The "Closed" sign was posted on the front door of the Westport breakfast and lunch venue, Simply Breakfast, in October. A month later, the location at 4120 Pennsylvania has a new tenant: Ernesto Peralta Jr., creator of Blanc Burgers + Bottles.
But don't assume another Blanc is going into the space. Peralta started out in Westport, but after closing the original location and opening Blanc restaurants on the Country Club Plaza and Leawood, he's mulling over several possible concepts for the venue, including a new breakfast spot.
"We're considering several different ideas," Peralta says. "The only concept that's totally off the table is a Mexican restaurant. Why would I do that with Port Fonda across the street."
Depending on which culinary calendar you're looking at, National Hamburger Day is today. Or wait, is it actually December 21, as several other calendars claim? And don't forget that National Cheeseburger Day is its own food holiday, celebrated on September 18.
So let's honor National Hamburger Day by talking about the most famous burgers in Kansas City, found at Winstead's, the Westport Flea Market, Blanc Burgers + Bottles, 12 Baltimore, BRGR. Or, on the flip side, the iconic burgers that used to be in Kansas City and can't be found anymore: Earl's Hamburgers on Linwood, the 24-hour Heriford Grill on Independence Avenue, and the local Smaks chain, although I never got the opportunity to try one of those.
And then there's White Castle...
When pharmaceutical sales executive Bruce Steinberg decided to leave the world of pills behind after 35 years, he picked a different kind of feel-good product to push: ketchup.
"In my role as a pharmaceutical salesman, I was always looking for a hole in the marketplace," Steinberg says. "And I think I've found one in the world of specialty foods. If you go to the supermarket, all the ketchup products look exactly alike. And that's because, with few exceptions, they are."
He's right. Call it ketchup or catchup or catsup, but your basic grocery-store red stuff doesn't vary much from brand to brand when it comes to the ingredients: tomatoes, vinegar, high-fructose corn syrup.
There are a lot of great - even fabulous - burgers in the Greater Kansas City metro, but only one was selected by Zagat Survey for its listing of "The Best Hamburgers in 25 Cities," which was a featured story today in USA Today.
I've got to say this unassuming saloon, with an upscale burger shop inside, does put out one hell of a burger. That is, if you can get into the building. The brainchild of Lawrence chef Robert Krause (who formerly operated Esquina at 801 Massachussetts) can barely handle the successful business it's doing now.
"We're trying to make things easier for people waiting for a table," Krause says. "We've doubled the number of people we can seat, and we're trying a new strategy of offering patrons beverages to help ease the wait for a table."
Krause was pleased with the Zagat honor, although he says he wasn't notified in advance of today's announcement and says he "isn't quite sure of the criteria they use to choose the burgers. But, yes, it's an honor."
I enjoy burgers on all parts of the spectrum. Whether it's grease or aioli dripping down my fingers, a proper burger is often the easy choice on a menu. Still, there has to be a limit to the insanity. For National Burger Month, Serendity 3 in New York City has created Le Burger Extravagant, which is now the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive burger at $295. It's Wagyu beef topped with white truffle butter, shaved black truffles, caviar and a fried quail egg held together by a gold- and diamond-encrusted toothpick.
My instinct is that if it costs more than $25, a restaurant might as well be giving you a steak. What's a reasonable cap on burgers?
Once home to the nation's second-largest livestock area, this is a serious beef town - it even won the barbecue category this year. The city's best gourmet burger option may be at Blanc Burgers + Bottles, which offers watercress and truffle butter as toppings. Kids and trainspotters, however, might prefer Fritz's Railroad Restaurant, dating back to the 1950s, where the burgers are delivered by way of miniature train.
Tops on the list of 35 "major metropolitan areas" was Providence, Rhode Island, which someone once told me was the best pound-for-pound eating city in America. So for now, Kansas City's greatest burgers will be just for Kansas Citians, and if that means I always have a booth at Town Topic, that's fine by me.
Midwest Living tested 130 burgers en route to naming its 25 best burgers in the Midwest. Two Kansas City establishments made the list: the Westport Flea Market and Blanc Burgers + Bottles.
Jesse Mack believes in the theory that if you build it — in this case, a fabulous cheeseburger — the people will come. It's a theory that doesn't always fly in Lee's Summit, where burger baron Ernesto Peralto — the big cheese behind the Blanc Burgers + Bottles empire — learned the hard way that boutique snack shacks can be tough sells in Lee's Summit.
But Unk's Burgers, which Mack and his wife, Faye, opened in the former Holy Smoke Barbecue space in the Summit Shopping Center last November, isn't serving gourmet burgers. Jesse Mack is proud of the simplicity of his menu: There are four burger choices as well as a grilled turkey burger, a grilled or crispy fried chicken sandwich, and fried chicken tenders. You want sides with that? There are six choices: seasoned fries, sweet-potato fries, beer-battered onion rings, peppercorn-battered onion rings, fried pickles and "Auntie's baked beans" (prepared with ground turkey and Mack's own mix of seasonings).
Well the two get together and, seeing how many burger chains the market currently supports, decide that KC could probably get behind one more burger stand. So Out-&-In Burgers (Mr. Out has put in more of the capital) gets ready to open in the Chiefs' colors of red and gold.
The only problem is that In-N-Out Burgers could easily see this as infringement and be compelled, as they recently were in Shanghai, to open a one-day pop-up shop to show Kansas City what true In-N-Out burgers taste like. Wouldn't that just be terrible?
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