Category Archives: Restaurant

Once in a Sunday Brunch: John Brown’s Underground | Lawrence, KS

John Brown's Underground

One of my new favorite hangout spots in Lawrence, Kansas, is the brand new speakeasy John Brown’s Underground. It’s a small little spot right off Mass street that offers specialty cocktails as well as delicious food. The establishment is not marked by a sign. Instead, it shows off a black awning, sleek-looking door and red light that turns on when the bar is at capacity. I’ve enjoyed spending time at this Prohibition-era establishment during weekend afternoons with friends, weeknight evenings at book club and Friday date nights with the husband. I’ve even started going on Sunday mornings for brunch!

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On Saturday and Sunday mornings (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), John Brown’s Underground now offers a great brunch deal: For $20 you can eat one of their main courses, a side item AND enjoy bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys. If you don’t want an alcoholic beverage (which, quite frankly, why wouldn’t you?) the price drops to $15 (or $12…I can’t remember).

I ordered their Mac Stack Sandwich, which is a Texas toast sandwich packed with an egg, fried mac-and-cheese bites, your choice of meat (I chose ham) and your choice of cheese (I chose Gouda). As a side dish I ordered a bowl of fruit and yogurt. Both me and my friend Liz were torn between the savory sandwiches and sweet breakfast dessert French Toast in a Jar. (Liz ended up ordering a different breakfast sandwich.) As a “compromise” we ordered one for the whole table in addition to our sandwiches. We’re basically geniuses.

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John-Browns-Underground-Brunch-2

If brunch isn’t your scene (in which case, what kind of person are you?), be sure to check out John Brown’s Underground for a night out with your friends anyway. They serve beer and wine as well as a menu’s worth of specialty cocktails. My favorite is the French 75, which is a blend of gin, cava, lemon and simple syrup.

For larger parties (for example, 15 book club members) call ahead to reserve one of their two back rooms. During the evenings they play silent black-and-white movies in the background, which truly adds to the 20s-era ambiance.

Have you ever been to John Brown’s Underground? What did you think of it?

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A Slice of Heaven: Ladybird Diner | Lawrence, KS

Ladybird Diner Exterior

It’s a simple concept, really. A charming diner tucked in the heart of downtown Lawrence, Kansas. How have we not had this around for years?

Ladybird Diner, located at 721 Massachusetts St., is a new diner that provides quality, home-cooked food. And pie. Do NOT forget the pie. The exposed-brick space is dressed in vintage curtains and filled with antique trinkets from the fifties. The waitresses even wear handsewn aprons and pile their hair into fifties coiffures. The menu is adorable and offers various breakfast dishes (think chicken-fried steak, biscuits and gravy, and French toast) as well as classic burgers and sandwiches. There are also numerous vegetarian options, including some delicious salads and a mac n’ cheese omelet (mix it with hot sauce for added flavor). And don’t forget the shakes, malts, mimosas and beer.

Ladybird Diner Interior

Ladybird-Diner-Menu

Ladybird-Diner-Pie

I’ve visited Ladybird Diner a few times. As with any newly opened restaurant in Lawrence, it still packs quite the crowd. One of my visits, of which I poorly photographed for this blog with my phone camera (sorry!), found me eating pie with a couple of great friends on a Wednesday evening. Pie and prosecco in a Mason jar? Why not.

Let’s talk about the pie. It’s absolutely delicious. Even if you don’t have enough room after your meal for pie, get a slice to go. Or, better yet, visit for the pie alone. The crust is perfectly crumbly and the flavors are deliciously complex. I’ve enjoyed the Brown Sugar Peach (pictured), Blueberry Basil and Strawberry Rhubarb. All of these are amazing. I’ve got my eye on the Mexican Chocolate next.

Ladybird-Diner-Sign

Have you visited Ladybird Diner yet? What was your favorite item on the menu? Let me know in the comments below.

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Lawrence Restaurant Week: Ramen Bowls | Lawrence, KS

Have you been enjoying Lawrence Restaurant Week? If you haven’t, and you live near Lawrence, Kansas, you really outta get on that. (It ends this Saturday!)

This year marks the first year of Lawrence Restaurant Week, an event similar to the one Kansas City started a couple of years ago. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for city members to go out and try a new restaurant, as 19 participating locations have worked hard to compose a price-fixed menu filled with delicious foods. For anywhere from $10 to $40 you may get an entire meal, including appetizers, entrée, and dessert. A restaurant that is fast-becoming one of my favorite spots downtown, Ramen Bowls is among the participants.

Ramen Bowls Menu

Unlike the $1 packages of ramen you may have lived on during college, Ramen Bowls is a gourmet restaurant that specializes in authentic Japanese- and Hawaiian-inspired ramen noodle and seafood dishes. The downtown restaurant first opened its doors in the fall of last year as the very first ramen bar in the entire state of Kansas. With that being said, I haven’t ate there more than once before. What’s more, authentic ramen noodle dishes are not in my wheelhouse of expertise. That’s why I absolutely loved going there with my husband earlier this week, during Lawrence Restaurant Week. It gave us both the opportunity to try dishes we otherwise never would have tried on our own.

Ramen Bowls Appetizers

From the price-fixed menu ($29 each), the husband and I shared a couple of piping hot appetizers: Island Kara‘age, which were breaded chicken thighs in a pineapple-basil aioli, and Yakibuta Egg Rolls, which were filled with a crispy pork belly, Napa cabbage and spring onions. These were absolutely delicious! We were also treated to a glass of sake. I sipped on the House-Infused Chocolate.

