I was reunited with an old friend last night: a hard plastic Gessner ashtray — the 4-inch diameter "Deep Area Ashtray," not to be confused with the smaller "Fast Food" model or the larger "Executive" version — which was once a standard table accessory in the restaurants and bars where I used to work. Even the macrobiotic restaurant
in Indianapolis had a small smoking section (with more ecology-friendly glass ashtrays).
Every table in the eight-month-old Stumble's Public House, in Raytown (9315 E. 350 Highway), has an ashtray. This saloon, which serves a full menu of traditional pub dishes, is one of the few places in the Kansas City metro where it's perfectly legal to light up a Marlboro after polishing off a big platter of fish and chips or a patty melt.
There are at least six smoke-free restaurants in Raytown, where proposed smoking ordinances to ban smoking have been trounced by the town's aldermen. Cigarettes — and Gessner ashtrays — still rule at places like Stumble's, where smokers, who are often treated like pariahs in other bars and dining rooms, are warmly welcomed.
Three new owners — Hallie Nixon, Michael Tindall and Duane Olson — took over the former Cuzzins Pub & Grill last November and put more attention on the food, making most of the dishes and all of the sauces from scratch. The vivid orange Buffalo sauce on the chicken wings was the perfect blend of hot and vinegary (the wings could have been a shade meatier), and if that's not fiery enough, there's co-owner Duane Olson's tongue-searing "Suicidal Sauce."
There's a $5 burger special on Mondays and a $8.75 steak special every Wednesday night: a 7-ounce Kansas City strip (a tender, tiny, but very flavorful steak-lette) served with a salad, a side dish, and two of the sorriest-looking pieces of grilled toast I've ever seen. The hand-breaded onion rings, however, were terrific. In fact, all the appetizers — mostly fried, but if my memory serves me correctly, there's nothing like fried pickles and a menthol cigarette — were pretty damn good.
I wasn't tempted to light up myself at Stumble's (OK, so there was a twinge
of temptation; everyone at the bar was puffing away like mad), but this recovering smoker ate too much instead of falling off the wagon. Waitress-bartender Brittany (she looks like Lindsay Lohan) said she was proud of me.
"Don't smoke," she advised me. "Eat."
It's the kind of healthy advice that I like.
The kitchen at Stumble's stays open until 1 a.m.