Der Essen Platz … A Taste of Bavaria in Central Missouri


Der Essen Platz, Camdenton, Missouri

If visiting the Lake of the Ozarks, as far as restaurants essen1are concerned, I highly recommend a trip back to Camdenton and Der Essen Platz (German for “the Eating Place”) for some excellent and affordable German fare. They have a small, but affordable wine and beer list, and the food is excellent. I started with the Weihenstephaner Korbinian Dopple Bock ($6.50 – .5 litre), a dark, rich, robust beer with hints of chocolate and coffee, it was excellent. The soups are very good and homemade. I tried the German tomato soup which was better than most tomato soups, but nothing I would order again. The schnitzel dishes are amazing.  I had the schnitzel cordon bleu (pork cordon bleu – two breaded cutlets with ham and cheese in the middle, then baked and covered with a cream mushroom sauce) and my wife had the Jaegerschnitzel (pork cutlet served with Hunter’s Sauce, a savory brown gravy made with Jaegermeister and mushrooms).

Dinners are accompanied by soup or salad, warm homemade bread, and vegetables, potatoes, or spaetzel (a German potato dish similar to gnocchi only smaller). The Bavarian wheat loaf is homemade and delicious, so do not be too shy to ask for another! I also tried the German potato pancakes with hunter sauce (normally they come with applesauce, but I prefer the savory pancake with gravy).  essen2

Unfortunately, we were so full by the time dinner was over, we did not have time for dessert, but I am sure they are amazing as well.  Owners Noelle (the chef) and Daniel (front of house) are warm, friendly, and helpful, so do not be afraid to ask questions.  And do n ot forget the view over one branch of the expansive Lake of the Ozarks, a romantic setting for a special occasion or a weekend dinner … Guten Appetit!

CombatCritic Gives Der Essen Platz 9 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

9bombs

Title: Der Essen Platz … A Taste of Bavaria in Central Missouri

Key Words: Lake of the Ozarks Camdenton Der Essen Platz German Weihenstephaner Korbinian Dopple Bock schnitzel pork cordon bleu cutlet Jaegermeister spaetzel Bavarian wheat loaf German potato pancakes hunter

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Gerda’s … Gut Food, Gut Value, Guten Appetit!


Gerda’s German Restaurant & Bakery
5180 Leavenworth St Omaha, NE 

A small, unassuming building on the outskirts west of downtown, with few parking options by the way, Gerda’s did not disappoint as was the case at the Bohemian Cafe the night before.

You enter through the bakery, which is bigger than it needs to be, and into the smaller dining room. The decor is dated, with the flags of Germany (Bavaria, etc) lining one wall, but the place is clean and functional. 

For $19.95 you get a three course meal … a beer of your choice, the Jägerschnitzel (complete with soup or salad, bread, and potato/spätzel), and your choice of dessert. The schnitzel alone is $16, a beer $6, and dessert around $4, so it is quite a value.

The salad was unassuming, a traditional German salad with dressed lettuce, potato salad, and sliced cucumbers, but the soup, a thick, meaty goulash, was superb!

The Jägerschnitzel was abundant and flavorful, a large pork cutlet battered and fried to golden perfection, then doused with brown Jâgermeister and mushroom gravy … YUM! I had the fried potatoes, crispy and well seasoned with salt and paprika, and my wife tried the käse spâtzel, the more traditional cheese covered potato dumplings, both of which were excellent.

The dessert options were extensive, being a bakery after all, but we are so full we got them to go. My wife ordered the Black Forest cake and I had the cherry tart. The cake was creamy and fresh and the tart crisp and yummy, the perfect accompaniment to a well done German meal although consumed several hours after the fact.

The service was friendly and attentive. My only complaints being the lack of a German brün bier or dünkel (dark beer), so I was forced to have an amber(?) Oktobefest that was not bad, not great, and the fact that the menu does not have all that many options (a wiener schnitzel cordon blu would be also be a welcome addition).


CombatCritic Gives Gerda’s 7 Bombs Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GUT!




