You Are Visitor Number:

You Are Visitor Number:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

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!





Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite '14/'15 Member) And  TripAdvisor ("Top Contributor") Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Trófea Grill Etterem (Zugló): All You Can Eat Traditional Hungarian Buffet, Wine, and Show ... All For Just $20!

Trófea Grill Etterem (Zugló): All You Can Eat Traditional Hungarian Buffet, Wine, and Show ... All For Just $20!

Trófea Grill Etterem (Zugló)
1145 Budapest, Hungary
Erzsébet Királyné Útja 5

Prices: $$$$$

Website: English

Budapest, Hungary: While in Budapest on a recent trip we stumbled upon a great traditional Hungarian buffet that was recommended in a travel guide we had brought with us. For only $20 per person you can feast on an all you can eat buffet with local salads, soups, entrees, cooked-to-order steaks, starches, veggies, homemade breads, and desserts (including hand made ice cream). Also included is all of the local wine and water you desire as well as a spectacular, authentic gypsy floor show complete with instruments and exotic dancers.

 Zugló is the "original" of the three Trófea buffet location and just a short walk northwest of the large City Park and its picturesque Heroes' Square, thermal baths, and Vajdahunyad Castle, made famous as the spectacular backdrop for the recent hit TV series "Dracula" starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The restaurant sits on a corner, is large, and reminiscent of a Bavarian chalet right in the middle of Budapest with warm furnishings that are both functional and comfortable. The staff are extremely friendly and efficient, and just a few spoke English. After all … YOU ARE IN BUDAPEST FOLKS!

The food was wonderful with a vast array of appetizers, entrees, side dishes, and desserts to suit anyone’s taste. An at just $20, Trófea is one of THE BEST VALUES we have experienced in our travels. There are better restaurants in Budapest, but none compare when it comes to great food at a reasonable price … booze included … and a traditional Hungarian show that you will remember for years to come!




CombatCritic Gives Trófea Grill Zugló 9 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD … and is A MUST VISIT while in Budapest!










Key Words: Trófea Grill Zugló, Trófea, Grill, Zugló, Budapest, Hungary, HU, buda, pest, buffet, restaurant, all-you-can-eat, traditional, show, dancing, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Thursday, June 19, 2014

LiMESTONE: Strange Name, Fair Neopolitan-ish Pizza ... Pastrami Sandwiches?

  • LiMESTONE
  • 814 Massachusetts St
    Lawrence, KS 66044
  • Phone number(785) 856-2825
  • Business websitelimestonepkb.com

Prices: $$$$$

Having lived in Napoli (Naples, Italy), being married to an Italian, not the "American" variety, and descended from Italian immigrants, I appreciate a well made wood oven Neapolitan (Napolitana) pizza. Many have tried to duplicate pizze Napolitane, but few have succeeded and I said to myself "speriamo" ("let's hope so") as I entered Limestone for the first time.

I tell you up front that I am comparing, somewhat unfairly, Limestone to the pizzerias of Napoli because they claim to offer Neopolitan pizza, so I may seem harsh. However, my comments are meant to be constructive, offering Charlie (the very friendly owner who happened to be making pizzas next to me while we chatted about Italy) the opportunity to enhance his restaurant as they grow and flourish.

Arancini di Riso (Fried Rice Balls - $2)
I had heard rave reviews from fellow Yelp Elite Scott T and others during their short time in existence, so I had to give Limestone a go. The name gives zero indication of the cuisine and I would never have known that this was a pizza place had my friend Scott not told me about it. Busy for a Thursday night, as a single I was able to be seated right away at the bar where I could watch the pizzas being made and placed in the ornate wood-fired oven.

The space is modern, not my favorite as you probably know by now, with an abundance of stone, wood, glass, and steel, and bright, almost too bright for my sensitive eyes. The center attraction is the large stone-encased wood pizza oven blazing away while pizzas are being hand tossed and decorated for a quick dip inside. The staff all seemed sincerely friendly and helpful, although the tattoo clad bartender had a bit of an attitude, but not so much that it was off-putting, and service was fast and efficient.

Arancini di Riso
Offering an "arancini" ("little oranges") appetizer ("bites") special for just $2, the two Neopolitan style deep fried saffron infused rice balls complete with fresh mozzarella inside sat atop a small plate of tomato sauce. Aranicni di riso are a pizzeria antipasto staple in Naples along with crocchette di patate (potato croquettes) and other deep fried delights and the only way to start a night in a traditional pizzeria. Limestone's arancini were very well done, crunchy outside and moist inside, perfectly seasoned with saffron and other seasonings and a small ball of fresh mozzarella inside. I asked Charlie if they made their own mozzarella and much to my surprise he said "yes, about 600 pounds of curd per week".

