Kansas City’s traditional,

hickory-smoked barbeque

Barbeque favorites can be

catered or delivered

Dine at any of the three Smokehouse locations

in Gladstone, Kansas City or Overland Park

Private banquet rooms

are also available at each location

Monday, June 26, 2017

Five Things to Know about Wine Dinners

Rose GlassesThis week I attended a fabulous dinner at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar and it has occurred to me that I’m not doing this kind of thing often enough. This was called “The Longest Day to Drink Rose” and six different rosés were featured. Honestly, each one was better than the last, or next, and all the food, prepared by six chefs with each in charge of one, was better than the last or next. Or something. It was a fun evening – great food, drink, and I met some very cool people, too. 

Most of our better restaurants do an occasional wine or beer dinner or just what’s billed as a special evening. Usually, it’s financially a good deal because everyone cooking, pouring, or serving is hyped to do their very, very best. 

Here are five things to know: 

Prior: 
1. When you make your reservation, be sure to confirm date, time, and whether it’s individual tables or group seating. If it’s group, and you want to be seated with your friends, be sure to tell them. Be sure to ask if an additional gratuity is expected. 
2. If you are a picky eater, don’t come. Kidding. But if you’re allergic to fish and it’s a fish evening, don’t expect them to revamp your dinner for you. But if you have allergies, etc., be sure to tell them and ask if they can accommodate you. Usually the answer is yes. 
Salmon

There: 
3. If you’re with people you don’t know, be ready to converse. Great topics include best restaurants you love or where you frequent regularly. The Royals are safe as long as they’re still in contention. A recent movie (or restaurant) you can recommend. Don’t talk too long about your vacation, unless it’s somehow hugely pertinent. Have you done anything that’s unusual lately? Politics are probably not safe. At the end of the meal, talk about your favorite course and see if everyone agrees. Would you come back to this place again? 
4. Try not to make special demands of your waiter. And if you do, a special appreciation is necessary. If it’s not monetary, be sure to compliment him/her AND his manager or whomever you can find. If the wine isn’t coming fast enough, a huge smile and a thank you for your extra effort goes a long way. 

After: 
5. When you go back, mention to the host or manager that you’re there because you attended such and such dinner and it was so terrific you wanted to return. That encourages the restaurants to keep having such dinners – their chefs usually appreciate the opportunity to show off their skills, the restaurants make a little money, and you have great memories for an evening. 

There are many such dinners coming up and they’re always listed in the Restaurant Guide under Calendar Events. 

If you’re looking for a companion, just let me know!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Kimchi

One Great Dish -- It’s Kimchi for Me! 

Back in May, I talked with Executive Chef Brandon Winn of Webster House. He’s so personable it made my blog easy to write. I asked him to give us a favorite dish that even I could make, and he suggested kimchi. I must admit I’ve only ever had kimchi in Korean restaurants, where the often spicy, pickled or fermented cabbage, onions, and assorted veggies mixture is a staple. I’ve never thought of making it myself. Chef Winn says it’s easy. 

 He said, “Kimchi is something that I have been playing around with for the last year for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, it is delicious, ever evolving and complex. Secondly, there are a large handful of health benefits to fermented foods (i.e., yogurt) that have extreme impacts on the body, how it processes food, breaks down nutrients and maintains a healthy homeostasis. It provides a high level of cruciferous vegetables which aid in keeping the body’s PH levels intact.” 

webster house jar

Whew, let’s just go back to that first one – it’s delicious. But he did also note that kimchi, much like risotto, is a method as much as a dish in itself. It is the theory of salting, pickling and fermenting vegetables of many variations. This technique has been used as a method of preservation for centuries in Korea and similar concepts in other cuisines internationally. 

Brandon told me this recipe can easily be cut in half and is very forgiving. Since it’s pickled, it can last a long, long time in the refrigerator. He says it’s great to top off stir fry, with fried eggs and a small portion of rice, on a cold noodle salad with some marinated and grilled chicken, or even by itself. Be creative. 

Kimchi 
5 # Napa cabbage, thin julienne 
1 gallon water 
1 cup salt 
2 # scallion, whites cut into 1” pieces, greens into 2” pieces 
3 # daikon, thin julienne 
1 # yellow onion, rough chopped 
3 apples, diced 
3 pears, diced 
 3 oranges, peeled and cut down 
½ cup garlic cloves, minced 
1 six (6) ounce jar fish sauce 
¼ cup chili flakes 
2 cups toasted sesame seeds 
1 cup sambal 
3 T Korean red pepper powder 

Bring salt and water to a boil, allow to cool slightly and pour over cabbage. Wrap tightly and store for 4 hrs. Drain off water and rinse cabbage lightly. In a food processor puree yellow onion, pear, apple, orange, powder and garlic into a smooth paste. Toss the rinsed cabbage in this mixture, daikon, fruit paste, fish sauce, chili flake, sambal and sesame seeds. Pack into mason jars ¾ full and seal tightly. Leave out at room temp for 48 hours and then refrigerate until using. 

P.S. Funny fact: Napa cabbage is a type of cabbage which originated near the Beijing region of China. Around the world it’s mostly called Chinese cabbage.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Those Were the Days My Friends . . . or Wasn’t 1997 Just Yesterday?

