Four years ago, I vividly recall eating The Trachten Burger at Tonic, a restaurant/bar on GW’s Foggy Bottom campus. Now, don’t get me wrong, Tonic was never a shining gem of my college eating experience. It was more of a default stop that was fancy enough to satisfy your restaurant fix, and convenient enough to tolerate the terrible service. However, The Trachten Burger was something special. The burger was named after the famed former GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg who transformed the image of GW from a cultureless, urban campus to a competitive, spirited, East Coast academic powerhouse. True to its name, the burger was big, bold and transformative. A quarter pounder patty with swiss cheese, orange cole slaw (I believe from the addition of Russian dressing), lettuce, tomatoes and red onions. It was the first burger I ever had featuring the cole slaw + beef combination. The tangy slaw and lush patty were enough to whip me right out of the midterm doldrums.
Sadly, Tonic no longer offers The Trachten Burger. And at the risk of implying that correlation does equal causation, I will say that I’ve never had a pleasant experience at the restaurant since. The menu is now void of any GW flare, which represents a tragic missed opportunity in my opinion.
So imagine my joy when I saw that Whole Foods Foggy Bottom was sponsoring a GW-themed burger competition. The winning burger (shown above) was the Thurston Fix – chorizo/beef patty with colby and cheddar cheese, fried onions, roasted red peppers, tater tots and a fried egg. While I would venture to guess that the winning combo defies certain laws of physics (sounds messy!) – I approve!
I’d like to other eateries local to GW embrace their main clientele in the same way that Whole Foods has. Whether through promotions like the above burger competition, or other GW-themed menu items, there’s an array of creative options for any restaurant to incorporate into its menu. A few options come to mind:
- Chernak Chowda – Robert Chernak is a bright and encouraging GW admin, known to occasionally adorn Ugg Boots. His Boston roots and obvious winter-weather fashion sense make him the perfect inspiration for a New England chowder recipe.
- The S4 – Standing for Sesno’s Seasonal, Sustainable Selection, this menu item earns its name from the prolific GW SMPA Director Frank Sesno, an acclaimed journalist and professor specializing in issues related to energy, climate and sustainability. The seasonal, locally sourced S4, if it were served today, would feature breaded free-range chicken and apple/cabbage slaw stuffed between two slices of Magnolia Bread Company’s Broa bread, sweet potato chips on the side.
- The Gelman Sampler – After a night of studying in the hot, smelly, crowded library, this platter of fried goodies including (but not limited to) fried potato balls, fried zucchini spears, fried shrimp and fried chicken. This all served with assorted dipping mayos. Pitcher of Yuengling included!