Friday, May 16, 2008

Burger King Loaded Steakhouse Burger

Bestowed unto you by royal decree of his starchy majesty.

I pulled into Burger King thinking I’d get my usual -- Double Stacker, Chicken Fries and onion rings. But that was before the Loaded Steakhouse Burger caught my eye.

At first, it seemed to be nothing more than a glorified bacon cheeseburger doused with A1 in an uninspired attempt to legitimize calling it “steakhouse.” Things didn’t get truly interesting until I saw the baked potato topping. It’s like they spread a scoop of cafeteria-style mashed potatoes across the upper half of the bun.

My first thought was, “Gross!” My second thought was, “I’m totally getting that.”

The Loaded Steakhouse Burger did not disappoint. The baked potato topping gives the bun a kind of extra starchy, creamy chewiness that keeps the bacon and the crispy onions in line. Meanwhile, it’s greasy anarchy down below with the 100% Angus beef, melty cheese and A1 steak sauce.

This burger deserves some fanfare for sheer audacity alone. However, after reading the following excerpt from a defiantly stone-faced yet technically correct press release, I have to wonder if Burger King is trying to pull a fast one or if they actually realize what it really is they’re selling here.

“Our new Steakhouse Burgers offer the indulgence of an entire steak dinner at a fraction of the cost,” said Russ Klein, president, global marketing, strategy and innovation, Burger King Corp.

Well, uh, okay, I guess -- I mean, if you consider a trip to the Sizzler an indulgence. Let me be clear, I am a fan of the Loaded Steakhouse Burger. But with all due respect, Mr. Klein, I don’t think anybody is going to mistake this for a trip to Plaza III.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gumby's Pizza + Louise's Downtown

“Uh, hey -- do you guys deliver to KC?”

Ten years after graduating from college I can’t remember a thing from either semester I took of Astronomy, but I do still know the phone number for Gumby’s Pizza. So at the halfway point on the drive down K-10 with Shaw en route to see Wilco in Lawrence, I dialed 785-841-5000 to place an order for a pepperoni pizza and Pokey Stix. Since we had plans to rendezvous with Jeff, Jeremy and Ryan on Mass Street before the show, we picked up our food and took it with us to Louise’s Downtown.

We ordered schooners as soon as we walked through the door of the bar. Few things in life are as awesome as a schooner at Louise’s -- 32 oz. of ice cold domestic bliss served up in a glass goblet befitting of back alley royalty. They’re even better when daylight is coming through the front windows while you’re in one of the roomy wraparound booths where it’s kind of dark, the contrast making everything look all fuzzy as if you’re holding court with your friends at Cloud City's only dive bar. I'd halfway expect Lando Calrissian to walk in, only dressed more like Billy Dee Williams than Lando.

After Shaw and I said our hellos, we opened the Gumby’s box and discovered that they had neglected to actually cut our pepperoni pizza into slices, leaving us no choice but to literally tear into it. The pizza hit the spot, yet I couldn’t help feeling like there was something missing -- that delicious cheapness I loved was M.I.A. This was just...well...for better or worse, this was just pizza. Yeah, I know. I’m complaining about the pizza being higher quality than I remember.

Pokey Stix still rule. For the unfamiliar, think of a pizza cut vertically into thirds, and then cut across at about ¾” widths into tiny breadsticks. So garlicky. So buttery. And all that mozzarella-ella-ella-ella.

Couldn’t help but notice that the Gumby’s menu has gotten really complicated since we were in school. I’m fairly certain they only had pizzas and Pokey Stix back in the day -- now they’ve got salads, quesadillas, wings and like 25 or so different kinds each of subs, pasta, and rice bowls.

Let’s be honest. If you’re calling up Gumby’s, nine times out of ten you’ve already had a beer or eight. The last thing you want to do is to have to make a lot of decisions. And you’re certainly not thinking, “Rice bowl. I’d kill for a rice bowl.”

