Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass


Baan Thai

741 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-8424
Website: baanthaikansas.com/lawrence


With a love for Thai food, I had high expectations after reading the rave reviews, particularly by my friend Scott T. on Yelp who (normally) has very similar opinions as mine when it comes to food.

In the middle of downtown Mass Street (as residents of LFK call it), I had stopped by Baan Thai for a look once before and the menu seemed appetizing and reasonable, but the decor put me off as it did on this our first visit. With cement floors, orange plastic-backed chairs (which, by the way, possibly acrylic and not cheap), and little decor, the inside is not warm and inviting, at least to my taste.

Josh, our server, was very nice, efficient and professional, but the dishes came out one at a time. Josh said it was because they are “made to order”, but are most decent restaurants making food to order, bringing appetizers out together and entrees all at the same time?

First, the Pot Stickers (6 for $4.95) came out. The pork, cabbage, and onion dumplings were deep-fried and served with a soy-based dipping sauce. They were good, but were more dumpling than filling. We waited for 10-15 minutes for our Chicken Satay (4 for $6.95) to arrive, so when Josh asked me a question about my entree, I inquired about our second appetizer. He scurried to the kitchen with little explanation and after another ten minutes, our satay finally arrived. The marinated skewers of charbroiled chicken were accompanied by the traditional peanut sauce and cucumber salad, and were also pretty good, but both were overpriced by about a buck and would have been much better together as I like to dip my pot stickers in the soy AND peanut sauce.

My wife’s Pad See-Ew ($9.95) was next to arrive. The rice noodles were stir fried with egg and broccoli with enough spices to make the dish tasty without being too hot as my spouse cannot tolerate food that is too spicy, a pitfall of most Italians. She loved it and it was plentiful, but eggs, noodles, and broccoli are not a good combination in my book.
My Gang Massaman Curry ($11.75) arrived 5-7 minutes later. Massaman curry is one of my favorites and I have had it at many Thai restaurants. This was far from the best I have had although the curry was flavorful. The coconut milk based curry, traditionally simmered with beef, was not nearly as thick (a bit on the watery side) as any other I have had and the potatoes were not cooked quite enough. When Josh had come out to ask me about my entree earlier, he had asked if I minded having “sliced” beef rather than “boiled” beef, assuming that he meant that the beef had not been simmering for 60-90 minutes in the curry sauce as should be the case. Even though I agreed, the sliced beef was plentiful enough, but was a tad on the chewy side, not tough or grisly, but not as tender as it should have been. The yellow onions were tender, but the boiled peanuts were a also bit too raw.

My wife and I were both excessively thirsty later that evening and I had stomach cramps, a potential sign of MSG being used. I later checked their website and menu and there was not a claim of “No MSG” that I could find, so it you have a sensitivity to it, I would definitely ask in advance of ordering. I am not saying that they use MSG, but our symptoms were consistent with ingestion of the additive/flavor enhancer, so if they do not use it, they should say so on the menu.

Our meal was good, not great, the prices fair, the servings generous, and the service efficient, but compared to other Thai/Asian Fusion restaurants, including Zen Zero just up the street, this one was very “middle of the road”.

CombatCritic Gives Baan Thai A Very Average 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

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Baan Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass

Key Words: Baan Thai, baan, Thai, Thailand, curry, Lawrence, Kansas, Mass, Massachusetts, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

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

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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

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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TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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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”

Fool Me Once, Shame On You … Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me


Genovese

941 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 

(785) 842-8300

In my initial review of Genovese, I gave them a lackluster 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD … but looking back, I may have been too generous.

Bruschetta

We had bought a Genovese Groupon for $58 which included two appetizers and four entrees because we had planned to go with some friends, but our dinner plans fell through and after our first paltry experience, we were in no hurry to return. With the Groupon promotion lapsed, the “face value” of the Groupon “will still be honored” (according to Groupon’s website and disclaimer) and not wanting to waste $58, we decided to use it when my sons came to town for a visit from Colorado.

