Yachats, OR: Drift Inn And Try To Find The Front Desk Or Someone Who Cares … Good Luck!


Drift Inn
124 Hwy 101 North
Yachats, OR 97498
Phone: (541) 547-4477
Prices: $$$$
I found the place on Airbnb and the price was right at $50 per night, but the room was the size of a large closet and the reception I received upon arrival and in the restaurant’s bar was inadequate.

There is no reception for the hotel, so I had to find a server in the restaurant to show me to my room. It was small, but semi-functional with a queen size bed (that took up most of the room), a TV and DVD player, and a small table and folding chairs. When a single chair was unfolded, it was impossible to move or store anything in the room except for under the bed (which I did).

The reservation said “bed and breakfast”, but when I inquired with Gretchen, who I assumed was one of the owners/managers, she said “it was a mistake”, but grudgingly giving me a coupon for coffee and a muffin for ONE of the three mornings I was staying there.

The food in the restaurant was overpriced and the bartender (and co-owner), Ernie, was a rude jerk. Required to sit at the bar even though tables were available (because I was alone I guess), I tried to make conversation and ask a question about the local draft beers to Ernie, but he was either too busy or too important to respond. The guy is a bit of an ass**** and the food was mediocre, so I do not understand why they are so busy. Must be Ernie’s jovial personality!

I stopped for a beer on my way back to the room after eating at Heidi’s Italian Dinners (where the food was good and the reception friendly BTW) one evening around 9:15PM and after being there for about a half hour (it was 9:45PM) I asked for a final draft beer before going to my room, but was told rather rudely by Ernie that they closed at 9:30 and it would not be possible. No “last call”, a crappy attitude, and a bar that closes at 9:30pm … what kind of place are they running?

In all, it was a cheap, very small place to stay, but they obviously do not care about hotel (and I use that term loosely) guests, focusing on keeping locals happy and drunk. Yachats was a quiet, lovely, small town and I had much warmer receptions at other bars and restaurants nearby where I spent most of my leisure time and money.

Combat Recommendation: Call Gordon Ramsey and have Hotel Hell come and give you some tips on how to properly run a hotel, restaurant and bar.

CombatCritic Gives Drift Inn 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Three Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Yachats, OR: Drift Inn And Try To Find The Front Desk Or Someone Who Cares … Good Luck!

Key Words: Drift Inn, drift, Inn, Airbnb, in, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, bar, Yachats, Oregon, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: SNAFU = “Situation Normal, All Fucked Up”

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Fairview, OR: Good Food, Small Portions, And Moderate Prices Left Me Fendering For More


Bumpers Grill and Bar
21935 NE Halsey Street, Suite 100
Fairview, OR 97024
Phone: (503) 618-1855
Prices: $$$$

Stopped for lunch with some friends because they had their cute little doggie with them and Bumpers has a patio where our furry little companion was welcome.
The patio was nice on that sunny Portland day with little wind and our server was friendly and efficient. I had the French Dip ($12.99), my friend had the Baja Tacos ($13.99), and his better half had a Classic Caesar Salad ($10.99) and the Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Medallions ($9.99) appetizer.
The food was good, but I was not overly impressed with the quality to portion to price ratio. The roll my French dip came on was rather small, one of the smallest sandwich rolls I have seen, especially for a $13 French dip, and the crinkle cut fries were sparse and a tad greasy. My friend’s Baja tacos looked good, but for $14 all he got were two flour tortillas with some small battered cod pieces, a slew of cole slaw, some pico de gallo, and a couple avocado slices with some tortilla chips and a thimble of salsa. His wife’s Caesar salad was not impressive at all for the $11 price and the $10 chicken was tasty, but there were only four small medallions, a few carrot sticks and some ranch dressing.
Don’t get me wrong, what food we got was pretty good, but there was not all that much bang for the buck and at $60 for lunch for three with only ice tea and water to drink, it was not an exceedingly great value.
CombatCritic Gives Bumpers Bar And Grill A Very Average 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Bumpers Grill & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Fairview, OR: Good Food, Small Portions, And Moderate Prices Left Me Fendering For More

Key Words: Bumpers Grill and Bar, Bumpers, bar, grill, Fairview, Gresham, OR, Oregon, Halsey, 503-618-1855, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

NYC, NY: "Wurst" Food On Three Most Recently Visited Continents


Lederhosen
39 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
Between Bedford Street and Bleecker Street 
West Village
Phone: (212) 206-7691
Prices: $$$$

I should have gotten the clue when all of the other restaurants and bars on the street were packed and Lederhosen only had five people inside beside the bartender/server. Unfortunately, I did not.

This was the “wurst” German food, make that WORST FOOD (if I dare call it that), I have eaten in a long, long time. The bartender warned me that the beer was sour, but so were the potato soup ($3), the schnitzel sandwich ($8), and the Jägerschnitzel ($19).

I have traveled extensively in Germany and Eastern Europe where schnitzel is a staple and have never tasted anything as disgusting as the Jägerschnitzel I was just barely was able to keep down tonight. On top of that, the accompanying fried potatoes were burnt to a crisp.

When I mentioned all of this to the server/bartender, we did not get as much as a “sorry” or an offer to make things right, only an unintelligible wisecrack from the obviously inebriated proprietor on the way out.

