Chef brings gourmet burger operation to downtown

February 23, 2009


Local chefs cooking up gourmet burgers

Upscale hamburger restaurants have been big on the East Coast for years, but now they're starting to make their way to Lawrence. Enlarge video

Robert Krause, left, and Simon Bates — purveyors of gourmet burgers and fries at The Burger Stand.

Robert Krause, left, and Simon Bates — purveyors of gourmet burgers and fries at The Burger Stand.

Lawrence chef Robert Krause has gained a national reputation for serving $100-per-plate, six-course meals out of his east Lawrence home.

You know the type: Seared scallops with carrot puree, smoked New Zealand mussels in a lobster-saffron broth, prime tenderloin in potato gratin with a red wine reduction, roasted garlic chive oil, and — of course — pistachio butter.

What? Oh, you don’t know the type.

Join the club.

That’s why you might be surprised about Krause’s newest culinary project: the hamburger.

“There has been this national craze of upscale burger joints, and it sounded fun,” Krause said.

And that’s a good way to describe what Krause has done. Krause and another fellow CIA-trained chef (no, it’s Culinary Institute of America) recently opened up The Burger Stand at Dempsey’s, 623 Vt. The burgers are upscale, but the “joint” is not. Krause and culinary partner Simon Bates operate the restaurant out of the Irish bar’s kitchen.

But what comes out of the small diner-style window is anything but typical bar food. All hamburgers are made from a custom blend of tenderloin, strip steak and rib-eye. The restaurant makes its own gourmet pickles, and has unusual toppings like apple chutney, shallot-bacon marmalade and tzatziki sauce.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

But that is part of the point.

“A lot of the kids come in here and order our classic burger — our cheeseburger — and they love it,” Bates said. “Then they come back and they’re trying something with pickled cauliflower on it. And they love that, too. So, we think it is a great way to expand people’s tastes.”

Plus, it may just end up being good business. Amanda Pritzker, a spokeswoman for Zagat Survey, the national restaurant rating service, said the company’s editors have seen an explosion of upscale burger restaurants.

“It is something we have been seeing in New York for quite some time, but it is definitely spreading west. It is something that has a great price point. You get something better than fast food, but you don’t have to pay steakhouse prices.”

Prices at the Lawrence restaurant range from $7 for The Classic to $9 for a Kobe beef burger. Fries, though, will cost you extra, and also will force you to make a decision: Go with the old standbys of regular or chili fries or perhaps kick it up a notch (yeah, I watch the Food Network) with sweet potato fries or truffle fries. And you could ask for ketchup — it’s homemade with “an edge of roasted garlic” — but you also can dip into guadillo chili dip or parmesan roasted garlic aioli.

Yeah, I don’t know.

The prices are a little less than you’d shell out at Krause’s reservation-only east Lawrence operation. There, meals start at about $80 per plate, and if you want the wine (man can’t live on bread alone) it will cost you another $50 to $60.

“Our (east Lawrence) restaurant is clearly for special occasions,” Krause said. “But I could see people eating down here once a week.”

Yeah, and you might even figure out how to pronounce all the offerings on the menu.


Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

Those guys can cook.. if they just had that diet Kobe burger I would be there everyday.

Left_handed 9 years, 2 months ago

Pickled cauliflower is pretty good, I had it (of all places) when I was in the Navy. It was shipped in tin cans and was pretty dang tasty.

Jeremy Lichtenauer 9 years, 2 months ago

This is just free advertising for Compton's failing bar.

For what he and the bank did to Rick's place, I will never, ever, eat or drink there!

nathan 9 years, 2 months ago

@Clickker - you need to get out more.

The Kobe Burger is the best burger I've had in years. Bravo guys!

jaywalker 9 years, 2 months ago


If you say so. Not a fan of plain cauliflower, but will have to try this version if I get a chance on your recco.

Agree with Clickker, 5 guys rocks baby!

d_prowess 9 years, 2 months ago

Jeremy: For those of us not in the know, what happened with Rick's place? I guess I always just assumed they didn't like that location and moved to what I thought was probably a better one off of ninth. Is there more?

b_asinbeer 9 years, 2 months ago

5 Guys???? You've got to be kidding. Been there once, and never going back again:

1)Overpriced. 2)Fries are over-hyped. 3)I've had better burgers.

I'll definitely check this place out though.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 2 months ago

nine dollars for a burger? ~chuckle~ I guess the recession isn't that bad after all...

spankyandcranky 9 years, 2 months ago

Yummy ... I will have to try it soon. Variety is the spice of life. I love trying normal food with an unusual twist!

