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Liberty Kitchen Sink

This Heights restaurant tries to be all things to everyone — but to me it's an oyster bar with a terrific burger and milk shake.

On a different day, though, I think the Hawaiian MacCock burger could have been a winner. I liked the salty Spam, the runny fried egg on top and the dual cheeses that melted sweetly into every crevice of its English muffin bun. And on a different visit, another burger was a winner.

The restaurant's namesake Liberty burger is what McDonald's Big Mac would taste like in an ideal world. Lest anyone think that's an insult, let me assure that it's not. It's utterly refreshing to see a burger come out of a chef-driven restaurant like Liberty Kitchen that's straightforward and simple, its main ingredients confined to crispy sheets of iceberg lettuce, thick red tomatoes, pickles, minced onions and a "BRC sauce" that tastes like a homemade version of McDonald's famed "special sauce."

I do not think that any of this is coincidental. It's almost as if someone, perhaps Fegen, sat down and attempted to construct the perfect "fast-food" burger. Liberty Kitchen even has the perfect fast-food shakes, blended up with the wickedly smooth custard from partner store Petite Sweets — partly owned by Fegen — and any slice of pie from its current Petite Sweets dessert selection. And that perfect fast-food burger is served on a Slow Dough Bread Co. bun, its patty a custom blend of meat that's ground every day and cooked to order.

The gumbo is difficult to resist.
Troy Fields
The gumbo is difficult to resist.

Location Info

Map

Liberty Kitchen

1050 Studewood St.
Houston, TX 77008

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Heights

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Gumbo: $8
Deviled eggs: $8
Ceviche: $8
Liberty burger: $12
Hawaiian MacCock burger: $13
Fried shrimp sandwich: $14
Alabama catfish: $16

READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: ...and Oysters for All at Liberty Kitchen
BLOG POST: 5 Things Not to Do If a Food Critic Is Eating at Your Restaurant

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Unlike the Hawaiian MacCock burger from my previous lunch, the Liberty's patty was cooked to a requested medium-rare and oozed juices merrily all over my dinner plate. Is it worth $12? That's a personal decision (although I'll tell you that $5 for a side of onion rings is definitely not worth it), but the burger is a stunning example of the genre regardless.

But it was still outshone that night by a whole-fried speckled trout, served in a simple herbed butter with a paprika-dusted lemon wedge that added bright pops of acidity to the fish's fine, dewy flesh. On the side, a well-cooked dish of risotto and a bowl of bright green spinach lightly sautéed in garlic reminded with subtle elegance that Liberty Kitchen is more than penis jokes and raw oysters.

What does Liberty Kitchen want to be? At times, I feel that it's trying to be all things to everybody: Between the outstanding items and excellent daily specials are anachronistic items like burger bowls for adherents of the Atkins diet or the aforementioned mac 'n' cheese skillets that seem like more of an afterthought. And while I suppose the option to order breakfast for dinner is tempting on certain occasions, I feel like the "Big As Your Ass Breakfast" is equally lost among the other menu items.

Does Liberty Kitchen want to be an oyster bar serving excellent seafood items amidst over-size pints of Karbach and jolly cocktails with New England-inspired monikers? Or does it want to be a slightly more serious restaurant serving $28 rib-eyes and $18 porterhouse steaks from its grill? Should it have to choose? Can it be both?

These are questions which I seem to be the only person asking, as Liberty Kitchen is consistently packed every day and night — and with new afternoon hours that encourage grazing between lunch and dinner on its terrific appetizer menu, it will likely only get even busier. I'm happy for Fegen and his crew, despite not being able to peg this place. And in my ideal world, Liberty Kitchen would pick one direction and run with it (maybe that oyster/burger bar direction, but that's just my dream).

The Heights has been overrun with restaurants lately, many of them chains — local or otherwise — but what Fegen is doing at Liberty Kitchen is entirely his own. For that reason alone, it's a welcome addition to the landscape here along 11th Street. And who wouldn't want to have a hip oyster bar within walking distance of their neighborhood, especially one that also serves great burgers?

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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18 comments
Maballeza
Maballeza

Papas seafood is much better. The gumbo here reminds me of dot cafe gumbo. Not good. Got cold in 5 minutes.

