Bella Vista, AR: "Fred’s" Is Back In Business And They Mean "Business"!


Fred’s Hickory Inn

1502 N. Walton Blvd
Bentonville, AR 72712
Phone; (479) 273-3303
Website: fredshickoryinn.net

I will update this review in more detail as time allows, but I wanted to get it on the books ASAP.

Great place, very good food, excellent service and fair prices.

They accommodated our 20-person group without a flinch, just like we were a party of 4 dropping in for dinner. The drinks and food came post haste and with not just a smile, but a story or two and some good humored jabs from our server.

Excellent barbecue, they also have steaks, seafood, and pasta dishes, although their Bolognese sauce on the side of spaghetti I had was the primary reason for the one-star downgrade. On night two I had the lasagna which was pretty good, not quite like my mom, grandma, mother-in-law, and Zia Gina make, but not bad.

Prices range from $14-$35+ for dinner entrees, including soup or salad and a side or two, very fair for food and service of this caliber.

CombatCritic Gives Fred’s Hickory Inn A Very Respectable 8 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Thumbs-Up … More Bombs Are Better … See You In The Fall Y’All! 
Eight Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: “Fred’s” Is Back In Business And They Mean “Business”!


Key Words: Fred’s Hickory Inn, Fred’s, Freds, hickory, inn, Bella Vista, AR, Bentonville, Arkansas, barbecue, BarBQ, steak, pasta, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

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Washington DC: Great Pizza (If You Are From The Midwest)


Wiseguy NY Pizza

300 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 1
Washington, DC 20001
Between N. H St and N. 3rd St
Phone: (202) 408-7800
Website: wiseguynypizza.com


Where we come from, the Midwest, pizza sucks. So coming to the East Coast, we were looking forward to some good Italian food in general and pizza in particular. Wiseguy NY Pizza beats anything we have in Lawrence, Kansas, but it was not anywhere near the best. That is coming from someone spoiled with wonderful pizza, having lived in Naples (Italy, not Florida) and being married to an Italian.
The place is clean and the staff friendly. There were several pies to choose slices from and my wife was happy to see that there were “white” offerings as she has na aversion to tomatoes (yes, she is actually Italian and does not eat tomatoes, drink wine, or cook, but that’s another story).
The slices range from $2.99 (cheese/Margherita) to $3.99 (Specialty), but they had a “Combo Special” – two slices (from any 20″ pie) and a fountain drink for $9.69 so we went for it. My wife chose two of the Mushroom Truffle slices and I picked two NY Supreme slices.
The pizza was really good if you are from the Midwest and “mezza mezza” (so-so) if you are from Napoli. The slices were big, there were plenty of toppings, and the flavor was decent, although the NY Supreme needed a little help (extra oregano and parmesan cheese). The mushroom truffle was tasty in my opinion, but my wife has been spoiled by Neapolitan pizza all her life and said it was “OK” (a compliment from her).
All-in-all, we were satiated and relatively pleased to have a good meal for just over $20 in Washington DC. Hey, open a store in Lawrence … PLEASE!

CombatCritic Gives Wiseguy NY PIzza 6* Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better

Six Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Washington DC: Great Pizza (If You Are From The Midwest)

Key Words: Wiseguy NY Pizza, wiseguy, NY pizza, New York, new, york, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Washington DC, Washington, DC, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: G2G =  “Good To Go”


* Ratings are based on “value” (bang for the buck) as compared to similar restaurants in a particular market/locale

Washington, DC: CombatCritic Was In The Haus … And He Wasn’t Happy


Biergarten Haus
1355 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Between N. Linden Court and N. 14th St
Phone: (202) 388-4053
I will not spend a great deal of time on this review because Biergarten Haus can be summarized very briefly, overpriced and mediocre. 