Gerda's German Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Key Words: Gerda’s, German, bakery, restaurant, menu, food, Omaha, Nebraska, NE, schnitzel, Jaegerschnitzel, Jägerschnitzel, goulash, eat, dinner, lunch, CombatCritic, TravelValue


Absence From Amanda’s Fonda Does Not Make The Heart Grow Fonda


An old haunt, had to try it again after. 6 years in the Midwest … Tacos, enchiladas, you know the drill. 
It was only 4:30pm, but no hostess and just one server? We waited 10 minutes until she arrived, then she had 5-6 other tables to wait on, made the margaritas, and probably cooked the food. Hardly ever saw her.

The shredded beef tacos were OK, little meat or cheese. The cheese and onion enchilada was decent, but the sauce rather bland. Chips thin and tasty, salsa very good, the guacamole was a bit pricey for the size so we steered away.

Remembered the food being better … Absence does not necessarily make the heart fonder! Ever been back to your high school? Disappointing, but you still have fond memories.

CombatCritic Gives Amanda’s Fonda 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Amanda's Fonda on Urbanspoon

Don’t Trust Me … Check out Amanda’s Fonda On yelp!

Key Words: Amanda’s Fonda, Amanda, Fonda, fonder, taco, taco, enchilada, burrito, eat, food, restaurant, lunch, dinner, CombatCritic, Yelp, Foursquare, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel

Adriano’s Bistro: An Interesting Concept With a Few Rough Edges


Adriano’s Bistro
240 Lake Dillon Drive
Dillon, CO 80435
Phone: (970) 468-6111

WebAdriano’s Bistro Dillon.com
FacebookAdriano’s Bistro Deli
Prices: $$$$$


NOT Dillon, Colorado

Asking for quality and value in a tourist area restaurant is probably asking for too much and Adriano’s Bistro is not the exception. Looking more like a nightclub than a restaurant from the outside, the interior is somewhat dated with wood paneling, hard wood floors, and basic tables and chairs sans tablecloth.


We were seated quickly by a friend of my youngest son Nick, a Snowmaking Supervisor at Keystone Resort, by the name of Kaylee whom also turned out to be our server. Entrees run from $13.95 for pizza to $25 and up for specialties AND COME WITH APPETIZER, SOUP, AND SALAD INCLUDED. That is where the concept varies from other places, in a good way and bad.

The good news is that in a town full of hungry skiers and young resort workers, a hearty meal at a fair price would work quite well, but on a Thursday night in Dillon, you could almost shoot a cannon through Adriano’s without hitting a soul. They idea was good, but the execution needs some work …

The porchetta (pronounced por-ket-a – $19.95), a traditional Italian dish of rolled, stuffed pork slow-roasted over a wood spit or grill and served with roasted potatoes, but my dish did not resemble any porchetta I have ever seen. First, our appetizer arrived, half of a cocktail size meatball and a small piece of Italian sausage smothered in a red sauce and dwarfed by the bread plate they came on. I tried to make the meatball and sausage last for more than two bites, but failed miserably. The taste was “OK”, but could have been out of the freezer and can from Sam’s Club for all I know.

Porchetta – $19.95

Next came the soup, a cup of cream of vegetable that was thick, savory, and piping hot, probably one of the highlights of the night. The soft loaves of fresh, warm bread kept coming and were a nice accompaniment to the hot soup on a cold winter night. The small, side-salad was good, but minimal with a few fresh greens and shaved carrots topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette.


Fresh Baked Bread

Back to the entrees. As I said, my porchetta did not resemble the traditional variety, but was an interesting and creative approach with sliced pork (and not much at that), onions, and ground sausage in both red and bechamel sauces, supposedly on top of baked ziti (pasta). I found the dish a bit too salty and could not find the ziti which the chef apparently forget to add.


My oldest son had the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken ($21.95), a basic, simple dish of pasta, cream, and cheeses that is difficult to mess up. The pastas we did see did not look fresh or handmade, but straight out of the bag and I would not be surprised if the sauce came from a can or jar. I am not saying it was bad, only that it was unremarkable for the price.

