The BigRedF Restaurant Group (their spelling) headquartered
in Boulder recently has provided me two great happy hours. We started at 4 p.m. when they opened . . .
and just kept eating. I think this is
more than worth going to the Plaza for – and the fact there is plentiful
parking through the Hotel Sorella entrance or off Belleview just makes it even
Now, I don’t eat raw oysters any time of day, happy hour or
not. Companions have told me they’re excellent.
At Happy Hour, there are 11 other items, ranging from $5 to $7 plus some
oysters at $1.25 each. The steamed
mussels come in two versions and I loved the coconut milk with panang curry
version, somewhat to my surprise. The
fried calamari with a lime aioli and even the tuna melt are delish as well –
but every single thing we tried there, including the lump blue crab cake on the
regular menu, spoke beautifully to us.
As befitting an excellent Happy Hour, there are five cheaper
drinks, not all vodka, and their martinis are $7, well cocktails are $5, drafts
are a dollar off and there’s a white and a red wine for $6. Great bar atmosphere and friendly (and talented)
bartenders should you want something more creative.
I was really happy at Jax.
I think you will be, too – if good food and drink do it for you from 4-6
p.m. They do for me.
4814 Roanoke Pkwy Kansas City, MO 64112 Ph. (816) 437-7940
For those of us who consider pie (and ice cream) the perfect
breakfast, dessert is more than just the end of the meal. It is celebration, it is the best reason to
linger, it is the ultimate fireworks to the sit-down portion of the evening.
It is compulsory.
Thankfully, many Kansas City restaurants agree. They make the grand effort to satisfy the
sweet desires of their patrons, whether they outsource, leave it to the chef
and kitchen to create, or have a professional pastry chef at the helm.
Some restaurants recognize the time and creativity involved
in presenting a great dessert and decide to simply leave the work to someone
else. Sometimes they tell you this;
sometimes not. But what most do is to
find the very best dessert that reflects who they are and what their customers
want. And if, apparently, it’s the
Costco double chocolate cake that people want, I’m not telling you where that
Waldo Pizza, a place you might not think about for desserts,
has many, there because of owner Phil Bourne’s love of them. Their menu proudly proclaims they serve Ted
Drewe’s custard (in keeping with his St. Louis roots) and notes their tiramisu
is imported from Italy, their cupcakes are from Babycakes, and their white
chocolate cheesecake is made locally by Phil’s Italian barber’s wife. They also make their own.
Some people have created such a special dessert that
restaurants are eager to serve it and thus contract specifically for that one item. Such is Jude’s rum cake, known for its
consistent high quality and local ingredients.
The business is owned by catering entrepreneur (Belly Up BBQ) Craig
Adcock who came up with the cake because his clients wanted a dessert. It is served at restaurants such as JJ’s,
Tannin, West Side Local, the Farmhouse, and others in and out of town as well –
some 35 and counting. His mother-in-law,
whose recipe serves as the base, would be proud.
The second way restaurants do desserts is that someone in house,
often the chef, creates them and then they are made either by the chef or by
one or two individuals on the staff.
This is probably the most common.
Ophelia’s in Independence, Café Provence in Prairie Village, Room 39, Hollywood
Casino and many others rely on their chefs’ mastery of dessert art. Joseph Jackson at Affäre does both
traditional and seasonal desserts and his painted desserts at your table are
well worth foregoing your diet.
A slightly different approach is personified by Liz Miller
at Pierpont’s who has been “extremely lucky” as she puts it. She started out as
a server and bartender, helped prep and liked it (and did) so well that she
started working on desserts. Now she’s
in charge of them under the guidance of the executive chef, Matt Barnes. Her goal is simple – the complete and total
expertise as demanded of a premier dessert chef.
That is the culminating step: the pastry chef. That designation can be achieved through both
schooling and practice. Chef Patrick Parmentier, program director at L’École
Culinaire, points out that programs like his, Johnson County Community College,
and the Art Institutes offer a specialty and various degrees in pastry (and
desserts). Every dessert chef, he says,
must know the basics of the kitchen and management of a restaurant if s/he is
to be successful. And more women than men are pastry chefs, he adds – the
reverse, still, of head chefs.