Having traveled extensively in Germany, I know good German bier and food when I taste it. A 1/2 liter of draft German beer (less than 17 ounces) was $8, so I did not taste it and drank water instead. We ordered three pretzel rolls ($5) and even though they looked appetizing, they had obviously been “nuked” (microwaved) because the outside was soft and warm, but the inside was as hard as a rock. The accompanying “homemade” mustard was good and spicy.
My wife ordered the Brauernwurst ($14), coming with a single sausage, a potato pancake, and sauerkraut. Everything tasted OK, but you normally get some bread and a salad or soup with German food. That was not the case and my wife, who is rather petite and not a big eater, was still hungry when we returned to our room, eating a yogurt from the fridge.
I had the Jägerschnitzel ($20), a breaded pork cutlet with hunter sauce (a brown, mushroom gravy). The cutlet was of decent proportion, but the breading was soft, not crispy as it should have been, obviously nuked like the pretzels. The hunter sauce was watery and bland, adding little taste to the dish. The fries were the decent, nothing special. I was also a bit hungry afterward, so I also had a snack in our room because we were not about to pay $8 for a nuked apple strüdel.
Coming in at $50 (for two), including tip, this meal was not a good value and an overall disappointment. The only reason they get 4 bombs instead of 3 was the service. The bartender who took and served our order was extremely kind and efficient, and for that we were grateful.
CombatCritic Gives Biergarten Haus 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Four Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Biergarten Haus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Washington, DC: CombatCritic Was In The Haus … And He Wasn’t Happy

Key Words: Biergarten Haus, biergarten, bier, garten, beer, garden, German, Washington Dc, Washington, DC, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again”

Washington DC: Oui, Oui … French With A Kick … Mon Ami


Le Grenier

502 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
H Street Corridor/Atlas District/Near Northeast
Phone: (202) 544-4999
Website: legrenierdc.com

Excellent, reasonably priced French cuisine in a historic building just northeast of the Capitol, Le Grenier was a delight.

We were cheerfully accommodated while dropping in last minute on our way back to our room in eastern DC, having decided on French instead of German while en route. The service was excellent and the food tasty, not traditional French, but spicier with possible north African or Caribbean influences. The bread was OUT OF THIS WORLD, warm and soft on the inside, crispy on the out, we ate far more than would be reasonable … oops!

I had a glass of complimentary Shiraz, courtesy of a Yelp Check-In Offer (thanks Yelp!), to start things off as well as the Casserolette de Moules (mussels and melted leeks in a creamy saffron sauce – $6.75) for my appetizer and the Pissaladière (a caramelized onion tart with herbes de Provence, creamy goat cheese, and Kalamata olives – $8.75) for my wife. The mussels were delish, but there were just five and they were, surprisingly, still in the shell, so by the time I deshelled them, there was not all that much to eat. The tart was wonderful, savory and oniony … YUM, YUM!

My wife ordered the Paupiette de Veau ($20.95), “cumin infused ground veal with crimini and oyster mushrooms wrapped in cabbage and accompanied by wild rice and a green peppercorn velouté”. The dish was excellent albeit a bit too spicy for my non-heat-seeking spouse of Italian origin, so I had to finish it for her … poor me. I had the Terre é Mer ($22.95), described as “seared merguez sausage and shrimp over chorizo confit with a goat cheese sauce, sundried tomato and pine nut dust”, accompanied by saffron infused mashed potatoes. The sole sausage was extremely thin and, unfortunately, very dry, being topped with three small grilled shrimp. The chorizo confit actually came in a flaky pastry on the side, not over, making the dish difficult to eat. Trying to get a piece of the dry sausage, shrimp, the wonderful cheese sauce, the chorizo, and the extremely flaky pastry together in one bite, with a fork no less, was next to impossible. The few times I was able to mix the appropriate ingredients together in a single bite was heavenly, but most were masticated solo or in pairs, resulting in a less than thrilling culinary experience. 

