No, it's not too late to make Easter brunch reservations for this coming Sunday, March 31. In fact, there are plenty of local restaurants that would be - forgive me for this - eggs-cited for you to call and request a table for holiday dining. Here are a buffet of suggestions:
Chaz on the Plaza, in the Raphael Hotel (325 Ward Parkway, 816-802-2152), is still accepting reservations for its Easter buffet brunch. The $39 feast ($15 for children 6-10 years old; children under 5 are free) includes seasonal fruit, pastries, grilled Caesar salad, smoked salmon and accoutrements, a Belgian waffle station, omelet station, prime rib of beef, eggs Benedict, bananas Foster French toast, and four entree items, as well as a dessert display. The brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Renee Kelly's Harvest (12401 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, 913-631-4100) will host an Easter buffet brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring fresh fruit, a mixed green salad, glazed ham, roasted chicken, breakfast pastries, cheddar biscuits and sage gravy, French toast, an omelet station, spring vegetable frittata and an array of desserts. The brunch is priced at $25 per guest.
I was riding on a bus from New York City to Atlantic City one day when I overheard two older women talking, loudly, about ravioli.
"It's a pasta," said one. "And it's square, like a big postage stamp. And it's got a filling in the middle of it."
"What kind of filling? Pork? Beef?" asked her friend.
"I don't know, some kind of meat. Maybe there was some cheese in there, too."
"Is it like a kreplach?"
"Yes, that's it. It's an Italian kreplach. But different from the Chinese kreplach."
"What's a Chinese kreplach?"
"They call them wontons."
If you're thinking that all of the really popular restaurants in Kansas City are booked up for next Thursday, February 14 - Valentine's Day is one of the busiest nights for restaurants in the United States - you're probably right. But because there are always procrastinators out there who wait until the very last minute to take a loved one out for a romantic dinner, Fat City offers some possibilities to consider in addition to the, well, more obvious alternatives (Winstead's, hot dogs in the parking lot at QuikTrip, In-A-Tub). Everyone has their own budget for this night of head-spinning seduction, so we're presenting ideas for almost every price point.
I LOVE YOU, I'M CHEAP...LET'S EAT
The Horizon's Buffet at the Ameristar Casino (3200 North Ameristar Drive, 816-414-7000) isn't taking reservations on Valentine's Day. It's strictly first-come, first-served for the $24.99 all-you-can-eat buffet.
The California Pizza Kitchen on the Country Club Plaza (4743 Pennsylvania, 816-561-2420) will offer a special Valentine's Day menu for two that includes an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert for $30. The promotion will run over Valentine's Day weekend for four days, from Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17.
Yes, Papa Lew's Soul Delicious (2128 East 12th Street, 816-421-3378) will be open until 7 p.m. February 14, serving the traditional Thursday-night menu (chicken and dumplings, fried fish, fried chicken, neckbones) for $12.33 per person, tax included. But for soul-food lovers who want to get a rush on the Love Train, the restaurant will offer a pre-Valentine's Day dinner this Saturday, February 9, for $35 per couple. A band will perform romantic hits, and the dining room will be open until 10 p.m.
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.
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