Let’s go back: Twenty years ago, the Kansas City restaurant world was a different place.  The Plaza had many local restaurants while downtown really wasn’t an eating destination other than daytime. The Power and Light District, the Sprint Center, the Kauffman weren’t around. The Crossroads basically didn’t exist either.  Zona Rosa wasn’t developed until 2004.  Prairiefire followed ten years later when 135th wasn’t too far South for many to even contemplate.  If you were asked back then about our restaurants, you’d probably mention only steak and barbeque – not sure we could be called a “restaurant town” like we are today.

Our logo by thenA restaurant town, according to Charles Ferruzza, acclaimed food critic here who is writing a book about “old” KC and its eateries, means that our metro area has “a lively, varied and interesting selection of independently-operated restaurants, upscale chain restaurants, and ethnic dining that go beyond the traditional.”  We did certainly have some of that going on, but nothing like today.

And if it were before summer of 1997, you definitely wouldn’t mention the Restaurant Guide of Kansas City.  It’s our 20th anniversary in June this year, and that’s what got the publishers, Kathy and Laurent Denis, thinking about eating in Kansas City back then.  “We were mostly a paper magazine, starting out with 37 (of which 15 are still open!) restaurant clients.  We placed 60,000 magazines every quarter in hundreds of different locations.  We had a web site, too, but at the time, people really didn’t care.

“Now . . . well you know about us now. We still keep the paper version which both locals and visitors rely on and we have a very large on-line presence as our social media is vibrant.  We love that we provide valuable information!”


 But enough about us.  Let’s go back.

The Departed and the Remaining
In 1997, there were some favorites that are no longer with us:  Houston’s and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in the Plaza, EBT, The Savoy and Italian Gardens, Leona Yarbrough’s, Costello’s Greenhouse, The Golden Ox in the former stockyards, among others of course. Tell us your favorite departed restaurant and why you loved it.  (Yes, it’s a contest.  Go to kcrestaurantguide.com. and enter for a chance to win a night at Chateau Avalon and a $100 gift certificate to one of our restaurants.
 
Despite the competition, many restaurants open twenty years ago are still going strong.  A few I can think of include The Classic Cup, Le Fou Frog, Kelly’s of course, and Jasper’s.  I know there are many others. Two are even celebrating 60th year anniversaries this year:  Hereford House and Jack Stack Barbecue – is it a coincidence that they have highlighted what Kansas City has been known for?


KC Masterpiece
One of the oldest restaurants in town is in Independence Square, The Courthouse Exchange, which is 118 years old.   The pub was bought, changed, reinvigorated in 2004 by Cindy and Ken McClain, who were determined to do something about the Square, beginning with Ophelia’s in 1998.  They are a great example of people who became innovative restaurateurs.  They ended up changing the face of their city – adding Clinton’s Soda Fountain, Square Pizza, Diamond Bowl, Main Street Coffee House, El Pico – and several retail stores, all making Independence Square a true destination –  a major reason the location is now thriving according to Cindy, CEO of McClain Restaurant Group and CRM Stores.

Survival: The how & Why
Longevity can also come about because there is either a succession plan in place or somehow, the children of the original owners come “home” like Rebecca Ng of Bo Lings.  Some began there like Rene Bollier of André's Confiserie Suisse.  He started working at age 10 when not at school.  He said his parents never pressured him but it was always understood that if he did have dreams of running André’s, he would work in every area of the business.  His dad decided in 2008 it was the “right time to pass the title on.” He says, “I always loved it, even while having to wake up at 3am on Saturday morning to go in with my dad.” Case Dorman, President/CEO of Jack Stack, is an example of a planned transition. Case’s first restaurant job was at the Smoke Stack which he rejoined as general manager in 1987 and he and wife Jennifer bought the business from her parents in 2009.  Jack Fiorella had created a transition agreement in 1991 so it was well planned, he says. One of the largest differences he and all the others point to is the amount of competition even from just twenty years ago.  “There are so many great operators today and our guests’ expectations are much higher than in the past (as they should be).”

In 1997, there were not as many restaurants in town.  As our
Club 427
population has grown to over two million from about 1,690,000, so have the number of restaurants, many of which are casual and counter types.  Whereas the restaurant industry’s share of the food dollar was 25% in 1955, it has steadily climbed and today, it’s 48%. Jimmy Frantze, owner of JJ’s, points out some similarities for his restaurant beyond its move necessitated by the fiery tragedy of his 90 year old building: “A warm, friendly atmosphere is still necessary.  Steak remains an often-selected item here.  But many of our new items reflect the modern trend towards more spice and esoteric ingredients. Social media, which was nonexistent in 1997, has now become a large part of our advertising and promotional efforts – for example, online apps have become almost mandatory for taking reservations.”

Ethnicity Broadens
Ethnic restaurants in the 90s included Mexican and Chinese which now the National Restaurant Association no longer regards as ethnic – they’re pretty typical according to Ferruzza.  Restaurants like Bo Lings, which opened in 1981, or Margarita’s in 1985 are still popular even if these once “ethnic” restaurants are not considered quite so ethnic anymore.


Rebecca Ng Clark, who returned from a different career to work in her parents’ Bo Lings restaurants and says she is still learning about every facet of the very complex business of running six local restaurants, agrees with this.  “I think that Chinese cuisine is much more mainstream today than it was when my parents opened up in 1981.  That is wonderful because so many more people are enjoying Chinese food, but there is also growing competition – from other Asian cuisines (say, Nara or Saki Asian for instance).    But all this is great to me, as it shows that people in our area seem to be more open-minded than ever when it comes to delicious Chinese/Asian cuisine.”