By the time we were done, we were satiated and happy, the bill coming in at $100 more or less, including tip. Not bad for a nice meal in the big city, including appetizers, entrees and two (paid for) glasses of wine.

CombatCritic Gives Le Grenier 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Le Grenier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Washington DC: Oui, Oui … French With A Kick … Mon Ami

Key Words: Le Grenier, le, grenier, Washington DC, Washington, DC, French, cuisine, food CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

KC Yelp Elite Event Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas – It’s A Burger Bash @ BurgerFi!


Burger Bash @ BurgerFi
Yelp Elite Event
BurgerFi
918 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
First off, thanks to Josh, owner of BurgerFi-Lawrence, for hosting such a great event and to Adam for FINALLY bringing an event to Lawrence … HOOAH! It was so close to home that my wife and I were able to walk to the event.

Good wine, spirits, and beer, provided by BurgerFi (4 oz samples of each draft), a local winery (Chardonnay), and a Parkville distillery (vodka and gin) got the evening off to a roaring start. Then the food began to arrive and arrive and arrive and arrive. Two kinds of French fries (regular and Urban Style) and scrummy onion rings to share, then half of a BurgerFi Burger, half of a Breakfast All Day Burger, half of a VegeFi Burger (no bun), and 1/3 of a Chicago Style Hot Dog. Then it was time for dessert … a small Key Lime or Coffee Mocha shake and a Red Velvet Concrete.

The food was plentiful and good and the drinks kept flowing for two hours. We were stuffed by the time it was over. The company, excellent as always, it was great to see some of my old Elite friends (Adam, Scott and Billie) and meet a few new ones (Bill and Sara).
I gave BurgerFi an average (3 Star/6 Bomb) review on my first visit, offering some suggestions for improvement, and was impressed by the owner’s and corporate’s willingness to reach out and ask for more feedback. I am even more impressed that they apparently took some of it to heart as they are increasing the size of their burgers and buns in the near future … WOO-HOO! I look forward to trying the NEW AND IMPROVED BurgerFi Burgers when available.

CombatCritic Gives The “Burger Bash At BurgerFi” 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘fuck it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

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!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: KC Yelp Elite Event Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas – It’s A Burger Bash @ BurgerFi!

Key Words:  KC, Kansas City, Elite, Event, Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas, Burger, Bash, BurgerFi, hamburger, Massachusetts, Mass, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp

If You Have Food Allergies, STAY AWAY From Mi Ranchito!


Mi Ranchito
707 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 727-2005
Website: miranchitokc.com
Prices: $$$$
If you have food allergies, STAY AWAY!  For the umpteenth and last time, my wife (who is allergic to tomatoes) was brought her food order with tomatoes in it even though we specified “NO TOMATOES … SHE’S ALLERGIC!”

They also brought me a house margarita “on the rocks” instead of “blended” as I had ordered and my machaca (shredded beef) fried tacos came with ground beef, but by this time I was fed up and ate them anyway.  The blended margarita ($6.50) had little if any alcohol or taste.

We have been to Mi Ranchito on numerous occasions, but stuff like this happens every time we eat here.  I have explained to management several times how dangerous it is to ignore customer identified food allergies, but it obviously does little good.  The manager brought us a coupon for “Buy one lunch entree, get one free!”, but we do not go out for lunch, so … there you go … it’s absolutely useless and worthless as far as we are concerned.

The food is not bad by Lawrence standards, if you get what you order, but the lack of concern for their customer’s health is a major concern and will likely only be rectified after someone with a life threatening food allergy receives the food they are allergic to with potentially lethal consequences. 

Adios Mi Ranchito!

CombatCritic Gives Mi Ranchito 1 Bomb Out Of 10 … I Cannot Give Them Anything Higher Due To Their Blatant Lack Of Concern For Customer Safety … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title:  If You Have Food Allergies, STAY AWAY From Mi Ranchito!

Key Words: Mi Ranchito, mi, ranchito, Mexican, allergy, allergies, food, Lawrence, KS, 66046, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”


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!



