by Jennifer K. BauerLEWISTON – Consider the hamburger. Believe it or not, ground beef first gained popularity as a health food.
In the late 1860s, American physician James H. Salisbury, who called the stomach “a meat-eating machine,” promoted flat, broiled lean beef cakes as good for the digestion, according to “Food and Drink in American History: A ‘Full Course’ Encyclopedia,” by Andrew F. Smith. Sometime in the next 20 years, somebody decided to add a bun and a new meal was born. Hamburger suffered some very bad press in 1906 with the release of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” which exposed horrific practices in the meat-packing industry, but it was a blip. Today, literally billions of burgers are served in the U.S. each year.
Hamburgers are everywhere and some are definitely better than others. KC’s Burgers and Brews in the Lewiston Orchards has a bead on doing it right. Served on a house bun with homemade sauces and pinned together with a steak knife, they come stacked high with an array of toppings ($7.49-$10.99). According to the menu, the local favorite is a burger with aged cheddar, smoked bacon, onion rings and barbecue sauce ($10.49). Another comes with macaroni and cheese and thick-cut bacon ($9.99). Other choices include sauerkraut, corned beef, Swiss and “Horsey Island” sauce; and fried egg, roasted pepper aioli, bacon and queso cheese sauce. Portabella mushrooms are also on the menu.
The hamburger’s main American rival is the chicken sandwich and KC’s house smoked and pulled version proves stiff competition. I had one topped with smoked bacon, melted cheddar, house ranch, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole ($9.99). The chicken was subtly flavored letting the taste of the fresh toppings come through. It was plentifully sized and perfectly cooked – nobody has time for dry chicken. Other versions include tzatziki sauce and hummus; or chorizo, jack cheese and cilantro ($10.99 each).
Meals come with a side leading to, last but not least, the garlic fries. House cut with fresh garlic and rosemary, they aren’t to be missed. If garlic isn’t to your taste there’s a variety of other appetizers, familiar and unusual, like deep-fried dill pickles, Mac n’ Cheesy Onion Ring Bites ($5.99 each) and Idaho Style Poutine ($6.99). Poutine is a Canadian dish of french fries served with cheese curds and gravy.
KC’s features a variety of microbrews on tap. Don’t expect your meal to be served with fast-food timing. The small diner’s atmosphere is clean, family friendly, casual and relaxed.
KC’s Burgers and Brews, 541 Thain Road, (208) 413-7344