We spent a few days in Kansas City last weekend to visit family. After a solid month of cold rain here in the lovely PNW, we were ready to appreciate the freakishly hot weather happening in the midwest, and were not disappointed. It reached 91 degrees one day. Bliss.
We didn’t do a lot of chowhounding, but we did eat some good things. First, of course, was the family doughnut day. I like doughnuts all right (especially cream-filled ones), but I get really excited about finally having decent bagels.
And there had to be barbecue, of course. We ordered takeout from the local Jack Stack, and it was excellent as always. Their burnt ends are particularly great – I love the bits of smoked sausage in there. We also got beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and a weird regrettable dish they call their “cheesy corn bake” which seems to consist of corn kernels floating in a container of velveeta sauce – it wasn’t a favorite. I ate the leftover beans the next day, cold, standing at the kitchen sink with a bottle of Boulevard Pale.
One evening we wanted a little extra bite of something and a drink. We wandered into Blanc Burgers & Bottles not too long before they closed for the night, and were really pleased with the service and the food. After trying a couple of their beers on tap (not an extensive list; KC seems to be much more into bottled beer than draft), we decided to take advantage of their half-off wine special. The Pinot Grigio we ordered went nicely with the chicken caprese sandwich we split. I wish we could go back regularly and work our way through their burger menu, it looked fantastic.
Another day we ventured into the Westport district for lunch. It was fairly quiet, as most of the businesses in that area are bars that don’t open until evening, but we had a fine lunch at the Westport Cafe & Bar.
I was really impressed by the bartender’s work. I got an old fashioned, which was served very simply, no ice, no fruit, just a fat strip of orange rind. Jon got an interesting drink with chai-infused something or other and a garnish of blueberries.
The food was very straightforward, but well thought-out. I got the tuna sandwich, which was a soft bun dressed with aioli, fresh spinach, and barely-seared tuna that was so tender it almost dissolved in the mouth. The flavor was good, but I really thought the texture was the highlight of the sandwich. The side salad was arugula dressed with truffle oil and thin slices of radish and Parmesan.
Jon got the steak sandwich, which was also very simple but delicious. The fries that came with it were classic bistro style and rather addictive. Nothing to complain about here.
Another place we visited in Westport was the Beer Kitchen. Again, they only had a few brews on tap, but their bottled list was extensive and interesting. Not a lot of hoppy IPAs in this town, but I did find a nice pale ale to drink.
The place was deserted except for the staff, but it made a pleasant place to hang out on a hot afternoon. We weren’t hungry when we were there, but we admired some menu items like “Tur-Ducken Poppers” (with schmaltz!) and “Piggy Fries” which are like poutine with burnt ends. Good drinking food.
On our last night we went to Room 39. Like many places in the Leawood/Overland Park area, this is an extra branch of a restaurant that first started up in KC proper, and maintains two locations. The restaurant was quiet, as that was the night of the KU/Kentucky game, so we almost had the place to ourselves.
We started with an appetizer of grilled asparagus, served with a beautifully poached egg and garnished with black salt. The waitress was apologetic about the small portion size, but I thought it was about perfect.
My mother-in-law got a small order of the gnocchi. They were pan-fried until crispy, and tossed with shiitakes and onions. I thought they tasted rather like potstickers, in a really good way.
My father-in-law and I both got the halibut. This was a hefty entree: a large piece of halibut, cooked until crusty, and served over a substantial pile of mushroom duxelles and topped with celery and cooked radishes, with a swirl of fresh pea puree on the side. It was good, but the flavors were bold and overwhelmed the fish a little.
Jon got a piece of bass served with spinach, microgreens and a wonderful red wine and butter sauce. Nice.
For dessert there was espresso creme brulee, plus a memorable dish of goat cheese beignets in a pool of warm caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream. Holy cow, this was good. I opted to drink my dessert in the form of a Manhattan, but ended up having to help out with my mother-in-law’s beignets, which wasn’t a particular hardship.
This was a really good place, I would go back.
The next day brought us back to Seattle, where it was raining. It was kind of nice.