Margherita Pizza – $13.95

Probably the best value of the night was my youngest son’s Margherita Pizza (named after Queen Margarita of Italy – $13.95), a 12 inch, wood-fired, hand-tossed pizza reminiscent of Roman pizza, thin and crunchy (unlike traditional Neopolitan pizza which is soft and chewy). The sauce and cheese stopped well short of the edge, leaving a thicker-than-needed crust. The mozzarella could have been fresher, but the pizza was well put together and tasty … BRAVO!


Fettuccine Alfredo – $21.95

Toward the end of the evening a large man with a Bronco hat arrived with a friend with a Dodger cap and, based on the attention they received, they were obviously affiliated with the recent Super Bowl losing Denver Broncos. The chef, manager/owner, servers, and other staff came out of the back to fawn over the celebrities, but did not say a word to the other guests, totaling about 7-8 by then, including us. The only one we spoke to all night was Kaylee, but she did a fine job and made up for her supervisor’s lack of hospitality.


With a $22 bottle of wine and three people, the bill came to just under $100 (without tip), a bit much based on the quality and substance of the meal and probably $20 to $25 more than a similar meal would have cost in Denver or Colorado Springs.

CombatCritic Gives Adriano’s Bistro 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Adriano's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Adriano’s Bistro, Adriano, bistro, Italian, pizza, dinner, Dillon, Colorado, Keystone Resort, Silverthorne, Frisco, pasta, salad, appetizer, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel, value

Das Alpen Café (Rincón): Pretentious, Overpriced, Microwaved?


Das Alpen Café,
Rincón, Puerto Rico
$$$$$

Dinner Salad
Rincón is better known for big waves, deeply tanned surfers, and pizza joints than it is for fine dining and Das Alpen Café will not change that image. At the Southwest end of the plaza in heart of downtown Rincón, the restaurant is unassuming and having arrived on Three Kings Day (Puerto Rico’s second Christmas) we were not sure it was even open for business based on the sparseness of furnishings inside. If they were going for a minimalist look, they were highly successful.

We arrived shortly after six two nights later and beside the hostess and a waiter, we were the only people in sight. The hostess sat us and quickly returned to her dinner at the bar while typing away on her cell phone. The only thing in the room that looks Bavarian is the flag hanging in front of the kitchen entrance, the tables few and uncovered, and the music a light jazz with no resemblance to anything either Italian or German as is advertised.

Potato Leek Soup ($3.50) and Goat Cheese Tart ($8)
Our server, Jeffrey, was very nice and attentive. I ordered a stout ($9.50), one of only two draught beers on the menu and the closest thing to a Warsteiner Dunkle available and one of the most expensive beers I have consumed, including at overpriced airports. We started with the savory goat cheese tart (described as goat cheese with caramelized onions and basil – $8) and a cup of “crème of potatoes and leek soup” ($3.50). The soup quickly arrived and, while reasonably tasty, was lukewarm and could have used a garnish to add some color. We had to ask for bread, but by the time it finally arrived what was left of my soup was long cold. The tart was an utter disappointment. Looking more like a small, sad piece of quiche than a tart, it had obviously been “nuked” with the soggy crust separating from the filling and no caramelized onions or basil in sight.

Jägerschnitzel – $20
I had the Jaeger Schnitzel, described as “Hunters Schnitzel, a pork cutlet with white wine and cream reduction with bacon and wild mushroom served with red cabbage and homemade bread dumplings”. As a schnitzel lover, I have eaten schnitzel dozens of times throughout Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and the United States, I was surprised by the size of the cutlet and not in a good way. German schnitzel normally covers a large plate, but the red cabbage dwarfed this one, yet looking massive next to “the” lone dumpling (not “dumplings” as was described on the menu). A little bigger than a Swedish meatball, I had to ration the little dumpling to make it last as long as possible. The hunter sauce was good, a bit too salty, with small pieces of mushroom, minced onion, and bacon, but barely enough to cover the cutlet and none leftover for the dumpling or bread, which was being rationed three small pieces at a time.