The only saving grace was the soft pretzel ($3) and mustard which was cheap and not bad, being the sole thing keeping this greasy spoon from ending up with a single bomb and a spot on my WALL OF SHAME.

CombatCritic Gives Lederhosen 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Two Bombs Equates To

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube
Lederhosen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: NYC, NY: “Wurst” Food On Three Most Recently Visited Continents

Key Words: Lederhosen, German, bar, West Village, west, village, Manhattan, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits Up” 

Brooklyn, NY: It’s The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth


Hamilton’s
2826 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Between 5th Street 4th Street
Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Flatbush
Phone: (718) 438-0488
Prices: $$$$

As Roseanne Roseannadanna always said, “It’s always something, if it’s not one thing, it’s another” ….

It is the little things that stand out in your mind, good or bad, that shade your opinion of a place. In Hamilton’s case, it was a mere 50¢. More on that later.
We sat outside after being seated for 10 minutes before a server arrived to greet us, but when she did, I ordered a Bell’s Two Hearted IPA , but all the drafts are $6-$7, MUCH LESS than most places in the NYC metro and they have a GREAT SELECTION. I had to hunt down another server because ours was nowhere to be found, ordering a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog (also $6 on the menu), but after another 10 minutes our food had arrived and still no Smuttynose, so I reminded our server. It arrived 5 minutes later while my dinner cooled whether it needed to or not.
My wife ordered the large Salty Pretzel ($4) and a Mac and Cheese appetizer ($8). The Mac and Cheese arrived with my sandwich, but we had to remind the server about her pretzel which took an additional 5 minutes to arrive. The pretzel was good, but it was hot from the oven and too crunchy, not warm, soft, and chewy as a good pretzel should be. The mac and cheese was tasty and a decent size portion for an appetizer.
My Reuben Sandwich ($15) was piled high with “house made corned beef”, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. It was very good overall, but the house made corned beef had a slightly strange aftertaste which I could not quite put my finger on, or my tongue in this case. The accompanying potato wedges were scarce, but decent, nothing special.
When the check arrived, I have to admit that it was one of the smallest totals we have seen since arriving in NYC, but the Smuttynose was listed at $7 instead of the $6 stated on the menu. I called our server over, showed her the menu and the check, and asked her to make the correction to the $1 error. Those things happen. But when she came back, she had NOT deducted the $1 error, but had discounted the check by a mere 50¢! Rather than argue about the 50¢, I simply deducted it from her 20% tip along with a tad more for her inattention during our meal. After all, it is always the small things folks.

CombatCritic Gives Hamilton’s 5 Bombs Out Of 10 After A 2 Bomb Service and Check Error Deduction … More Bombs Are Better!
Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Brooklyn, NY: It’s The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Key Words: Hamilton’s, Hamilton, bar, grill, pub, beer, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Inexpensive Drinks, Complimentary Tapas, Friendly Service … What More Could You Ask For?


El Tapy
Calle Madre de Dios, 42
29012 Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain
+34 605 234 441
Website: eltapy.es
Prices: $$$$

Inexpensive drinks, complimentary tapas, friendly service … what more could you ask for? The appropriately named “El Tapy”, located near Picasso’s boyhood home on Plaza Merced (Merced Square) in the northern portion of Málaga’s “Old Town”, is much larger than it appears from the street. There is a maze of several large air conditioned rooms as you meander your way toward the kitchen in the back. 

Menus are on the walls and the table with cheap drinks (draft beer €1-€3 and tinto de verano €1.20) and array of Spanish foods to choose from. I ordered a tinto de verano, a refreshing summer drink (hence the name) with a mix of local red wine, sparkling lemonade, and a slice of lemon. When it arrived, the waiter also brought a small plate of paella as a free tapa. A drink and a plate of food for €1.20 … unheard of!

I made the mistake of ordering the Patatas Bravas (sliced potatoes in a spicy chili sauce – €4) and Chorizo Rojos (red Spanish sausage – €5) before my next drink (and complimentary tapa)
arrived, this time an Ensalada Rusa (Russian salad, aka potato salad). My sausage and potatoes were soon delivered, the potatoes, too much to eat for one person, and the sausages (3) were very good, but when my next drink arrived (the tintos are quite small by the way), it was accompanied by another free tapa, this time two large marinated chicken wings.

By the time I left I was stuffed, but the bill for four drinks (two tintos, two cervesas), three tapas, potatoes, and sausages came to a little over €16, quite cheap for the amount of food I received. The food was decent, the portions fair, and the prices reasonable.

CombatCritic Gives El Tapy 7 Out Of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good!






Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title: Inexpensive drinks, complimentary tapas, friendly service … what more could you ask for?

Key Words: El Tapy, tapy, tapa, tapas, bar, Malaga, Spain, food, menu, beer, tinto de verano, tinto, verano, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

Come Down From Your Roost For Some (Pricey) Hooch, Breakfast, Or Lunch


Biscuits and Gravy – $7?