In 2017, we truly do define ethnic more broadly and certainly restaurants such as Grünauer (Austrian), or Piropos (Argentinian) or Sawasdee Thai and Thai Place (guess) or bd’s Mongolian Grill or India Palace or Krokstrom Klubb (Scandinavian) all offer us tastes of other cultures and their foods.  That’s a lot of name dropping but there are now many, many more around us. This does make our culinary lives more interesting.

Setting Trends
In 1997, food trucks were a non-item except at fairs of one kind or another and street food-inspired dishes were pretty much not seen anywhere.  Perhaps other than places like Margarita’s or El Pueblito or La Parrilla or Ixtapa or El Pico or some of the Mexican restaurants on Southwest Boulevard proffered the casual, interactive, innovative approach of food trucks, but that was as close as we came – a more relaxed atmosphere.  And now food trucks are getting fancy, with far more unusual offerings than they had earlier this century.

Waaay back then, in 1997, “natural,” farm to table, vegetarian, vegan, healthy were not words you heard quite so often – they were more on the fringe element side.  The restaurants all had some salads of course, but veggies were pretty much a side on the plate by the meat.  Today, in restaurants from Jack Stack’s (salads! salmon!) to Waldo Pizza which has both a gluten free and a vegan menu, there are many more health-conscious items than we saw even just twenty years ago.  Cindy McClain from Independence Square points out one big difference: “Today it has to taste great.  People won’t sacrifice their taste buds.”

Twenty years ago, Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State, Diana died, the Lion King opened on Broadway, a pound of hamburger cost $1.38 and you’d go see Titanic, Jurassic Park, Liar Liar, or the Rainmaker at the Plaza theater and follow it with a meal at perhaps Plaza III or The Classic Cup or Starker’s which ended with molten chocolate cake.  Fondue had come to us in the 80s, hello The Melting Pot on the Plaza, and crêpes had come and gone, only to return in the last few years.

Today and Beyond
By 2017, “fine” dining is almost defunct if by that you mean white tablecloths, required jackets for men, formal (and stiff) service and soft music and we now expect gourmet food almost everywhere, once mostly found at these establishments.  Cafeterias, most popular in the 30s and 40s, are now grandparents’ memory, decimated by “fast casual” by the early 80s.

But we still do have buffets, especially popular at casinos for their plentiful selections at one price like the Epic Buffet at the Hollywood Casino, noted for its large selection of fresh food. Other restaurants which have special buffets on holidays like the Walnut Room in the Hilton or Harvey’s in Union Station.   The other manifestation of the buffet concept can be found in Brazilian restaurants. Em Chamas Brazilian Grill, Fogo de Chão, and Porto do Sul all present large buffets of any number of ethnic and American dishes to go along with their meat selections.


In 2017, national restaurant industry sales will be about 800 billion dollars whereas food and drink sales were about 120 billion in 1980. There are now over one million restaurant locations.  Most of them, nine in ten, have fewer than 50 employees and seven in ten restaurants are single unit operations.  That all rings true in Kansas City in 2017, too.  And some of these restaurants stay in the family for years, transferring to the younger generation as time goes by.  For instance, Jason Quirarte is now working with his father, Dave Quirarte, at Margarita’s Amigos who began his restaurants on Southwest Boulevard.

Trends to continue from 2017 include more healthy choices but becoming more flavorful. Locavores rule. There will be more ethnic restaurants but their specialty foods will continue to jump to innovative mainstream menus. We have seen more diversity in food choices but comfort food will always remain. Grocery stores will continue to realign their shelf space to create more “to go” items and include restaurants with some even placing bars in their stores (the drinking kind, not the metal). There are a hundred more I could name.

Dining out remains both entertainment and nourishment just as it was in 1997, just as it is now, and just as it will be in the years following.

1997 – those were the days, indeed.  Check us out in 2027 for our 30th anniversary, my friends!



Almost Our Category – Fifteen to Nineteen Years
BD's Mongolian Barbeque
Café Provence
Café Verona
La Parrilla
McCormick & Schmick’s
Ophelia's
Pierpont's
Piropos
The Melting Pot
Webster House
Zen Zero

At Least They’re Sixty
André’s
Hereford House
Jack Stack Barbecue

Granddaddies of Them All 
(Over 100 Years!)
Courthouse Exchange
The Elms Restaurant


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Music Appreciation Night at the Gaslight Grill

Dick Hawk's Gaslight Grill 
Music Education Appreciation Night
June 14, 2017 

7 - 9 PM
  



An evening especially for music students, music educators and their guests to experience world class jazz and a three course dinner. Exchange viewpoints and enjoy an evening of Dixieland Jazz & Favorites from the 30's & 40's from Lynn Zimmer and the Jazz Band.

THREE COURSE DINNER & JAZZ SHOW $29.00/ PERSON
Or you can order from our regular menu.
Tax & a 20% gratuity to be added.


Reservations by phone are required.
Credit Card will be required when making a reservation as seating is limited and always a sell out.   
Call 913-897-3540
No discounts apply to this show. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Make Creamy Concord Slushies

You would  sure would appreciate this sweet and delicious adult slushy
Concord wine

Ingredients
1 cup frozen blueberries or blackberries
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
8-10 ice cubes
Instructions
In a blender, combine wine, frozen fruit, ice cream, and ice cubes until smooth. Serve in a chilled wine glass. (For a thicker slushy, freeze for 30 minutes to one hour, then serve.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Bagel Wars . . . Or What’s a New York Bagel?