Now for the pizza ... dun-dun-dun. With only six offerings (seven if you include the special), there is not nearly the variety one would find in a pizzeria Napolitana. I ordered the sausage pizza, a simple and traditional choice and normally not something I would choose, only because it and the Margherita (fresh tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil leaves on top - named after Queen Margherita's favorite pizza), were the only two traditional Neopolitan pizza options available. I normally order pizza capricciosa (fresh tomatoes, ham, mushrooms, artichoke, fresh mozzarella cheese - fior di latte - and basil) or my all-time favorite, the friarielli e salsiccia (broccoli rabe and sausage), so I was a bit bummed that there was so little variety. Bacon and eggs on pizza? ... bacon and potatoes? ... Hollandaise sauce? ... Gruyere cheese ... NEVER IN NAPLES!


The Spud - $9
My wife, shortly after her return from two months in Naples visiting family and enjoying the "best pizza in the world" ordered "The Spud", with "thin sliced, crème fraiche, house­recipe bacon, and rosemary" ($9). Her first comment was that the pizza was "too dry", needing more crème fraiche, which was lightly drizzled across the top in an attempt to look "gourmet" rather than contributing to the consistency and flavor of the pizza. It could have also been lightly brushed with olive oil to enhance the flavor and moistness. Again, the toppings were so sparse that there was more dough visible than ingredients. The flavor was decent with a nice ratio of potato to bacon, but the toppings could be more evenly distributed across the pizza in order to ensure there is at least some potato, bacon, crème fraiche, and rosemary in every bite.

The pizza was a bit small ($10 for a 12 incher), one to two inches in diameter less than pizza Napolitana (for comparison, a sausage pizza in Naples would cost around 6 Euros, a little over $8). The consistency of the dough was close, but it was a little thicker than the original, particularly around the edges. Neopolitan pizza is soft on top, a little crisp on the bottom, with a couple burnt spots and thin enough as to not overwhelm the semi-abundant toppings. The tomato sauce was a tad too spicy and excessively visible due to the lack of mozzarella and sausage atop my pizza. Italians do not overload a pizza with toppings as is customary here in the US, but there is normally enough fresh mozzarella cheese to nearly cover the baked pastry completely after it has melted. That was not the case here and twice as much cheese (and sausage) still would not have sufficed. Although not nearly as good as the worst pizza I have eaten in Naples, it was good and surely better than anything I have eaten in Lawrence thus far. If compared to an $8 Neopolitan pizza, my pizza (based on size and abundance of toppings) should have probably been priced at $6 max, so it was not a great value.

But what do I know? Limestone has quickly become a popular spot on Mass Street and from the looks of it, doing extremely well ... BRAVO! In a town void of a decent Italian restaurant, - people voted 715 "BEST FINE DINING IN LAWRENCE" in this year's Best of Lawrence competition - Limestone is a welcome addition. I will return to see if they improve and to try other dishes (including hamburgers and pastrami sandwiches for some odd reason). Charlie seems like a nice guy and I wish him well ... good luck Limestone!


CombatCritic Gives Limestone A Respectable 6 Bombs Out of 10 ... BOMBE SONO BUONE







Read Chris S.'s review of Limestone on Yelp


Limestone Pizza Kitchen Bar on Urbanspoon

Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite '14/'15 Member) And  TripAdvisor ("Top Contributor") Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Key Words: Limestone, pizza, kitchen, bar, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Massachusetts Street, downtown, menu, pasta, wine, arancini, rice, Naples, Napoli, Italy, Italian, restaurant, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cielito Lindo ("lovely, sweet one") ... Mediocre Mexican Is The Norm In Lawrence

Patio
We ate here for the first time in August 2013 while in the midst of moving, so I did not have time to write a review. I recently returned for some follow-up visits and now provide my candid opinions.


The restaurant is large and the service pretty good. It reminds me of a real Mexican cantina inside with colorful decor and an open feel with a balcony on the second floor overlooking the dining room. The patio in front is large and inviting on a mildl day or evening and Cielito Lindo has been named the 2014 BEST OF LAWRENCE "Best Outdoor Dining" spot, a great place to have a drink, appetizer, and/or meal with friends and family.

The margaritas are decent, both on-the-rocks and blended, but compared to most places in town they are overpriced unless you can catch a special as we did recently ($12.99 for a pitcher on a Sunday night). 

The chips are abundant and appear homemade and the salsa one of the best I have fond in Lawrence. The guacamole ($3.99 for a "regular") is reasonably sized and not bad, containing tomatoes as is the norm in many restaurants and a faux pas in my eyes. The regular queso blanco (white cheese dip - $3.99) comes in a similar size bowl, but was lukewarm and runny, not thick enough to cling to a chip and making quite a mess on the table and my clothes as I attempted to get it from bowl to mouth.

The tacos and enchiladas are adequate, yet boring. Tacos are tasty enough, coming in small, prefab shells and the small cheese and onion enchiladas are bland with little melted cheese. The chili relleno's are well done, coming with plenty of cheese in a large chili surrounded by fluffy egg, but again the sauce was lacking flavor. Tostadas, which are hard to mess up, are OK, nothing special. Combinations are reasonably priced ($7.99) and ala carte items can be mixed and matched for a cost effective meal.