No, you need simple options. Gumby’s shouldn’t even give you a choice after 10 p.m. How it should work is you call them, tell them where you are, they bring you a pepperoni pizza and Pokey Stix, and you shut up and be happy about it. Might as well look on the bright side -- especially seeing as how there’s no more beer left in Lawrence because you just drank it all. At least you’re getting a late night snack.

As always, Wilco was pretty fantastic, and having the show outside in downtown Lawrence was way cool.

Before we drove back, we had a beer at the Replay Lounge and I totally dominated Shaw at Spider Man pinball. A band called Prizzy Prizzy Please from Bloomington, Ind., was playing. Not bad.

For the record, I still remember Pizza Shuttle’s number, too -- 842-1212. But me and my crowd, we were strictly Gumby’s people.
Gumby's: 1445 West 23rd Street | Lawrence, KS 66046
Louise's Downtown: 1009 Massachusetts Street | Lawrence, KS 66044

Friday, May 9, 2008

Applebee's Quesadilla Burger

We draw the line at Riblets.

What with today being David Cook Day and our hometown American Idol rocking the Power & Light District just blocks from our office, in the interest of time and parking we decided to head the opposite direction. Having had a conversation with lunch friend Scott earlier in the week about the Quesadilla Burger and how wrong yet tasty it is, I already had "Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood" on my mind, so I half-joking half-seriously threw out Applebee's as a candidate. Amazingly, it was not rejected outright.

“I could do that,” said Scott, with equal parts shame and enthusiasm. Next thing you know, we were on our way to Applebee's on Rainbow Boulevard -- yours truly being maybe a little too excited to get my usual.

Some background. For the most part I’m anti casual chain dining -- I mean, there are so many other great places to eat. Everywhere, that is, except the drive from Kansas City to Wichita, where the Applebee’s in Emporia is pretty much your only choice.

It was on one such trip that I first tried the Quesadilla Burger, which is just what it sounds like. A greasy burger inside two tortillas with bacon, pepper jack, cheddar, pico de gallo, lettuce and something called “Mexi-Ranch Dressing.” This is the epitome of what casual chain restuarants should be -- ridiculously conceived entrees that give the finger to fine dining. The Quesadilla Burger is the culinary equivalent of the Applebee's "a garage sale exploded in a '70s parlor" decor. Exactly what I think would be on the menu at Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag.

And hot damn is it good.

Cut back to the present, and I've got a usual at Applebee's. I'd say I'm embarrassed -- but I dig this burger so much, I almost don't mind having to go to Applebee's to get one. We made a solid call on lunch today.

One more thing -- our waitress kept pushing Stella Artois on us, asking “Would you like to try Stella, the new beer from Budweiser, brewed right here in Kansas City?” Scott pointed out that this question managed to cram three falsehoods into 17 words.
  • First brewed in 1926, Stella Artois is by no means new.
  • Though Stella Artois is technically imported and distributed in the United States by Anheuser-Busch, it isn’t really “from Budweiser.”
  • Stella Artois is not brewed here in Kansas City.
Just saying.
3404 Rainbow Boulevard | Kansas City, MO 66103

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Gaf

Bombs away!

We couldn’t not order the Irish Gut Bomb. It’s a massive pork tenderloin along with bacon, onion rings, fried eggs, red onion, lettuce, tomato, Irish cheddar and Jameson barbecue sauce, all on a toasted hoagie. Congratulations, Gaf! We are honored to award you the distinction of Lunch Blog’s Best Sandwich, Shamrock Division.

Full disclosure: Shaw and I split one of these awesome monstrosities at Guys’ Night, as did Dorsett and Voytek. That way we could justify an order of wings. The Gaf serves them up with both sections of the wing and the tip still connected, with a side of blue cheese dressing the size of a cup of soup. Overall the wings have a good flavor that is tangy and sweet, even if they don’t bring much in the way of heat.

In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with an Irish Gut Bomb all to myself. I have no doubt that I’ve got what it takes to totally demolish one -- and I will make that happen. Yes, Irish Gut Bomb. We will meet again, mano-a-sandwich.
___________________________Gaf Pub & Grille on Urbanspoon
7122 Wornall | Kansas City, MO 64114