Not everyone wants to make Christmas dinner. But there aren't a lot of restaurants open December 25, including many Chinese restaurants (no matter what the movie A Christmas Story suggests). The six Bo Lings restaurants in the metro will be open Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. None of the Bo Lings restaurants will be open Christmas Day. The New Peking Restaurant in Westport (540 Westport Road, 816-531-6969) will be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Fusion Buffet in Westport (4039 Mill Street, 816-960-6598) will be open on Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Hong's Buffet and Mongolian Grill (6151 N.W. Barry Road, 816-741-9494) will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Calypso Buffet at the Isle of Capri Casino (1800 East Front Street, 816-855-7777) will be open on Christmas Day, serving breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. The Horizon's Buffet at the Ameristar Casino (3200 N. Ameristar Drive, 816-414-7000 - one of the most elaborate in the city - will serve continuously on Christmas Day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
My mother had an epiphany one year: She hated cooking Thanksgiving dinner and wasn't going to do it anymore. Unfortunately for my family, she had this revelation on Thanksgiving Day, and my father had to scramble to find a place to take his four small children, his impossibly snobby mother-in-law, her pixilated husband (he drank a bit on festive occasions) and my stubborn mother. He spent the whole morning on the phone, calling almost every restaurant in Indianapolis before piling us all into the car and driving us to the nearest VFW Hall where the buffet included roast turkey, sweet potatoes and "hot dog fried rice," a dish I have - thankfully! - never seen since.
I haven't cooked a Thanksgiving meal myself since 1982 and have no intention of starting up the tradition ever again. Why should I? There are so many fine local restaurants offering to do all the hard work for me. For people like me - who just want to sit down, unfurl a napkin and be served - we've compiled a list of places that are open and serving some kind of dinner. We're not fussy. It can be a traditional holiday meal with turkey and green bean casserole or Peking duck or even a Town Topic double cheeseburger. As long as a place is open for business, it's fair game.
Although there are reports of ice-cream-sandwich confections — a rectangle of vanilla ice cream between two pastry wafers — dating back to the 1890s, the first ice-cream-sandwich-making machine was patented in 1926. It has always been a popular treat with parents, because the neat sandwich shape is less messy to eat than an ice-cream cone.
The most glamorous ice-cream sandwich in the city may be the ice-cream-and-cookie sandwich sold at Murray's Ice Cream and Cookies at 4120 Pennsylvania in Westport. It sells for $4.91, including tax.
And where do you, Fat City readers, go for an ice-cream sandwich?
For years, egg custard — that creamy old-school dessert standby — was a staple on American restaurant menus and buffets (the old Putsch's Cafeteria had a great version), but it sort of became unfashionable when the "loving hands at home" style of desserts (tapioca pudding, layer cakes, prune whip) fell out of favor. But a more elegant spin on the same custard concept, creme brulee, was taking over.
Why? Charles d'Ablaing, the executive chef at Chaz on the Plaza, says, "It's a dessert that you can't go wrong with. People love it, it's not complicated to make, and America has always had a love affair with pudding."
Creme brulee — the recipe dates back to at least the 17th century — is technically a baked custard, but it's that wonderful soft consistency, like a rich pudding, that counts.
I'm thinking that with the exception of Cinco de Mayo and Bastille Day, Americans haven't really embraced very many holidays and commemorations specific to other countries: you never hear about a local restaurant celebrating Guy Fawkes Day or Sveriges nationaldag (National Day in Sweden).
Last year, the line was so long to get into the Parish Hall at All Saints Church in Kansas City, Kansas, for the traditional Polish lunch served for the parish's annual Polski Day, that after waiting an hour, I finally gave up and drove over to have a hamburger at Fritz's Railroad Restaurant instead. This year, I've learned my lesson: If you don't want to wait a long time to get to the cabbage rolls and the pierogi, skip the parade and eat early.
The next best time to get into the food line, she says, is when the All Saints Church hosts a polka mass at 4 p.m. Many of the festival participants attend this service, and the dining room becomes distinctly less full. But could the kitchen run out of food?
"That's only happened once in the 28 years that we've hosted the festival," Kolenda Smith says. "Four years ago. And it was a fluke."
Fat City has tried to find out all the different restaurant venues where the Easter Bunny - or a reasonable facsimile - might be appearing on Easter Sunday, but the only definitive confirmed appearance will be from 9 to 10 a.m. at Powell Gardens, which is hosting a "Breakfast with the Easter Bunny" featuring a Chris Cakes breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, orange juice and coffee. (The price for breakfast, including Garden admission, is $16 for adults or $9 for Powell Gardens members. The price for children, including breakfast, admission and the Easter Egg Hunt, is $9.25 for members and $11.25 for nonmembers.)