Forest Schnitzel – $20
My wife ordered the Forest Schnitzel, a “pork cutlet with Marsala wine and mushroom sauce served with red cabbage and homemade bread dumpling”. Again, the cutlet was small in comparison to every other schnitzel I have ever had, but the Marsala sauce was very good, light, and slightly sweet from the reduction of this fruity wine from the small town in Sicily where it gets its name. She also received one dumpling, slightly larger than mine, and left most of her red cabbage which was sweet and acidic as Bavarian red cabbage should be, but overcooked and soggy.

Das Alpen Café attempts to appear “gourmet” with large prices and small portions, but fails to deliver. German food in general and schnitzel in particular is meant to be consumed in large portions with an abundance of sauce and mushrooms, a large portion of potatoes or spaetzel, and nothing red or soggy on the plate. Granted, Rincón is a tourist area and prices are expected to be a bit higher than small fishing villages like Punta Santiago, but Das Alpen Café left me uninspired in terms of TravelValue.

CombatCritic Gives Das Alpen Café 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GUT!

Key Words: Das Alpen Café, alpen, café, Rincón, Ricon, Puerto Rico, puerto, rico, German, Italian, food, dinner, tart, schnitzel, Jaeger, CombatCritic, TravelValue
Jaeger (Jäger) Schnitzel Recipe
Schnitzel
1-pound thin veal or pork cutlets
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3-cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-cup fine, dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Sauce
1 lb. Mushrooms, washed and cut into bite-size slices
2-3 slices bacon, sliced into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2-cup vegetable, beef, or chicken broth
1/2-cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried thy
A small bunch parsley, finely chopped
Extra milk as needed
Season each cutlet with salt and pepper (both sides) and let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. You will need 3 plates, adding flour to the first, eggs to the second, and breadcrumbs to the third. Arrange the plates in a row, close to the stove. Heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy skillet or pan over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes. Coat each cutlet with flour, dunk it in the eggs, and then coat it with breadcrumbs, putting the coated cutlet immediately into the hot skillet. Cook each side for about 3 minutes or until each side is a deep golden brown. Remove the schnitzel and place it on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra grease and keep warm in the oven.
Using the same pan as you made the schnitzel in, fry the mushrooms until they begin releasing water. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add a little butter to the same pan, add onions and bacon, and cook until the onions begin to brown. Add the mushrooms back to the pan, then add the broth, cream, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring mixture up to a simmer and continue until liquid has noticeably reduced (about 15-20 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir milk into the sauce until the sauce reaches the desired consistency (shouldn’t be too thin). Remove pan from heat, stir in 2/3 of the chopped parsley, and add salt and pepper as needed. To serve, place a schnitzel on a plate and top with the sauce, sprinkling some chopped parsley over the sauce and serve with pan-fried potatoes or spaetzel (spätzel) … ENJOY!

The Leaning Tower of San Juan … El Hamburguer


El Hamurguer
298 Ave Muñoz Rivera
San JuanPuerto Rico 00901

(787) 721-4269









$$$$$

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Feeling burger deprived all day after our horrible experience at El Patio de Sam last night, we walked 2 km (uphill in the snow … both ways!) for a real burger at El Hamburger!


My wife says she saw Anthony Bordain … “I eat, I travel, I drink too much” … eating there on one of his episodes in Puerto Rico and Yelp reviews were mostly 5 stars, so we had to try it. We almost literally ran into the place on Christmas day coming home from El Escambrón beach, so I knew where it was.


The place looks like it’s on fire with smoke billowing out the top and across the busy street from the dozens of small, very thick burgers being prepared for inhalation by their many ravenous patrons. It is rather small with one dining area seating about 40, a small counter, and another small room that we did not see well because of the crowd around the front door. The place was packed!


Counter and Cash Register

They had two servers, as far as we could tell, doing a remarkably fine job considering the number of people crammed inside. We ordered the bacon cheddar burgers ($3.60 each), a side of French fries, onion rings, a root beer, and a Medalla beer.


Leaning Tower of San Juan – $3.60

The burger patty, like El Patio de Sam, were smallish but thick, probably 5 ounces or so (but also $7 less than Sam) and smothered with cheddar cheese. There were several pieces of bacon wrapped in a heap on one bun and our server brought a container with plenty of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. By the time I built my burger, it looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


The onion rings were good and plentiful for $1.90, but a little too well done for my taste. The fries were abundant for the $1.90 price, the shoestring variety, hot and crispy just the way I like them. Root beer is root beer ($1.49) and the local Medalla Light thirst quenchingly cold and at $3.60 a reasonable price.