The Roost

920 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone (785) 843-1110
Web 920mass.com
Prices $$$$$

After 36 hours without food and cameras shoved every which way (I’ll spare you the gruesome details), I thought it was time for some carbs and protein … the biscuits and gravy tasted great, although quite pricey at $7 for a full order, the biscuits being rather small with barely enough gravy to cover them completely. UNSAT! 

Kansan – $8

I had the Kansan ($8) with eggs, bacon, home fries and English muffin on my first two visits. It was good, not spectacular, and a fair sized serving, but the bacon was a tad too crispy even for my taste. Being primarily a breakfast joint, they have very few popular or traditional options to choose from (can you say skillets?), so on my most recent (and likely last) visit, I ordered an omelette ($6) with bacon ($1), onion, peppers, and mushrooms (50 cents each for a total of $8.50). When the server asked me what kind of toast I wanted, I asked if they had English muffins and she said that they did. What she failed to tell me was that there was a 50 cent up-charge, a fact I spotted only after the check arrived (see bill below). The 50 cent English muffin dominated the plate, dwarfing the small, yet tasty, omelette and a smattering of bland, unseasoned fried potatoes (see photo – objects are smaller than they actually appear).

The ALL YOU CAN DRINK self-service coffee bar ($2) is the The Roost’s highlight, a superb selection of four premium coffees with your normal choices of additions (half-and-half, skim and soy milk, cinnamon, sugar) available as needed.

Omelette – $8.50 + 50 Cents for an English Muffin

The service is adequate, not bad, not great, with little interaction and a bit of a “high brow” feel. A breakfast place should have a warmer, more inviting, friendlier ambience, especially in a small college town. For example, when I asked to barista to replenish the half-and-half at the coffee bar on our most recent visit, all I received was a scowl as she was poured a complimentary glass of alcohol by a cohort at 11:30 in the morning.

Their prices are quite high on most things, so I have to deduct a couple bombs when it comes to “value”.  For example, $5 should be the maximum price for biscuits and gravy no matter how big the order is or how good they are and if you are going to up-charge customers, they should be told in advance in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not they choose to pay the difference.


Oddly enough, for a place that is only open for breakfast and lunch (7am-3pm), The Roost has a bar and will serve you rather expensive cocktails ($7-$8) or wine ($5), so if you are looking for a mid-day buzz along with your biscuits and gravy, this is the place for you. But based on the high prices, small portions, uninspiring cuisine, and mediocre service, I think I will keep trying to find a decent breakfast place in Lawrence. I have my doubts.


CombatCritic Gives The Roost 4 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!








Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title:  Come Down From Your Roost For Some (Pricey) Hooch, Breakfast, Or Lunch

Key Words: The Roost, roost, breakfast, lunch, bar, coffee, egg, biscuit, gravy, bacon, omelette, food, menu, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Hey Chubby, Let’s Do The Twisters … Grill and Bar That Is


  • Twisters Grill and Bar
  • 13100 Kansas Ave
    Bonner Springs, KS 66012
  • Phone number(913) 667-3700
  • Website
  • Prices: $$$$$

We found Twisters on Yelp after attending a Yelp Elite Event near Bonner Springs, about 20 miles east of our home in Lawrence, Kansas. I saw photos of their tacos and they looked better than any we have tried in Lawrence, so we decided to give them a go.

Twisters sits in the corner of a strip mall just off Interstate 70. For a Sunday night, they were rather busy with only a few open tables. The atmosphere is very casual with groups of friends, couples, and families scattered about. For example, there was a couple at the table next to us with a 10-year old boy who had ranch dressing accidentally dropped on his head by a passing server (I hope his meal was comped!). TVs abound with sports playing around the large room and sports memorabilia dotting the walls, from football jerseys to posters. The kitchen sits behind the busy bar where the friendly servers scramble back and forth while serving hungry customers.

The menu is eclectic, from Mexican fare (tacos, enchiladas, nachos) to burgers to meatloaf and sandwiches. I ordered a Dos Equis Amber draft on special for $2, some beef tacos ($2.25 each), and cheese and onion enchiladas (also $2.25 each). The taco shells were obviously deep fried in-house, stuffed with ground beef, lettuce, plenty of cheese, and diced tomatoes complimented with what appeared to be store bought salsa. They were the best tacos I have eaten since moving from Kansas City last year (Rancho Grande) minus the guacamole (or avocado), hence my only complaint … there was no guacamole available on the menu as either an appetizer or a side. The enchiladas were also very good with plenty of cheese and a tasty red sauce with hints of what seemed to be mole (a Mexican savory chocolate sauce). The tacos and enchiladas were better than any I have eaten at any of the dozen or so Mexican restaurants we have tried since moving to Lawrence last year and this from a bar and grill!

My wife ordered the half-pound (8 oz) Mushroom and Swiss Hamburger with fresh onion rings. The patty appeared smaller than 8 ounces and was not handmade, probably frozen from Sam’s Club, Cisco, or another restaurant supply chain. The bun was fresh, but the burger bland. The onion rings were made with fresh onion and deep fried, piping hot and missing only a bit of seasoning.

I would return for the tacos and enchiladas, but would pass on the burgers, trying the meatloaf instead, hopefully being homemade and not “Stoufer’s” or some other frozen variety.

