Friday, May 6, 2011

The new 119th Street Diner can serve you a patty melt and a martini

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Yes, it serves breakfast all day -- and night.
  • Yes, it serves breakfast all day -- and night.


Reservations are still available for Mother's Day brunch on Sunday at the five-day-old 119th Street Diner in Olathe. Fat City first reported on this venue in March, when Scott Buescher, vice president of development at Price Brothers real estate, told us that the short-lived Domo Japanese restaurant and grill was out and that executive chef and co-owner Pat Legler and manager Eric Parrinello were going to oversee a new concept in the space: a modern diner with a full bar, traditional diner food and moderate prices.

There's been a new addition to the kitchen crew since that first story: chef Eric Argie -- formerly of Cafe Trio and Figlio -- has joined the staff. This is a diner with some serious cooks in the kitchen.


It's a pretty dining room wrapped around a bar -- one of the few features left over from Domo -- with walls in bright pastel colors, blond woodwork, and a couple of small private dining rooms. The 97-seat dining area has lots of natural light and a musical soundtrack -- at least on the night I was there -- of crooner standards from the 1950s and 60s. Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Dean Martin.

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Perhaps inspired by that era, Pat Legler's menu evokes some of the less glamorous dishes served at Chasen's restaurant (1936-1995) in Los Angeles: roasted shrimp cocktail, chili, a great hamburger, Kansas City strip and roast chicken. If only it also had the celebrities who used to flock to the original Chasen's. Even local celebrities. I mean, I would have been dazzled to see Rochelle from the Carpet Corner commercials in the next booth munching a vegetarian wrap.

Legler doesn't leave any of the great oldies off this selection of diner dishes: from bananas and cream to a bacon-stuffed waffle to a 12-ounce rib-eye for less than 20 bucks (including a choice of potato or rice and vegetables).

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The desserts aren't created in-house: Legler commissions them from a local vendor, Irina's Gourmet Bakery (she operates out of the Farm to Market kitchens), and he says he never knows what, from day to day, Irina is going to deliver to him. Yesterday, the selection was heavy on cheesecake: a creamy white-chocolate concoction with a thick layer of chocolate ganache, a chocolate cheesecake, and a banana cream pie.

The servers are young, college-aged females, including the freckled Katie -- the daughter of the building's owner -- who wore an apron tied around a black sequined miniskirt. A definite fashion statement for a suburban diner, and a welcome one. The menu at the 119th Street Diner is still finding its groove, but the servers are already there.

The 119th Street Diner is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  

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