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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” 

See "The Miracle at Medjugorje" As It Happens … 533,000 Views So Far


The MOST WATCHED video on YouTube (533,000+ views and counting) documenting the Miracle at Medjugorje: 

Medjugorje, along with Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal, is one of the three major Catholic pilgrimage sites where miracles have been reported with apparitions of the Virgin Mary appearing to locals over the years.

Lourdes, France
See the sacred liquid miraculously appear from the Medjugorje Christ statue as devoted followers soak the liquid into handkerchiefs to take home and heal afflicted loved ones.

Many believe, some do not … decide for yourself after watching “The Miracle at Medjugorje”.


Read Other 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!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: See “The Miracle at Medjugorje” As It Happens … 533,000 Views So Far

Key Words: Miracle at Medjugorje, miracle, Medjugorje, Catholic, church, apparition, Virgin Mary, virgin, Mary, Fatima, Lourdes, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Lawrence, Kansas: I Have To Pay For Chips And Salsa? Really?


Tortas Jalisco
534 Frontier Road
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 865-1515
Website: tortasjalisco.com
Prices: $$$$

We used to eat here quite frequently. Now I remember why we stopped going to Tortas Jalisco.


First, you have to pay $2.79 for chips and salsa. I have never eaten at another Mexican restaurant that makes you pay for chips and salsa.

Second, the $4 house margarita is small, maybe 12 ounces tops, with little if any tequila. A waste of $4. I got a better buzz from the ice water.

Third, the guacamole ($4.99) is very small and loaded with tomatoes and onion (filler). $2.99 maybe, $4.99 forget it.
Fourth, they have raised their prices on many dishes by a buck or cut the amount of food. For example, you now only get 4 tacos for $6.99 (instead of 5) and they eliminated carne asada (steak) as a “meat” option, the only choices now being chorizo, pork (carnitas or adobada), chicken or ground beef, all of which are much less costly than steak.
Finally, the food is mediocre by California or Texas standards, but slightly above average for Lawrence. The place is always empty, likely the result of weak, overpriced margaritas and having to pay for chips and salsa … this is a college town folks!
CombatCritic Downgrades Tortas Jalisco To 5 Out Of 10 Bombs (Rounded Up To 3 Out Of 5 Stars) … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: I Have To Pay For Chips And Salsa? Really?

Key Words: Tortas Jalisco, tortas, jalisco, Mexican, food, Lawrence, KS, 6th, street, taco, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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

Lawrence, KS: Not "America’s Best Philly", But A Contender For "Lawrence’s Best Sandwich"


PepperJax Grill
919 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-4529
Prices: $$$$
Trying to find a decent sandwich in Lawrence is like trying to find the veal cordon bleu in an MRE box, ain’t gonna happen, not until I tried PepperJax Grill.

While far from the best sandwich, in general, or cheesesteak, in particular, I have ever had, PepperJax’ cheesesteak was the best sandwich I have eaten in Lawrence. Their menu is very limited with cheesesteaks, rice bowls, burritos, nachos and salads, all in the $7.29 to $7.99 range, as well as several sides including fries, chips and salsa/queso, and mandarin oranges. The combination of cheesesteaks and Mexican fare is a bit odd, but the cheesesteaks are decent.

Having eaten “real” cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, PepperJax claims theirs’ is “America’s Best Philly”, but I do not concur. There is ample diced beef sauteed with peppers and onions and the 10-12 inch roll was soft and fresh. The cheese was a nondescript American variety, not the traditional Cheese Whiz found on Philadelphia cheesesteaks and mushrooms, not green bell peppers, would be a more Philly-like addition. The sandwich was tasty and filling.

I also ordered two sides of fries ($2.50 each) , but the guy behind the counter talked me out of one, telling me “they’re really big, so you may want just one”, so I followed his advice. Turns out they were not as big as he had said and were just barely enough for two of us, but they were fresh, hot and crispy, a nice accompaniment to the cheesesteaks.