Cocky McPhallicman
Cocky McPhallicman

Phallic references? Get a grip lady. Its funny and if this were England nobody would bat an eyelash.

Alexanderc432
Alexanderc432

You pretty much took the words out of my mouth...I think their gumbo is definitely different in a good way but I was very underwhelmed by the lack of seasoning. I'll be back though, hopefully on a better day.

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Liberty Kitchen does many things well. But on the one time that I tried their fried chicken offering, I found the crust to be way too browned and the chicken dry. Indications were that, because of the demand, they had to do big batches of chicken in the afternoon and then do a second fry at the time of the order. But the purpose of this comment is actuallyto note how perceptive the staff was, with an offer to bring me another serving to try, and then to comp me for my meal. It could be a different philosophy on how chicken is fried. I felt the only thing to do was to put my money where my mouth was. So I went home, fried up a batch of my double dipped buttermilk batter chicken. I returned to the restaurant with it, and the recipe, as a friendly gesture of an alternative approach to frying chicken, should they be interested in experimenting (the waitstaff had told me earlier that their recipe was a work in progress). I haven't had the opportunity to go back so I'm not sure what they've done with their recipe; but would be curious to know if anyone has had their fried chicken lately.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

The burger is the same as BRC.

$8 with fries on Mondays, highly recommend.

Feldman
Feldman

That review completely sums up my thoughts and experiences. I love the building, the decor, the bar, the subway tiles and the wonderful afternoon sun that peers through the windows opposite the bar. It's the menu that's confounding. The oysters are a big draw for me and I too would love to see LK become more of a seafood place. I also love the inventive drink menu and desserts are worth it, so leave room for one!

Houstess
Houstess

Yes, it is funny if you are 12. Now go do your homework.

Dimaxion
Dimaxion

Is it getting a bit late for raw oysters?

Rokslde
Rokslde

Hostess there is a pub in London if memory serves called the black cock...so did I do my homework..you are an absolute retard as well as a jackass...and there is a tiny pub tavern near car outside Scotland called the cock and ass pub..so you really need to shut the hell up. I will preface your likely lame retort with the following..why don't you do your homework, get off your ass and get on a plane, fly to Great Britian and see the thousands of crazy names for pubs for yourself...you igornorant, rubber nosed clown

Cocky McPhallicman
Cocky McPhallicman

How about McDonald's McRIBMEHARD? I guess MCD is pre-teenager too. Or Wendy's Ultimate O-Face Burger? I guess our writer's journalistic integrity is fully outstanding, considering she references " his other project, BRC Gastropub, stands for "big red cock" but she does not reference, as any writer with an ounce of dignity, the fact the there is A BIG RED ROOSTER in front of the restaurant. For a long long time Roosters have been known as cocks. Let me use it in a sentence that I overheard this week, " Man, last Friday night was awesome. I got a beer at BRC (did you know that stands for "Big Red Cock?") then i went to a COCK fight and drank Modelo's with some interesting characters, after which I went to Liberty Kitchen for a beer and a Hawaiian McCock burger. Man it was awesome. The only thing that could have made it more awesome would have been seeing a restaurant critic at one of the establishments so I could tell her how much I savor my Cockburger."You people amuse me.

Dimaxion
Dimaxion

I often try restaurants, and then return to offer them my improved versions of their dishes. Last weekend, however, was my last as Tony Vallone himself tossed my ass out into the parking lot.

Wyatt
Wyatt

"you are an absolute retard as well as a jackass"

Easy there, Oscar Wilde, don't expend all your rhetorical ammo in one post.

Rokslide
Rokslide

no i meant hostess...like the cupcake. not angry at all foam nose... but that kind of response is so typical...you are the kind of person that likes to instigate but when its time to put the gloves on you hide in the 'why are you so angry' corner. you are exactly who i thought you were and i imagine most people on here see that...and lastly you cant even dress like a proper clown..no prideful clown would ever wear a foam nose, especially since foam noses dont squeek!!!

Houstess
Houstess

It's "Houstess" Rok, and I did once dress as a clown, but the nose was made of foam. You seem angry. Keep Calm and Carry On, guv'nah.

Dimaxion
Dimaxion

(if only you amused us half as much)

 
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