Side Dish

"It's a good day for meat," Side Dish reflected aloud, driving out to Southcenter in the pouring rain.

"Every day is a good day for meat," corrected our partner in anti-vegetarianism.

We were "celebrity judges" for Red Robin's First Annual Burger Recipe contest, in which three semifinalists hoped for a chance to head to the nationals with their tastiest carnivorous creation. We could've turned up our nose at all this, but, hey, proceeds from the winning burger will benefit the Starlight Children's Foundation for seriously ill children and their families. (It's all about the children for us.) We savored eventual regional winner Laura Brophy Gordon's Acropolis Now, a particularly tasty flesh experiment featuring feta cheese, tzatziki, and cucumbers. And none could remain unmoved in the company of megastars like Q13's little morning meteorologist Walt Kelley— who later, by the way, bested two Seahawks to win the burger speed-eating contest. Touchdown, Walt!

The gorgeous surrealism of the event was heightened by the presence of Red the Robin himself and of name placards in front of our seats that forsook our job titles in favor of the burger we'd chosen to eat for the speed-eating bit. Eternal Seattle Times scribe Jean Godden's place setting read not "Jean Godden, Seattle Times, Columnist" but "Jean Godden, Seattle Times, Saut饤 Mushroom Burger." Godden sat smiling and unfazed for the entire hour, looking just like the photo that accompanies her smiling and unfazed chat column. She sort of half-broke once—granting Side Dish's cohort a slight, friendly wince when it was announced we'd be sampling a mint burger—but was otherwise the very picture of benign tolerance.

The "Mondo Mint Burger," however, was not to be tolerated. It quickly disgusted all of the judges, most of whom clung to euphemistic comments such as "refreshing" and "different" in an effort to avoid more fitting adjectives like "hurl-worthy." Let it be forever known that turkey burgers do not, we repeat, DO NOT pair well with mint jelly. Godden took it in stride, our companion rated it a harsh three out of 10, and Side Dish came back to the office with a new way of looking at meat. All in a day's work—right, Jean?

"Meat is murder" diatribes may be sent to

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