Insalata Caprese

Because I was using the “cash value” of the Groupon, not the promotion, I decided to utilize the “buy one entrée and two drinks, get one entrée for half off” offer advertised recently in the Lawrence Journal World (LJW). However, when it came time to pay the bill, the server told us that the manager would not honor the LJW offer. I asked to speak with him, explaining that the “cash value” of the Groupon was no longer a promotion, but if he wanted to honor it (even though it had expired) and give us the two appetizers and four entrees in exchange, that would be great! Otherwise, we were using no other “promotion” and I asked him to please honor the LJW coupon. He refused, not quite able to grasp the complexity of the situation or the meaning of “customer service”.

       Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Ravioli
Our meal, being bland, overpriced, with too much sauce on the pasta, was unremarkable and because it was overshadowed by the manager’s poor attitude, I will not waste too much time here explaining it. Leave it to say that the bruschetta ($6.50 – pronounced “brew-sket-ah”, not “brew-shet-a”) was three small pieces of white bread from the supermarket with a little cheese melted on top (bruschetta in never served with cheese), a little olive oil, and topped by three small grape tomatoes cut in halves. The Caprese salad (insalata), a favorite of mine, at $9.50 was equally as disappointing, being sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, another culinary faux pas, a few small slices of yellow tomato, thin pieces of mozzarella cheese, and a couple grape tomato halves in the middle. My wife’s wild mushroom and asparagus ravioli was supposed to come in a broth, but there was little broth visible, the pasta were dry, and their filling almost non-existent. 

Being a former baseball player, it normally takes three strikes to be “out”, but in the case of Genovese, two strikes shall suffice …
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Genovese will not be getting another chance in my book, mostly because of the manager’s unprofessional attitude, but also because of the poorly executed, overpriced food and …

CombatCritic Now Gives Genovese a Paltry 2 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!







 Genovese on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Genovese, Italian, restaurant, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Groupon, pasta, pizza, TripAdvisor, antipasti, Yelp, sausage, wine, UrbanSpoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Papa KENO’S Is A GAMBLE When It Comes To Timely Delivery And Customer Service


My son ordered over the phone because we could find no way to order online as advertised on their Yelp page but the employee told him “we’ll have it out when we have it out”. We live just 3 blocks away, but after 45 minutes there was still no sign of our pizza. It finally arrived nearly an hour after we placed our order, so I guess the guy on the phone was right after all.

Poor customer service aside, the pizza, although not cheap at $18 for a one-topping 18 inch cheese pizza, was not bad. We had the salami pizza and two order of breadsticks and the tab came to a little over $31 before tip. Not cheap. As far as I could tell, they do not offer specials online so what you se is what you get.

Decent pizza, not so decent value, and poor customer service means …

CombatCritic Gives Papa Keno’s (Lawrence) Only 4 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Papa Kenos Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Papa Keno’s, papa, keno’s, keno, pizza, parlor, food, Italian, menu, review, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, downtown, delivery, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

A Smokin’ Hot Yelp Check-In Offer … 25% OFF … WOO HOO!


An unassuming location in a strip mall on the east side of Iowa Street, Smoker’s Depot is not large, but the walls and shelves are literally overflowing with products.

Steve was extremely knowledgable and helpful regarding the vast array of smoking products available. They offer a large selection of tobacco products, pipes, hookahs, and vaporizers, and prices are fairly reasonable.

When I produced a Yelp Check-In Offer good for a 25% discount, Steve was unsure how to apply it to my order, but he quickly figured it out, saving me $30 on my purchase … HOOAH!

CombatCritic Gives Smoker’s Depot 8 Bombs Out Of 10


Key Words: Smoker’s Depot, smoker’s, depot, smoke, smoking, cigarette, cigar, pipe, vape, vaporizer, hookah, tobacco, Iowa, street, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Rex’s Offers Value And An Old Time Barber Shop Feel In Downtown Lawrence


Rex’s Offers Value And An Old Time Barber Shop Feel In Downtown Lawrence
Rex’s Stadium Barbershop
1033 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Rex’s is a small, unassuming barber shop not far from our home and because I support small, local businesses, I decided to give them a try. The four chairs were empty late on a Saturday morning, so I had a seat.
The shop is decorated with hundreds of old KU (University of Kansas) photos and other sports memorabilia, clearly having been collected since 1928 when the barber shop was founded by its original owner.
Prices are fair, just $10 for a regular haircut ($8 for military although I was not offered a discount as a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel), and the haircut precise and well proportioned. I gave minimal direction to Rex, only telling him to taper the sides and back and off he went. Before I knew it, my hair was perfectly short and neat, just the way it had been in 20+ years in the military. With miltary haircuts on base (post) hovering between $7 and $8, $10 in downtown Lawrence is a bargain!
Rex has some cool paintings in the back room, caricatures of the KU Jayhawk and other characters painted back in the early 1950s, possibly earlier. A friendly, welcoming shop with good prices and the feel of an old time barber shop, I will be returning to Rex’s for my haircuts for the foreseeable future!