Ramen Bowls Bibimbap

After that, we each chose an entrée that we knew would end up carrying over to the next day’s lunch. I opted for the ChaHan Bibimbap. Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish. This particular recipe was made with garlic and ginger fried rice, onions, scallions, mushrooms, smoked pork and two basted eggs, and topped with Sriracha aioli and hot pepper sauce. If you can’t handle the heat, don’t go for the bibimbap. I downed my water glass like a madwoman. The pork was tender and the ingredients perfectly complemented one another. The husband went for the ramen dish on the menu, Herb Creamed Corn Ramen with Smoked Pork. From the slurping noises I heard, it’s safe to say he loved his dish as well.

Ramen Bowls Dessert

Finally, we were served a sampling of Japanese desserts. The presentation was certainly adorable, but this was my least favorite part of the meal. The chocolate sauce and berries were tasty, but the baked goods were bland. I feel bad saying this, as the chef brought us our dessert platters and was very excited to describe each treat on our plate. But don’t worry Ramen Bowls, it’s not your desserts that lure me to your shop—it’s your delicious meals!

Ramen Bowls is a restaurant that is especially great-tasting when it’s cold. Now that we’re moving into fall, I expect I will be frequenting this spot a lot more.

If you’re looking for something new, flavorful and fun, you must visit Ramen Bowls; do not pass go. The atmosphere is intimate and casual, the food is great, and the wait staff is super friendly. Plus, it’s the only ramen spot in the entire state!

Don’t forget to hashtag #EatLawrence on your Lawrence Restaurant Week outings!

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Once in a Sunday Brunch: The Farmhouse | Kansas City, Missouri

{The Farmhouse is located on 300 Deleware St. in Kansas City, Missouri.}

This past Labor Day weekend I found myself in Kansas City on Sunday morning with my husband and some KC-savvy friends. My friend Sarah directed all of us to a cute little eatery she had recently tried called The Farmhouse in Kansas City, MO. This restaurant, located in the river market area (and in walking distance from the City Market), uses ingredients produced or raised on local farms.

The Farmhouse has a uniquely rustic charm. The furniture is dark and sophisticated, the artwork is vibrant and quirky (there were colorful roosters and origami cranes nesting in an overhead branch fixture) and the atmosphere is fun and entertaining. Our server had a bubbly personality, which made the experience all the more fun, and coffee was served in an individual French press.

The brunch menu made my mouth water. There were so many options. Ultimately I decided to order their French toast with peaches and berries, just so long as the husband ordered the Farm Egg Omelet, made with Gruyere, bacon and spinach. We split both our dishes. It was the perfect medley of savory and sweet. The omelet packed just enough flavor and the fruit took center stage in the French toast.

I would definitely make a return visit to The Farmhouse. The owners couldn’t ask for a better location, the food was delightful and the price tag was reasonable. Color me a satisfied customer.

{The Farmhouse had a special brunch menu, just for Labor Day.}

{A couple of our friends came to The Farmhouse just for their coffee, which is served in an individual French press.}

{The atmosphere is very quirky meets rustic charm. I found it very inviting.}

{French Toast with Peaches, Berries and Honey Maple Syrup}

{Farm Egg Omelet: Gruyere, In-House Canadian Bacon, Spinach with hash browns}

{Lamb Sausage Sandwich with hash browns}

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Welcome the Italian Invasion: Genovese | Lawrence, KS

{Genovese is located on 941 Massachusetts street.}

Last week the husband and I used our latest Groupon to dine at Genovese, an Italian restaurant on Massachusetts street. A sister restaurant to Lawrence faves La Parrilla and Zen Zero, Genovese strives for elegance meets downtown cool. And it succeeds. The ambiance is undeniable as soon as you walk in, the exposed wooden beams add an extra touch of rustic charm, and the space is so … spacious. There are two levels. The main level is more closed off for an intimate feeling perfect for wine and gossip with your closest friends. We, however, were seated on the second floor where customers feel like they have left the land of Oz. The walls are decorated with local art, the ceilings are high and there is even a small balcony on the second floor that overlooks Massachusetts street where couples can dine while people watching from above.

Once you sit down you are immediately served a selection of bread, hummus, olives and an olive oil and vinegar drizzle to enjoy while you look over the menu, which offers pizzas, pastas and other authentic Italian dishes. Unfortunately, the food is a little overpriced. But with the shortage of Italian restaurants in the Lawrence area, it might be worth it for special occasions.

I have to make one more note of criticism. And I feel bad because I don’t know if I’m being fair. The food wasn’t much to rave about. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, but I wasn’t impressed. Now for any die-hard Genovese fans reading this, I’ll admit that I might be the one to blame. Afterwards I was slightly disappointed with my order. The Lobster-Crab Ravioli with Tomato, Gorgonzola Sauce, Radiccio & Parmesan was really good, but it tasted like many ravioli dishes I have had in my lifetime. Looking back I wish I had stepped outside the box and ordered one of their mouth-watering appetizers, such as the Grilled Octopus with Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, Fennel & Lemon Vinaigrette or the Asparagus Risotto Fritters Stuffed with Mozzarella & White Truffle Aioli, or perhaps one of their non-traditional pizzas such as the Smoked Salmon, Capers, Roasted Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions & Taleggio Cheese. Let’s just say that when I return to Genovese, I will order differently.

And I definitely want to go back.

Genovese is a great place to order a glass of wine, eat unique food you won’t find most anywhere else and enjoy good company. Just make sure you bring an armed and loaded wallet. And according to their website, half price appetizers can be found during their Happy Hour, which is a daily occurrence from 2 to 5 p.m. Hope to see everyone there!

{Enjoy this delicious spread while you look over your order.}

{Sangria was on special for $4.50 a glass.}

{Spaghetti with Shrimp, Octopus, Calamari, Mussels, Tomato Sauce & Marjoram}

{Lobster-Crab Ravioli with Tomato, Gorgonzola Sauce, Radiccio & Parmesan}

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