The old catch phrase for fast food restaurants in the 1980s used to be: Where’s the beef? The commercials featured an elderly woman who stood at the counter holding open a giant hamburger bun exposing a tiny, dried-out beef patty.
Now a more environmentally conscious generation is asking, where does the beef come from? More people are calling for a higher quality food product that is healthful and sustainable. Fortunately, these two aspects in food production have merged together to create a new concept in restaurants. Burger Lounge in Downtown is the latest of these quick service, enviro-health food restaurants.
Burger Lounge uses organic ingredients grown or raised in a sustainable environment providing their customers with more meals free of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Their menu is simple. It includes three basic patties of grass-fed beef, free-range turkey, or organic veggies in different variations. The menu also mirrors the typical hamburger joint with French fries, onion rings, shakes and salads.
On my last trip to the Third Street Promenade, my family and I decided to give Burger Lounge a try. I was intrigued by the concept and drawn in by the relaxed streamlined decor. I would have normally ordered the lean turkey burger or the quinoa veggie patty, but I was curious to try the grass-fed beef for its taste and texture. I ordered the Little Lounge without cheese, the half Fresh Vegetable Salad (to get my veggies), and shared a serving of onion rings and fries with the table.
The burger reminded me of my own homemade hamburgers I make with organic beef. It was tasty, but nothing special. I did enjoy the side salad with mixed greens, corn, jicama and other veggies tossed with their house-made lemon-basil dressing. We all found the fries soggy and limp and sent them back for a fresh batch. The service was quick and responsive, but the second batch of fries just wasn’t crispy either; not worth the calories to me. I liked that they offer a quarter-pound burger, which is all that anyone really needs and the fresh cut onion rings were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside; very good.
Yes, compared to factory farmed meat, sustainable meat from animals raised on pasture contains less fat, fewer calories, and higher levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta carotene. But is the grass-fed beef burger and organic sides at Burger Lounge healthier gram for gram than the traditional burger joint like Johnny Rockets around the corner? Let’s break it down and see.
Burger Lounge meal 1: Little Lounge, one half of the Half Vegetable Salad, and a quarter of Half & Half onion rings/fries. Calories: 601, T Fat: 31g, Sat Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 68 mg, Sodium: 1,074 mg
Burger Lounge meal 2: Lounge Burger, half of Half Vegetable Salad, and a quarter of Half & Half fries. Calories: 991, T Fat: 49g, Sat Fat: 11g; Cholesterol: 111 mg, Sodium: 1,627 mg
Johnny Rockets meal: The Original (smallest size), Side Salad, and a quarter of Half & Half fries. Calories: 1,522, T Fat: 95g, Sat Fat: 32g, Cholesterol: 175 mg, Sodium: 2,545 mg
Clearly the Burger Lounge’s 4-ounce Little Lounge burger meal is the better option, and comparing burgers to burgers the Lounge’s is significantly lower in calories, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol making it a lower calorie, lower fat option for your body compared to Johnny Rockets. It’s still not an everyday meal, and I wouldn’t call it a heart-healthy meal, but if you have to have your burger fix, this would do the trick with a lot less heart-clogging fats and sodium.
Grass-fed cows, while more sustainable, still take up a lot of room, use up a lot of water and release a lot of methane gas. The better choice would be to go meatless at least once per week, which would decrease the demand for any beef and reduce your carbon footprint along with your blood lipids. But supporting these positive environmental practices sends a clear message that the public wants to be served more of this type of food and it’s a step in the right direction to helping our planet.
If you go
213 Arizona Ave.
Santa Monica, Calif.
1322 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, Calif.
Lori Salerno, M.S., R.D.N, C.P.T. is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer who provides medical nutrition therapy to groups and individuals in Santa Monica and recipe and menu analysis for restaurants nationwide. www.eatwelldailynutrition.com.