On a positive note

There are a few places I've recently visited  that really deserve some praise.

El Pollo Rey
You have two choices when ordering... Half or whole, and they're talking about chicken, great grilled chicken.

Pho Hoa
Good Pho, great Banh Mi. Get the Pho to eat among the awesome decor, and get a Banh Mi to go. The crunchy french roll is so good you'll come back for more. I take the carry out Banh Mi and throw it in a 500 degree oven for a few minutes and it is as good as new. Tell Spike I said hi.

Tamale Wizard
The tamales are delicious and sold in an ever-changing variety. Also, the bean soup and the house rice rocks! I had their only entree, a half chicken, and it was so dry I almost sent it back. It had great flavor though. If it was fresh it would have been great. If the Tamale Wizard reads this I would like a rematch on the chicken.

So Bahn
Good Korean fare. I like the Tong Galbi and the Kim Chee soup.


Mendolia's or Scimeca's? NO THANKS! The former sausage kings are no more.

I made a big mistake the other night. I bought some Mendolia's Italian sausage. What was I thinking? This stuff was so bad I called the company to bitch about it, at night, on a weekend. The cool thing is they called me back in about five minutes! If they cared as much about the quality of their sausage as they do about customer service, the stuff might be edible.

Mendolia's website states, "The recipe he developed has stood the test of time and remains the same today." Bullshit! This not true. Mendolia's and Scimeca's have always been the competing sausage kings of KC. Both brands have become so horrible I will never buy either again.

In the race between these sausage losers Scimeca's comes out on top, on top of the crap pile that is. The Mendolia's I bought was ground so fine it was like super salty cardboard pulp in a plastic casing. I don't know what they stuff it in, but it reminded me of cellophane off a pack of smokes.

If you want some good sausage these days make it yourself. If you don't wish to tackle that lengthy endevour, visit a local butcher. A couple places that still make the real deal are; Bichelmeyer's, Carollo's, Werner's, McGonigle's and possibly your local supermarket.

I almost forgot.... Alex Pope is soon to open The Local Pig in the East Bottoms. Sausage heaven! The Pitch recently posted an article about it.


Is this a bad joke?

The pitch announces Pandolfi's will begin dinner service. This place is atrocious. Do not go near this "Deli".

I'll elaborate.

I went in with a friend to get a couple meatball sandwiches to eat there, and a sub sandwich to go for another friend.

The meatball sandwiches were as bland as can be, they contained little or no flavor. We could taste no oregano, no garlic, no seasoning, just bland tomato sauce and bland meat. Even salt would have helped. The addition of some cheese would have been nice too. I've never had a meatball sandwich without cheese. Maybe this is how "real" Italians make them and I just haven't had the pleasure of having an authentic one?

The bread could have been great if it was toasted or grilled. It was like cold sponge. Can't we put it in an oven or a salamader for one minute? Even if it was toasted, I don't think it could have saved the sandwich. I did order some chips from a bag and they were great.

Each of us could only stomach half the sandwich and we're generally big eaters. We opened the to go sandwich thinking we would split it and order another one to go for the friend who asked for it. Nope. After one look at it, we resealed it and left hungry. Do real delis use Boar's Head? I don't think so.

I didn't want to waste my time writing about this place but to appease the brave "Anonymous" I did. It'd be smarter not to go back!


Eating your way through K.C.?

So let's say that you have a friend that walks out of the Amazon forest and plops down in Kansas City. I'm not sure why you have a friend that lives in the Amazon, but maybe you are much cooler than the Dos Equis guy and you have an abundance of unusual friends. Anyway, he's been never been to K.C., or civilization for that matter. Where would you take him to eat in our fair city. Not just for the best food, but for the best variety of meals. Being from the Amazon he doesn't really care about whether the food is from a local joint or a chain. He just wants grub he's never experienced.

So I've created a very unscientific list of the top 20 places I would take my Amazon friend. These places may not be the best at what they do or even the most unique, but they would provide him with a good cross-section of Mid-America. Oh... and as usual the 20 are not in any particular order.

