Location: 803 Mass St., Lawrence, KS
Food: Burgers and fries
Service: Order at counter, pick up when called
Atmosphere: College town burger joint w/ distinct Lawrence feel
Price: Burgers $7-$10, Dogs $3-$5, Sides $3-$7
Over time, I’ve become increasingly agitated at Blanc’s new location… teeny-bopper staff, scuffed painted concrete floors, inconsistent music and the general feeling that I’m eating in someone’s refinished basement are all kind of adding up. But these were all forgivable sins for what was, to me, the best burger-eating experience in town. But now Josh Eans is gone. Quality is going downhill. Service, too. And the menu is even changing. All signs of a place that feels like it’s finally well enough established to make some cutbacks on quality and increase profit margins.
That led me to The Burger Stand in Lawrence some time back. We were there for a concert last summer and based on its wildly favorable reputation from the few actual KU students I still knew, we gave it a try.
|Downstairs bar and seating|
On our first trip, a busy Friday night, there was some kind of snafu and I ordered the Lentil burger. Mildly disappointed, we decided to consider it a potential twist of fate and tried it rather than revising our order. I’ve had the lentil burger at Blanc, too, and the two were similar but the one at TBS was the tastier of the two, hands down. I’d suspect a lot of people would have considered this lentil patty over-seasoned. It was, indeed, quite salty. But lentils have an otherwise dull taste, so I was appreciative of the added flavor. Also adding unique flavor to the lentil burger were green beans that seemed to be pickled and a roasted red pepper sauce. At blanc, the lentil burger seemed like a consolation – not something they were as proud of. And I remember its wheat bun being very wheaty and dry in the mouth. Advantage TBS.
|Fire burger & Free State Imperial Stout. Magnificent.|
The menu at The Burger Stand also offers many other neat sides like duck fat fries, beer battered rings and fried pickles. And whereas Blanc hands out miserly portions of homemade ketchup and chipotle aioli, The Burger Shack lets diners fill up their own little containers with several different sauce choices including guajillo chili, rojo ranch, Guinness whole grain mustard and chipotle cocoa ketchup, (not unlike the vanilla ketchup I enjoyed at Gram & Dun recently), all of which I enjoyed sampling.
Also on the menu at The Burger Shack are other vegetarian burger options, hot dogs/brats and chili which I may never have just because I'm so in-love with the burgers. The beer list at TBS isn't quite what you'll find at Blanc but there are plenty of great choices with the Boulevard and Free State selections alone. ...Not to mention the fact that the last time I was in Blanc, our server told us they were cutting back on some of their beer selections, so it's entirely possible that on my next trip I'll find less than what I've enjoyed there recently.
The Burger Shack and Blanc both serve great burgers from geographic locations I enjoy mightily. But lately, the trends I’m finding in Blanc are leading me to want to hit K10 for a jog down memory lane to my college days and the satisfying burgers available at the heart of Mass St. The Burger Stand is, without question, worth the drive for those of us still not over the burger craze in America.
Rating: three napkins