Lawrence, Kansas: Burger Princess … Home of the "Whimper"


Burger King
1107 W. 6th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 371-3184
Website: bk.com
What is the world coming to? This review will be short and not so sweet.


Question: What’s small, flat, cold and cost $16?

Answer: #1 and #2 Burger King Value Meals
I remember when Whoppers were “whoppers”, reasonably priced and cooked to order. Now they “nuke” the meat and a Whopper is more like a “Whimper”, half the size of what you used to get. The value meal fries should be the baby’s menu and a slice of American cheese is an extra 80 cents.
Maybe they should change the name to Burger Princess to reflect their portion sizes … never again!

CombatCritic Gives Burger King 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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Burger Princess … Home of the Whimper!

Key Words: Burger King, burger, king, whopper, home of the whopper, bk.com, fries, Coke, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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

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Spain’s €6 Burger Puts Carl’s Jr’s $6 "Thickburger" To Shame


New Burger
Calle Camilo José Cela 12
29602 Marbella, Spain
Phone: +34 952 867 817
Facebook 
Prices: € € € € 


This review will be shorter than most because there is not a lot you can say about hamburgers other than this was one of the best I have had in quite a while! Who would think that one would find an outrageous burger joint in Spain?

I would not have known New Burger even existed had I not peered down an alley next to another restaurant while strolling down the street, but then I saw their sign. The young man at the counter, the owner’s son, spoke excellent English and was very helpful. He even bought me a beer!

Beside hamburgers, they have a range of items including bocadillos (sandwiches on a baguette – €3 to €5.80), “normal” sandwiches (e.g. club, tuna), salads, combo plates, crepes, and more. I ordered the “Doble” (double cheese burger – €6) with bacon, an order of patatas fritas (French fries – €1.80), and a glass of San Miguel beer. With my beer, I received a complimentary plateful of wonderful green olives as is the tradition here in Spain … tapas … Ole!

The fries came out first, thin, hot and crispy, just the way I like them. The burger arrived five minutes later with two beef patties, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and some of the best bacon I have eaten. Not your garden variety store-bought bacon, but slices of fresh bacon lightly browned and tender with little fat. All of that on a fresh bun, not the hamburger variety we are used to in the States, but more the consistency of a soft baguette. Where most burgers this size and juicy would fall apart half-way through, this bun held the contents together nicely until the last bite. I was a little sad after taking the last bite, it was so good.

All tables are outdoors, several under a covered patio next to the kitchen and many more scattered around the large terrace. There were several tables available when I arrived around 8:45pm, but less than 30 minutes later the place was packed – on a Monday night!

The only complaint I have was that the size of the order of fries was a bit small at nearly $2 a pop, but otherwise I was a very happy camper, paying less than €11 for an incredible meal. Inexpensive meal options are a rare commodity in Marbella, so New Burger was literally a breath of fresh air and an option you should not miss if in the neighborhood.

CombatCritic Gives New Burger 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better! 






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

Title: Spain’s €6 Burger Puts Carl’s Jr’s $6 “Thickburger” To Shame

Key Words: New Burger, new, burger, Marbella, menu, French, fries, bocadillo, Spain, Malaga, Andalucia, Andalusia, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide,Camilo José Cela

Denver, Colorado: Le Central Is "Le Bombe"


Le Central (French)

112 E 8th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
Southwest, Capitol Hill
 
Phone: (303) 863-8094
Prices: $$$$$



Escargots En Brioche – $7

Le Central is one of my favorite restaurants … anywhere … and I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the 39 countries I have visited so far. I was in India a week ago, but found out that my mom was hospitalized and dying, so I made my way over a 72 hour period to be by her side in Colorado Springs when she died on February 12th, 2015. Long story short, I was taking my wife to the Denver airport so she could return to work and we decided to stop at Le Central for their Happy Hour menu.

We have been gone for seven years, but the place has not changed except for the being open in the afternoon with a limited, but exceptional menu. They offer a $3 glass of wine, escargots, crepes, their fabulous mussels and French fries (moules frites).
Moules Et Frites “Portugaise” – $12.95

I has a glass of pinot noir ($3), which was excellent, the escargots in brioche ($7), and the moules Portuguese ($12.95).  The pinot noir was dry, a deep red, and robust. The escargots were superb as usual and I mopped-up every last drop with the wonderful French baguette.  The Portuguese mussels were excellent with slices of chorizo and chunks of fresh tomato in the white wine based broth infused with garlic although the broth was not as plentiful as I would have liked as was the case in years past. The frites were excellent, perfectly salted and hot, but by the time I de-shelled all of my mussels, they were not as hot as I would have liked … DRAT!