The pastry chefs in town all exemplify a true breadth of
expertise. Adding a pastry chef to one’s
retail kitchen is a substantial commitment of space, expense, and devotion to
the philosophical concept of the importance of dessert. The 801 Restaurants exemplify that commitment
– all their restaurants have its own pastry chef and each member of the 801
Group (Chophouses, Fish, and Pig and
Finch) serves different desserts. At Bluestem and now Rye, Megan Garrelts has
vastly affected the local as well as the national dessert scene with her and
husband Colby’s cookbook, eponymously named bluestem,
The American Restaurant’s famed pastry chef and now James
Beard nominee, Nick Wesemann, mentions that what is best about being a pastry
chef is the creativity involved – taking raw ingredients like sugar, flour,
butter and devising something that is special. He also touts the independence, pace, and
setting one’s own standards and then meeting them in a fine restaurant. He likens the job, somewhat, to a scientist’s
– one must know ingredients, chemical reactions, formulas – but he is able to
tinker until it is simply perfect. Pastry chef Joseph Jackson at Affäre agrees with Nick, whom
he credits with a great part of his educational training. It was there, too, he became more familiar
with molecular gastronomy, a style of cooking which relies on scientific
principles for its innovation. He and
colleague Clinton Smith were watching “A Matter of Taste,” a documentary about Paul
Liebrandt and something they saw fired (literally) them up – and thus, the
famous painted dessert you can order for two to forty at the downtown Affäre.
Several chefs mentioned that (too) many people skip desserts,
due to calories, expense, being full, or a misbegotten sense of
superiority. (Well, they didn’t say that
last part, I did.) Perhaps one should forego that last couple bites of the beef
bourguignon or the extra slice of bread and instead, truly satisfy the palate,
sparkling the end of the evening with a fabulous dessert.
A Few Signature - Don’t Miss These Desserts
Gaslight Grill – Any seasonal cobbler
McCormicks and Schmick's – Chocolate Bag
Melting Pot – Chocolate fondue Jack Stack - Carrot Cake
I’m going to be doing several more blogs about the sweeter
side of life – it’s just so cheerful to think about desserts! A wonderful dessert is a really great way to
extend an evening, even if you have to have it with decaf. Or more wine.
Ra Sushi - Sweet Mochi Trio
My last blog here was about the new monthly desserts now
occurring at Harvey’s in Union Station (see below). It’s nice to know you can count on something
different each month and what a fabulous excuse to hang out a while in
wonderful Union Station.
And in our spring issue of The Restaurant Guide, I talk about pastry and all things dessert. One thing I learned is how few true pastry chefs
there are out there (and why) and that many “regular” chefs fulfill that
function, too, extremely well in their busy kitchens. I also get to talk to talented pastry chefs
like Nick Wesemann at the American and Joseph Jackson at Affäre – look for more
on them later.
Think about going to the Hilton hotel, where I've never been until recently. It's only been there for oh, 16 or 17 years. It's been redone.
Importantly, from my standpoint as I'm probably not going to stay there: try their newly re-imagined restaurant.
It's quite, quite good. NOT hotel food, whatever that used to mean. It doesn't look so much like a hotel, either. Not the bar, the restaurant. It is, in fact, a place you could hang out. They have a nice happy hour from 4 - 7 pm. $3 draft beers, $5 house wines, a $7 specialty cocktail, and small plates, very cheap, ranging from home made chips at $3 to crab cakes at $7. Not a huge selection, but plenty enough. Their lunch and dinner selections are reasonably priced as well and the menu is pretty extensive. The hamburger that walked by us (not on its own) looked just great.
Since I don't live close, I'm definitely putting this on my list for where to go when coming home from the airport. Pleasegod, sooner than later.
Asado Urban Grill
801 NW 112th St
Kansas City, MO 64153
Ph. (816) 801-4006
it’s in our train station. Second, it’s
actually run by a catering company – Brancato’s. Third, it’s a new take on a very old
tradition – the original Harvey House restaurants that used to grace almost
every largish railroad station in the country from Illinois to New Mexico –
nearly ninety of them at their peak. Finally, desserts aren’t always key in a
breakfast/lunch place (open til 3pm) but Harvey’s is stepping away from the
norm, there, too.
