Beef and beer mecca in South Royalton, Vermont

Worthy BurgerAfter noshing on locally-sourced dishes in Randolph all week, it was time for some sloppy food truck fare. It was only fitting after 10 hours of filming greasy transmissions underneath smelly diesel truck-trailers all day.

But the Randolph Maple BBQ King, on Route 66 in front of the Mobile Station, had a sign on the window that said “Gone to ER.” Was “ER” suppose to stand for a nearby town or the emergency room? It wasn’t the BBQ, was it?

No matter. We were getting hungrier by the minute so our standby pick, the Worthy Burger, took on a whole new degree of importance. We slowly but surely navigated the curvy backroads to South Royalton and finally found it hidden inside a renovated 1850s railroad freight house.

Walking inside, we were in good company. We noticed issues of Seven Days, Vermont’s own independent rag, (think a bigger version of the Metroland) topping the tables. The publication recently polled readers and voted Worthy the best burger joint in all of Vermont.

But, alas, something was amiss. Where was the hostess to seat us? Or, the wait staff to take our order? What about a menu? Instead, colorful chalkboards litter the walls with listings for veggie and grass-fed favorites including the fatty duck confit and turkey – the Turkducky. There are only four burgers to pick from (and one salmon steak sandwich) but add the fixins, dress it up with blue, cheddar, brie or chevre, and you’ve scored one monster treat.

A friendly face, apropos of Vermont, invited us to sit at the bar. We were given vibrating pagers (like those at Panera) to retrieve our order. Co-owners, Executive Chef Jason Merrill and the “Beer Dude,” Dave Brodrick, were busy playing catch up. I noticed the kitchen staff flipping chow sans disposable gloves. I took this as a good sign because studies have shown that wearing mitts actually leads to a false sense of security and LESS hand-washing as a result.

Served in a Worthy glass, there are 15 rotating draughts of artisanal varieties: saison (Belgian), barrel-aged, even Mead beer – all with fluctuating levels of ABV. The breweries includes Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s Finest, Lost Nation, Foley Brothers and Zero Gravity. To settle the confusion, we ordered six eight-ounce glasses between the three of us and sipped one another’s.

Our bounty arrived a few minutes later and silence befell our end of the bar. My burger was heaping with portobello mushroom sauce and side order of marinated pickles. Later, I learned from the Boston Globe that the fries are actually cooked twice in beef tallow, something few restaurants do. Everything is local and sustainable, even the hardwood for the fire is cut from trees nearby.

Worthy was both worth every effort to find and will be again very soon.