CombatCritic Gives Rex’s Stadium Barbershop 9 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!






Key Words: Rex’s Stadium Barbershop, Rex’s, Rex, stadium, barber, shop, hair, haircut, mens, men’s, barbershop, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts, street, CombatCritic, travel, value

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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Border Bandido on Urbanspoon

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Decade on Urbanspoon

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

Balmy Nights, Harbor Lights


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


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


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


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

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







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

CombatCritic Is Neither Laughing Nor Amused After A Visit ToThe "Mirth" Café


Mirth Cafe
947 New Hampshire Street
Lawrence, KS 
Living just 3 blocks from the Mirth Cafe, yet never realized it was there! The windows are dark in this ground floor space of what looks like an office building and their sign is barely visible through the tinted windows. Once inside, a modern decor of wood, tile, and dark steel has none of the hominess I enjoy in a good breakfast spot (e.g. The Roost).
Mirth’s “Big” Breakfast
We were quickly met at the door and seated, but it took 10 minutes for our server, Brittney, to arrive. A young man dropped off some water, but was off before I had a chance to ask for some much needed coffee. Once Brittney arrived, we found out that it was a “self-service” coffee bar, so we wasted 10 minutes for nothing. I scurried to the bar only to find a dirty mug on my first attempt. There was neither half-and-half in the creamer nor coffee descriptions (dark roast, etc.) on the 5-6 available carafe options, only “Columbian” or “Ramona’s”, whatever that is, “DeCaf” … blah, blah, blah. Splenda was available only in shaker form and I had difficulty locating it because packets were provided for all other sweeteners (sugar, SugarInTheRaw, Sweet&Low). Brittney appeared a bit dismayed by my request to show me where the Splenda was and even more miffed when I asked her to please fill the half-and-half carafe so I could enjoy my mystery coffee. There was no Stevia, a disappointment as I avoid sugar and recently stopped using artificial sweeteners.
The coffee was good and warm, but the coffee bar was splotched with spilled coffee, sugar wrapper ends, and sweetener granules. To my dismay, the first upside-down mug I chose from the batch sitting on counter was filthy, containing adhering coffee granules from the previous customer. I was fortunate that I noticed them just as I started to pour my coffee as I normally assume that the dinnerware in restaurants are clean, a bold assumption I know.
I had Mirth’s Big Breakfast ($8.25) with a side of country gravy ($1.75) for a total of $10, a bit pricey for not-so-big breakfast in my opinion. The “BIG” breakfast was not as big as advertised. The two “over-medium” eggs I ordered looked “large” at best, not “extra large”, and were closer to over-easy than what I ordered. The bacon was crisp, yet chewy just like I like it, but it was lukewarm and came in a clump of two or three pieces as it was difficult to tell how many ends I saw on the intertwined pieces which had obviously been sitting in a pan waiting to be dispensed to a plate. Which brings me to the potatoes. They were “home-style”, which apparently means burnt, cold chunks with little if any seasoning. The accompanying biscuit was very small and the gravy minimal for the price ($1.75), coming in a “side” size cup, maybe 3 ounces at best, and barely covering the two small biscuit halves. It was “OK, but nothing special and not nearly as tasty or abundant as The Roost’s and there was no sign, either visible or tastable, of either bacon or sausage.
My wife had the Vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy, which had much more flavor than the sausage variety and chunks of something … possibly the sausage missing from my gravy! It was much spicier than mine and I would have actually preferred it to the non-vegetarian version, a sad statement from a longtime carnivore. $5.25 seems a little high for two small biscuits and a bit of gravy, but it beats paying ten bucks for a mediocre egg dish.
Brittney was very nice for the most part and very attentive after she finally arrived, so no gripes there. We were mildly disappointed by the experience and Mirth Café will likely not become a household staple, unfortunate in that it is the closest café to our home. The décor and service was somewhat cold and impersonal, leaving me unimpressed overall.
CombatCritic Gives Mirth Café 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!