The prices have gone up a bit since we were there last, but Le Central is still an outstanding value.  The service is always excellent, the food sublime and very reasonable, the wine list extensive, and the ambience country French.  If you have not tried Le Central, you do not know what you are missing!
CombatCritic Gives Le Central the Coveted 10 Out of 10 Bombs … Plus de Bombes Sont Mieux! (More Bombs Are Better)
 
 
Le Central on Urbanspoon







Read this review … and others … on Yelp (Elite ’14 and ’15) … UrbanSpoon … and TripAdvisor (Top Contributor)
 
Title: Le Central Is “Le Bombe”
 
Key Words: Le Central, le, central, French, France, restaurant, menu, escargots, wine, moules, frites, fries, Denver, Colorado, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

"I remember this place being better" – CombatCritic (About Trivelli’s)


Trivelli’s Hoagies
2819 N Nevada Avenue 
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

“I remember this place being better” – C.T. Sorrentino – aka CombatCritic


The sandwiches are “OK”, not as good as they once were. We had the “meatball” sandwich, which oddly enough does not come with cheese (unless you ask for it – costs extra) and the “cheesesteak”. Because the original owner is supposedly from Philadelphia, the cheesesteak should be a no brainer. Or should it?
The meatball (6 inch – $5.70) was tasty enough, but neither very big nor loaded with meat as I remember and the tomato sauce flavorful, not too sweet or spicy. The bread was good, not too soft or hard (old). The cheesesteak ($11.78 for a 12 incher), which came on a similar “hoagie” roll, was loaded with meat and a bit greasy even for my taste (read my review of Dempsey’s in Lawrence, Kansas). I added a side order of french fries ($2.15) which was rather small for the price and cold by the time our meal arrived.
My son, a vegan, asked the young lady on the phone before ordering if they could accommodate his dietary restrictions, including no meat, eggs, cheese, or oils (a personal preference), and she indicated that they could (after checking with her  manager/chef). Having confirmed that the pasta was not made with eggs and that the tomato sauce had no meat or added oil, he ordered the spaghetti and meatballs (minus the meatballs – $6.89). He was also told that his meal “comes with a salad” and that our entire order would come to a little over $28.

Side Salad – $6.89?

When he arrived to pick up our order, my son was told that the pasta sauce was cooked with the meatballs (vegan?) and that there was oil in the sauce after all, so he could not eat the spaghetti and meatballs. They appeared perturbed over his dietary restrictions and removed the spaghetti and meatballs (but did not deduct the price), leaving him with what he thought was a “large side salad full of veggies” (it was in a large container which he did not open before leaving). However, when he arrived home and opened the container, there was a pile of shredded, brownish iceberg lettuce and a few chunks of tomato and even fewer slices of onion (see photo). They charged us nearly $7 for a pile of lettuce and a few veggies that probably cost them less than fifty cents!

The food alone would get 3 out of 5 stars (5-6 out of 10 “bombs”) based on quality, quantity, and “value”, but the $7 side salad and their anti-vegan attitude forced me to deduct a “star” (two bombs). Therefore …

CombatCritic Gives Trivelli’s Hoagies (Nevada Ave) 5 Out of 10 Bombs … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Trivelli's Hoagies on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Trivelli’s Hoagies, Trivelli’s, Trivelli, travelli, hoagies, hoagie, sub, sandwich, cheesesteak, meatball, salad, fries, menu, CombatCritic, TravelValue, Colorado, Springs

Eat At Joe’s


I haven’t been to Joe’s for years, but some of my fondest memories are of French dip sandwiches and French fries … I LOVE FRENCH FOOD … with my family and friends during regular visits to Santa Barbara from LA.

Joe’s has been in the same location on State Street since 1928 and, although redecorated, retains the bones and charm of a 1920’s California diner, counter (now bar) and all.

Looking at the recent photos, the French dips have not changed with chunks of prime rib piled high on a French roll (did I tell you I LOVE FRENCH FOOD?) accompanied by crispy French fries, au jus, and a side salad. I can taste the sandwich even though I am 1,500 miles away … YUM!

I have been to 39 countries since the first time I went to Joe’s, INCLUDING FRANCE SEVERAL TIMES, and enjoyed some of the best cuisine the World has to offer, but sometimes it is the simple things in life that stand out as the finest moments. I have never eaten anything EXCEPT the FRENCH DIP at Joe’s Cafe and even though I will likely return several more tines before I die, I will go with a smile on my face, having eaten nothing else at this Santa Barbara institution. GO TO JOE’S … have a French dip and tell them CombatCritic sent you!