CombatCritic Gives Twisters Grill and Bar 7 Out of 10 Bombs (for the tacos and enchiladas) and 6 Out of 10 Bombs Overall (for VALUE) … Bombs Are GOOD!

Key Words: Twisters Grill and Bar, twisters, twister’s, bar, grill, beer, Mexican, food, taco, enchilada, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burger, hamburger, menu, Bonner, Springs, Kansas, Yelp, CombatCritic, TravelValue

LOTS O’ TACOS … Border Bandido Offers Abundant, Fresh Ingredients At A Fair Price


First off, if a Mexican restaurant’s name is spelled incorrectly, that is not a good sign. There is no such word as “bandido”. “Bandito”, Mexican for “bandit”, yes … “bandido”, absolutely not. The reviews on Yelp were mixed, so I did not get around to trying Border Bandido until a rainy Saturday afternoon when I found that I had little to do, so why not eat tacos!

The facility is clean and functional with the taco bar prominently placed in the middle of the room in front of the kitchen. The sign on the wall stated “Buffet Hours: 11am – 2pm, 5pm-etc” and because it was a little after 4pm, I was a bit confused. I asked the woman behind the counter if they were open and she told me “yes, the buffet is open all day on Saturday and enchiladas are included in the price ($9), so let me know and I’ll make them to order”.

I took my plate and selected my tortilla shell, a choice of crispy corn or flour, soft flour, and a crispy bowl shaped tortilla for taco salads I presume, I chose crispy corn. I added taco meat (ground beef – shredded chicken also available), a guacamole-type concoction that looked like something out of a container, shredded cheddar cheese, pico di gallo, diced white onion, shredded lettuce, and salsa. There were also jalapeńos, black olives, tomatoes, potato salad, chocolate mousse, and cookies if so inclined. Chili con carne and chili con queso are also available. The tortilla shells were crisp and the other ingredients appeared fresh, the taco meat well seasoned. If your in the mood for lots of tacos, Border Bandido is an inexpensive option.

Enchiladas Included On Saturday Buffet
The enchiladas were an added benefit, so I ordered one beef and one cheese and onion. The beef enchilada’s tortilla was too thin and barely able to contain the ground beef. The cheese and onion enchilada actually was not bad with decent tasting red sauce and melted cheese on top, comparable to most of the other mediocre enchiladas available throughout Lawrence.

Border Bandido is very basic, offering a decent, abundant meal of fair American-Mexican food at a reasonable price. KU students must love the place! I thought it was not bad, not great, but if you are in the mood for LOTS O’ TACOS … Border Bandido is the place for you!

CombatCritic Gives Border Bandido 6 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!



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Border Bandido on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Border Bandido, border, bandito, bandit, Mexican, 23rd, street, food, restaurant, taco, bar, buffet, enchilada, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

LiMESTONE: Strange Name, Fair Neopolitan-ish Pizza … Pastrami Sandwiches?


  • LiMESTONE
  • 814 Massachusetts St
    Lawrence, KS 66044
  • Phone number(785) 856-2825
  • Business websitelimestonepkb.com

Prices: $$$$$

Having lived in Napoli (Naples, Italy), being married to an Italian, not the “American” variety, and descended from Italian immigrants, I appreciate a well made wood oven Neapolitan (Napolitana) pizza. Many have tried to duplicate pizze Napolitane, but few have succeeded and I said to myself “speriamo” (“let’s hope so”) as I entered Limestone for the first time.

I tell you up front that I am comparing, somewhat unfairly, Limestone to the pizzerias of Napoli because they claim to offer Neopolitan pizza, so I may seem harsh. However, my comments are meant to be constructive, offering Charlie (the very friendly owner who happened to be making pizzas next to me while we chatted about Italy) the opportunity to enhance his restaurant as they grow and flourish.

Arancini di Riso (Fried Rice Balls – $2)
I had heard rave reviews from fellow Yelp Elite Scott T and others during their short time in existence, so I had to give Limestone a go. The name gives zero indication of the cuisine and I would never have known that this was a pizza place had my friend Scott not told me about it. Busy for a Thursday night, as a single I was able to be seated right away at the bar where I could watch the pizzas being made and placed in the ornate wood-fired oven.

The space is modern, not my favorite as you probably know by now, with an abundance of stone, wood, glass, and steel, and bright, almost too bright for my sensitive eyes. The center attraction is the large stone-encased wood pizza oven blazing away while pizzas are being hand tossed and decorated for a quick dip inside. The staff all seemed sincerely friendly and helpful, although the tattoo clad bartender had a bit of an attitude, but not so much that it was off-putting, and service was fast and efficient.

Arancini di Riso
Offering an “arancini” (“little oranges”) appetizer (“bites”) special for just $2, the two Neopolitan style deep fried saffron infused rice balls complete with fresh mozzarella inside sat atop a small plate of tomato sauce. Aranicni di riso are a pizzeria antipasto staple in Naples along with crocchette di patate (potato croquettes) and other deep fried delights and the only way to start a night in a traditional pizzeria. Limestone’s arancini were very well done, crunchy outside and moist inside, perfectly seasoned with saffron and other seasonings and a small ball of fresh mozzarella inside. I asked Charlie if they made their own mozzarella and much to my surprise he said “yes, about 600 pounds of curd per week”.