Mirth Cafe on Urbanspoon



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Key Words: Mirth Café, mirth, café, cafe, Mirth Cafe, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts Street, Massachusetts, street, yelp, tripavisor, urbanspoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, breakfast, lunch, eggs, bacon

Fast, Affordable, Friendly … FUZZY’S!


Great tacos … CHECK!
Tex-Mex style enchiladas … CHECK!
Fresh guacamole … CHECK!
Tasty chili con queso … CHECK!
Good margaritas … CHECK!
Get in line to order … CHECK!
Reasonable prices … CHECK!
Rowdy, friendly employees … CHECK!


CombatCritic Gives Fuzzy’s Tacos A Solid 9 Bombs Out Of 10 for solid, fast, affordable Mexican food … BOMBS ARE GOOD!






Fuzzy's Taco shop on Urbanspoon










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Key Words: Fuzzy’s Tacos, Fuzzy’s, tacos, taco, fuzzy, fuzzie, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, queso, cheese, margarita, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Try "1006 Pho" Pho A Good, Reasonably Priced Bowl Of Goodness


Tofu Pho ($7.99)
This restaurant just opened in place of Wild Pho, another Vietnamese pho restaurant that recently closed. According to the server, the new owner, a very nice woman, apparently used to be connected to either Wild Pho or the space itself. Anywho, we thought we would give them a try considering they are so close to our home.

I asked if they had Vietnamese egg rolls, but the server did not know what I was talking about, so I asked the owner and she told me “no problem”. At $5 for four (4) pork egg rolls accompanied by lettuce leaves, sliced carrot, cilantro (no mint leaves), and a dipping sauce of rice vinegar and seasonings of unknown, but tasty origins, they were excellent or as Tony the Tiger would say “they’re grrrrrrrrrreat!” 

Steak Pho ($7.99)

My wife had the Tofu Pho. A “regular” is $7.99 and plenty big, but you can get a “large” for $9.99). The tofu is the same price as the meat (steak, meatball, chicken, shrimp, tendon?) pho and comes in a vegetarian broth option for an extra $1.50. 


I tried the Steak Pho (regular – $7.99) with veggie accompaniments and Sriracha OF COURSE! Extra meat is $1.99, which I ordered, but apparently did not get and was not charged for. No biggy because I was plenty full on the delicious broth, abundant noodles, a little sliced beef, and extra vegetables (no charge), including bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño, and cilantro.

They are updating the menu and a few dishes will not make the cut apparently, including the calamari, but if the pho was any indication of the quality and value of the meals, we will be back soon and provide an updated review as we try new dishes.


CombatCritic Gives 1006 Pho 7 Out of 10 Bombs (with room to grow) … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

1006 Pho on Urbanspoon


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Key Words: 1006 Pho, 1006 Massachusetts, 1006, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, pho, Vietnam, Vietnamese, food, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Thai, noodles, egg roll

Big Pizza Plus Little Pints Equal Mild Disappointment at Johnny’s Tavern West


  • Johnny’s Tavern West
  • 721 Wakarusa, Ste 100
    Lawrence, Kansas 66047

  • (785) 843-0704
  • johnnystavern.com


Price: $$$$$

A tentative review, I was invited to Johnny’s last night by some new friends and did more talking than eating and drinking.


I was warmly welcomed by the lovely bartender who attempted to help me find my party. Once found, I imbibed in a couple pieces of sausage and pepperoni pizza and a glass of draft IPA.

The pizza was the right thickness and consistency for NY style pizza, standing up well to the sauce and remaining firm enough to eat by hand. Cheese to sauce ratio was right on although the sauce had an odd taste that was slightly off-putting. The toppings were abundant and delicious.

The IPA, oddly enough, came in an unusual glass, maybe 12 ounces instead of the “pint” I was expecting. IPA is uniquely English and should come in a pint glass, preferably AN ENGLISH PINT which is a little over 19 ounces as compared to the whimpy US pints (16 ounces) we colonials have somehow become accustomed to. It was tasty enough, but another 4 to 7 ounces would have quenched my thirst much better.