There is also a condiment bar with four sauces (au jus, chili sauce, and two others as well as the usual catsup, mustard, napkins, and plasticware. 

Overall, I have to say that PepperJax was worth the visit and a decent value. If in the mood for a Kansas cheesesteak, we will definitely return.

CombatCritic Gives PepperJax Grill 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Six 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!

Pepperjax Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, KS: Not “America’s Best Philly”, But A Contender For “Lawrence’s Best Sandwich”

Key Words: PepperJax Grill, PepperJax, grill, sandwich, Philadelphia, Philly, cheesesteak, Cheese Whiz, cheese, steak, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Lawrence, Kansas: Price Increases And Poor Service (Literally) Left A Bad Taste In Our Mouths


Zen Zero
811 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 832-0001
Website: zen-zero.com
Prices: $$$$

Unfortunately, Zen Zero is owned by the same group that poorly manages Genovese (and La Parilla), a very sad excuse for an Italian restaurant a couple blocks down the street on Massachusetts. I hesitate to spend our money at Zen Zero only because of the unpleasant experiences we have had at Genovese, but there are not many options when it comes to decent, reasonably priced restaurants in Lawrence, so we bit my tongues and returned after a long layoff.

Zen Zero’s decor is modern, yet cozy with hints of Asian influence in select pieces of art on the walls, warm Earth-tone colors and an open kitchen emitting exotic sounds, smells, and flames as chefs prepare meals in view of customers. As you can see from the photo below, the lighting is much brighter than I remember, ruining the ambience we used to enjoy beside hurting my light sensitive eyes.

Our server arrived with a customary basket of Asian rice chips, light and crunchy, which are tasty but an accompanying sauce to dip in would have been nice, but seemed as though she did not seem overly eager to be there or serve us.

Sunday night used to be Zen Zero night in our house where draught beer is on special for $3.00 a (American) pint. They do not have a huge selection of drafts, a pale ale, a wheat, and a seasonal (e.g. Oktoberfest, Irish Red). I ordered the Irish Red (normally $4.50), two total over the entire meal. My wife had water.

The Fried Pork Momos (now $4.99) come with four dumplings and two sauces, a mildly spicy red tomato chutney and an almost white sauce that reminded me of very well-blended hummus. The Fried Chicken Spring Rolls (now $4.29) come with a sweet and spicy sauce infused with chili peppers. They were savory and crunchy, containing ground, seasoned chicken and, beside the small portion, they were also good. But having lived in McLeod Ganj, India for two months last year, a Tibetan colony and home of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, I ate Tibetan food three times a day, every day. An order of momos there consists of eight, double the number at Zen Zero, they are much better, and only cost $2.50, one-quarter the price at Zen Zero.

Meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – McLeod Ganj, India (December 8, 2014)

My wife ordered a vegetarian dish, Phad Phak Ruam Mitr ($7.99), a mixed vegetable stir-fry with broccoli, onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, Napa cabbage, scallions, baby corn and tofu and served with Jasmine rice. It was light and not too spicy for an Italian not used to eating hot and spicy foods (penne arrabiata is as hot as it gets in Italian cuisine). The vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the sauce light yet complex enough to satiate the palate, but it left a strange aftertaste unlike when she has had it in the past. She could barely eat it and the server did not bother asking how our meal was or if there was a problem with the dish, bringing a to-go container and making us box it up ourselves.

I love curry and Zen Zero’s Massaman curry (now $8.29, $10.28 with beef), a coconut curry from Southern Thailand with potatoes peanuts (no pork option), was as good a I remember. Having ordered my curry with the customary beef (an extra $2.99), the curry was rich and well seasoned. A thick red curry, Massaman comes with tofu or meat (other than pork – $1.99 to $3.99 extra charge for meat or seafood) with potatoes and peanuts in a huge bowl served with Jasmine rice. Not overly abundant in the beef department, I was not too disappointed because the thick curry sauce was nearly as good as the best I have ever eaten (the best was a similar curry at a small Vietnamese restaurant in Palos Verdes, California back in the late 1970s).