Now for the pizza … dun-dun-dun. With only six offerings (seven if you include the special), there is not nearly the variety one would find in a pizzeria Napolitana. I ordered the sausage pizza, a simple and traditional choice and normally not something I would choose, only because it and the Margherita (fresh tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil leaves on top – named after Queen Margherita’s favorite pizza), were the only two traditional Neopolitan pizza options available. I normally order pizza capricciosa (fresh tomatoes, ham, mushrooms, artichoke, fresh mozzarella cheese – fior di latte – and basil) or my all-time favorite, the friarielli e salsiccia (broccoli rabe and sausage), so I was a bit bummed that there was so little variety. Bacon and eggs on pizza? … bacon and potatoes? … Hollandaise sauce? … Gruyere cheese … NEVER IN NAPLES!

The Spud – $9

My wife, shortly after her return from two months in Naples visiting family and enjoying the “best pizza in the world” ordered “The Spud”, with “thin sliced, crème fraiche, house­recipe bacon, and rosemary” ($9). Her first comment was that the pizza was “too dry”, needing more crème fraiche, which was lightly drizzled across the top in an attempt to look “gourmet” rather than contributing to the consistency and flavor of the pizza. It could have also been lightly brushed with olive oil to enhance the flavor and moistness. Again, the toppings were so sparse that there was more dough visible than ingredients. The flavor was decent with a nice ratio of potato to bacon, but the toppings could be more evenly distributed across the pizza in order to ensure there is at least some potato, bacon, crème fraiche, and rosemary in every bite.

The pizza was a bit small ($10 for a 12 incher), one to two inches in diameter less than pizza Napolitana (for comparison, a sausage pizza in Naples would cost around 6 Euros, a little over $8). The consistency of the dough was close, but it was a little thicker than the original, particularly around the edges. Neopolitan pizza is soft on top, a little crisp on the bottom, with a couple burnt spots and thin enough as to not overwhelm the semi-abundant toppings. The tomato sauce was a tad too spicy and excessively visible due to the lack of mozzarella and sausage atop my pizza. Italians do not overload a pizza with toppings as is customary here in the US, but there is normally enough fresh mozzarella cheese to nearly cover the baked pastry completely after it has melted. That was not the case here and twice as much cheese (and sausage) still would not have sufficed. Although not nearly as good as the worst pizza I have eaten in Naples, it was good and surely better than anything I have eaten in Lawrence thus far. If compared to an $8 Neopolitan pizza, my pizza (based on size and abundance of toppings) should have probably been priced at $6 max, so it was not a great value.

But what do I know? Limestone has quickly become a popular spot on Mass Street and from the looks of it, doing extremely well … BRAVO! In a town void of a decent Italian restaurant, – people voted 715 “BEST FINE DINING IN LAWRENCE” in this year’s Best of Lawrence competition – Limestone is a welcome addition. I will return to see if they improve and to try other dishes (including hamburgers and pastrami sandwiches for some odd reason). Charlie seems like a nice guy and I wish him well … good luck Limestone!


CombatCritic Gives Limestone A Respectable 6 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBE SONO BUONE








Limestone Pizza Kitchen Bar on Urbanspoon

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Key Words: Limestone, pizza, kitchen, bar, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts Street, downtown, menu, pasta, wine, arancini, rice, Naples, Napoli, Italy, Italian, restaurant, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Decade: Neighborhood (Coffee) Bar Comes To Old East Lawrence


My Yelp Elite comrade (and neighbor as I recently found out), Scott T, offered to treat me at Decade, a new café walking distance from our homes in Old East Lawrence.

The building is apparently an old warehouse that has been converted into a modern cafe with a real espresso machine, excellent coffee, and an artistic flair signified by the delicate tree design made in the coffee crema and latte (that’s milk for you Americans). 

They offer pastries, but Tuesday is apparently not a day that the pasty chef works as they were out of everything except a few scones and the Bumble Bees … Sesame goodness in a ball! I am not sure how much they are as I did not pay, but two lattes and four bumble bees came to around $14. I figure at $3 per latte, a bit pricey for a small ceramic cupful, the bumble bees must be close to $2 each, again a bit steep for something so small. Reminding me a bit of baklava, they are mostly sesame seeds and honey held together with what I assume is flour and very tasty although a bit sweet for my taste. One would have probably sufficed.

The coffee was rich, apparently roasted locally, and delicious. Enough said.

The service friendly and attentive, we were made to feel right at home. The interior is a little too modern for my taste, but the rich (maple?) wood floors, recently refurbished, provide a warm glow and make the space comfortable although sparse in decor and furnishings. If you are looking for free wi-fi, go the the Java Break or similar establishment as Decade has none. In this day and age, being in a college town in particular, I am not sure that was a sound business decision, but time will tell.

CombatCritic Gives Decade (an initial) 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD! 


Decade on Urbanspoon

Key Words:  Decade, Cafe, coffee, bar, pastry, pastries, Deleware, street, Lawrence, KS, kansas, menu, CombatCritic, travel, value, travel value

Balmy Nights, Harbor Lights


On my first visit, the place was quiet being a Thursday night before 8 pm. A few folks on the back patio, a group of noisy guys at a table, and a few “locals” bellied up to the bar, including me I guess.