The Bagel Wars . . . Or What’s a New York Bagel?

Here in Kansas City, you might not be aware of the bagel controversy that’s raged for years. OK, rage may be an exaggeration. It’s been primarily the conflict between the Montreal and the New York bagel. In the Midwest, it’s been more about a “regular” bagel, the kind we’ve become accustomed to at Einstein’s and Panera’s, or the New York bagel that’s been introduced here recently by Meshuggah Bagels, first on 39th Street in a darling gray house set off the road by its parking. 
Meshuggah Bagels

Everyone knows the bagel came to us via eastern European Jewish emigrants who replicated this staple in their new country beginning in the 1800’s. The huge variety of flavors now available came later.  
The differences are in the size, the crust, and the cooking method. I’ll start with the one I’ve never had: the Montreal bagel. This is smaller though with a larger hole, thinner, sweeter because of its added malt and being first boiled in honey sweetened water, denser, and must be baked in a wood fired oven at high temperature. I read that there are two predominant varieties: poppy seed or sesame seed. 
bagels

The more common (for us) bagel, is proofed for at least 12 hours and then is baked in a steam injected oven. It’s typically fatter, fluffier, bigger, than the New York bagel. At Meshuggah (which means crazy in Yiddish for those who don’t know), the bagel is crusty – you have to have teeth – the inside is soft-ish but not doughy, and it comes in a gob of flavors (sweet, savory, and/or seedy variations) and it’s been boiled, as it should be. They have a variety of sandwiches as well which, because the bagel is not so thick, you can get into your mouth. 

Owners Pete and Janna Linde like to say they are bringing New York-style kosher bagels to Kansas City one bagel at a time. If you’ve not tried one, you should. Lots of us have and wanted more. That’s why they’re soon opening two more stores at 105th and Metcalf and at Liberty Commons on-35 and 152 Highway. Meshuggah is much more than a band and you’d be meshuggah if you didn’t try these New York bagels.

Tell us what you think! 


Monday, May 15, 2017

New Happy Hour - Grimaldi's Kansas City

Get Stoked 

There’s fun to be had at Grimaldi’s. They have what they’re calling Stoking Social Hour. It’s every weekday, Monday – Friday, from 3:30PM - 6PM (times may vary by location). Enjoy $2 off draft beers, $2 off glasses of wine (house wines excluded), and $2 off their Bruschetta Trio and Antipasto platters. 

Especially popular is their Coalition ($30) pairing of a bruschetta trio or a small antipasto platter with a bottle of wine. They have two new Coalition wines, Moonlight or Rubizzo – both delish.

Grimaldi's
5601 West 135th Street, Suite 2240 
Overland Park, KS 66223 
Ph. (913) 851-5062 
Located in Prairiefire

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spotlighting Brandon Winn

Brandon Winn
When I asked Webster House’s executive chef why he wanted to become a chef, Brandon Winn chuckled.  “I was in school to become an engineer but had worked in a kitchen since I was 15.  The more I learned, the more I liked it.  It just evolved.” Figuring things out, being precise, understanding quality, all remain as significant aspects of this chef. 

Webster House

That serendipity continued because, he says, he was fortunate enough to work with some fine chefs on his way up.  He started at the Kansas City Country Club as an apprentice, then was at Room 39 as sous chef and then chef de cuisine for a total of almost nine years, then a brief hiatus before he went to Webster House beginning in 2015 as sous chef and taking over there in January, 2016.
Winn likes the smaller restaurant mentality, even though Webster House has some very large events where his kitchen obviously plays a very large role.  He has worked with local farmers for a long time, and creating additional and maintaining those relationships is important to him.  The challenges of a chef are many he says, but he truly enjoys seeing his staff grow and learn.  That’s not to say that conveying his thoughts and processes to his staff is always easy, however. 

Brandon Winn

The hardest thing about his job, which I’ve heard from other chefs, too: having a balance between his personal and work time.  It’s nights, weekends, holidays and generally many, many hours per day.  It’s hard to control time – and it’s an industry where you must be dedicated, especially if you want to progress.  But he’s philosophical about that, shrugging that it’s just part of the job.
When he’s not on the job, a favorite thing to do is to tweak either current or future recipes.  The Sunday brunch menu shows some of those tweaks – and the Mother’s Day brunch is almost sold out and for good reason once you checkout the menu.  He likes the creative side on more than recipes:  the current series, 10 Chefs, 10 Countries, on Thursdays has proven very popular, with Greece, Israel, Peru, Hawaii, China, and Ethiopia, created by his talented team, remaining. 

Brandon Winn


His menu changes frequently and relies on whatever is fresh.  Right now that includes soft shell crab.  I had them last night – tempura fried on a cushion of chana dal (the split kernel of a kind of chickpea) flavored with several ingredients that all in all, combined for a perfect dish. I was in love with this chef’s creation, that is certain. If you’ve not been to Webster House lately, you’re missing out.  Truly. 


Webster House
1644 Wyandotte 
Kansas City, MO 64108 
Ph. 816-221-4713 

Monday, May 1, 2017

5/20: Appreciate a Military Person

Army Forces Day
Another thank you – Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May as a result of combining the celebrations of the various branches of the military. It’s a day to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces which was established under President Truman. It was declared a national holiday by President Kennedy in 1961. We cite it here as an opportunity to tell someone who was or is in the military that we appreciate his/her efforts and sacrifices.