Carnitas
The carnitas appeared underwhelming at first look after arrival, but were crispy, well seasoned, and delicious pork tips that when pulled apart (as most restaurants serve them) filled the four corn tortillas that accompanied the meal ($10.49). I asked the waiter if the dish came with guacamole and pico di gallo before ordering, and he assured me it did, but when the plate arrived there was barely enough guac for one taco and zero pico di gallo. The rice and beans were flavorful and good. Some canned jalapeños topped the dish for some unknown reason with little value added. 


If you do not mind paying $10 for a plate full of grilled onion and a little meat, then the Cielito Lindo's carne asada is the plate for you! Carne asada is routinely sliced and/or pounded very thin (in this case less than 1/8 of an inch), so it appears much larger than it actually is. In this case, my steak did not even appear that large. The abundance of perfectly grilled onion obscured the small, thin steak ... weighing in at a maximum of four (4) ounces. At the equivalent of $40 per pound for a very inexpensive cut of meat, I would expect a top quality piece of beef, which was obviously not the case here.

Side Order of Quesadilla (2) - $14.98?
In conclusion, Cielito Lindo is comparable to the other mediocre Mexican restaurants in Lawrence, all of which fail in comparison to some of my favorite spots in Mexico, California, and Texas. Make sure to check your bill as we have had rather large errors, in their favor of course, on at least 50% of our checks. On our most recent visit, we were charged $7.49 (twice - totaling $14.98) for two small flour tortillas baked with a little cheese (aka quesadilla), accompanied by some lettuce, tomato (half a slice), and some sour cream. So before you leave, check your check and make sure you get what you paid for (or pay for what you got).

CombatCritic Gives Cielito Lindo 5 Bombs Out of 10 ... MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!








Read Chris S.'s review of Cielito Lindo Mexican Restaurant on Yelp



Cielito Lindo Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Cielito Lindo, cielito, lindo, Mexican, restaurant, Lawrence, Kansas, menu, food, eat, taco, patio, outdoor, dining, Best of Lawrence. Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finally ... A Full Service, Full Size Sporting Goods Store In Lawrence (KS)!

Finally ... Lawrence needed a full service, full size sporting goods store! 

I went to three different "sporting goods" stores on Massachusetts Street (downtown) a couple months back to buy a simple yoga mat, but two did not have them and the other (a yoga studio) was closed in the middle of the day. I realize this is not the BIG CITY, but for a city of close to 100,000, you should be able to buy a yoga mat anytime you want. Now you can!

The store is new, clean, well laid-out (same as other Dick's), and the staff friendly and helpful even though I found that being newly open, they did not have the knowledge of a well seasoned staff. They made up for what they did not know with vast enthusiasm and my questions were eventually answered to my satisfaction. Growing pains!

I would have thought that there would be more ON SALE being the GRAND OPENING and all, but prices were high (mostly suggested retail), hence the missing three bombs. I did find a nice Columbia waterproof jacket for $60 (regular $90) and it came in handy during the monsoon rains at yesterday's Cottonwood Classic Gold Tournament at Alvamar Country Club. My shorts were soaked, but my core was dry as a bone after over four hours in a downpour ... HOOAH!

The store was packed having been open just a few days, so I think Lawrencian's feel pretty much the same way I do. The line was extremely long, probably 75 people in front of me, but I made it to the register in 15 minutes. Not bad. Do not forget to sign up for their loyalty card and get an EXTRA 10% DISCOUNT at the register, a particularly good idea if you are making a large purchase.

CombatCritic Gives Dick's Sporting Goods (Lawrence, Kansas) 7 Bombs Out of 10 ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!




Key Words: Dick's Sporting Goods, Dick's, Sporting, goods, sporting goods, Lawrence, Kansas, golf, baseball, hunting, guns, bikes, bike, bicycle, tennis, running, shoes, CombatCritic, TravelValue

JC Penney Is Better Than Kohl's, But Not By Much!

Kohl's refused to work with me after THE ONLY LATE PAYMENT IN 25+ YEARS partially as a result of their failure to send a bill or late notice, so we started shopping at JC Penney after a many year absence. It seemed like they were offering great prices between 2012 and 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri, but recently the "value" seems to have disappeared, at least here in Lawrence, Kansas.

The store here in Lawrence is dead as a ghost, so it is only a matter of time before this one-time giant goes belly-up like so many other retailers these days. Too bad because I do not buy clothes or shoes online because sizes vary so much and inevitably they do not fit once they arrive. 

Make sure you read the fine print on their coupons. It says 25% off on shoes, but in the fine print it says "athletic shoes excluded" ... I didn't have my glasses with me and made the trip across town for some much needed tennis shoes. What a waste of my time and gas!!!

CombatCritic Gives JC Penney (Lawrence, KS) A Lackluster 4 Out OF 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!






Key Words: JC Penney, JC, Penney, JC Penneys, Pennys, Penny's, department store, department, store, clothes, clothing, shoes, purses, shop, shopping, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Friday, June 6, 2014

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

Featured Post

His Holiness and I

By C.T. Sorrentino “His Holiness”. I first saw him on TV, a documentary, 60 Minutes, I forget exactly where or when, but he i...

Search Our Blog