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Sep 28, 2010 07:44 PM

K. LaMay's steamed cheeseburger gives Ted's a run for its money

passing through Meriden en route to NYC from Boston, I stopped at K. LaMay's, a new steamed cheeseburger joint (opened by Kevin LaMay, who worked at Ted's for many years).

it was fantastic! I'd say it surpasses Ted's in a few ways:

1) Bigger burgers
2) Better cheddar cheese--I hear Ted's switched to a lower quality cheese recently, and it shows
3) Actual cheese fries, not cheese homefries
4) Foxon Park sodas (I got birch beer)
5) Next door to Les' for some classic Meriden soft-serve afterward

some pix:

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  1. Sounds great katydid, how about an address?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefstu


      690 East Main Street Meriden, CT 06450

      East Main Street Cafe
      129 E Main St, Webster, MA 01570

    2. I guess Steamed Hamburgers are to middle Ct what Taylor Ham sandwiches are to Jersey... you won't find them anywhere else in the country, Having never tried one, I must say it sounds 180 from what I consider the sine qua non of a good hamburger: flame grilled medium rare. A bit of a char on the outside and juicy pink inside.

      Grey and well done just doesn't sound that appealing. I know there's a funny Simpsons scene about "steamed hams" so it must have a cult following. Can anyone explain what makes steamed hamburgers good? Or not.

      9 Replies
      1. re: louuuuu

        louuuuu, I can, I can! They're really moist...and if you make them at home (I do), you can even make them mooing rare. Oh, and nothing like steamed cheese oozing over the burger. Messy, but so damn good. So, I agree--gray and well done is simply nasty. But done right, they are blissful. I've also read about steaming them in beer. Haven't done it yet, but it's on my radar for sure.

        That's a heckuva combo, btw...a steamer, a Foxon Park birch beer and Les' soft serve--a triple-yer-pleasure Land of Steady Habits treat!

        1. re: louuuuu

          Hi Lou
          Can you tell us about the Jersey Taylor Ham Sandwich?

          1. re: Babs

            Sure, Babs. I'm not a Jersey boy, and have only had a coupla times. So speaking as a total rookie, here's what I know...the meat comes in a processed roll, like a sausage, and is sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch patties, and fried up, then served in a hard roll with options of eggs, cheeses, condiments. Tastes more like ham than pork and feels more appropriate for b'fast. I copied a picture from the interenet below.

            It's just ok, in my book. But I didn't grow up with it.

            Back to the thread: out of respect to Kattyeyes' palate and enthusiasm, will travel up the Merritt one weekend soon and try the steamed CHEESEburger ... both as dutiful hound and anthropologist.

            1. re: louuuuu

              Awww, kind of you to say. I can't vouch for how K. LaMay does it, but if you can pull it off to make it rare (for me, anyway), boy, it's a thing of beauty. My cousin came home from Europe this summer (we grew up together here in my ZIP code and his father had a steamer box, so we are more than familiar)...after he saw the one I made on my blog, he said something like, "I've been drooling over that burger for the past XX better have one ready when I get home." And I did...and it was probably better than either of us remember from our childhood. ;)

              Still, I do wanna try K. LaMay's. I don't know when Les's closes for the season (they're like a mom & pop DQ), so get here soon if you want soft serve for dessert. :)

              1. re: kattyeyes

                Hi katty,
                I hopped onto your blogsite ( and cribbed your recipe for steamed cheeseburgers. They sound really good. Your blog is really good, too.

                1. re: steve h.

                  Hi Steve,
                  Aww, thanks so much! I hope you and Deb love 'em when you try them--they'll spoil you for any other steamed cheeseburger for sure. :) Cheers to you!

                2. re: kattyeyes


                  As promised, drove up to Meriden and tried K.LaMays. And I must conceed that it was far better than what I expected. The meat and cheese blended well, and the interior of the hamburger was nicely moist and pink. The roll stood up to all the toppings and meat very well. Fast courteous service, good prices, and had a nice clubhouse feel.

                  On the negative, the combo seemed kinda bland and I did miss the contrast, bite, and texture that a grilled outer crust offers. I love sharp cheddar (as befits a Wisconsin boy), and thought the melting melted the sharpness of the cheddar.

                  But I was more than pleasantly surprised and would definitely stop in again on my way to Boston or Hartford.

                  Also I'm going to try your home recipe... and maybe try some of your twists to notch up the flavor. What would you think of adding roasted red pepper?

                  Also had a cup of icecream at Les. I'm not a big fan of soft serve, so wasn't blown away. They're open until the end of October.

                  1. re: louuuuu

                    Hey, louuuuu!

                    Well, all right! :) This is good to hear. You get an extra merit badge on that one, buddy, as I know this isn't your neck of the woods.

                    I understand--there are those in my world who also appreciate the grilled outer crust. These are kinda just their own unique things. I think roasted red pepper would be a fab addition, but I'm part Italian, what would you expect?! ;)

                    Going to Les' was always a treat as a kid...that or DQ. My mom's fave there (not even sure if they make it anymore) was a maple walnut topping...that they may have even called "wet nuts" (hey, don't look at me!).

