I’m just going to start by saying I expected this to fail. You could blame it on the spelling. (Lyfe? Really?) You could blame it on the giant ad campaign I’ve been subjected to for the past couple months before the place opened with cheery ad people letting me know that Lyfe Kitchen is coming. You could blame it on the fact that on their website they have mission statements and TV clips with celebrities before you can even find the menu. You could blame it on the fact that their mission statement includes this “With every interaction, we look to awaken our “Sixth Sense”– the intrinsic desire to do right and make powerful purchasing decisions that inspire good in the world around us.” Did I mention the CEO and Chief Brand officer were both former executives for McDonalds? Blame it on whatever you want, but the whole thing felt so false.
Yes, sustainability and community responsibility are things I love. Eating right and supporting local farmers are hallmarks of the way I cook, but MAN this really felt like corporations cashing in on environmental ideals. But who am I to judge? Maybe they really did have a change of heart. Maybe they really wanted to get Americans to eat better after selling them junk for years. People can change and the fact of the matter is they’ve built a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Culver City that is trying to walk that delicate line between healthy and delicious.
Naturally when I found out they had a burger, I knew I had an easy target. A healthy burger? I don’t think so. Walking into the place, I must admit it looked pretty great. Antique bulbs hanging from the ceilings, shelves of fresh herbs, bare brick walls, and hip music on the stereo (can’t go wrong with Spoon) it felt very inviting. The line for lunch was incredibly long, but it gave me time to analyze this burger. The Classic Burger is listed as 100% grass-fed beef with organic romaine, tomato, red onion, agave pickles, agave ketchup on a golden flaxseed bun with the calories neatly listed underneath 562. Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I think listing calories is the absolutely most unromantic thing you can do to a menu. It’s the equivalent of watching a live birth video before going on a first date. It makes you want to abandon the whole idea.
Undeterred, or perhaps to spite the calorie counter, I got my burger with cheese which turned out to be laughable. Adding cheese to this burger as it turns out meant a paltry sprinkling of low fat cheddar. Hell, the lettuce had more presence on that burger than the cheese. That being said…the burger was pretty good. It’s not going to win any awards in a beauty competition, I know, but the seedy bun had the right amount of crunch that countered the sweetness of the pickles and the agave ketchup, and the burger itself was quite hearty. I’m serious. It was good, people. My only gripe is that the only side possible for that burger was a kale salad with grated carrot dressed in lemon juice. No sweet potato fries? No coleslaw? I’m willing to be as healthy as the next person but the only option is KALE? You’re killing me, Smalls.