15 South Beach Street, Nantucket MA 02554 (map); 508-325-4001; lola41.com/
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Big and juicy, though with a big price tag. You pay for the delicious foie dip.
Want Fries With That? They come automatically, and are good
There's a lot of things that could be said about Lola 41° on Nantucket. Overpriced? Check (but so's everything on-island). Mediocre sushi? Check (Sushi by Yoshi or Sushi-based items at The Pearl are better). Late night deafeningly loud music? Check (rock rolls into techno around 11 p.m.). Middle aged Nantucket-red-polo-crowd scenesters? Check. Cute bartenders of both sexes? Of course, this is Nantucket.
Taken in sum, it's not a very impressive list of attributes and only rarely does the cuteness of the waitstaff outweigh all the other factors, and never mind it doesn't because you don't have a chance with them anyway. But a couple weeks ago I discovered the ideal time to head there and the ideal thing to order: a burger, at 5 p.m.
5 p.m.'s a good time to eat dinner just about anywhere. The crowds have yet to roll in, the cute bartender is forced to deal with you, the only customer in the joint, and the rest of the waitstaff are still fresh from a morning spent at the beach, the sand still in their shoes and the windsweptness still in their hair (this is a permanent state of affairs on-island). Even the cooks are in that sweet spot where they've recovered from their hangovers just enough to be in physically good working order but not sufficiently enough to have all their mental capacity about them to remind them why they got so raging drunk the night before.
And I'm always in the mood for a burger.
Lola's burger is a good one. Made with ground Black Angus chuck, it's plenty juicy and comes out exactly as you ordered it with a healthy char and a good amount of salt. This burger was created in the era before custom beef blends were the norm, but it remains beefy and juicy. English Muffins are perhaps my favorite breakfast bread of choice (except on the rare occasion that I can get a really great biscuit or bagel), but rarely my top pick for burger buns. The exception is for heftier burgers where the usual choice of Martin's would collapse under the collected juices. Here, the sturdier crumb of an English muffin works quite nicely.
Aged Cabot cheddar is about as good a choice as you can make as far as a good melting cheddar for burgers goes, and a "Red Onion Compote" could be a little less sweet, but that's a minor gripe.
See, what really completes this burger is the side dish of foie gras dipping sauce. Rich, sweet, and complex, it adds a totally unnecessary amount of fat to your burger as you dunk and eat French Dip style. Fancy-pants and a bit pretentious? For sure. But if you're on Nantucket, you've already suspended your rights to pretend that you're not at least a bit into fancy-pants stuff.
With my early dinner time, I'd managed to finish the burger and every one of the excellent fries before the first popped collar polo even made its way through the front door.
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