Our young blonde server was very sweet and attentive, a former swimmer with an engaging personality and a keen eye for empty glasses. She hovered around just enough to keep everyone happy, removing waste as she came and went. The service was excellent!

CombatCritic Gives Johnny’s Tavern West a Tentative 5 Out of 10 Bombs with room to grow … MORE BOMBS ARE GREAT!

Johnny's on Urbanspoon



Key Words: Johnny’s Tavern West, Johnny’s, tavern, west, Lawrence, Kansas, Wakarusa, 6th, street, pizza, beer, ale, IPA, food, eat, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Genovese (Lawrence, Kansas): Decent Quality, Overpriced American-Italian Cuisine, Disappointing Experience


Genovese

941 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 

(785) 842-8300

Being of Italian descent with a grandmother from the homeland who was an excellent cook, having lived in Italy for three years and visiting frequently, and married to a Sicilian, let’s just say that I know good Italian food when I eat it. I found Genovese to be a fair Americanized reproduction with limited options.


With just “3 1/2 Stars” on Yelp and what I had heard about Genovese around town, we were not in a hurry to give them a try. There has been a long standing Groupon available for Genovese offering one appetizer ($6.50 – $9) and two entrees ($8.50 – $19) for $30 (notice that if you buy the least expensive offerings, you actually lose $6.50 on the deal), so we decided to have Easter dinner there.

It is not well advertised on Groupon, but the entrees are strictly from the pasta and pizza categories and the extra meat add-on for the pasta (chicken or sausage – $3, salmon or shrimp – $4) is included in the Groupon. If you do not order the most expensive options and the meat add-on, this Groupon is not a great value. 

Genovese has a $20 wine list which is a nice option for those on a budget with one bottle from each of the most popular grape varieties, including a Jacob’s Creek (Australia) Shiraz (Syrah) which I have had before that was quite nice and a very good value. There is a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Cabernet/Sangiovese blend from Italy among others in the “red” category and an equal number of white options which I did not even peruse.

For our appetizers (antipasti), we decided on the “spinach risotto fritters stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese topped with fonduta sauce” ($6.50) and an appetizer of the day, a selection of salumi, including capicollo, soppressata, and a cured duck accompanied by dried figs. We had to ask our server to bring bread because our antipasti had arrived and there was no indication that the bread would be forthcoming.


The bread was sliced into six small pieces, resembling a thick, fluffy focaccia and was accompanied by a lava bean puree and olive oil/Balsamic vinegar blend both in small cups. The “risotto fritters” are actually called “arancini de riso” and a specialty of Southern Italy (from Rome to Sicily). A small ball of rice and herbs with a piece of cheese in the center formed into a ball is then coated with flour, dipped in egg and bread crumbs, then deep fried. The cured meats (salumi) were sparse, with just three extremely thin pieces each of the capicollo, soppressata, and duck for two people, and the soppressata still had the exterior casing attached which I only realized after finding it lingering in my mouth. The meats were tasty and of good quality, but at $1 for each slice, neither very filling nor a great value.


For my entree, I decided on the penne with veal Bolognese, Wakarusa Valley wild mushrooms, and shaved Parmesan with a side of sausage ($16.50 + $3 = $19.50). The penne were store bought, as advertised, cooked “al dente” as they should be, coming in a light ground veal sauce which was a little too soupy. The “shaved Parmesan” tasted like no parmesan (or Parmigiano) I have ever had and was more similar to an Asiago from Sam’s Club than the aged cheese I love more than life itself. Unfortunately, the side of sausage was cut into pieces and added to the pasta instead of coming on a separate plate, which I had expected. The pasta was “OK”, not overly abundant, and certainly no better than anything I have had at Olive Garden (the few times I was forced to eat there). At $16.50, the dish was at least $3 to $4 more than it should be, but that is to be expected at the high rent establishments on Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence.

At $16, my wife had the “wild mushroom and asparagus ravioli with Shiitake mushrooms, vegetable brodo (broth), and Ricotta salata” (salted ricotta cheese) along with a side of sausage ($3). She asked for the sausage on the side, but when the pasta arrived, the sausage were already added to the ravioli for some reason, so we had to send it back. Again, not abundant in size, the ravioli were colorful, but bland and a little too dry until doused with some broth.

