Roadfooders worth their salt think of Meriden, Connecticut, as home of the steamed cheeseburger, where all roads lead to the famous Ted’s. The once humble Ted’s has attained national prominence thanks to being on TV food shows. But Meriden is home to a handful of other steamed burger meisters, among them K. LaMay’s — a relative newcomer to the scene, opened in 2006.
Kevin LaMay learned about steamed cheeseburgers at Ted’s, where he worked as a teenager. But the burger he makes is different. It is steamed in a bigger, plastic tray that accommodates a one-third of a pound of meat. Other restaurants use standard metal trays that hold a quarter-pound. The Kaiser roll Kevin uses arrives fresh every day and is large enough to make an ideal meat/bread ratio.
Does the plastic tray help lock in more moisture? Because these burgers are especially juicy. Kevin may add some spice to the meat, but he’s not telling and I could not identify it (maybe garlic? or pepper?). The Wisconsin sharp cheddar seems to be a similar cheese used around town, and, as usual, it’s a perfect foil for the meat. There’s also Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce available as a condiment on each table — another reason to love the place.
K. LaMay’s also sets itself apart by offering locally-brewed Foxon Park sodas, including white birch. (What, no Iron Brew?). These, in addition to a wide selection of Stewart’s sodas and the usual Snapples, offer a respite from the pedestrian Coke/Pepsi products others peddle. Fries and onion rings are available, in addition to a full line of Deep River potato chips, made in Old Lyme. The store is located next to Les’ Dairy Bar, to which one can stroll for soft-serve ice cream in the warmer months.
Several years back, locals awarded K. LaMay’s the Best Classic Burger award in the Meriden Battle of the Burgers, and Kevin has a loyal following of fans who call in orders ahead of time. K. LaMay’s is open seven days a week.