Fogo de Chao
Present your military ID and receive a 15% discount for everyone in your group (food purchases only. Beverages, dessert, tax and gratuity not included.)

Jax Fish House 
All veterans receive 10% off.

Porto do Sul
10% off food for military personnel

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Best Cinco de Mayo parties Kansas City 2017

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday commemorating the victory of Mexican troops over the French in the battle over Puebla on 5 May 1862 which emphasizes the Mexican heritage among Americans. The symbol of the festival is the Mexican icon representing the Mother of God from Guadalupe - the patron of both Americas. 
Cinco de Mayo

There are several Mexican restaurants in the KC metro area celebrating Cinco de Mayo with drink specials and other fun events. Here is a list of a few in the area.

Margarita's – All five of this long-established restaurant group are offering drink specials, t-shirt and trinket giveaways (these last, until they run out . . . but they have lots!) 

Sullivan’s – From 3 to 6 pm enjoy $7 margaritas made with 1800 reposado and silver tequila and Sullivan’s Street Tacos for $13 

Ixtapa - food & drink specials all day.

• Genovese - Cinco de Mayo Tequila Dinner - menu here




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mother's Day Brunch - Kansas City

Something Different for Mother’s Day 


I’m here to suggest you do something a little unusual this Mother’s Day even if it’s in a place you have been many times. I’m talking Union Station and before I get to the feasts available that day, here’s my idea. Give yourself plenty of time and go to the far east side of the first floor and discover how it all came to be. There’s more information, drawings, photographs, and artifacts on the second and third floors (take the elevator). You can learn all about the original Fred Harvey’s Restaurant as you experience the Union Station Story – and its many stories. 

But don’t miss one of my favorite things – the Martin Rotach art piece done in 2012 as a “Homage to Hopper.” It’s to the right of Pierpont’s (with its own Mother’s Day three course prix-fixe brunch, $35) flanked by glassed-in cases that contain mostly Harvey House items. It’s a work that will take you back in time with its wonderful details. 

Once you know a little more about its historic roots, do try the buffet at Harvey’s which lives up to reputation of the Grand Hall. There’s a carving station with prime rib and ham, a made-to-order omelet bar, hot and cold buffet selections, and a huge array of desserts all beckoning, for $29. Both places have lower prices for kids, if you must bring them, it being Mother’s Day and all. The restaurant doesn’t look anything like Rotach’s picture anymore, but you can use your imagination – and the soaring views are still there, especially on its second floor. For reservations, call 816.460.2274 or via email contactus@harveyskc.com. 

Two final suggestions: take the street car, right outside that east door, for a loop and look at how downtown is growing. When you come back, go back inside and climb a few stairs to the link. Walk at least to the middle of Main, and take a picture of the Kansas City skyline. Maybe put the kids in front of it. A stranger will probably volunteer to take the picture of all of you having a Mother’s Day to remember. What a lovely day and way to thank a mom.

Harvey's at Union Station
30 West Pershing Road 
Kansas City, MO 64108
website

Saturday, April 8, 2017

You Sweet Thing, You XII

Sweet, Rich, and Decadent, All Together Now


One thing I love is the unexpected. Like when the sun miraculously appears on a day the weathermen have ALL said thunderstorms ALL day – just in time for your patio party. Or when a top political figure says something sensible – and doesn’t then immediately ruin it by injudicious explanation. Or when a pizza place offers something delicious besides their pizza – like dessert. 


I have that place for you: Grimaldi’s on 135th Street. They have a seasonal cheesecake selection in addition to their other goodies – and I’ve seen them make them. More cream cheese in one bowl (tub? vat?) than you can imagine. Whipping cream mountains. Caramel drizzled and coconut sprinkled like a tropical downpour. Their current specials include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Cheesecake chunked up with you can probably guess what. Their Caramel Coconut Cheesecake is a caramel cheesecake with caramel glaze and toasted coconut on an Oreo crust, all topped with chocolate and that whipped cream again. One more important fact: both are off the menu on April 30th so you should hurry on in. 



You can always get their dessert trio where you can pick any three of their desserts, including the seasonal cheesecakes special OR their so-called regular cheesecakes along with cannolis or tiramisu. I will just warn you, however, whether you pick one or three, such decadence is fattening – or so I hear. But splurge. Just this once. Or in my case, three times.


Grimaldi's
5601 West 135th Street, Suite 2240 
Overland Park, KS 66223 
Ph. (913) 851-5062 
Located in Prairiefire
Grimaldi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Graduation Special Offer

Graduation Celebration on The Independence Square

Hey Graduates!

We want to celebrate your achievement! Let us treat you to a meal (up to $20.17) at one of these restaurants: Diamond Bowl, Cafe Verona, Ophelia's, Court House Exchange, Square Pizza - all located on the Independence Square! 

To redeem - Must have school ID, tassel, or graduation program 
Discount applies to party of 6 or more, per graduate
Good May 2017 - June 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fiesta Time at Pryde’s

Fiesta Time at Pryde’s


A true foodie knows that a delicious meal is about more than taste – there’s the ambience of the place, there’s the staff, the smell, and the visual, too. Recently, the visual has come to mean the arrangement and the sheer esthetic of the food. But wait, say I, what about the basis, the foundation?

Yes, I’m talking PLATES and their accompanying family, dishes and glassware. And silverware, too, if you must be exact.