The decor is odd for an Italian restaurant, more appropriate for a hamburger joint than a ristorante, but comfortable with a small outdoor patio on the sidewalk with just four tables for those who enjoy people watching, noise, and exhaust fumes. The service was attentive, friendly, and professional, the highlight of our meal.

The bill came to close to $80, so by the time tip was added we were looking at a “C-note” for dinner, not an inexpensive venture by any stretch. Thanks to the Groupon, our portion came to nearly $45 (plus the $30 we paid for the Groupon – a grand total of $75), a much more tolerable total but still quite a bit higher than it was worth. For comparison, a similar dinner at Lidia’s, one of the best Italian restaurants in Kansas City, with two appetizers, two entrees (meat dishes, not pizza/pasta), a bottle of wine and dessert usually comes to a little over $100 including tip. So without the Groupon, Genovese does not even come close to a meal at Lidia’s and is a poor value in my eyes …

CombatCritic Gives Genovese 5 Bombs Out of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!

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 Genovese on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Genovese, Italian, restaurant, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Groupon, pasta, pizza, TripAdvisor, antipasti, Yelp, sausage, wine, UrbanSpoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Zen Zero Update … Quality, Reasonable Thai and Nepalese Cuisine in Downtown Lawrence


Zen Zero

811 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: 785-832-0001
Fax: 785-841-8759
Hours:  
Sun-Mon  11AM – 9PM
Tue-Sat     11AM – 10PM

Email: zenzerolaw@sbcglobal.net
Crunchy Thai Chip Basket

Restaurants in downtown Lawrence are not necessarily well known for their value. Rents are high on and around Massachusetts Street, so most food is overpriced, particularly based on the quality of said, which in this case is not necessarily a positive thing. We have tried several, including The Mad Greek, Teller’s (now closed), Rudy’s Pizza, La Parrilla, Cielito Lindo, La Familia, Fuzzy’s Tacos, India Palace, The Casbah, and Curry in a Hurry to name a few, and with the exception of the last four, have yet to find great food and true value … UNTIL NOW!

Fried Pork Momos with Two Sauces

My wife had heard that Zen Zero was good and had I known it was a Thai restaurant, I would heave tried it sooner. I love Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean cuisine thanks to their abundant use of exotic and flavorful spices, particularly curry, so when I heard Zen Zero was a Thai restaurant, I eagerly agreed to give it a try.


The decor is modern, yet cozy with hints of zen influence in select pieces of art on the walls and construction with warm Earth-tone colors and an open kitchen emitting sounds, smells, and flames as chefs prepare meals in view of customers.  The server arrived with a complimentary basket of Asian rice chips, light and crunchy, likely a rice-based starter, which are tasty but an accompanying sauce to dip in would be nice.  There are soy sauce and an Asian-style chili sauce on the table, so you can easily make your own dipping condiment, but a creative and inexpensive accompaniment would be an added bonus.

Sunday night is Zen Zero night in our house and draught beer is on special for $3.00 a (American) pint. Not a huge selection, a pale ale, a wheat, and a seasonal (Oktoberfest, Irish Red), I ordered the Oktoberfest (normally $4.00), but the server quickly told me they were out, so I went for the pale ale (normally $3.75).

Chicken Spring Rolls

The App (appetizer) Sampler ($7.29) which came with two steamed veggie momos (a tasty Tibetan dumpling), two chicken satay (grilled chicken on a stick accompanied by peanut sauce) and two fried tofu triangles. It took quite a while for our appetizer to arrive considering the restaurant was only about half full, but I enjoyed a pint of pale ale ($2.50 – normally $3.75) while waiting. The appetizer was relatively small, arriving on a plate smaller than our dinner plates at home, and left me hungry for more. It would have been enough for one person, but there were two of us, so we each had one momo, one satay, and one tofu each. The momo (Himalayan dumplings with charred tomato and spicy sesame chutneys served steamed) would have been better fried, an option when ordering the momo appetizer, but not on our sampler platter, and was delicious, but it was consumed in just two bites (I could have easily handled it in just one). A steamed dumpling the size of a fortune cookie filled with veggies and served with sweet and sour sauce, momos are likely better deep fried.  