I ordered an O’Dells IPA, not inexpensive at $5 for an  “American” pint (16 ounces versus 19.2 in an “Imperial”, British, pint), but not outrageous, with a head so big that a Brit would seethe. It was cold and wet, not room temperature like a traditional English IPA would be, but hey … THIS IS LAWRENCE … WE ARE IN KANSAS DOROTHY … Heeee heeee heeee heeee, I’ll get you my pretty AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO!


The bartender, a 30-something woman in jeans and t-shirt named Heather, was quiet yet nice and the only person to actually acknowledge my existence.  A few neon signs, a dirty floor, a couple of pool tables and dart boards, the place is a bit divey, but isn’t that the way bars should be?


I’ll be updating this review as the summer languishes and I become more familiar with Lawrence’s public houses.

CombatCritic Gives Harbor Lights 6 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!







Key Words: Harbor Lights, harbor, lights, pub, bar, beer, drink, Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts, Mass, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, combat, critic, menu

Deliciously Greasy Burgers, Cold Beer … And Air … Yummy Truffle Fries – Must Be Dempsey’s!




Dempsey’s Burger Pub
623 Vermont Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66044
(785) 856-5460
DempseysBurgerPub.com
Price: $$$$$

I was a bit reluctant to try Dempsey’s after reading recent reviews by my Elite ’14 brothers and sisters in Lawrence, Kansas saying that “things have gone downhill” and that the burgers are “greasy”, but heck … don’t burgers and grease go hand-in-hand? I am sure glad we gave ’em a shot!

Don’t want to gross you out, but in preparation for two scopes being inserted into my body, one in each end so to speak, two days later and the inevitable PREPeration (H), I knew I would not have a decent meal for at least 36 hours, so a big greasy burger and basket of truffle fries sounded pretty darn good!

The place is a local haunt for KU (college basketball powerhouse University of Kansas) students and this particular Tuesday night in Lawrence was no exception. With about half of their burgers being offered at half-price ($4-$5 a pop) to students, I know why they were busy. But a pub with just 5 or 6 draughts available on-tap was a bit unusual.  I ordered an O’Dell (not O’Doules) IPA and at $4.50 for a British-size pint it was a good value with a strong, rich, hoppy flavor as all good IPAs do.

Mushroom, Bacon, Swiss Burger
We decided on a Mushroom, Bacon, and Swiss burger ($9), a House Burger with Bacon and Cheddar ($8.50), and a basket of Truffle Fries ($4).

The fries were plentiful and awesome! Lightly salted, the hand cut fries were sprinkled with Parmesan (parmigiana in the old country) cheese, parsley, and accompanied by no less than 6 different sauces (catsup, spicy mustard, old bay and tomato coulis aioli, sweet chili aioli, truffle cream, and roasted garlic aioli … all made from scratch). We barely made a notch in the basket, taking half home for my wife to eat the next night while I fasted in prep for the next morning’s procedure under the influence of “Milk of Amnesia”.

House Burger with Bacon
As usual, on my first visit to this and many other restaurants, I ordered the simplest burger on the menu, the “House” cheeseburger ($7.50) medium-well with cheddar cheese, a big piece of butter lettuce, two thick slices of tomato, homemade dill pickle, and both grilled white (as I had asked) and raw red onion. I added bacon for an extra buck, well cooked but not too crispy. The bun was nicely toasted, looking like a “pretzel” bun even though that was not the way it was described on the menu. The burger was in-fact greasy, but perfectly so, thick, and cooked just as I had ordered it. The bun was in a bit of disarray by the time I finished, but held together until the last bite, keeping my hands relatively clean although I did go through about 20 of the rather thin napkins supplied on the table.

The Bacon Mushroom Swiss Burger ($9) comes with sauteed shitake and portabello mushrooms, Gruyere and Swiss cheeses, and Applewood bacon on a toasted pretzel bun. Unfortunately, on this particular night at least, the bun was not toasted and, in-fact, was slightly cold to the touch. The burger was delicious nonetheless, an 8 ounce patty cooked to perfection with melted cheese oozing out of the side of the bun.

Basket O’ Truffle Fries  ($4)
The service was very good, especially considering the large, energetic crown consuming burgers along with mass quantities of beer. The place is a bit of a dive, plain with lots of rough wood and glass, making the room rather chilly, particularly next to the window on a cold winter night where we needed to keep our coats on during our meal. Who knows, maybe KU research indicates that beer consumption is inversely proportionate to the temperature of the room?

CombatCritic Gives Dempsey’s Burger Pub A Solid 7 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Dempsey's Burger Pub on Urbanspoon


Title: Deliciously Greasy Burgers, Cold Beer … And Air … Yummy Truffle Fries – Must Be Dempsey’s!

Key Words: Dempsey’s Burger Pub, Dempsey’s, burger, hamburger, pub, bar, fries, truffle, French, food, eat, beer, drink, Vermont, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Lawrence, Kansas

Seven Seas: An Outstanding Beach on PUERTO RICO’S Northwest Coast


Parque Nacional Balneario Seven Seas
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
$$$$$



Seven Seas is a very nice public beach and national park about 30 miles West of San Juan and is clean with a protected swimming area, public toilets, life guards, and access to a nearby snack bar (pastilillos).


