Day two of my 3 day trip began with the walk to campus, followed by lunch at Free State and risotto at Casey's place. I wrote about the walk a few posts back. It started and ended with biting cold.
On the walk, I mentioned preferring Teller's to Free State because of the proximity. It is two blocks from Free State and at that point, I wanted warmth, not more distraction.
Teller's is a restaurant that used to be a bank. While in college, I used to frequent it for Italian margaritas with Jean (when I was underrage and wanting the sweet drink), martini's with Sarah (the Sarah from college that lives in my favorite city in the world--San Francisco) and wine as an adult. I had eaten there a few times. It is fairly standard italian fare. In college, it was a dining destination, a romantic date night type of restaurant. I worked at Fifi's and was spoiled by their food.
Rarely did I frequent Teller's for food. No, for me, it was all about the drinks, the wine, the conversations that occurred after working a shift at Free State. I haven't dined there in years. I think I made Brian dine there, once, on a visit to Kansas.
Regardless, we ate at Free State Brewery, a place that I used to work. It continues to be the best run restaurant, in my book. It is a well-oiled machine, incredibly efficient and consistent. The beer is stellar and the fare is cheap and good. They have specials and many options. We chose to dine at the bar, since I am a bar kid. Casey knew the bartender. I did not. Initially, the bartender deferred to Casey for all decisions. I was annoyed, but dealed with it. We decided to share a chimichurri pasta salad and a black bean quesadilla. Free State has great mustard and so I insisted that we share a side of fries.
The food arrived and I was disappointed. The rice and the fries were cold. The salad was boring and lacked salt. But, I was hungry and so I ate it.
The beer was excellent. I tried the Santa's Helper, which is a belgian style beer. As the meal progressed, the bartender talked to me--finally. The bar, itself, is small. Initially, it appeared that the guy didn't enjoy his job. I think he was having an off day. I ran into him on Friday night and he was more animated and lively.
Overall, I like Free State and will dine there again. It holds many memories, for me, good and bad. Work is always a mixed bag of memories and I frequented Free State throughout my time in Lawrence. Even though I wasn't wowed by the food, I know that it can be much better. They are not sacrificing the quality for a cheaper product. I think it was an off day.
That night, we had dinner at Casey's house. He made mushroom risotto. I love risotto and I enjoyed his rendition of it. I laughed while he critiqued everything about the meal and how much better it should have been. We are hardest on ourselves, I believe.
I will post more about the food factor in Lawrence and my time spent in Kansas. I did enjoy checking out Free State, the Eldridge bar, Teller's and the Pig. Lawrence continues to be "good" to me. And, for the first time ever, I dined at Pachamama's. That place is "the" place to dine in Lawrence. I will explain why and why not later....