Let's get this out of the way first: I really don't rate burgers as a food group. Sure I'll eat a charred meat sandwich at a barbecue to fit in, but generally, it's pretty rare I'll order a burger when we eat out. Very occasionally a craving will come but even then I'll usually opt for making something at home rather than heading to the nearest pub. Mostly I can go months without wanting one at all. They just don't excite me. So when I tell you that I took no convincing to make a second visit to Free State Kitchen, you know they must be doing something right. This place takes burgers to a whole other level.
Inside, the small restaurant beautifully combines the feel of an indie pop-up with that of an American-esque diner. I loved the openness of it all. We were surrounded by shelves of condiments and drinks, and from where we sat we could see into the kitchen. It feels relaxed and inviting but in a perfectly crafted and polished way. There's no gimmicks here. You won't find overpriced mikshakes, or vinyl records glued to the walls. Everything is simple here, it feels comfortable instantly, like visiting an old friend or relatives home for dinner. Perhaps it was more our over excitement at the food but I'd like to think the general atmosphere of the restaurant played a big part. And in the Summer months you can also enjoy your burger in their large beer garden, surrounded by adorable picnic bench seating, nature and a large statue of Jesus. Because who else would you want to look at while stuffing your face full of meat?
Dave and I had already been to FSK a few months earlier. We thought an enormous amount of meat would be the perfect thing for him to refuel after cycling the Liverpool-Chester-Liverpool and we weren't at all disappointed (I hadn't done any cycling on account of not being able to ride a bike but I had a decent amount of food regardless in the interest of being a supportive girlfriend). On this visit to Liverpool we had Linford staying with us as well who hadn't been before and since it was our last meal in the city, we really wanted to make the most of it. We were prepared to eat all of the food.
I opted for a barbecue cheeseburger, chips (because all the burgers come with them) and grape soda (because it's amazing and I wanted to embrace the americana thing for at least a couple of minutes). The portion sizes here are not for the feint hearted or the health conscious, I was greeted by a huge burger that I could barely wrap my teeth around, and a large tray of chips to go with it. They also let you choose how cooked you'd like the beef to be which got a big thumbs up for me because I like having choices and I like chefs who allow you to have choices. The chips were nothing particularly special but the burger was something else. Annoyingly I can't remember exactly what was on mine and it came from the specials board so I've got no hope of recreating it, all I know is it that it was the best burger I've eaten in a long time. I've had dreams about that burger since. Dave and Linford both chose The French Onion Burger instead, giving them a double burger topped with mayo and swiss cheese. Considering I only just made it through my one tier burger I've no idea how they ate these but I'm assured it was delicious and as the winner of the Liverpool Burger Challenge 2013, it must have been pretty good.
As I mentioned previously, we really wanted to make the most of our last evening in the city so we just couldn't bring ourselves to turn down dessert. We chose a slice of key lime pie and oreo cheesecake to share between us. Both came out as pretty generous sized helpings, served with a choice of cream or ice cream. They weren't the most impressive looking desserts I've ever eaten (I was kind of disappointed the key lime pie wasn't green but I'm just being picky now) but they tasted really good. Nothing astounding, but after the huge main courses they didn't need to be. They had good flavours, good textures and were overall just generally nice desserts.
I hope the last couple of posts have been useful to anyone looking for things to do in Liverpool. This week I'm finally calling an end to my baking ban and to my blogger burnt out, thanks largely to some of the amazing bloggers I've been speaking to on Twitter who have all been so encouraging and helpful. Now that Halloween is over I'm basically calling it as Christmas so I'll be back with some Christmas recipes very very soon and I can't wait. In the mean time, in addition to all the other ways you can keep up with me, I've finally set up a Facebook page where you can follow updates from the blog, I'm pretty overwhelmed at how many people have 'liked' it so far or followed any of my other accounts so I'm not going to go on about it too much but if you'd like to keep track of all my recipes and ramblings then thats is a new way you can do so.
P.S. I wasn't paid and didn't benefit from this post in any way, I just sound like I was because I get really excited about good food.