CombatCritic Gives Joe’s Cafe 10 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD! 

Drifter’s Is No IN AND OUT … And That’s OK!


When compared to California’s In and Out Burger, a staple since my childhood growing up in L.A., you are bound to come-up short. My son, an In and Out novice, insisted on getting dinner from Drifter’s on Super Bowl Eve, saying “they have the best burgers in The Springs, similar to In and Out” and boy I was glad he did!

With such a basic menu it is easy to see how they excel with simple, fresh ingredients, quality ground beef, and reasonable prices. Where they diverge from In and Out is in their consistency and presentation. Every In and Out hamburger looks identical to the last with fresh lettuce and thick, red tomato on a fresh, toasted bun wrapped in their classic white, red, and yellow sandwich paper. Each of the three burgers we ordered at Drifter’s looked completely different than the others even though the ingredients were roughly the same. The makings were fresh and the food tasty, but they just do not have the process down as their California cousin has done so well for over 50 years.

The French fries were good and hot with just a little too much salt and just a bit too thin for my taste. The hamburgers were good and greasy as they should be with sautéed onions, melted American cheese, lettuce, and tomato. The only thing missing was pickle and bacon, which I understand is not an option at Drifter’s (bacon that is) … TOO BAD!

My recommendation is to FORGET IN AND OUT and focus on what Drifter’s does well and that is producing a quality burger and fries at a reasonable price. You are not In and Out, you never will be, so create and embrace your own identity … DRIFTER”S HAMBURGERS!

CombatCritic Gives Drifter’s Hamburgers 8 Bombs Out of 10 for BURGER VALUE … Bombs Are Good!

Drifter's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Drifter’s Hamburgers, Drifter’s, hamburger, burger, fries, cheese, lettuce, tomato, milk, shake, eat, food, 80907, Colorado Springs, CO, Colorado, CombatCritic, TravelValue, value, travel, combat

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

Taco Rico Is Cheap and Muy Bueno!


Punta Santiago, Puerto Rico: Taco Rico is a small restaurant where you order at the counter, then they bring you your food. Our hosts, Tony and Bonnie, recommended Taco Rico, so we had to give it a try. It’s a small place on Route 3 adjacent to a bar/ nightclub. The owners are very friendly and the men spoke limited English, so our poor Spanish was put to the test.

Tacos are $2, burritos $3.75-$5, burgers under $4. A whole meal including drink easily had for under $7.

The owners were very friendly and the men spoke limited English, so our poor Spanish was put to the test. The microwave was broken, thank heavens, so quesadillas and burgers weren’t an option. So we went with the namesake tacos,

The shells were pre-fab, but the cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce were fresh and the meat flavorful. I had a beef burrito and at $3.75 was a great tasting value with beef, beans, lettuce, tomato and cheese. The salsa was “butt-burning” good, coming in a squeeze bottle.

For two dinners, a soft drink and two cervezas the bill came to under $15. Simple and unobtrusive, Taco Rico is nothing fancy, but was a very good value, hence my rating …

CombatCritic Gives Taco Rico 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

Key Words: Taco Rico, taco, rico, rich, burrito, hamburger, French, fries, travel, value, CombatCritic, TravelValue, Punta Santiago, Puerto Rico, 

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

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


Nothing Is Free at Free State Brew Pub Where a Terrible $6 Burger Costs $9!


Nothing Is Free at Free State Brew Pub Where a Terrible $6 Burger Costs $9!

Free State Brew Pub
636 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
(785) 843-4555
Mon-Sat: 11am-Midnight
Sun: Noon-11pm

Small Bar with Beer Barrels Behind
Free State Brewery … Free State Brewery … that is all I have heard since moving to Lawrence in August … “Free State Brewery”.  I have tasted some of their micro brews and they are excellent, but every time we wanted to try the food, the place was jam-packed.  Now I know why while at the same time wondering … WHY?

The reason WHY people are always outside the door on Mass (Massachusetts Street – Downtown Lawrence, Kansas), I now know, is because there is so little room inside.  The massive aluminum brewing barrels occupy a large percentage of the interior space, leaving room for a small bar and maybe 10-15 tables.  There appear to be more tables upstairs, but the rather large space is dominated by the massive beer making equipment, leaving much less room for patrons.

The reason WHY I wonder what makes this establishment attractive to their many customers is because our recent dining experience was UNDERwhelming!