For instance, they’ve just introduced a new dessert perfect
for a mid-morning or after- Science-City- snack: a chocolate peanut butter
torte with marshmallow cream frosting and a sugar cookie crust. Or, treat yourself at lunch. Kitchen manager Bob Pinnock created this
delish concoction AND, now listen up here, there will be a new one EVERY
MONTH! Dessert nirvana. Every month.
Life can be oh so sweet!
30 West Pershing Road Kansas City, MO 64108 Ph. 816-460-2274
The Bar Crawl caps off an all-day festival featuring live music,
“Bourbon Street” entertainers, crazy contests and more. For just $30, the
all-inclusive crawl package includes free cover, domestic draft beer, call
cocktails and Captain Morgan Hurricanes from 9-midnight. Or upgrade to the VIP
package for $40.
Use promo code “KCLIVE1” to save $5 off either package!
Additional Mardi Gras KC weekend festivities include a Masquerade Party
benefitting SocialHeart on Friday, Feb. 13th and the Mardi Gras 5K on Saturday,
Feb. 14th. http://mardigraskc.com/
Then we’ve got just the evening planned for you.
February 9th, 7:45 p.m. Singles Trivia at Waldo
Pizza. Questions are general knowledge with an
emphasis on pop-culture.
It’s just $10 to play, with
a prize for the best performing male and best
performing female. (They have to say that so the guys
can win sometime.) Besides the play, the camaraderie,
and the slogan (“It’s kind of like speed dating, but
less awkward”), pizza by the slice is available plus
the regular Monday special – a large one-topping
pizza for $8.95. It’s best make a reservation so you
have a spot. If you have questions, you can call Zeb
at 816-728-5352 What a perfect thing to do on a Monday night. If you’re single. Or
. . .
If you love Brazilian BBQ, you should try Em Chamas' New Kansas City BBQ! Em Chamas is excited to announce their new addition to the Silvio group of Restaurants: Hawg Jaw Fritz.
Featured as the Pitch's 2012 vote for "Best New BBQ," Hawg Jaw Fritz will see some upcoming changes with the new ownership, including an expanded menu. Present this post on your next visit to Hawg Jaw Fritz for $2 off your next Working Folks Special! * To check out our full menu, or for any questions about our dine-in, carry out, or catering, 4403 NW Gateway Ave. Riverside, MO 64150 Ph. 816.741.4294 Website
is as a good place for gifts of all gourmet kinds, among other attributes. So Portly Companion and I ate dinner there last night -- we were going for light and ate more than we intended. Whatta surprise. More surprising was the fact we each had only one glass of wine -- and their wine prices are lovely (a.k.a. very inexpensive).This is a charming not-huge place and one that others have learned to frequent -- in fact the Mayor was there with a large table celebrating someone's birthday. I'm compelled to add that when they sang, I was glad the song is so short. But they were having a good time, as were we, sitting at the bar.
I began with an arancini ball, which is just risotto fried up, in this case to be light and fluffy. This came with a marinara sauce that was quite good. I had the broiled veggies and chicken (2 dishes) that paired well together and were more than enough. Bill had a prosciutto panini with fig jam, whipped taleggio and arugula which he would have liked piled a bit higher, but at least it fit in with our eating a lighter meal. His pasta "salad" side was excellent. We blew our lean philosophy with the cannoli, however. That had the lightest crust/wrapping/roll-about/whatever you want to call it, than I've had in a long, long time. In fact, I thought it might be fried, even though it wasn't greasy, it was so crisp/tender but I was assured it was properly baked. Good creamy filling, obviously home-made.
We're going back to get a combo piatti del salumi and piatti del formaggio with that second glass of wine. Their meats and cheeses in the case looked great, I'm sure a plateful of them with warm bread would be perfect on a winter night. 2101 Broadway Blvd. Kansas City, MO 64108 Ph. 816-612-8333 Website
We sat there, waiting. And waiting. Talking a bit but clearly just waiting. Our server must have passed by us five times and never stopped....
The Restaurant Guide of Kansas City was first published in the spring of 1997. Magazines are distributed free of charge to the general public throughout the Greater Kansas City area at hundreds of locations. Books can be picked up at each participating restaurant, hotels/motels, concierge desks, tourist information bureaus, banks, major employers, and numerous outside display locations.