1. Arthur Bryants - The original location;
2. Gates - The main street venue (the above two so he could judge the KC BBQ battle for himself);
3. Flying Saucer (for the unique German "lite" fare and an abundance of beer selections);
4. Applebee's (to see first hand what an American chain is all about);
5. Thomas (to chill on the deck in the spring);
6. Minsky's - Main Street location (to see a local pizzeria in action);
7. Grand Street Cafe (to see an upscale eatery with great service);
8. Bluestem (to experience an upscale eatery with less than stellar service);
9. T-Rex Restaurant (to help him feel at home with all of the wild animals and such);
10. The Beer Kitchen (the best lunch deal if you make sure to get there before 1pm);
11. The Drop (good food and edible shots... enough said);
12. Garozzo's (for a great taste of Italy... American style);
13. Tower Tavern (still the best sliders);
14. Ponak's (take your pick on the Boulevard, but this Mexican joint will suffice);
15. Extra Virgin (the pig's ear salad and other unique offerings will keep him happy);
16. A hot dog at the K (being from the Amazon I can convince him that having the least amount of runs is actually winning in baseball);
17. Kansas City Cafe (pretty good lunch fare at a great price);
18. Gruneur ( Not sure if I spelled it right... Don't care because the food is top-notch);
19. BK at Power and Light (fast food and a beer... kinda funny in a European way);
20. Any Mongolian Grill type place but my favorite is the one on 39th Street (don't eat for three days and then destroy this place...).

The list doesn't hit the best of KC, just a cross-section of what I would show my Amazon friend. If of course, I was the most interesting man in the world and has a friend from the Amazon.


Hey... what's for breakfast?

Fifty of the World Best Breakfasts.

 This one looks good.

#50. A Turkish breakfast – the full Turkish treatment usually consists of a few varieties of cheese, butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, and spicy meat.

Food for Thought

Good food is for all seasons. As the the Chiefs begin to tank the new season and the Royals mercifully end yet another summer of distress, my palate turns towards what makes Kansas City meals special. I experienced some of that great culinary excellence at a recent Harvesters fundraiser at Union Station.

This Chef-inspired event featured great dishes from a variety of local eateries and country clubs (with an impressive of showing from Johnson County locations) left me stuffed and also feeling good about helping a local charity. This charity is truly KC oriented. And it's winning unlike the local sport's scene.

The point is two-fold. One, we have a great charity here at home that helps those in our city. Not some national program that supports those on a national scale (not that there's anything wrong with that), but one that has a real impact on those that live and work amongst all of us.

Secondly, our local culinary scene is superb. The event featured a 20 minute cook-off challenge featuring among others Michael Smith. Say what you want about his respective restaurants (I happen to like Extra Virgin and Michael Smith's) but the man is talented.

So as we fall into fall, remember to support your local food joints. KC can be proud of the talent we have locally. And maybe someday the same can be said of the Royals.


Spring Time Fling

So our blog has been a little... dormant... over the last few months. Probably due to a lack of interest in new KC food joints coupled with some really poor spring weather. But with sunny skies comes new food energy.

Recently, I hit up The Kansas City Cafe. This small bistro has been serving primarily lunch crowds for a few years in the downtown area. Just a few blocks from the Sprint Center, the KC Cafe does the most with their quirky location. Quirky, because there aren't a ton of other nice eating options located immediately nearby and their parking lot will bring back memories of a bumper car carnival attraction.

The food and menu, however, set this place apart from the nearby Power and Light district. I heard about this place from our local TV show, "Check Please". It was billed as a solid lunch time eatery with reasonable prices on some truly chef-inspired food options. After my visit I couldn't agree more.

The dining room is a firm mix between casual and slightly upscale dining. A great touch is the place mats which feature pictures of downtown buildings along with some trivia of said locations.

While featuring a pretty snazzy looking bar area, the drink menu was sorry. No one is asking a primarily lunch type venue to feature 40 beers, but 10 -12 isn't too much to ask for. Most distributors will even sell by the case, so why not try stocking a few extra beers (besides Bud Light, Miller Lite, Blvd Wheat and Pale, and Stella). They may have had one or two more than what I listed, but not by much.