But what comes first to my mind when I think of the well – dressed table? The plate. How does it fit the food item? Does the color make the food look more appetizing? Does the texture add or subtract from the flavor? And the first plate that has continually struck my fancy? The circa 1930s fabulous Fiestaware with its trademark bright – or light – colors and high gloss surface that almost beams its own light onto the food.

And if we’re going to talk Fiesta, we need to talk Pryde’s Kitchenware and Necessities. They’ve only been in that brick building in Westport since the late 60s, mere babes compared to Fiesta who proudly claims a 30s’ birthday. Pryde’s has the largest collection in the Midwest and when you’re looking at the shelves and shelves-ful, the only thing you can think is, “Why don’t I own some of this?”

The original five colors were yellow, cobalt blue, green, red. and ivory. Today, one color is retired each year and one is born. Scarlet was the most popular color for years, to be replaced by turquoise which has kept its lead for years after first appearing in 1937. Paprika was retired in 2016 and, trumpets please, the new go-to color this year is daffodil yellow. Boy, does it cheer you up!

Pryde’s is one of my favorite stores in Kansas City – it has everything you can think of for the kitchen, including a bakery in the basement. The jaw dropping selection of Fiesta dishes is only one reason to stop by.

Pryde's Old Westport

115 Westport Road, 
Kansas City, MO 64111 
Ph: 816-531.5588 

www.prydeskitchen.com

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ARGOSY’S TERRACE BUFFET, JOURNEY STEAKHOUSE FEATURE EXCITING EASTER SELECTIONS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Easter Sunday is a foodie paradise at the restaurants at Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa with traditional holiday menus set for Journey Steakhouse and Terrace Buffet.
All nonsmoking restaurants are located off the casino floor offering hundreds of seating options for the whole family on Easter Sunday.
TERRACE BUFFET
Starting with breakfast, Terrace Buffet has two prices for Easter (April 16) depending on a diner’s arrival time. Traditional breakfast favorites will be offered from 7 to 10 a.m. at 14.99 for adults and 9.99 for children.
With nearly endless options of made-to-order selections featuring fresh, local ingredients, the Easter Buffet is open from 11 a.m. to 9pm for $26.99 (adults) and $15.99 (children).
The Terrace Buffet Easter Special offers traditional Easter cuisine such as leg of lamb, sliced-to-order ham, slow-roasted strip loin as well as non-traditional favorites from throughout the world: Italian, Chinese, Japanese, as well as seafood, pizza and a large salad bar. The restaurant also offers a full lineup of house-made desserts, vegetarian options, and a variety of breads, side dishes, soups and pastries.
JOURNEY
Argosy’s wood fired steakhouse, Journey, will spotlight an Easter special for $40 for Mesquite-grilled Colorado lamb loin with golden mashed potatoes, asparagus and natural jus, from 4 to 10 p.m.

About Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa Restaurants
777 Argosy Casino Parkway inside the Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa, Riverside, Mo. 64150

Journey
Journey features Mesquite wood-fired steaks and only the best selection of prime cuts of Certified Angus Beef as well as seafood options. This casual, yet upscale steakhouse is a journey of wines from around the world and an award-winning menu of traditional steakhouse options.

99 Hops House
New to Argosy in July of 2016, 99 Hops House Kansas City, is a craft beer destination restaurant featuring a self-serve beer wall with 28 unique draft brews along with a long list of local, regional and international bottle and draft beers. Along with the beer, 99 Hops House’s menu features food that is chef created in a made-from-scratch kitchen and perfectly paired with dozens of hard-to-find and local beer varieties. Situated between the main entrance of the casino and the casino floor, the restaurant features a refined, rustic atmosphere with a pub vibe and is open daily for lunch and dinner.

The Lucky Taco
The Lucky Taco, opened in the fall of 2016 featuring made-from-scratch authentic Mexican recipes, street tacos and a complimentary made-fresh-daily chips and salsa bar. The 140-seat restaurant is located just inside the main entrance to the casino and offers patrons a taste of authentic Mexican recipes developed specifically for The Lucky Taco by Argosy’s culinary team. The recipes are hand crafted from the freshest ingredients many of which are locally procured to create traditional selections alongside exciting and innovative new items. All of the entrees include charro beans and rice served family style.

Terrace Buffet
With nearly endless options, the Terrace Buffet covers the world’s cuisines including Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Japanese, in addition to seafood, pizza, chicken, deli and a beef carving station. The Terrace Buffet is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features a Friday Prime Rib and Seafood Night and a Saturday Crab Leg Night.

Leo’s Deli
Named for Leonardo da Vinci, Leo’s Deli sells New York-style sandwiches – both hot and cold, homemade soups and fresh-made entrée salads for a quick and hearty meal for guests every day.


Zoe’s
Argosy visitors can stop in every day and select from specialty coffees, gourmet pastries, premium ice cream and more.

#KansasCity #Easter #Brunch #Easter2017 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Hour, Mexican Style

Let’s Get Happy for an Hour (or More) 


You have probably noticed that Kansas City has a plethora of Mexican food restaurants. Some are specific to an area, some are, pretty commonly here, what we need to call Tex-Mex. That means, broadly, lots of cheese (queso) of one kind or another, meats, veggies, often with a variety of sauces ranging from mild to hot due to chili peppers but those are usually red or green. 

For a fuller explanation of the origin, don’t miss my current centerfold article, “Culinary Customs” in the newest Restaurant Guide, available all over town or right here. OK, done with shameless self-promotion. 