Alas, there will be no costumed Easter Bunny greeting the youngsters at the most expensive Easter brunch in Kansas City: the decadent buffet hosted by the Capital Grille (4740 Jefferson on the Country Club Plaza, 816-531-8345). For $46 per adult and $18 for children (kids under age 5 eat free), the restaurant will lay out a spread that features a breakfast station, raw seafood station, a carving station and a dessert bar. The choices range from citus-glazed salmon, roasted kona tenderloin, smoked turkey, oysters on the half shell to scrambled eggs and french toast with berries. There will be menu-only brunch items as well, including a lobster eggs Benedict. Reservations are required.
The best advice I can give is to just go out and see what happens. Valentine's night is one of those holidays where customers have been known to reserve a table at two or three different restaurants, pick one at the last minute, and then neglect to cancel the other reservations. That leaves tables empty on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the week. Waiter, author and blogger David Hayden says he wished there had been Valentine's-night walk-ins at the busy Plaza restaurant where he was working a year ago: "We could have used two or three walk-in customers at 7:15 p.m.," he says. "The reservations on the books never showed up."
I experienced this myself on at least two holiday nights at a midtown boite. A couple took a gamble and walked in — without reservations — on Valentine's night. They were stunned when they were told they could have a table at that very moment.
"Aren't we lucky?" the gentleman said, unfurling his napkin.
What do you mean you haven't made a dining reservation for Valentine's Day evening? It's four nights away and one of the busiest nights of the year for any restaurant. But as a public service, Fat City has a few suggestions for places still taking reservations for the so-called most romantic night of the year.
Taste, for example, in downtown Overland Park (7938 Santa Fe Drive, 913-766-0320) has openings for early diners — 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. — for executive chef Bobby Stearns' four-course $50 per-person meal that offers a first-course choice of a cold seafood tasting, crispy pork belly or duck confit on a house-made biscuit with a quail egg. This is followed by three more courses: soup or salad, a choice from three entrees (pork chop, Boursin filet mignon or grilled swordfish) and a dessert course.
There are early reservations (5:45 p.m.) and later options (after 8:30 p.m.) still available at the Westport Cafe & Bar (419 Westport Road, 816-931-4740) for the featured Valentine's evening prix fixe dinner featuring three courses for $40 per person. The five suggested starter-course choices include a trio of known aphrodisiacs: black truffle pasta, escargot, and blue point oysters. If you choose to dine late, the regular Westport Cafe & Bar menu will be available until 1 a.m.
If our earlier Fat City list of New Year's Day dining options didn't catch your fancy, here are several more ideas:
The manager at the Village Inn Family Restaurant in Mission (5800 Broadmoor, 913-236-7088) says a slice of this restaurant's French silk pie is a great hangover cure, preferably after a big hearty breakfast with eggs, toast, bacon, fried potatoes and lots of strong coffee. The Village Inn is open on New Year's Day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The tasteful, intimate Chaz on the Plaza in the Raphael Hotel (325 Ward Parkway, 816-756-3800) is almost booked up for Sunday-morning breakfast — it will be serving from the breakfast menu from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. But chef Charles d"Ablaing still suggests calling to see if a table is available because he's making his own hangover-cure breakfast on New Year's Day: "It's my version of the classic Truck Stop," he says.
Chubby's on Broadway (3756 Broadway, 816-931-2482) will be open New Year's Day if your tastes run to lusciously greasy breakfasts and big juicy burgers. For a more elegant breakfast burger, Celina Tio's Julian (6227 Brookside Plaza, 816-214-8454) will be serving its off-the-menu brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., including the brunch burger: a grilled English muffin topped with a juicy burger, bacon, a fried egg and supple hollandaise sauce.
Maybe a few hefty plates from an Indian buffet is the right way to usher in the year 2012. Swagat (7407 N.W. 87th Street, 816-746-9400) will offer a New Year's Day lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and serve from the dinner menu from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Westport's popular Korma Sutra (4113 Pennsylvania, 816-931-7775) will offer a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner service from 5 to 9 p.m. Ruchi in Overland Park (11168 Antioch, 913-661-9088) will offer a lunch buffet on New Year's Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner service from 5 to 10 p.m.
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