The food menu is what truly makes this place special. The food is very economically priced and features such fun dishes as Lobster Cakes and Coconut crusted Tilapia. I went with the Teriyaki Cheese Steak for a measly $6.50 and my lunch mate went with the Fish Tacos for 7 bucks.

The Cheese Steak was really good. The Fish Tacos provided great flavor as well (although the fish came out as a large un-sliced tilapia portion. I like my Fish Tacos sliced up, but that may just be a personal preference thing).

As the Kansas City Cafe says on their web site, it really is Gourmet food at "Value Meal" pricing. Why anyone would order a damn McDonald's value meal for 7 bucks when you could get a herb grilled chicken sandwich with homemade pasta salad for the same price is amazing to me.


Outdoor Dining

This weather sucks. Point blank. So it's time for me to think about warm spring days on the horizon. It's time for me to fondly day dream about where I would rather be eating at. It's time for my unscientific list of the top places to eat outdoors. Hopefully, our two readers can help present some new ideas I can add to my list. By the way, this list isn't a ranking, just a general guide.

1) Thomas Restaurant - The rooftop area is great and the 39th street location allows me to eat in relative peace without gunshots or crappy buildings blocking my view (KU Med is across the street though). They have good food and good solid drinks.

2) Jaywalkers - The outside deck is actually pretty cool. The food is always pretty average but the beers on tap are relatively diverse featuring a ton of Free State offerings.

3) McCoy's - This deck is prime real estate in the middle of Westport. I won't go on about what you'll find at McCoy's because there are a million reviews of this place, but suffice it to say, this place is yummy. It's sister restaurant next door, The Foundry, also features a cool deck setting.

4) Pizza 51 - Part neighborhood Pizza joint, part kid's romper room, this UMKC area pizza place has three times as much seating space outside as it does inside. Good value and good pizza.

5) Sol Cantina - The great thing about 31st Street neighbors Sol and the Velvet Dog is their ample outdoor dining area. Probably more of a bar setting that a food setting but the space works for both.

6) Any Place with the sliding windows that open up. From All-Star Pizza to The Flying Saucer to Extra Virgin. I love the sliding window concept and it allows me to act as though I'm dining outside while still enjoying the vibe of the restaurant.

I know I just mentioned a few of the many great KC outdoor spots. Some places try to market the outdoor feel but they fail miserably. It your outdoor location is just a glorified smoking/cell phone area you don't count in my book (see Tower Tavern and the Westport Flea Market as examples). Likewise, you don't count if a few tables are thrown outside by a crowded street or sidewalk (see M&S Grill, Room 39, nearly every place in the Power and Light District, and La Bodega).


It's like a pasta quiz

Just click on the pasta shape and you get the name of the pasta and a description. I think this chart represents only 1/200th of the worlds pasta shapes, but it is pretty cool anyway. I think I guessed one or two. Pasta shapes are hard.


The Great Chocolate Ale Hunt

Recently our local hometown brewery joined forces with local chocolate guru Christopher Elbow to create a Chocolate Ale. While fans of Boulevard know that they have embarked upon an aggressive "smokestack series" designed to highlight beer full of flavor and high octane punch, this brew has created a frenzy of sorts.

This brew features a soft tone of chocolate mixed with a soothing ale mouthfeel. At least thats what I think it tastes like. You see, this beer has some major mass market appeal. And everywhere it shows up at it is quickly snatched up. Gomers sold their multitude of cases within hours. Other places jacked the price up like it was the last gallon of water on a Sahara Desert tour. Still others had the gall to charge 10 bucks for the first bottle and 20 bucks for the second.

All in all, capitalism won out and it seems as though the entire supply of Chocolate Ale has been snatched up. Maybe it's a ploy by Mayor Funky to keep metro residents focused on something besides the upcoming election?

If there is any good news on the horizon it is that the Chocolate Ale will be hitting taps around the city soon. And maybe then the Great Chocolate Ale Hunt will be over... until Boulevard pairs up with The Peanut for BLT Beer. I can dream can't I?


Welcome to Mushroom Adventures

Sounds illegal doesn't it? It's not, it's a cool place to get mushroom kits to grow legal, edible mushrooms at home. I'm going to try this, I love mushrooms!

