Review of Wake the Dead: A Lawrence Hipster Restaurant
Wake the Dead comingles scrambled eggs with skulls, but the real winner is their resurrection of the cake doughnut.
7 E. 7th St., Lawrence, KS | wtdbreakfastbar.com
I have a new pet peeve – restaurants that spend more time thinking of clever names for menu items than focusing on their food. Wake the Dead in Lawrence, a breakfast centric eatery, is one more eating establishment that needs to be more kitchen focused and less about trying show off how hilarious they are. (Think a TGIF menu with a comedy writer.)
Sure, the menu is fun with a “Death Star” breakfast that features a doughnut sandwich with eggs and BLT on top or the “Walk of Shame” burrito filled with carnitas, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and a cheese sauce. But as a diner I’m paying for quality food not LOL’s.
The small restaurant off of Mass Street, with a skull theme décor that is more Day of the Dead than Halloween inspired, is packed on the weekends (which could be because of their extensive bar menu featuring 50 different kinds of mimosas and “cannabis cocktails.”) So I chose to eat there on a Thursday morning when it was almost empty. The wait staff was friendly, although I did have to get out of my seat and ask for someone to take my order. Wake the Dead does have an all-you-can-drink coffee station, so at least you don’t have to wait for your caffeine fix, but my dining companion who, full disclosure is a coffee snob, gave their brew a lukewarm review of “not great.”
I ordered the biscuit sliders with eggs, cheese and bacon. The biscuit was good but different than a Southern girl expects. It wasn’t the classic biscuit color and didn’t achieve the biscuit height that I was raised on. Its texture was also crumblier than I was used to, but it worked. My friend got the All-American bowl with potatoes, ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese and gravy and declared it “very filling.”
I was ready to give the restaurant a B minus until I had their doughnuts and then my world changed. Let me start with the pronouncement that I hate cake doughnuts and consider them a plague on the doughnut world. Why would you ever choose to have a doughnut that tastes like a lump of cake that has exceeded its expiration date over the light, airy, goodness of a yeast doughnut? There shouldn’t even be anything called a cake doughnut. It’s an unnatural species in the baked goods world. But one bite, that I was taking under duress in order to do my job, profoundly altered my view of the cake doughnut.
The Wake the Dead “unicorn” doughnut was a cake doughnut like no other. It managed to be fluffy and yet cakey and that cake was bursting with flavor. Just to make sure it wasn’t an anomaly I tried a chocolate cake doughnut and again I was walking on doughnut sunshine. These were the best cake doughnuts I have ever had. The goodness left me feeling conflicted. Was I really contemplating switching over to team cake doughnut? It was my deep thought for the day.
Bottom line: come for the doughnuts and stay for a ruby slipper mimosa. You’ll leave feeling better than when you came in.
Pro Tip: if you go on the weekend order the bacon maple doughnut which is winning awards in the doughnut universe.