                    P.S. I just returned from your homeland (WI) and didn't bring back cheese--I know, so wrong--but did pack some frozen Sheboygan brats in my suitcase!!!

                    ETA: Sauteed onions and mushrooms are another tasty addition, however untraditional!

                3. re: louuuuu

                  These sound like the old "Ham Boys" that we were served in the high school cafeteria! You can generally find the ham patties in the meat section of the grocery store. They are kind of a guilty pleasure with me. Once in a while I just have to get a can of them. Kind of like when I just "have" to get a half pound of "macaroni and cheese" loaf.

            2. Louu..., please note that these two places specialize in steamed CHEESEburgers, not hamburgers. The last time I was in Ted's, none of the other customers had eschewed the cheese, nope, they were all chewing it with relish (or ketchup). I asked a prominent Meridener last night if he had visited K.LaMay's. He hadn't, but was also of the opinion that the cheese was paramount. In fact he wouldn't even consider one without. To quote him: "Who would want a boiled hamburger?"

              4 Replies
              1. re: DonShirer

                Ahh. Sorry to beg the question, but can't resist. Forget the hamburger, "who would want steamed cheese?"

                (This is becoming more Seinfeldian than Simpsonian.)

                1. re: louuuuu

                  The thing with a steamed cheeseburger is that a lot of cheeseburger aficionados don't "get" it at first. The steamed meat is essentially a condiment--it adds texture to the actual important part: the huge, puffy, moist steamed cheese. (That's why the good steamer joints--Ted's, K. LaMay's, etc--also offer "steamed cheese sandwiches" for people who just want the essentials). Yeah, when I go to a great regular burger place, I'm looking for something that has a great beefy taste and is not more cooked than medium-rare. But a steamed cheeseburger is a whole 'nother ballgame, totally different (and amazing in its own way).

                  1. re: didactic katydid

                    katydid is's all about the cheese....without the cheese, Ted's is totally overrated.....they can start with getting a better bun and actually toasting or grilling it.

                    1. re: MacshashRIP

                      While we're talkin' buns, I'd like to point out that Brian O'Rourke (of O'Rourke's Diner in Middletown--another notable steamed cheeseburger establishment) makes his own buns in-house...and they're FANTASTIC!

                      O'Rourke's Diner
                      728 Main St, Middletown, CT 06457

              2. Had a rehearsal venue changed from Middletown to Meriden today, so I made sure I stopped at K. LaMays Steamed Cheeseburgers to stoke up beforehand. How can I compare it to Teds? Let me count the ways.
                1. The burger. Chose the single burger. Seemed like a little more meat than Ted's, taste about the same. Cheese was a sharp cheddar, slight advantage K's. Bun didn't get soggy, advantage also K's.
                2. The fries. K's has standard FF, advantage Ted's home fries.
                3. Drinks. K's wins with Foxon soda. I had white birch beer. Yum.
                4. Dessert. Got a slice of NY cheesecake from K's. Not outstanding but ok. Can't remember having dessert from Ted's last time I was there so let's call this a tie.
                5. K's offers onions, tomatos and other burger adjuncts free. Can't remember about Ted's.

                K's is a small unprepossessing storefront (across from CVS Drugstore on East Main) with four tables and "bar" seating plus lg. screen TV where Halliday's no-hitter was playing (definite plus for K's!). Parking available. Wasn't very busy, but a few takeouts came in while I was there. So, conclusion, if you are a fan of Ted's, try this one out yourself. If you've never had a steamed cheeseburger, it's not a bad place to sample one.

                2 Replies
                1. re: DonShirer

                  Hey, Les' closed for the season?

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Not yet but any day now. They were opened yesterday but I would not expect to go beyond this weekend

                2. I am a big fan of steamed cheeseburgers, love Teds and K. La May's both do a great job. But I cant believe they just opened High Street Burger 45 High St Downtown New Haven, best steamed cheeseburger I have ever had!! They have only been open for a week and the place is always packed (who knew steamed cheeseburgers would work outside the Meriden Middleton area). I work in New Haven and have been there three times and every time the cheese was perfect unlike Teds where sometimes the cheese is lumpy.
                  The big difference between K. La may's and High Street Burger is that the place looks inviting and has a more diverse menu, they have the original steamed cheeseburger but also sell a Texas cheeseburger that has the same cheese but has bacon, pickles, and coleslaw it was delicious. The also sell loaded baked potatoes, 5 or 6 gourmet hot dogs, frozen custard and shakes made with frozen custard (I had the peanut butter cup shake and it was great).

                  This place is a must visit for everyone

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nathen2002

                    Yes, I was surprised to see this place too. I was at Starbucks, and saw the place down the street. Food was good, friendly service, and very reasonable prices. It's right around the corner from Louis' Lunch, so the neighborhood is becoming a burger mecca.