The Fried Pork Momos ($4.79) are much tastier and less healthy than the steamed variety, coming 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 ($4.29) come with a sweet and spicy sauce infused with chili peppers, but for the price I would expect more than two, both of which were consumed post haste.  They were savory and crunchy, containing cabbage, bean sprouts, and a few other unknown vegetables, and, beside the small portion, they were also excellent. The chicken satay ($4.99) is also good with four skewers of grilled chicken accompanied by a decadent peanut sauce and zesty onion and cucumber relish.


Phad Phak Ruam Mitr

My wife ordered a vegetarian dish, Phad Phak Ruam Mitr ($7.29), 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 delicious, not too spicy for an Italian not used to eating hot and spicy foods (penne arribiatta 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.


Massaman Curry
I absolutely love curry and Zen Zero’s Massaman curry ($7.69), a coconut curry from Southern Thailand with potatoes peanuts (Sorry NO Pork Option with this Curry), was THE BOMB! Having ordered mine with the customary beef, the curry was scrumptiously rich and perfectly seasoned. A thick red curry, Massaman comes with tofu or meat (other than pork) and potatoes and peanuts in a huge bowl served with Jasmine rice. Not abundant in the beef department, I was not disappointed because the thick curry sauce was probably the second best I have ever eaten (the best was at a small Vietnamese restaurant in Palos Verdes, California back in the late 1970s) … SUPERB!

Green Curry ($7.69) with Beef ($2.69)

On our next visit I wanted to try the Green Thai Curry ($7.69 – green curry with bell peppers, eggplant, and bamboo shoots), but I hate bamboo shoots because they have the consistency of Styrofoam and zero taste, so I asked the server (Zana) if I could substitute potatoes.  Yellow and green Thai curries are excellent and normally are served with chicken, pork, or beef (chicken is the norm) with potato and peas, so I was dismayed when I saw bamboo shoots as an ingredient. Bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, another dreaded ingredient, are usually found in Chinese cuisine, not Thai, so I thought potatoes would be a rather benign request. 

I was told that there would be a $1.00 up-charge for substituting potato for bamboo shoots!  Considering the fact that potatoes are one of the cheapest staples in the produce department and much more pricey than an equal weight in potatoes, I declined and simply asked for the dish minus the water chestnuts and plus beef ($2.69 extra).  The green curry was delicious, spicy enough for the pallet but not too much for my acid reflux.  The bell peppers (red and green) were a bit too crunchy (raw) for my taste, but the dish was excellent. The “Jasmine” rice, which accompanies most dishes, seems to be merely white rice because I could neither taste nor see any hints of Jasmine.  The beef, which I paid nearly $3.00 extra for, consisted of 3 or 4 pieces of thinly sliced beef and 1-2 inches in length, nearly non-existent.  If there had been MORE MEAT, the dish would have been perfect, beside the fact that a couple of chunks of potato would have also been nice!

Phad Thai


The Phad Thai ($7.29), a classic Thai stir-fry with rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro and peanuts in a mild red curry sauce, was robust and delicious.  Looking much like an Italian pasta dish, it had nothing else in common with Italian cuisine other than the noodles, and was perfectly seasoned.  The vegetables were well cooked and not raw, the dish was sprinkled with small chunks of peanuts and stir-fried in a mild red curry sauce, for a vegetarian dish it was scrump-diddly-umptious!

The Dry Chicken Curry Thakali-style ($8.99) is a traditional Nepalese curry made with onions, ginger, garlic, garam masala and tomato, served with jasmine rice, rahar ko dal (yellow lentils) and potato achar. The achar sat atop the dish and was oddly cold, so I asked the server if that was the intention and it was, looking and tasting like Nepalese potato salad. With quite a few chicken chunks throughout, the dish was my least favorite of all my meals so far, somewhat boring with a bit of bite and too much jasmine rice for the amount of sauce.

Zen Zero has become a staple in our house and we will be returning frequently in the future, so expect updates to this review as I try the red, yellow, and “dry” curries, among other dishes, in upcoming months. Good restaurants are not abundant in Lawrence, particularly downtown, but Zen Zero is a welcome addition!

CombatCritic gives Zen Zero 9 OUT OF 10 BOMBS … Bombs are good!






Key Words: zen zero, zen, zero, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, Thai, Nepalese, Japanese, curry, noodles, stir-fry, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue