Photo by Katherine Harris
City Lunch: The Lowry’s Short Rib & Chuck Burger
Can a “celebrity” East Coast butcher make a good local burger?
True burger freaks may be the only ones who know it, but our shores are being invaded by über-butcher (and Food Network star; see Meat Men) Pat LaFrieda of North Bergen, New Jersey. LaFrieda created Shake Shack’s ground beef mix, which propelled him into a New York City food icon, his name (and custom grinds) showing up on the best menus in the tri-state area.
Turns out national wholesaler US Foods exclusively markets a LaFrieda ground beef in the provinces. It’s a mainstay on the menu at Blue Plate Restaurant Co.’s Highland Grill and The Lowry, offered at an ambitious $15 a burger. “I’d been tracking that cat [LaFrieda] in the trades,” says Blue Plate co-owner David Burley, who says he can’t create a custom grind of LaFrieda’s quality at US Foods’ price.
LaFrieda’s meat is coarsely ground and arrives here fresh, not frozen. As for Lowry’s eight-ounce burger, it is intensely beefy and minerally, though leaner than you’d imagine. The croissant bun and field greens are a bit genteel for something this redolent of slaughterhouse. I’d add a slice of cheese, leave the house seasoning off the fries, and ponder the question of whether this particular burger is too New Jersey for hipsters.
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