Our appetizers took quite a while to arrive and our entrees took even longer. I watched my wife’s Phad Phak Ruam Mitr sit on the counter for at least ten minutes until my curry was finally ready, all the while our server was too busy talking on her cell phone to bring us our food and we had to wait even longer after my curry was finally ready.

When we had finished, I gave our server a coupon we had received (2nd dinner half-off with purchase of an entree and two drinks), she told me she did not think we could use it. I asked, “Why?”, and she told me “You have to order two drinks to get the deal”. To which I replied, “We did, I had two beers” (and a couple appetizers to boot) to which she responded, “I’ll have to check with my manager to see if it’s OK”. Really? I should not have been surprised because Zen Zero is owned by the same group that owns Genovese where we had a similar incident a while back (they also refused to honor a coupon). I find myself wondering why the owners bother printing coupons if they are just going to have their servers hassle customers who try to use them.

Zen Zero had become a staple in our house and we may likely be returning in the future even though they have raised their prices rather significantly in the past year and the service was not nearly as good as it used to be. Good restaurants are not abundant in Lawrence, particularly downtown, but Zen Zero is a welcome option, albeit a bit pricier than in the past.

I gave Zen Zero 9 Bombs Out Of 10 in a past review, but with deductions for their price increases, the delays in receiving our appetizers and entrees, the weird aftertaste in the Phad Phak Ruam Mitr, and being hassled by the server for using a coupon …

CombatCritic Now Gives Zen Zero 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Good!




Six Bombs Equates To:
“Good To Go”

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Zen Zero Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Zen ZeroZen Zero

Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Price Increases And Poor Service (Literally) Left A Bad Taste In Our Mouths

Key Words: travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, zen zero, zen, zero, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, Thai, Nepalese, Japanese, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue


Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Lawrence, Kansas: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming, A Bakery That Sells Burnt Bread?


1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe
1900 Barker Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 424-7609
Website: 1900barker.com
Prices: $$$$

Only bread, pastries, maybe some quiche, and coffees/teas available here, no real food, so think “European” style cafe, not the American variety where you can find a sandwich, soup, or more on the menu.
I thought the other popular bakeries in town were expensive – if you live in Lawrence, you know which two I am thinking about – until I stopped by 1900 Barker this morning.
I had heard they were a bit pricey, but that is an understatement! I paid $9 ($8.50+tax) for a loaf of (burnt) apple and raisin wheat bread, the most I have spent in my life in any of the 41 countries I have visited, including Switzerland, for a loaf of bread. Seems rather excessive to me.

It also seems as if everyone is giving 1900 Barker 5/5 Stars, jumping on the bandwagon for a new business off the beaten path. I think 5 Stars (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, TABELog) are given out willy-nilly by far too many reviewers, but my ratings are based on “value”, hence the name of this blog: “TravelValue”, what you get in terms of quality, service and price. So based on their absurd prices alone, I cannot give them more than 4 Bombs (2 Stars), especially when I take into account that the bread was burnt, even more so on the bottom than the top.

I hope they succeed, I really do. I hate for any business to fail (with a couple of exceptions in Lawrence, but that’s another review or two), particularly when they have large sums invested in a venture (the place used to be a run down laundromat). However, after the novelty wears off, people will require more value for their dollar. So, unless they bring their prices back down to Earth and stop burning the bread, I unfortunately do not see this venture being a long-term success.


CombatCritic Gives 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Four 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: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming: This Bakery Sells Burnt Bread

Key Words: 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe, 1900, Barker, bakery, cafe, bread, coffee, pastries, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!”