Also try:

18th & Vine, Lee's Summit and P&L it's all your fault! We're just victims.

The Peachtree in P&L closed! Who didn't see this coming? The owners that's who. What did you think was going to happen when you moved to P&L? You sold out! You forgot the people who brought you up in the first place. Did you really think the largest, suburban destination hangout in town was going to support soul food? Where are you going next? Leawood? Please.

"The Power and Light district location was leased for Roy, my son, who wanted to remain close to the African American community and felt African Americans should have a presence in the P&L district."

I guess remaining close to the African American community means moving to the biggest white tourist trap in the city?  I guess remaining close to the African American community means abandoning an historic black neighborhood?

You chased the Cordish dollar and it ran you over. Now you cry about your poor business decisions in attempt to regain some credibility in the community. Always good food, always poor service and management.


Which ramen suits your lazy ass?

Hello Lazy is only one of the delicious flavors here. Other flavors include; Soup for Sluts, Din Din Fuk Chow and Wasted and Broke ramen.

"Let's face it - you're not lazy because you're making ramen. You're making ramen because you're lazy!"


Restaurant Week - KC Style

When I lived in D.C., Restaurant Week was a much anticipated event. Like baseball's opening day or St. Patrick's day, Restaurant Week became a city wide holiday for adults. The deals were outstanding and the food was amazing. It was not unusual for many restaurants in D.C. to be completely booked up during restaurant week.

It was with that anticipation that I recently reviewed the Restaurant Week being put on by the Power and Light District. This Restaurant Week was a sham. The menus were restrictive, over-priced, and generally not a value. As I stated previously, Power and Light just didn't get the essence of what drives a successful Restaurant Week promotion. (By the way, for any new readers, I am not a P&L basher intent on supporting only locally owned joints. I am an equal opportunity eater and have been to every one of the Restaurants in P&L, except maybe Ghengis Grill?)

Would my Restaurant Week craving go unquenched? NO! I have been saved by the upcoming second annual KC Restaurant Week. This event, co-sponsored by the Greater KC Restaurant Association and the KC Conventions and Visitors Association, is set to take place next week from January 21st until January 30th. What makes this event "legend"... (wait for it)... "dary" is that it has its very own free iPhone app!
The app lists all participating restaurants, a brief synopsis of the place and its food, their address, a link to their website, and most importantly... their Restaurant Week menus.

To provide a quick guide to the KC Restaurant Week festivities, the participating restaurants offer a lunch special for 15 bucks and a dinner special for 30 bucks. The goal for us average Joes is to get more food than what you are paying for. Unlike the P&L debacle, this event seems to get that principle.

If you want to go to a less expensive place like Pizza 51, the lunch special during the week will get you enough food to feed two people. If you go to a nicer place, like one of my seafood favorites, the Bristol, you will only get enough chow for one person but it will be great options like Grilled Salmon or a Petite Filet Mignon... for lunch... for 15 smack-a-roos.

In all, I have already charted out five eating destinations for that week. A few will be chosen because I haven't been there ever (or in a super long time) and a few will be chosen because they are simply offering an unbeatable value.

And most importantly, by participating in Restaurant Week, you are helping a worthwhile charity. A portion of the price of every meal ordered is donated to Harvesters. Last year over $55,000.00 was donated to Harvesters. So help out a needy group and get your "opening day" on.


A man and his pan

Or a woman...whatever, you know what I mean.

In this article, some guy from FT talks to some chefs about their favorite pan. My favorite pan is a cast iron grill pan I bought several years ago. I love this pan although my smoke alarms don't think it is as cool as I do. When I take the pan out of the cabinet, my smoke alarms go off in anticipation.


Words only food douches use. Go ahead..... try them out.

Are you a Deipnosophist? If so, don't bother looking at the Top 10 Food and Drink Words You’ve Never Heard.

Ruth Bourdain FTW!

The Eater of the Year Award goes to Ruth Bourdain. The folks over at Endless Simmer narrowed the list down to 5 and let the public decide the winner. Surprisingly, I wasn't in the running this year.

Here is the scoop on Ruth Bourdain.