A chef on Instagram recently launched a debate by posting a picture of a cheeseburger beneath which he posed a simple question, “Lettuce or no lettuce?”
I didn’t weigh in, but I silently screamed, “Lettuce!”
This idea bounced around inside my head for more than a week.
And then I found myself having lunch at The Mayor’s Table, the restaurant inside the new Lido House hotel on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. Without really looking at the menu, or even thinking about the question that had nagged me all week, I ordered a cheeseburger. When it arrived, I was taken aback.
No lettuce. No tomato. No pickles. Nothing but a huge meat patty, cheddar cheese, aioli and a few slices of lightly grilled onion stuffed into a soft, pillowy sesame-seed bun. I was stunned by this thing’s austerity, its beauty. It looked like something from the kid’s menu, but it was far too big for a child.
I grabbed it with both hands and hoisted it toward my face. I took a bite, and I was stunned even more by its deliciousness. Never mind the fries that came with it. They were perfect. It’s the burger that blew my mind. I have always believed that simpler is better, but my idea of a simple burger has typically aligned with “classic,” i.e., tomato, onion and lettuce, give or take a pickle.
It’s not that I’ve never had a burger as simple as this before. It’s that I’ve never had one this simple that I loved so much as this. My baseline for burgers has forever been altered.
The Mayor’s Table
3300 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach
This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register. To view more of my work for the Register, check out the archives. For more dining and travel inspiration, I invite you to follow me and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.