Parking is $5.35, but worth the price thanks to the attendant who watches over the lot. There is street parking, but we were told that the police ticket cars, so pay the price or park in Casa de Los Patilillos parking lot. The beach is adjacent to both parking lots.

You can avoid paying the $5.35 parking fee by visiting on Monday or Tuesday when the national park is closed and park your car at Casa de Los Patilillos. Tito, the owner, is very friendly and speaks excellent English. He has a full bar, soft drinks, pastalillos (homemade deep-fried dough pastries with a variety of savory and sweet fillings), and entrees. We tried the ham and cheese (jamon con queso), ham and pineapple (jamon con piña) and beef and cheese (carne con queso), and all three were hot, fresh, and delicious!

The very fine sand on the beach is easy on the feet, but adheres easily to the skin. Much better than the rocky beaches of Greece, the sand is easily brushed or washed away with a towel or the sea.

The water drops off to about three feet then quickly drops off. There are numerous species of fish inside the reef, so bring your snorkeling gear. The bottom is sand and small, smooth rocks, and is easy on the feet. Water temperature was probably in the high 70’s, perfectly cool enough to refresh while not so cold it shocks the system.


Mostly families and couples, Seven Seas is highly recommended while in the Northwest part of the island.

CombatCritic Gives Seven Seas 9 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE Bueno!

Key Words: beach, CombatCritic, Seven Seas, snorkeling, fish, ocean, public, restroom, sand, sea, toilet, snack, bar, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, San Juan, CombatCritic, TravelValue

El Patio de Sam … More Like El Yucko de Sam!


Santa? What Are You Doing In This Dump?
El Patio de Sam
Calle San Sebastian 102
Old San JuanPuerto Rico 00936
(787) 723-1149


$$$$$

San Juan, Puerto Rico: We came for the piña coladas… advertised prominently out front as “2 for 1” until 7pm weekdays … and decided to try a burger ($10.95) with cheese and fries because the server told us “our burgers are the best, not only in Puerto Rico, but in ALL OF THE US!” We trusted her, first mistake!

Pina Colada – $9

Our burger FINALLY arrived after 30 minutes and was slightly bigger than a White Castle (Whitey One-Bite). There was no sauce, the patty (advertised to be 8 ounces) was small, maybe 5 ounces at best, and accompanied by a pickle spear, very small slice of tomato, and a little lettuce. The fries were shoestrings and not many of them at that. We finished the sandwich literally in less than 3 minutes and I am not a fast eater by any stretch.


Thankfully, the piña coladas ($9) were large and tasty, not strong, good, but thank God it was happy hour because they were way overpriced … $33 for two drinks and an itty-bitty burger … Never again!

CombatCritic Gives Patio de Sam 3 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMS ARE GOOD!










Key Words: Patio de Sam, patio, Sam, Old San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico, old, San, Juan, bar, saloon, restaurant, pina colada, rum

Come with me to the Casbah, we’ll make beautiful music together!


Come with me to the Casbah, we’ll make beautiful music together!

The Burger Stand at The Casbah
803 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044

Phone: (785) 856-0543
Web: http://thecasbahburgerstand.com/THE_BURGER_STAND.html

Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM to 10PM; Sun 11AM to 9PM

We walked into the Casbah during FINAL FRIDAYS in October because I had heard good things about their food, but there was a line a mile long and a strange smell in the air, not food-borne and not in a good way. We were again in the area the other night, a Thursday, and decided to drop-in and give them a smell and a try. The aroma this time was more conducive to our appetite, so we continued in to place our order.

Orders are taken at the end of the bar furthest from the door, a location backed by a large chalkboard with menu items packed in so tightly it is a bit difficult to read. The bar is a bit of a dive, but that is a good thing because I am NOT a metro-sexual, feeling homey and full of locals with long hair, jeans, and t-shirts. The decor is eclectic to say the least, a smattering of nondescript accouterments, booths, tables, and bar stools in a semi-dark room.

Being our first visit I decided to go with the CLASSIC BURGER ($7.50), a 1/2 pound of beef on a brioche bun with Vermont white cheddar cheese and assorted locally grown greens. Thinking it strange that a so-called “classic” burger did not come with tomato, onion, or pickle, I chose to add bacon ($1.50 extra) and tomato (no charge). Ordered medium-well, when I picked-up our order at the kitchen window in the rear of the building (not an intuitive location, it took me a few seconds to figure out where to go), my burger was almost perfectly cooked. For a 1/2 pound ground beef patty, it seemed small to me (more like 1/3 of a pound) and the cheese appeared almost non-existent. The “greens” consisted of 7-8 small pieces of arugula, not nearly enough, and the tomato, although fresh and tasty, was cut too small and was difficult to keep from falling out and onto my plate. Even still, the burger was very tasty!