King_Kaun 9 years, 2 months ago

Just tried this place this weekend. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! costs more than your average burger, but for darn good reason!! You can taste the difference in your first bite! If you even REMOTELY like Bleu Cheese, you have to try the Black and Blue!!! It has the apple chutney sauce on it that blends perfectly with the bleu cheese. Amazing!! And the sweet potato fries....they get you hooked! Dempsey's is just a cool place in general. They even have great drink specials on Fridays and Saturdays, which is rare...

GO TRY THESE BURGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

King_Kaun 9 years, 2 months ago

Actually, they don't specify in this article, right_is_right, but it is American Kobe Beef.

If it was authentic Japanese Kobe beef it would be more like $20+ for the burger....not $9.

It is still delicious, however!! It's also HUGE!!!!!!!

(I do get the humor in your post, r_i_r, but I just wanted to clarify on the beef! I brought one of the menu's home with me and it says its American Kobe.)

Ragingbear 9 years, 2 months ago

Because we all know that when the economy starts to fall apart, that the demand for $25 plates of food will rise...

claireredfield 9 years, 2 months ago

I certainly hope there will be some kind of gourmet veggie burger to be had. Everything else mentioned so far sounds positively revolting. LOL!

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

I know his father played overseas, but I don't think Kobe is Japanese. I think he went to high school in Chicago.

King_Kaun 9 years, 2 months ago

woodenfleaeater - hahahahhahaha!!!! nice!

claireredfield - there is a Falafel burger with tsziki sauce, pickled red onions, and pickled cauliflower!!

Joe Hyde 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm still mourning the loss of Quickie's -- that mirror-sided drive-thru burger joint at the north entrance of the Mall Shopping Center, 23rd and Louisiana. (Closed sometime in the late 1980s, early 90s.) Freshest, best burgers I ever ate. Leaf lettuce, real sliced tomato...

This new place on Vermont sounds good; I'll try it.

awl 9 years, 2 months ago

This place has the best burgers in town. Hands down. They are big, flavorful, and incredibly delicious. The Falafel burger is amazing. The pickled cauliflower is great! I really hope they do well. I have been telling everyone I know to go there. The Chili burger is great too! The truffle fries? are soooo yummy! For all of you who are nixing it even before you try it, don't be close minded, try something new =) By the way, I have had Five Guys, tooooooo greasy and expensive, but pretty tasty...Dempsey's is much better though!

Phil Minkin 9 years, 2 months ago

Also, give the meatloaf sandwich a try. It's real comfort food.

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

$9.00 for a cheeseburger? Geez Louise!! Come to my house and I'll be more than happy to make you a $9.00 cheeseburger. It will be three pounds, cooked to your liking and flavor and have all the fixins'. Plus, I'll throw in a free beer!

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

Crappy pizza usually goes for a lot more than $9. I would much rather pay for a gourmet burger.

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

What's the matter Jack? Can't afford it?

Some of us can, and I for one totally admit to enjoying some of the best life has to offer. I don't think that means I'm "living large" but even if I am, so what?

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like someone is really full of themselves!!!! Wow, ThatGirl2 must have alot of money. She can buy a 9.00 burger and not even think about it........

shockchalk 9 years, 2 months ago

The burgers were good, but definitely not the best. And even with the quality, they were overpriced. I have had better burgers at several places that were between $5.00 and $7.50. This place may last in Lawrence but it wouldn't make it anywhere else.

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

Why am I full of myself? Because I don't chastise people for spending their money as they please? That's what Jack was doing and it was pointless.

(PS: I do have it figured out, I am young, and well paid. Big whoop).

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

And if one thinks eating at Dempsy's is "flaunting their wealth"--well, they don't get out much.

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

You're not to bright are you? Did you fail to catch the "big whoop."

That was my point spanky, I'm not special at all. I just like a good burger. :)

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

Well, if you insist. ;)

I'd love to stay and annoy you, but I have a tanning appointment--getting all bronzed for my tropical vacation in two short weeks.

Have fun debating the finer points of fast food!

kthxbi 9 years, 2 months ago

thatgirl2- JackRipper is obviously not that bright, and mean spirited as well. Why bother to respond to him/her/it?

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 2 months ago

ThatGirl2: You're not to bright are you?


maybe you could go to grammar class after your tanning session, or would that be too much?

MyName 9 years, 2 months ago


Bad trolls are bad.

Good trolls are full of win and lulz not epic phail like your posts.