Anyway, I have a place for you to try for happy hour – it’s cheap, plentiful, vacation-y feeling, and very good. Ted's Café Escondido has a new (since January) happy hour from 3-6 p.m. weekdays. It’s a place where $5 goes a long way: 18 ounce schooners of house margaritas, Dos Equis Amber or Pacifico beers. Great way to start. Then there’s some regular menu items which are also only five American dollars – their chorizo cheese sauce or bean dip, guacamole, their bean and cheese nacho pate, or their spicy shrimp cocktail. These dishes are not small, folks! It can be a party really easily, that’s for sure. 

Ted’s has three locations currently -- -- 7001 W. 135th St. in Overland Park, 8300 N. Booth Ave. in Shoal Creek, and 636 NE. 291 HWY in Lee's Summit. Exciting news is that they are opening more locations – next one will be near Ward Parkway shopping center. Olé! I say.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Exciting things going on...

There are a lot of exciting things going on at Grimaldi’s in March! They have just updated their wine list with 13 new wines, carefully selected to be a part of what is already an extensive wine list. On the sweeter side, two new seasonal cheesecakes are being offered through the month of March. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake is a creamy vanilla cheesecake sprinkled with chunks of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & topped with whipped cream. You can also go with the Caramel Coconut Cheesecake, a caramel cheesecake topped with caramel glaze and toasted coconut on top of an Oreo cookie crust and finished with a chocolate drizzle and whipped cream. Complete cheesecake heaven! 

Also, don’t forget about the Stoking Social Hour. This deal is too good to pass up! It’s every week day, Monday – Friday, from 3:30PM - 6PM where you can enjoy $2 off draft beers, $2 off glasses of wine (house wines excluded), and $2 off Bruschetta Trio and Antipasto platters. The popular Coalition ($30) is a pairing of a Bruschetta Trio or a small Antipasto platter with a bottle of wine. Through March, they are offering two Coalition wines - guests have their choice of a white or red option: Terra D’Oro Moscato or 19 Crimes Red Blend.


Grimaldi's
5601 West 135th Street, Suite 2240 
Overland Park, KS 66223 
Ph. (913) 851-5062 
Website

Monday, February 27, 2017

Culinary Customs

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. It was soooo annoying. Finally, I stood up and walked towards him, caught his eye, and used the universal sign language to get the check. And so, finally, he brought it.”

My friend was talking about dining in Paris, where she ran into this phenomenon several times. “What is it with them?” she asked.

“Ahh,” say I, “I do happen to know about this. That is the custom there. They think Americans are hugely rude, not to mention crass, with our delivering the check with the dessert or at the end of the meal with a ‘No rush’ comment. They believe in a leisurely meal over an appropriate amount of time. They’re not really being rude or neglecting you. It’s their custom.”

Ok, so French. But every country, every part of the world, has its own customs and traditions that you may not know, and may not glean, from the guide books. Those customs may not be so obvious in Kansas City’s international or ethnic restaurants, or even those who have a dish or three based on another country’s taste buds and habits. We thought we’d gather a few of the ones you may not be so familiar with. 

I See France
We’ll begin with the French, since we already started there. First, we spoke with Patrick Quillec, owner of  Café Provence in Prairie Village, who mentioned that of all the bêtes noires (thorn in the side, dislike, something especially hated or dreaded – there, now you speak the language) the French typically mention, he thinks asking for the salt and pepper shakers is about the worst sin you can commit.

There are others of course. For instance, in restaurants, we keep looking at the menu often while we’re waiting.  In France, put your menu down when you are ready to order which signals the server. The tip is generally included on the bill – you can add a bit to it but to add 15% or 20% just ranks you as pure amateur.  Servers are professionals there and get paid a living wage.  If you’ve been invited to lunch or dinner by a French person, don’t try to split the bill. The expectation is that you will return the favor soon. The subject of money is quite personal in France, so don’t talk about it.

The influence and popularity of French food and culture is everywhere, even in Kansas City. For instance, we have authentic French Restaurants like Le Fou Frog in the City Market area and the afore-mentioned Café Provence (which has gone on to spawn French carry-out and retail items in its French Market). Quillec remembers when he first came to the U.S. (at 18 years old) and was totally amazed by fast food – there was no such thing then in Brittany. He got off the plane and went straight to his first burger (at Burger King) – and thought it was just inedible. Now, of course, American fast food abounds everywhere, including France – and the global fast food market is worth nearly 617 billion dollars – to the sorrow of many gourmands. 

There’s also Tatsu’s French Restaurant, owned and cheffed by Tatsu Arai, and here in Prairie Village since the 80s. It began as a pastry and luncheon shop in 1980 and a few years later, expanded into a complete dining destination for lunch and dinner with white tablecloths and elegant French cuisine, sometimes with an additional Asian influence. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an easy way to learn about the various customs is go on a tour and let the guide handle all matters. I say that because recently I went on such a trip with Global Culinary Escapades and not only did we get a thorough grounding in what to say and do in restaurants and bars all over Bordeaux, we learned a lot about wine. These annual trips are so much fun despite being educational – and this fall GCE has partnered with Louie’s Wine Dive to do a trip centered even more on wine. The French make some really great wines, in case you’ve not heard. 

Go to their websites to learn more about this trip:  globalculinaryescapades.com or louieswinedive.com.

Visit Nearby Italy
When in Italy, do as the Italians do. Drink coffee (espresso that means) but remember that cappuccino is for breakfast or an afternoon break but not a drink to have with lunch or dinner. Don’t try to drink it as a “to-go” item – even though there are now Starbucks in Italy. If you’re looking for an American, he’s the one walking and drinking.

