Trying everything at Weezy’s Grass Fed Shed
I'm a little late to the game, but I'm finally getting into the Best Food Writing 2009 anthology. It's only been sitting on my nightstand for a few months. If you haven't checked it out yet, there are some great, short pieces on everything from translating modern Indian cooking to an exploration of illegal, raw-milk cheese. Our of all of the work I've read so far (Disclaimer: I'm still not all that far into it), Tim Hayward's short piece, "Too Much of a Mouthful" caught my attention. In it, he explores the current popularity of oversized portions--particularly in the U.K.
Interesting enough, I was finishing Hayward's piece as I sat waiting for a friend on the patio of Weezy's Grass Fed Shed in San Rafael. I'd heard about this place right when they opened from a friend who worked in the area. She boasted that they served Prather Ranch beef burgers for a mere $3.00. I argued with her about the impossibility of that statement, and she assured me that it was true but that they make it all work because the burgers are small.
Great. Perfect. I hate how sluggish I feel after a big burger, so I quickly find a fellow burger lover and we agree to meet for lunch and check it out.
The shed’s small outdoor patio
Now when my friend mentioned that the burgers are small, she wasn't messing around. Think somewhere in between slider and very small burger. Tim Hayward, the writer I just spoke of, would be proud. In his piece, he closes by commenting on the irony of careful food preparation in the U.K. combined with the obscene, difficult-to eat portions:
Any cook worth his Maldon salt, be he three-star chef, sandwich slinger or pie-maker, will have thought long and hard about every aspect of a dish he's created. By the time he's given it a final wipe with the rag and sent it out to delight me he will have used all of his knowledge, skill, experience and training to ensure that it is properly sourced and prepped; perfectly cooked, seasoned, rested, and sauced. Is it really too much to ask then, that it should also fit in my mouth?
Clearly, Louise Clow-Birkenseer ("Weezy') would answer with a resounding "No." Not only are her burgers made with the finest ingredients, they’re also a very civilized and appropriate size. You can swing by and grab one as a late afternoon snack or, as my friend Creg and I decided to do, order a whole bunch (or, let's be honest: pretty much everything on the menu). At that size and that price, why not?
The Contiki burger: a little bit sweet, a little bit savory.
Before I report back on our favorites, a little background: Weezy's started as many great things do: when someone notices a lack of something in their neighborhood or town and decides to fill it. Weezy lives in the sleepy part of San Rafael known as Terra Linda--quite residential with very few good dining options. Weezy missed a good burger. She wanted to walk and pick one up. She'd always wanted to add to the community in some way and felt that really good quality food should be available to everyone at a fair price. Enough said. The shed was born.
Creg and I visited on a quiet and unusually sunny weekday and found Weezy whistling on a stool in the back of the shed forming small meat patties. High school kids were working through the line with smiles and enthusiasm. It all felt very organized but completely laid-back at the same time. For example, as we were hemming and hawing over what kind of fries to order (sweet potato or regular), the kids at the register encouraged us to go with both: We'll mix them up for you! OK, sold. I overhear another customer debating between the limeade or the raspberry lemonade. The cashier's solution? It's so good if you mix them both! We do it all the time. Trust us, you'll love it! I like this carefree, go-for-it attitude. Why take lunch too seriously, after all?
Then as if the kids at the counter aren't excited enough, we go outside to enjoy our burgers and Weezy herself isn't far behind with her own lunch tray. She sits down next to us, soaking in the sun, chatting with customers and introducing herself, and literally oohing and ahhing over her burger. From the sound of things, she's behind these little burgers 110%.
Creg and I tried the White Trash Burger (with American cheese, iceberg lettuce, and Thousand Island dressing), Burger in a Lettuce Cup, the B-rad (with bacon and Tillamook cheddar), the Contiki (with pineapple and Teriyaki sauce), and the Moo-Less Burger (homemade vegan patty with 20 different ingredients served on a bun with cream cheese and special sweet potato sauce).
The Moo-Less Burger
Each burger is right around $3.00 and weighs in at 1/8 of a pound unless you opt to do the "Double Wide" upgrade with is ¼ pound for an additional $.75. I have to say, I'll probably upgrade next time. It seems like a great deal. I expected to really love the White Trash burger, but there was something about the crispy bacon, juicy and perfectly cooked meat, and slightly sharp cheddar that made me grasp onto the B-rad and not let go. Sorry, Creg. I'll give you a bite next time.
I'll be back for this one: the b-rad burger
So as the weather turns warmer, as you look to new spots to try, I'm all for taking Tim Hayward's implied thesis to heart--size matters. Something is lost in quality and in experience when you're presented with an entire pound of it. According her website, for Weezy "it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle." I have to say--if I lived just a bit closer, I'd start to integrate Weezy's more into my own.