Offering a variety of “fries”, you have a choice of “regular” (side – $1.50/basket – $4), fried in “duck fat” ($2.50/$6), “truffle” ($3/$7), “sweet potato” ($3/$6), “Cajun” ($3/$5), and “bourbon-bacon cheddar” ($4/$8). Again, being my first visit I wanted to keep things as simple and traditional as possible to see if they get the basics right, so we ordered a basket of regular fries. They came out of the kitchen piping-hot, crispy, not burnt, and salted to perfection. I have heard good things about the truffle and duck fat fries, so I will give them a try on future visits … and there will be future visits!

My wife, who prefers vegetarian options when available, went with the “Romesco”, a lentil patty with feta cheese, toasted almonds, green beans, and roasted red pepper sauce on a brioche bun (made in-house I believe). The lentil burger was delicious and flavorful, but a bit too dry and falling apart as teeth were sunk. Green beans on a burger you ask? I asked myself the same thing and thought it a bit strange with little value added from my standpoint. I like feta, but such a dry cheese on such a dry burger probably is not the best combination and the burger could have been enhanced by a softer, more flavorful variety, gouda perhaps.

The Burger Stand at The Casbah was an enjoyable experience and a reasonable value, coming in at a bit over $25 for two of us, including two draft beers ($3 each on special). The menu could have a few more options with only 6 burger options along with a Catfish Po Boy and 4 vegetarian options. They also offer onion rings ($4/$7), root beer floats ($4), malts ($5), and shakes ($5). Not a daily staple, a good burger and fries are always a welcome combination and The Burger Stand does an excellent job on both!

CombatCritic Gives The Burger Stand at The Casbah 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: burger, stand, Casbah, hamburger, French, fries, shake, malt, root beer, food, eat, bar, saloon, dive, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, eZine


On the Border … Surprisingly Good for a Chain!


On The Border – Barry Rd.

8340 NW Roanridge Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64151

Website: OnTheBorder.com
Phone: 816-759-2270
Price: $$$$$

I usually do not review chain restaurants, but I was pleasantly surprised on a recent visit to On The Border, a Mexican restaurant chain found many places across the country.

I decided to go because I was havin’ a hankerin’ for tacos that evening and recalled hearing the TV commercial about their “Endless Tacos”.  I am not usually a fan of “all you can eat” restaurants and promotions because I tend to to just that … eat all I can…AND MORE!

It was a Saturday night and the place was packed, but only had to wait ten minutes for a table.  I was greeted by Kelsie, a lovely and personable young lady who just graduated from Northwest Missouri State and is planning on becoming a registered nurse…BRAVO Kelsie!

I ordered a house margarita, the Guacamole Viva!, and Endless Tacos, but being rather busy it took ten minutes or so to get my margarita.  It was tasty enough, but a little “light” on alcohol for the price.

Kelsie arrived shortly thereafter with my Guacamole Viva! which she prepared tableside with two ripe avocados, a little salt, fresh cilantro, diced red onion (I would have used white onion), a splash of lime juice, and chopped tomato.  I am “The Guacamole King” and famous for my delicious guacamole.  A guacamole purist at heart,  I normally ditch the tomatoes (usually a filler in restaurants to make it look like you are getting more, but paying mostly for the much cheaper tomatoes), use finely chopped white onion, and added a clove of garlic or two.  Guacamole Viva! was good nonetheless, but the chips (and salsa) that came with my meal were too thin and broke half the time I dipped…very unnerving!

The Endless Tacos come with spanish rice and beans, black or refried.  You get three (your first go-around) and get to choose from three meats, ground beef, shredded chicken, or pulled pork (carnitas for you non-gringos).  You also get your choice of tortilla, corn or flour, soft or deep fried.  I chose two ground beef tacos in fried corn tortillas and one pork in a soft flour tortilla.  I also dispensed with the rice, knowing that I was not going to waste a bit of room on the cheap “filler” and go for the gusto with the tacos … AND I DID!

The beef tacos were excellent, coming with plenty of meat, some shredded cheddar cheese, and a small amount of lettuce and tomato on the plate (for all three tacos – more tomatoes required!).  I added some refried beans, guacamole, and salsa to the beef tacos and they were excellent!  Unlike Jalisco, which I reviewed a week or so back, the taco shells remained firmly in one piece, a sign of an expert taco maker and the way I prefer them. 

The pork (carnitas) tacos were also very good.  The meat was bountiful and cooked just right, there was a little cheese (I would have liked a bit more), and the tortilla much larger than the corn and toasted just enough to remain pliable, but soft enough to contain the beans, guacamole, and salsa I added.

In all, the meal was very good and I ended-up getting seven tacos.  You should know that after the initial “three” tacos, subsequent “endless tacos” come only in pairs of two, so my second order was a replica of the first, but I only ended-up getting two beef tacos.  I had to order the other pork taco later, but when it arrived there were two, so I took home the seventh taco along with the extra guacamole fro lunch the next day.

I must say that the highlight of my meal was Kelsie. She was sweet and attentive, following up just enough and not too much to make my meal enjoyable and stress free.  Best of luck to you Kelsie in your nursing career!  If you are as good a nurse as you are a server, your patients will be in very good hands!






CombatCritic gives On The Border 6 BOMBS OUT OF 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD! 

Key Words: on the border, on, border, Kansas City, northland, barry, road, mexican, food, restaurant, eat, taco, enchilada, margarita, burrito, flauta, bar, combatcritic, combat, critic