We were walking down Mass last Saturday night looking at the Christmas lights and considering stopping for a bite to eat.  As we made our way north to the 700 block, I noticed that there was an absence of humans outside of Free State Brew Pub, so we went in.  We were quickly seated at a small table next to the bar and a four-top occupied by two attractive young lovebirds.  Let me digress for a moment …

What I am about to say is a generalization, but it is an observation that has become more and more frequent of late.  This lovely couple was sitting next to each other, he with his legs propped up on the chair across from him as if he were lounging in his apartment, not a restaurant full of people.  When they did not have their tongues in each other’s ears, they were both simultaneously buried in their cell phones, eagerly texting away, probably to each other!  I call it “social dystrophy”, the inability of many people, particularly the younger generation, but not exclusively, to communicate effectively with fellow human beings.  If interested, you can read more in my article “Social Dystrophy: Are Technology or Values to Blame”.

Brewery Burger with Cheddar and Fries – $8.80
Back to Free State Brew Pub.  The place was full, but not packed, yet the noise-level was high.  After 20 years in the Air Force working around very loud jet engines, my hearing is not great and I had a hard time hearing my wife from across the small table.  Wood and glass dominate the large open room, the lighting not too bright and not dim, making the setting comfortable except for the decibel-level.

Our server, a nice young man who never mentioned his name, arrived promptly to take our drink order.  I decided to go with one of two stouts ($4 for an American pint) on the menu, I tried the other later, a flavorful thick, rich chocolaty concoction that was complex, yet smooth.  The second, an oatmeal stout, was also very tasty and smooth with less complexity than the first, but it was delicious.

I ordered the Brewery Burger medium-well with cheddar cheese, figuring a brew pub would have a top-notch burger, especially at $8.25 “without cheese”.  The menu states that it is a “1/3-pound patty of Kansas pride, Creekstone Farms seasoned premium charbroiled ground beef on an onion bun, slice of onion, leaf of lettuce and a pickle spear. Hot fries stand ready to complete the feast.” Adding Provolone, Blue, Swiss, Jack or Cheddar cheese is an extra 55¢, bringing the price to nearly $9. 

When our order arrived, I was shocked by the size of the hamburger and not in a good way.  The plate was dominated by overcooked French fries that sat upon a single flaccid piece of wilted lettuce, NO ONION, and a small dill pickle spear hidden under the fries, leaving the small onion roll containing the meat and cheese.  That was it, a beef patty the size of a McDonalds ¼-pounder and cheese, no mayo, no catsup, no tomato, NO TASTE!  First of all, the beef patty was medium or medium-rare, pink throughout and NOT medium-well as I had ordered.  I added some catsup out of the bottle and rather than ask for some tomato or onion, deciding to eat it as is and thinking that maybe they knew something I did not … that it should be eaten this way, it should not!

Based on value, this was one o
f the worst hamburgers I have ever eaten … and people wait outside in the rain and cold for this?  Five Guy’s burgers, at less than $6, are eons better than this sad excuse for a hamburger and even (dare I say it?) Burger King’s Whopper is tastier, cheaper, and COMES WITH ONION AND TOMATO!

Gorgonzola and Mushrrom Gnocchi – $9.99
My wife had the Gorgonzola and Mushroom Gnocchi – $9.95 – consisting of Shiitake and button mushrooms sautéed with julienne red onions, then simmered in a creamy Gorgonzola white wine sauce with fresh made potato gnocchi and finished with sliced black mission figs, local micro greens and toasted rosemary focaccia.  Her dish was attractive and flavorful enough, except for the fact that the red onions had not only been caramelized, they had been burnt.  The burnt onion flavor overwhelmed the otherwise tasty, creamy Gorgonzola and white wine sauce which had just the right amount of the strong cheese which can be overpowering if not done correctly.  The gnocchi were cooked perfectly, not too soft and not too firm, making the dish a decent value except for the fact that the burnt onions ruined it.  For $10, a side salad would be nice considering the fact that sandwiches come with a choice of potato or salad, but that is not the case.

I honestly have no idea why this place is so popular other than the fact that it may have become “the place to be seen” by the local college crowd, the same folks that give Chipotle 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp.  The beer was very good, the food extremely disappointing.  Based on our experience and the few available options on the menu, I doubt if we will be back except to have a beer, but based on the size of the bar and the usual crowds, I also doubt if it will be worth the wait.

CombatCritic Gives Free State Brew Pub 5 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Free State Brewing Co on Urbanspoon


Key Words: free, state, brew, pub, brewery, beer, food, hamburger, stout, pasta, gnocchi, cheese, French, fries, eat, drink, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, downtown, CombatCritic