That is all.

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

kthxbi (Anonymous) says…

thatgirl2- JackRipper is obviously not that bright, and mean spirited as well. Why bother to respond to him/her/it?

Excellent point! I guess I'll blame it on boredom. He/she/it was acting like a hillbilly caricature so I thought I would respond in kind. Obviously, the joke went over someone's head. (A few people actually!).

Although I still don't think $9 for a meal is a bad deal!

folksRfunny 9 years, 2 months ago

its ok thatgirl, he's just mad cause all of the squirrels in his frontyard are to fast for him, so now he's all hungry and cranky. while im tired and full from eating lobster and steak off of my diamod and gold dinner plate and using my 100 doller bills as a napkin. ... no really im being serious here! sooooooo full!

lol hey jack, jealousy gets you nowhere! and if your not jealous then your just pathetic and lazy(or bored,and if thats the case then touche! cuz I am to)

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

Oh, let me be clear--I don't care at all about "the issues."

middlemgmt 9 years, 2 months ago

I think $9 bucks is a decent price to try something new. I see lines of people at Chili's and Applebees and I'm sure they are spending $9. Heck Chipotle is almost $9. I can't wait to try it.

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 2 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront wondered "Why cant we have someplace downtown or on the east side of Iowa that has a $4.95 meatloaf dinner."

hawkperchedatriverfront, have you not tried Kelly's Diner at 19th & Haskell? Is Charlie's still at 9th & Penn? They had good grill food last time I was in. And Set'Em Up Jack's had good comfort food, too. These are all on the east side.

awl 9 years, 2 months ago

"The burgers were good, but definitely not the best. And even with the quality, they were overpriced. I have had better burgers at several places that were between $5.00 and $7.50. This place may last in Lawrence but it wouldn't make it anywhere else."

regarding this statement you can go to KC to Blanc Burgers and bottles. They now have TWO locations and doing very well. Upscale burgers and very tasty too.

I think I should stick up for Thatgirl2, why does it matter if she likes good food? It really is a great place, but fine dining it is not. You will get good quality food that tastes good in a relaxed environment. I have read the remaining points and have come to the conclusion that too many of you have WAY to much time on your hands. Stop the insults they are just mean.

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says…

I don't know if thatgirl2 is going to get her donaldhollenger2 if she doesn't know how to cook a decent hamburger. Donald is going to get tired taking her out for $9 hamburgers before too long and dump her.

Oh sweetie, don't you worry about me. I'm a self made woman and I certainly don't rely on any man to take me out for meals. I can't help the fact that they always want to, but I don't rely on it. I've never cooked a thing in my life---no one seems to mind. :)

Confrontation 9 years, 2 months ago

Hey JackRipper, don't pay much attention to ThatGirl2. I'd bet money that she's actually a 350lb woman who can only get a tan if they douse her in baby oil and use the Lawrence outdoor pool as her holding tank. Oh, and that "fancy" tropical vacation will have to be done by boat. Any airline would make her buy three seats. Also, the whole "self-made" woman thing implies that she's the one who bought all the pizza, burgers, and everything else that she eats. It's sure easy to give yourself a high self-esteem on the internet.

Danimal 9 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Thatgirl2, I came on here to avoid writing my thesis and see what people thought about these burgers. Instead I was treated to a steaming, heaping helping of your ego. Since you're so BA you should buy me a $9 burger.

Scott Newell 9 years, 2 months ago

We now have two burger joints within a block of eachother...edge Local Burger.

ThatGirl2 9 years, 2 months ago

LOL! Sigh.....some folks are just SO easy...... ;)

(PS: I'm happy to meet any of you all for a $9 burger--name the time and place. 350 pounds? Subtract about 225 and you're dead on spanky. I'm not nervous--are you?)

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 2 months ago

Original_Me wrote "How...did a blog about burgers become an internet match of egos & insults?"

Kinda new here, aren't you?

I'm amazed, absolutely amazed, that hawkperchedatriverfront is unhappy with the restaurant choices in East Lawrence. He says he wants to have restaurants there, I point out the ones that are there, and he says they aren't good enough. It's as if he's intent on being unhappy.

bangaranggerg 9 years, 2 months ago

Judging from the high quality of the ingredients I honestly wouldn't be surprised to find out that McDonald's makes more profit margin on a McDouble. The Guinness Chili is awesome at Dempseys as are the burgers and truffle fries. If you want to complain about the price, go eat the cheap crapola you get at other restaurants, or suck it up and enjoy your meal.

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