Dining

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cacao to juice the 51 Main building

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Esqueda, Mattiella, and Marquez are in a Cacao mood.
  • Esqueda, Mattiella, and Marquez are in a Cacao mood.

Victor Esqueda, owner of Ixtapa in the Northland, and Ivan Marquez, former owner of Frida's Contemporary Mexican Cuisine in Overland Park, want to add some Cacao to a hot neighborhood.

Cacao — that's what the restaurateurs mean to call their proposed Mexican bistro — would open next to the corner space where Jonathan Justus is slated to open Black Dirt. The business partners (who together opened the original Frida's, before having a famous falling out) are in negotiations with developers Van Trust to take the 2,500-square-foot, street-level space in the 51 Main building.

The chef — Victor Esqueda's 25-year-old nephew, Cristobal Matiella, who moved to Kansas City four months ago and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Mexico — has some juicy ideas for his breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Kansas City has always been welcoming to gay diners

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 2:47 PM

Jeff Edmondson is turning a punk club into a gay-friendly sports bar.
  • Jeff Edmondson is turning a punk club into a gay-friendly sports bar.

As of today, same-sex couples in Missouri will be able to legally marry. But Kansas City already has a long history of welcoming the LGBT community to its restaurants as both patrons and employees. Unlike many Midwestern cities of its size, Kansas City has a tradition of gay-owned, gay-friendly restaurants, dating back at least to the 1960s.

Some of them didn't last very long — does anyone remember the short-lived Sarah Crankankles and its drag-queen waitresses? —  but others, like the original Corner Restaurant in Westport (opened by Stephen Friedman in 1980 and opened again by different people not long ago), live on.

The long-razed Arabian Nights lounge (located where the midtown Costco store stands now) served food. So did a gay bar called the Kon Tiki, which hosted a weekly fried-chicken night. Fried chicken was also the featured dish at another venue with an equally brief, but more recent, lifespan, Opal's Kitchen

Jeff Edmondson, the co-owner of the five-year-old Hamburger Mary's restaurant (in the Uptown Theater building at 3700 Broadway), won't typecast his venue as a gay restaurant: "We just say that we're an open-minded restaurant for open-minded people," he tells me.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Four questions for award-winning student chef Matt Phillips

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 11:31 AM

Chef Matt Phillips will be competing in Budapest. - SUSAN MCSPADDEN/JCCC
  • Susan McSpadden/JCCC
  • Chef Matt Phillips will be competing in Budapest.

June has been a very good month for Matt Phillips, a  22-year-old student in the hospitality program at Johnson County Community College. Phillips traveled to Las Vegas on June 14 to compete in the national Chaîne des Rôtisseurs young chef competition and won first-place honors.

Phillips' win will give him the opportunity to represent the United States in the international competition sponsored by Chaîne des Rôtisseurs this September in Budapest, Hungary. Chefs from 20 to 24 countries will gather in Budapest to be named "the best of the best" during an intense competition; Phillips will be the first JCCC student ever to participate in this prestigious international competition.

Phillips, who has been studying at JCCC for the past three years, was also a member of the JCCC culinary team that won first place last summer in the American Culinary Federation Student Team Championships. In addition to his studies, Phillips has been an apprentice chef for three years at the Blue Hills Country Club, where he still works.

The Pitch asked Phillips a few questions about competing solo in Las Vegas — where each chef was given an identical "mystery market basket" and a limited amount of time in which to design and create a three-course meal — as well as his upcoming trip to Budapest and his future plans.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Andrew Olsen takes over the bar program at Bluestem

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 2:19 PM

WWW.BLUESTEMKC.COM
  • www.bluestemkc.com

After a brief stint opening up Cleaver & Cork, the Power & Light District's sprawling meat lover's restaurant, in the former Maker's Mark space, bartender Andrew Olsen is departing for new turf.

Olsen left the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange in February and has spent just four months at Cleaver & Cork, where he quickly rose from bar manager to assistant general manager.

Tonight, Olsen begins his first shift at chefs Colby and Megan Garreltses' prestigious Bluestem restaurant. If it seems like he's hopping around, Olsen insists that hasn't been his goal. 

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Update: Green Dirt Farm cancels June 27 tour of farm and cheesemaking facility

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 1:42 PM

Mingle with the sheep this Saturday at Green Dirt Farm. - PAUL M. INGOLD
  • Paul M. Ingold
  • Mingle with the sheep this Saturday at Green Dirt Farm.

Update: The owners of the Green Dirt Farm have just canceled previously announced plans to hold a one-day tour of the operation on Saturday, June 27. Events manager ReGina Cruse tells The Pitch that "there's a lot going on at the farm right now — this is a working farm, after all —  and our staff is just maxed out. I'm looking at dates in September to reschedule so we can put on a great, family-friendly event." The original post follows.

I can't say that taking a tour of a sheep farm, even one that produces such delicate and delicious cheeses as Green Dirt Farm, has ever been on my bucket list. But this year's farm tour — set for Saturday, June 27 — is limited to visitors ages 21 and older, which will make it feel less like a school outing and more like an adult study in bucolic farm life.

After all, I have a lot more in common with Eva Gabor on Green Acres than Henry David Thoreau.