Even though we don’t have a “little Italy” part of town, we do have several Italian restaurants we’re especially fond of. There’s Café Verona in Independence, where traditional dishes flourish.

You may not have known that Pinstripes on 135th has a definite Italian flair, making their own pastas and tomato sauce and they pride themselves on their authenticity – even though most Italian restaurants don’t have bowling alleys. But bocce?  All right, then!  It’s not just a game for old Italian men. Also south is North Italia in Leawood, which specializes in handmade pastas and pizzas. And their zucca chips will make you forget their brother, potato, forever.   

Genovese Italian Restaurant in Lawrence offers faithful northern Italian cuisine with handmade pastas and many classic items on the menu for the last ten years, creating their stellar reputation.  Ricco’s Bistro in south Overland Park, owned by three families since 2003, is another fine example of regional Italian cuisine but served in American size portions. 

Closer to Home: Mexico
What to do if you’re in Mexico?  We’re not going to teach you how to drink tequila shots (though that is an art and you don’t want to look like a sissy – combo in your mouth the salt from your cupped palm, the lime whose juice you’ve squeezed in, and the shot and it’s one gulp only) or that you eat street tacos with your hands, but we do want to mention the time thing. 


“In Mexico, you don’t ask for separate checks.  You just evenly split the entire bill among the number of people at the table.”   
Victor Esqueda, Ixtapa


It is said that instead of eating around work, the Mexican culture works around eating. This means a much more relaxed schedule for many – breakfast can range from 7 to 10 a.m. and can be just coffee to what seems like (or is) a full meal with eggs, meats, veggies, and tortillas or just fruit and sweet rolls. But lunch is the big meal of the day, occurring between 1:30 to 4 p.m. and its heaviness may necessitate that famous siesta afterwards. That custom is going away, however, because work schedules are less forgiving than they used to be.  Nonetheless, dinner typically stays relatively light and people eat fairly late – say, starting no earlier than 8 p.m. and sometimes, just a bowl of soup is adequate. Celebrations of any kind, however, are an entirely different concept – and the concept of punctuality is not especially appreciated, which carries over in Mexico to service. Relax. Enjoy.  

Mexico’s heritage is complex in that there are several influences, the people – from the early Aztecs to the later Spaniards; the African slave trade (among other immigrants); the over 7,000 miles of coast line supplying much seafood, the tropics providing fruits and veggies year-round and the more barren grazing pastures supplying beef, lamb, and goat. There are regional differences so do not think for a second that all Mexican food is all the same. For instance, chiles en nogada (chilies filled with a mixture of meat and dried fruit, covered in walnut (the nogada part) cream sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley is from Puebla and seven traditional mole varieties, with up to 30 different spices, are attributed to Oaxaca. If a restaurant here emphasizes a region, you may very well have a much different experience from another Mexican restaurant. 

Most of us are so familiar with Mexican food that we barely consider it ethnic or foreign. It’s both. Kansas City is blessed to have so many Mexican based restaurants because of the strength of our Latino population here. You’re probably familiar with some of our favs. Independence Square offers not just Italian but also Mexican --  El Pico Mexican Restaurant is a local watering hole with many fans. Ixtapa Mexican Cuisine, just south off Barry Road, is well known for their regional dishes which Alejandro will help you choose. There are nine different shrimp and 15 chicken dishes. But try their posole. 

“Goin’ down on the Boulevard” used to be an adventure all on its own, but now Margarita's has been in town nearly forever, leading the way in a crowded field and due to their popularity, now has five locations. If you do want to take a walk on the less flashy side, go to Lawrence for authentic Mexican street food at La Parrilla. A smaller sensation is Los Alamos Market y Cocina west of downtown on Summit, which gives a nod to both English and Spanish in its name, is definitely a little bit of Mexico -- and doesn’t even provide menus. The opposite, perhaps, of Los Alamos is The Lucky Taco in the Argosy Casino which offers a big variety of items plus has a very large salsa bar so you can fix exactly what you want. And finally, give Ted's Café Escondido, now with three locations, a chance even though it really isn’t a “hidden café” so much since its enthusiasts keep helping it grow.

And, by the way, just to re-emphasize, all Mexican food is NOT Tex-Mex, which does have its own identity, though it’s not called that in Mexico where its northern province of meats and cheeses are the likely source of the characteristics.  Kansas Citians seem to be fond of it, no matter its history. 


“We find it so funny that Americans put their noses next to the food or spice to smell it. Let the aroma float up to you and so will the flavor.”  Balkaran Singh, India Palace.

Wherever You Go, There You Are
Diner’s interest in other cultures is very much a continuing trend throughout the U.S. and that’s very true in Kansas City as well. By all means, go experiment and try out those cultures with which you’re not so familiar. You’re sure to find something that pleases your palate, expands your culinary tastes, and even truly excites your senses. 

You probably won’t have to worry about the protocol of the clean plate club like in the home countries (in India and Japan, clean plates mean you liked it). In China, it more likely means (to your host, that is) you weren’t fed enough and it’s an insult. In Thailand, you use your fork to push your food into your spoon, then eat from the spoon; in Italy, don’t use your spoon. Eating only with your left hand with knife perched in your right (Italy and France) isn’t necessary if you’re here. 

Life’s an adventure, especially if you’re eating your way through it. Wherever you go, learn first, then eat.  

Tell us about an experience you had in foreign country.