Do you ever get those cravings where you HAVE to have a burger? And the burger has to be a specific type of burger? I got that yesterday. I HAD to have a cheeseburger. But it had to be a proper, juicy, oozy American cheeseburger, and it had to have a brioche bun. So off Tim and I toddled to Free State Kitchen.
Located in the heart of Liverpool near the Philharmonic Hall, this is a little American joint. By little, I mean tiny. Usually that would piss me off a bit, but here it kind of worked. It created an initmate, exclusive space. It had a kind of "supper club" vibe about it, almost like it was someone's home. The decor was classy, not bare but not overly fussy. There's also a "secret garden" which I assume is an outdoor dining space, but due to the fact that it's bloody freezing, it wasn't being used so we didn't see it.
The menu is pretty authentic Americana. Burgers, hotdogs, Philly Cheesesteaks and so on, with classic deserts such as Key Lime and peach pies. To start, we decided on a portion of Maryland crab cakes with citrus wedges. I don't really eat crab, but I was pleasantly surprised by these. They were so full of meat, none of this potatoey mush I've had in other joints. They were seasoned with Old Bay, a very popular US seasoning, which we're big fans of.
For mains, I went for The American Cheeseburger. The whole reason I was there, remember. 5oz beef chuck patty, brioche bun (yessss!), American cheese (sssscore!), fresh onion, ketchup, mustard. No mention of salad. GOOD. If I want that green growing stuff on my food I'll ask for it, but don't hold your breath. Ugh. Salad. Tim went for The Scooch Burger. Beef patty, Italian deli meats, cheese, hot sweet peppers, roasted red peppers dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and it comes on one of those beautiful brioche buns. Omnomnom.
The menu states that the burgers are served medium unless you ask otherwise. I'm usually a "well done" kinda gal but I'm trying to teach myself that meat doesn't have to be incinerated to be safe, so I stuck with medium. If that's what the chef recommends then I'll give it a go. When it arrived (looking b-e-a-utiful) I sliced it open and... well... it wasn't medium. I'm not entirely sure the cow was even dead. Tim said "That looks a bit rare for you, do you want me to send it back?" "Nooooo, I'm sure it will be fine." We were eating in a rush and we were cutting it fine for time as it was, so I didn't fancy a wait for a replacement. I should mention here that the food was very quick to arrive!
I got halfway through it before the neon red interior and the blood soaking into the bun put me off. I gave the rest to Tim and tucked into the beautiful golden fries with rosemary salt. "Nuh-uh. No way. I can't eat that. It's too rare even for me. It's cooked, but barely!" My fiancé is a massive carnivore, so if he won't eat it, I don't know how I managed it. It didn't taste bad, there was plenty of flavour in the cheese, bun and fixings, but the rawness of it meant it lost out on that savoury, umami flavour that a burger should have. We mentioned it to our very lovely waitress, who took it off our bill, even though we told her she didn't need to as I'd stupidly eaten most of it.
Apart from the still-mooing burger, we couldn't fault the place. Tim's burger was a perfect medium and the whole thing was bursting with flavour, sweet, spicy and salty all at once but perfectly balanced. The brioche buns were exactly what I was craving, the cheeses were oozy, the fries were crisp and flavoursome. The additions to my burger were tasty (take note, other American restaurants: use American cheese. Cheddar is not the same!) and they even give you a jar of pickles to help yourself to!
Drinks were the usual, with the addition of American sodas, such as Vanilla Coke, Pepsi Wild Cherry and Mello Yello. There was even IBC Root Beer, one of Tim's favourite brands. He's quite the root beer connoisseur, you know! As we were pushed for time, we didn't get chance to try the dessert, but you know damn well that spiced peach pie is going straight in my facehole next time we go.
And yes, there will be a next time. An undercooked burger is no great health threat and it's a problem easily overcome. It didn't spoil the meal and it certainly won't put me off going again. In fact, I'm really excited to try the burger again cooked to my liking! Everything else was so tasty that I just KNOW I'm gonna love it once they get it right. Of course, then I need to try the Philly Cheesesteak, and the peach pie, and the onion rings... plus the bill came in an Old Bay tin. Too cute not to experience again! The prices were reasonable (apart from the American sodas, £2.50 for a single can of non-import Vanilla Coke is a bit cheeky!) and reflected the quality of the food.
[Likes] the decor, the atmosphere, the menu, the staff, the wait time, the authentic touches.
[Dislikes] the super-rare burger, the non-import soda at import prices.
★★★★ 4/5 stars, definitely recommend!
Free State Kitchen, 1 Maryland St, Liverpool, L1 9DE. Open 7 days.
Have you been to FSK? What would you recommend from their menu?