The owners of Green Dirt Farm are apparently deluged with requests for tours of the farm — located near Weston, Missouri, about 40 minutes from downtown Kansas City — but rarely offer them. Saturday's event will offer five tours, each held on the hour beginning at noon. Advance tickets for each tour cost $25 (see ordering information below), and tickets sold on the day of the tours will be priced at $30 each.

For this year's tour, the Green Dirt Farm operators have, according to the publicist, "tweaked the tour and added a more formal tasting component as well as live music."

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Terra Mexican Cuisine opened yesterday in Overland Park

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 1:38 PM

Terra's tender pork ribs marinated in tamarind sauce.
  • Terra's tender pork ribs marinated in tamarind sauce.

Don't go to the one-day-old Terra Mexican Cuisine at 6705 West 119th Street — in the La Paloma Plaza — if you're looking for Tex-Mex favorites like fajitas, chimichangas and cheese-smothered burritos. This new venue, owned by Mexican-born Arturo and Maru De Luna. is not that kind of Mexican restaurant.

Arturo De Luna is unapologetic about his sophisticated (and not inexpensive) menu, created by the restaurant's executive chef, Gabriel Solis.

"This is a place for authentic Mexican cuisine," says Arturo De Luna, the former telecom executive who decided, after taking a corporate buyout, to open a restaurant serving the kind of cuisine that he most missed from his home country.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Dairy Queen turns 75 years old today, but KC doesn't have many originals left standing

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 9:31 AM

The Dairy Queen in downtown Lee's Summit dates back to the 1950s.
  • The Dairy Queen in downtown Lee's Summit dates back to the 1950s.

The Minneapolis-based American Dairy Queen Corp. celebrates the 75th anniversary of the legendary soft-serve ice-cream shops today. DQ founder Sherb Noble opened his first restaurant on June 22, 1940, in Joliet, Illinois.

By the early 1950s, there were five DQ stores in the Kansas City metro. Of that original five, only one is still standing: the beloved building at 2535 Independence Avenue, which opened July 4, 1952 (and was owned and operated by John and Esther Saladino McMurray from 1980 to 2011). Brett Williams briefly ran it for several years as an ice-cream shop and pizzeria that he called the Dairy Barn. The building stands vacant today.

Another early Dairy Queen was at 434 West 85th Street, in Waldo, which closed in 2012 after decades of serving families in that area. The freestanding Dairy Queen at 315 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, was closed several years ago (and is now a Subway sandwich shop).

So where can you still buy a Dilly Bar or a dipped cone today in Kansas City?

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Burritos La Chiquita: Big burrito selection on Minnesota Avenue

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 2:12 PM

If you crave a well- stuffed burrito at 6:30 a.m.,  Burritos La Chiquita is ready for you.
  • If you crave a well- stuffed burrito at 6:30 a.m., Burritos La Chiquita is ready for you.


Once I began poking around downtown Kansas City, Kansas, for places to eat lunch, I realized that the possibilities were so bountiful, my personal project could take weeks. Yesterday I finally stopped in to eat at a venue that I've passed a dozen or more times: the six-year-old Burritos La Chiquita, a bright-orange building at 1328 Minnesota Avenue.

There are a few other things to order at the counter here, but why? The selection of burritos is excellent, and the prices are so seductively inexpensive that you may be tempted (as I was) to order three or four of the signature stuffed tortillas to taste.

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Summit Grill owners will turn historic Lee's Summit building into restaurant

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Restaurateur Andy Lock in front of the future 3rd Street Social. - SUMMIT GRILL & BAR
  • Summit Grill & Bar
  • Restaurateur Andy Lock in front of the future 3rd Street Social.

If things had gone differently, restaurateurs Andy Lock and Domhnall Molloy, the owners of the Summit Grill & Bar in Lee's Summit and in Waldo, would have announced their plans to turn the 69-year-old Arnold Hall, at 123 Southeast Third Street in Lee's Summit, into a new restaurant, 3rd Street Social — on May 24, that town's official "Joseph Arnold Day." 

But the deal hadn't been finalized in May for Lock and Molloy to purchase the brick building, which Arnold, a successful Lee's Summit businessman, had donated to the city in 1950 for use as a community center. After Arnold's death, in 1955, Lee's Summit put plans to renovate the structure, built as a pipe-manufacturing plant, on hold. For the next four decades, Arnold Hall, as the building was known, was rented out, with proceeds going to local community activities, including sports and summer recreation programs.

When 3rd Street Social opens next year, it will be the third restaurant in the metro for Lock and Molloy; their second, Waldo Summit Grill & Bar, which opened last fall at 500 West 75th Street, was an immediate success in a seemingly jinxed location.

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Affäre restaurant introduces a summer bison menu

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Affäre's bison Bourguignonne is on the new dinner menu.
  • Affäre's bison Bourguignonne is on the new dinner menu.

Chef Martin Heuser told me at least three times that the bison he just added to the lunch, dinner and lounge menus at Affäre, his Crossroads restaurant at 1911 Main, formerly led happy, stress-free, grass-eating lives on the Kansas prairie before, you know, being slaughtered.

I couldn't resist asking: "Will eating bison with a stress-free childhood somehow make my life more stress-free?"

Heuser looked puzzled for a minute, then told me, "I hope so. Stress-free life makes the bison meat much more tender."

And if you follow that line of logic: Tender meat requires less chewing, which is certainly less stressful on the jaw muscles, thus creating a more tranquil dining experience. Not as effective as Xanax, maybe, but certainly more delicious.

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