Time for a quick check of the food world in a segment I like to call five up and five down. In true ESPN style I've included five good things I've had or noticed and five crappy things.
1) The chorizo and fig filled chicken thighs at Extra Virgin. Addictive...
2) Natty Light as a summer yard beer. PBR is way too mainstream now.
3) Patios with shade and/or fans. This global warming shit is making it tough to eat outside in KC.
4) Restaurant Makeover shows. Can we recommend some KC area places for these type of shows?
5) Diverse Beer Selections. Gone are the days with only Bud Light and Miller Lite on draw.
1) Imo's Pizza. I grew up on the east side of the state but this stuff is overpriced yuck.
2) Coupon sites that advertise daily deals. The restrictions and options on these things have become silly.
3) Miller Lite punch top cans. If I need to shot-gun some swill I have a pair of keys handy.
4) Big menus. K.I.S.S. principle thankfully taking root in KC restaurants.
5) KC Royals Beer Prices. Beer prices went up at the K this year + same old losing = T-Bones game instead.
Two new food destinations recently opened in the Midtown area. One will probably become a fixture in the area while the other one will probably be closed by the time the Chiefs win their first game this season. (And I'm assuming they got a solid chance to be good this year so this isn't a jab at the team!)
The first place is a new German themed place in Martini Corner (Haus). Quick side story, but when I first moved to KC fifteen years ago I was really looking for a good German place. There was a place in the Waldo area that shut down leaving a drive out to Independence as the only real option. But that place is like eating at someone's old German Grandma's house. Not that much fun (even with tons of German Beer).
Recently there has been an uptick in Bavarian choices, highlighted by Grunaer. But while I love Grunaer, it's price point makes it more of a special occasion place than a weekly destination. There is also a new German place moving into the Crossroads area.
And while Haus bills itself as a German beer garden type place it's really just a sausage hut at this point (insert your own "sausage" joke here). You can order any number of sausages from the basic brat to an exotic Elk and Juniper version. You then get to add a few toppings and you can also add a bucket of fries to round out the meal.
So how was it? The service, while friendly, is extremely slow. Their sloth-like pace is only matched by the equally painful pace of the kitchen. These are sausages people. They have been pre-made (I assume because one would have to be crazed to individually encase each sausage as it's ordered) and you slap a few toppings on it. This shouldn't be a two hour experience. I will say that I went to Haus right after it's opening so I can hopefully assume it's gotten better.
The sausage's themselves are priced well and do taste great. The toppings were a little light (who puts a spoonful of sauerkrat on a big sausage?). The fries attempted to rise to the level of Beer Kitchen, but sadly fell a little short.
The beer selection was great, but a little pricey. Don't give me Plaza beer prices at a joint on the east edge of Martini Corner. Random Thought: Best beer prices in Midtown are at the Green Room.
So, in short, Haus looks to be great. Add a few menu items (why do you have four different mustards at the table and neglect to have any sort of pretzel on the menu?), speed up the pace and focus on adding a few German sides and this place will fly high. It could become a destination in Midtown for years to come.
The other new place I explored was Open Fire Wood Burning Pizza on Broadway. First of all, this space is huge! It features an adjoing coffee bar, a free to play game room and even a conference room for business lunches. The menu features... well, pizza. You can select any amount of toppings that you desire and the pizza dude will flip the dough and make the pizza right in front of you. The result is a decent pizza that will satisfy your hunger but won't keep you up at night dreaming about a return visit. It's kind of a fast food version of wood fired pizza.
Seems pretty solid, right? Well, the first strike comes in the general upkeep of the space. It always seems rather vacant. This place could probably seat 50 and still seem vacant (although I'm not sure how their staff and oven could handle even a dozen patrons at once). Also, on my visits the place was generally dirty. Unswept floors, uncleaned tables, etc.
Finally, they don't serve alcohol. When I asked the owner when beer would be coming he stated that he "wanted people to like the food first" then he would think about adding beer. To me that is either code for "we were too cheap to apply for the liquor license" or "I am an unexperienced owner who doesn't realize how much booze can be marked up and help make us a profit". That same ownership thinking already contributed to the demise of the Westport version of The Art of Pizza (by the time they belatedly secured their liquor license the word was out to avoid the place if you wanted to have a drink with your meal).
I just don't see Open Fire lasting long. I hope I'm wrong because I would love to hit the game room some night with a pizza and a pitcher of suds, but I'm not sure it will last that long.
As usual, feel free to let me know why I'm an idiot or what your take was on these two new places.