Dining Area – Couples and Families

The servers are nice and the crowd mostly couples and families, so the noise level is moderate. They only take cash, so bring enough with or use the convenient ATM they parked right outside the door and you must pay the quiet, burly man behind the cash register before you leave.


El Hamburger serves a great, reasonably priced burger and all of the usual accompaniments, so if you are hungry for the all American meal, by all means … give them a try!


CombatCritic Gives El Hamburger 8 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!


 




Key Words: El Hamburger, hamburger, burger, French, fries, onion, rings, beer, soda, pop, Coke, Medalla, bacon, cheese, eat, food, lunch, dinner, CombatCritic, combat

Nonna Cucina Rustica Serves Food My Grandmother (Nonna) Would Be Proud Of!


Nonna Cucina Italiana
Calle San Jorge
San Juan, Puerto Rico
(787) 998-6555


$$$$$


San Juan: Nonna Cucina Rustica Italiana is very nice, somewhat small, slightly upscale classic Italian restaurant near downtown and not far from Miramar where we were staying. We found her on Yelp* and the reviews were very positive. We had difficulty finding a restaurant open on Christmas Eve when we arrived in San Juan, so I figured that Christmas day would be even worse. To our surprise, Nonna was open (as were several restaurants we saw – everything else was closed as they should be) and had a table available … “we’ll be right there!”

Waze, our eMap, was a bit off, so we called the restaurant and the manager guided us in (a couple blocks ahead of where Waze took us), sticking her head out the door until she spotted us pulling up. They have Valet Service, but we decided to go through the next signal and found plenty of street parking in the next block.

It is nearly impossible to find a traditional Italian kitchen in the US and we were expecting as much in Puerto Rico … WE WERE VERY PLEASANTLY SURPRISED!

Homemade Mozzarella Caprese ($9) and Vido di Alicante
Carmen, our server, was extremely pleasant even though, still being on “non-island time” and expecting things to move rapidly like they do on the continent, we were hungry and a little impatient to start. I ordered a Spanish Alicante red, a simple yet robust dark red wine ($27), to accompany our meal.

For antipasti, we had the veal polpette (meatballs) and homemade mozzarella, and both were excellent. The polpette (3 for $9 – polpettone, by the way, is Italian meatloaf) came atop a bed of mashed potatoes (polenta would have been a more traditional and excellent choice) and covered with a light tomato sauce. We had to ask for bread and it took a while to arrive, a very small basket of what looked like foccacia sliced into small pieces, and the only disappointment of the night. Local bread on the table is standard in all Italian restaurants, even in Italy, so when I did not see bread on a single table and had to ask for it, I was a bit surprised. It was decent, but too little to accompany the wonderful appetizers, both of which cried out for bread, good bread!

Polpette with Mashed Potatoes and Tomato Sauce – $9
The homemade mozzarella was also delicious. Atop the four rather small, thin slices ($9) of mozzarella were three large cherry tomatoes, a few pieces of arugula, and a hefty dose of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and chopped, toasted hazelnuts. A kind of insalata Caprese, you would never see balsamic vinegar on mozzarella in Italy, but it was very tasty if not filling.

The Casoncelli alla Bergamasca ($17), a light yet complex dish of pasta shells (the size of perogi) was stuffed with sausage and quickly sautéed in a mild butter and sage sauce. They were sublime, the only fault being that the obviously homemade pasta shells were a bit too “al dente” and could have been boiled another minute or two. Otherwise, we were quite pleased.

Casoncelli alla Bergamasca – $17
I ordered the lasagna ($18), which came in its own 7″ x 7″ baking dish with a crispy layer of cheese and béchamel sauce and it was exquisite! More than I needed to eat, it was layered with a hefty portion of minced lamb, lasagna noodles, spinach, and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. The lamb tasted very much like lamb, so if you are not into lamb, DO NOT order this dish. I like lamb on occasion, not daily, and was very happy with my choice.

