Free State Kitchen
While some venues are happy to describe a frost-ravaged yucca and a scattering of paving stone weeds as a ‘beer garden’, Free State Kitchen happily isn’t one of them. Their ‘secret garden’ isn’t much of a secret any more, but it most definitely is a garden, complete with vines, lush greenery, trees, and homegrown produce. Plus a couple of religious statues – this used to be a convent in days-gone-by.
It’s a suntrap too, so is deservedly popular – you have to be a diner not merely a drinker to get an alfresco table. But that’s no hardship: Free State Kitchen’s menu of homestyle American classics has won them several accolades since they opened in 2013, including the very specific ‘11th best burger in the UK’ from the Big 7 travel guide.
Popular dishes include the buttermilk marinated buffalo hot wings, and the Old Bay salmon cakes: topped with Maryland’s Old Bay seasoning, tabasco, roasted red peppers and celery.
But burgers are what Free State Kitchen does best. Think medium-rare beef patties, smothered in melted applewood smoked cheddar, caramelised onions and baconnaise, and served in a brioche bun. The fries are spot on too: crunchy chip-shop scraps covered in salt and rosemary.
Wash it down with a craft beer: they’ve sourced an American-style pale ale from Glen Affric brewery in Birkenhead, and there’s Estrella on draught.
Homemade desserts include a baked cheesecake of the day, and a chocolate peanut butter sundae. Sweet-toothed teetotallers have plenty of left-field options including cream soda and root beer.
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