Outside of The Burger Stand on Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kan. Photo by Michaela Warren.
By Michaela Warren.
Lawrence, Kan. — Forget the lettuce, the tomatoes, and the pickles. The classic burger toppings are evolving. Try a caramelized banana spread with peanut butter, blue cheese with Granny Smith apple chutney and goat cheese with a raspberry compote.
The Burger Stand won Best Hamburger in the 2012 Best of Lawrence contest, after also winning in 2011. Lawrence.com sponsors the annual readership contest.
“Burgers like this, you just necessarily can’t find around the corner, or find everywhere,” said Chris Hoffman, general manager of the Burger Stand.
The Creative Process
Head chef Sarah Hess has been coming up with the creative burger ingredients for about a year and half. She also takes suggestions from employees and assistance from Simon Bates, one of the owners, when needed.
“Without a doubt anyone that works here has input, has said something or helped turn Sarah a certain direction,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said a thing that makes them different is the creativity behind the burgers.
The pairing of ingredients – Elvis burger, caramelized banana spread and homemade peanut butter with bacon – creates a distinctive flavor combination.
“Those are the kind of things that make us unique,” Hoffman said. “There’s people back there thinking of things like that.”
Not all the burgers make the cut. Those that do make the specials board and can eventually get promoted to full-time menu items.
The restaurant also makes its own sauces and butters. The sauces —chipotle-cocoa ketchup, rojo ranch and roasted garlic-parmesan aioli — can be used as dips or spreads.
“The biggest part, I think, of our success that gets forgotten a lot, is the thing that’s free and that’s all the sauces,” Hoffman said.
The burger names result from a big brainstorming process by all the employees. The kitchen tells them what the ingredients are and they all shoot ideas around until they laugh the most, Hoffman said.
“We’re always searching around trying to keep everybody excited about this stuff,” Hoffman said.
The restaurant offers a variety of dishes that never exceed $10 each.
The menu includes several “untouchables.” Simon Bates created these items and they have been available since the beginning. The Classic has Vermont white cheddar and locally grown greens.
The Kobe burger has American Kobe beef patty, pickled red onions, truffle butter and tomato-aioli sauce.
The Black & Blue burger comes with Maytag blue cheese and Granny Smith apple chutney.
The Fire burger has with avocado and habanero-cactus jam.
The Smoke burger has with applewood smoked bacon, Gouda cheese and chipotle-cocoa ketchup.
Hoffman said the Smoke burger and truffle fries are the most popular menu items.
“I just really like the selection of burgers; there are a lot of options,” said Lauren Anderson of Kansas City, Mo. “It’s my favorite place to go when I get to choose where to eat in Lawrence.”
In addition to burgers, the restaurant offers hot dogs, fries—regular, truffle, sweet potato, and duck fat— sides, salads and vegetarian options.
The Guinness pork chili comes back every year from Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day. The chili is available as a side item, and on a burger or fries.
This year the chili came back 16 days early: because of the heat wave this summer, the restaurant wanted to get people excited about cold weather coming, Hoffman said.
The chili came back with the push of the fall menu.
The Barnyard Bash has a fried chicken breast topped with sliced avocado, applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese and a spicy honey mustard BBQ sauce.
The Slammin’ Salmon consists of a salmon patty with a caper-pesto aioli, roasted red pepper tapenade and greens.
The Spicy Shiitake is a shiitake and crimini mushroom patty topped with Habanero cream cheese, sliced avocado and greens.
The vegetarian burger was a fan favorite and got promoted to a full-time menu item after customers petitioned the restaurant on Facebook to get the burger back.
The restaurant introduces a new menu every six to nine months. The “untouchables” stay the same; while a couple of new dishes make the full-time menu.
“It has always been a hunt, a quest for the perfect menu,” Hoffman said.
-updated Oct. 22, 2012-