Lamb Lasagna – $18
For dessert, offered by the very sweet, young pastry chef with a huge smile, we had the tiramisu. Untraditional in every way, I had seen it on other tables throughout the night and thought it was an ice cream sunday, but it was not! All of the usual ingredients were there, cookies, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa (accompanied by a shot of espresso to pour over the top), but a scoop of ice cream was also included along with chocolate syrup. It did not taste like any tiramisu I have ever eaten (and at $12 it was the most expensive tiramisu I have eaten), but it was extravagant.

Not cheap by any stretch, Nonna was a delight and extremely good value … BUONISSIMO!

CombatCritic Gives Nonna Cucina Italiana 9 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!






Key Words: Nonna, cucina, rustica, Italiana, Italian, restaurant, food, San Juan, Puerto Rico, eat, dinner, delicious, pasta, wine, mozzarella, cheese, tiramisu, CombatCritic

Wheatfields: A Field of Dreams for Bread Lovers


WheatFields Bakery Café
904 Vermont Street
Lawrence, KS  66044

Phone: 785.841.5553
Web: www.WheatfieldsBakery.com
Hours:
Monday through Friday – 6:30am to 8:00pm
Saturday 6:30am to 6:30pm
Sunday – 7:30am to 4:00pm

I have been meaning to review Wheatfields, a bakery and restaurant one block West of Mass Street in downtown Lawrence, for quite some time, but this morning was the first time we actually had a meal there. I love a good, hearty breakfast, but because bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy are not as healthy as they are tasty, we normally only indulge on special occasions. With today being my birthday, we went for broke!

Wheatfields makes the most wonderful breads and my wife has been buying them since she started working at KU nearly three years ago. Our favorite is the raisin and pecan sourdough ($, a robust torpedo-shaped loaf with a thick crust outside and plenty of raisins and pecan pieces inside. It toasts marvelously and is delicious alone, with butter, or coated in my favorite delicacy in the world … peanut butter … YUUUUUM!

They have many other varieties, including sourdough, semolina with sesame and poppy seeds, and many others:
Baguette: The French standard. A crisp crust and an open, irregular crumb with lots of yeast fermentation flavor make ours a true classic. Great for sandwiches, crostini, or on its own. 

Ciabatta: As Italian as the baguette is French. Somewhat flat, somewhat rectangular, ciabatta has a wildly open crumb and a complex fermentation flavor. We add a touch of extra virgin olive oil. 

Country French: Our flagship Pain au Levain is naturally leavened and made with organic unbleached flour with stone ground wheat and rye. 

Kalamata Olive: WheatFields Sourdough, loaded with ripe Kalamata olives. Maggie Glezer (Artisan Baking Across America) calls ours “by far the best.” Available as either a regular boule or a “mini”: too big to be called a roll, too small for a loaf. 

Pain de Campagne is, literally, Country Bread, and is the traditional bread of the villagers and farmers of the French countryside. Historically, pain de Campagne had as much as 10% rye flour, was risen with levain and baked in a wood-fired oven. Ours is all of that, plus, we add some spelt (l’epautre) flour and season with sun-and-wind-dried Breton sea salt. 100% organic flour. 

Rustic Italian Round: Choose from our plain or rosemary loaves every day. Rustics are made of very wet dough that gets lots of fermentation time. The results are round crusty loaves rich in flavor with an irregular open crumb. Risen with bakers’ yeast and an overnight starter. 

Walnut Raisin: Thompson raisins and California walnuts in our naturally leavened Pain de Campagne dough. Toast it at breakfast, of course, but also try a soft goat cheese spread atop. 100% organic flour. 

Walnut Sage: Country French with walnuts and fresh sage. We serve our immensely popular “No. 9” sandwich on this bread. The sage and walnuts complement the turkey-cranberry pairing –our “everyday is Thanksgiving” bread. 

100% Whole Wheat: The heartiest in our Pain au Levain series, this loaf is about as fundamental as bread can be: 100% organic wheat ground between natural granite millstones and baked on the hearth of a wood-fired oven. Made with a natural wheat levain 100% organic flour.

