Dempsey’s Burger Pub is Wichita’s newest addition to the upscale hamburger restaurant category. For those familiar with Lawrence, Dempsey’s is an offshoot of the popular restaurant of the same name there. The Wichita location is part of the compact Clifton Square shopping center, which means parking can be tricky during peak hours.
Like most of the buildings in Clifton Square, Dempsey’s is small, but does offer two levels of dining. The open kitchen is located on the top level with a few tables, while the bar is downstairs with additional seating.
The menu features all things burgers and not just ones made out of beef. Besides offering mushroom swiss, fried egg, or pepper hamburgers, there is salmon, portabella mushroom, and even a quinoa patty that sounded like it wouldn’t be too bad. No upscale burger joint would be complete without the mandatory Kobe beef burger of which Dempsey’s has two. In my opinion “Kobe beef” is just a reason to add another dollar or two to the price. It’s not real Kobe beef from Japan and probably just comes from US raised Wagyu cattle, so there is really not going to be a huge taste difference especially in ground form. French fries are sold separately from the burgers and come with your choice of several different house made dipping sauces. Since nothing goes better with a hamburger than a cold beer, Dempsey’s offers a very good selection of craft beers both on tap and in bottles.
We visited during a fairly busy lunch time crowd, but were promptly seated. Unfortunately we were forgotten for about ten minutes before a waitress came over to take our order. There seemed to be quite a bit of chaos amongst the servers and staff. I noticed several orders that were sent back to the kitchen. We had plenty of time to decide on what we wanted to eat and drink. I went with the mushroom swiss, while my mom had the bleu burger. We also got a side order of sweet potato fries. As for beer, I went with Warbeard Red, a local offering from Walnut River that is not available at many places in town.
Both of our burgers were ordered medium rare, which I typically am not afraid to do at a nicer place because of the hopefully better quality of meat and the fact that usually burgers are overcooked anyway. I was very pleased to see our large meat disks were cooked to perfection, with a nice pink center. The mushroom swiss burger came with generous amounts of cheese, bacon, and mushrooms piled onto a thick, half pound patty. The only complaint is that the beef was just a touch under-seasoned, but that did not keep this from being a very good burger.
The bleu burger was solid as well. It came with plenty of melted bleu cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions. At $8.50 and $9 dollars these burgers are on the high end, especially not coming with any side, but they are large and will easily satisfy most appetites. The sweet potatoes fries were a good effort, but nothing exceptional. As for the various dipping sauces, my favorites were the chili powder based ketchup, and the truffle cream. Our waitress was very apologetic about our wait and ended up comping our beers, thus redeeming the customer service experience somewhat.
We tried Dempsey’s just two weeks after they had opened, so I understand the rough service to some extent. Hopefully they will get their issues figured out, because if there is one thing Wichitans will not tolerate it’s poor service. Dempsey’s serves up very good burgers and should be given a try by all those discerning burgerphiles out there.