitchen? Lunds and Byerlys Kitchen? Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen? I’ve seen all three, a surprising incongruity from such a brand-conscious company. Here’s my executive decision: I’m going with the first one.
Address book: 250 Superior Blvd., Wayzata, 952-476-1122. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Talk to me: Do you have a favorite burger? Share the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.