Classic Breakfast ($5.99)

Breads range in price from $4 to nearly $9 for their holiday specials, including chocolate cherry ($8) and anise and grape ($4) which are only made during the month of December.

When dining at Wheatfields, you order at the counter immediately in front of you as you enter through the lefthand door (the bakery counter sits in front of the right), pay, and are given a small sign to place on your table so the servers can bring your order to the correct table. Drinks are help-yourself with three varieties of coffee (two regular and one decaf) and a small selection of fountain drinks.

Always keeping it simple on a first visit, I decided on the Classic Breakfast (#1 – Two eggs, freshly grated hash browns and toast – $3.95, with sausage links or bacon – $5.95) and a full order of the biscuits and gravy (#5 – Buttermilk biscuits, spicy sausage gravy – Full order $5.75, half order $3.75) to share with my wife. Not a big meat eater, she had the French toast (#3 – Three slices dipped in egg, Irish Cream, and cinnamon, grilled, served with pure maple syrup – $6.95). Some other breakfast choices include:
Biscuits and Gravy (Full Order – $5.75)

#2 – Frittata Sandwich ~ Potato, mushroom, green olive and spinach egg pie served on Country French with scallion cream cheese. $5.95 

#4 – Primavera Omelet ~ Roasted zucchini, caramelized onions, spinach, mushrooms, and herb chevre with freshly grated hash browns and toast. $7.25 

#6 – Locarno Omelet ~ Bacon, ham, roasted garlic, and Swiss with freshly grated hash browns and toast. $7.25 

#7 – Ciabattina Sandwich ~ Two scrambled eggs on grilled Ciabattina – $4.25, with Swiss cheese – $4.75, with bacon – $4.95 with Swiss & bacon – $5.45 

#8 – Breakfast Taco ~ Flour Tortilla, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, herb cream cheese and feta. Served with chipotle salsa. $6.25

Our meals arrived rather quickly, even before I was done pouring our coffee and toasting the sourdough bread which accompanied my breakfast. My Classic Breakfast was good with the eggs cooked perfectly over-medium, the bacon crispy but not burnt, and the hash browns also crunchy, just the way I like them. The order of biscuits and gravy was HUGE with two very large biscuits smothered in a thick country gravy with loads of sausage. I was surprised that my breakfast and the biscuits were luke-warm considering the fact that they arrived so quickly, leading me to believe that they are not cooked to order, but are prepared in advance, kept semi-warm, and served buffet-style from the kitchen. The taste was good, but my meal would have been better had it been served piping-hot.

The coffee was hot, obviously fresh, and delicious! My wife’s French toast consisted of three large slices of sourdough dipped in egg and fried with an overgenerous amount of cinnamon. At $6.95 for three slices of bread, a little egg, a dash of cinnamon, and a little (maybe Maple) syrup, this dish is overpriced by at least $1. Again, this dish could have also been warmer and it would have been nice if the accompanying cup of syrup had also been warm, but it seemed to be straight out of the jar (bottle or can). The cinnamon was overbearing, but otherwise the dish was good, not great.

French Toast ($6.95)

As breakfast goes, I have had better, much better, but we enjoyed our meal and may return for lunch or dinner to see how they do. Lawrence does not have an abundance of good restaurants, but being a fairly small town of around 90,000, I guess that is to be expected. Wheatfields is a very popular meeting place with great (not cheap) bread, excellent coffees, and “very average” breakfast fare. They seem to be doing well because the place was nearly full at 10:30AM on a Sunday, but I believe they would be bursting at the seams, as most GREAT breakfast restaurants do, if the food was cooked to order and hot. I would also suggest having the servers, who are already there to serve the food, take orders rather than creating a choke-point by having customers order at the counter and fiddle about with coffee, cream, sugar, drinks, silverware and napkins. The servers would likely also appreciate it, instead being tipped 15-20% instead of the loose change they receive in the jar by the register. A few smiles and an occasional “thank you” from staff would also be much appreciated.


WheatFields Bakery on Urbanspoon

CombatCritic Gives Wheatfields Bakery Cafe 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

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