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But when Ward is on the mark, he puts out some seriously satisfying sandwiches. The French onion burger — a slightly sexier version of the recipe found on the can of Campbell's French Onion Soup — was delicious, served on a wonderful potato bun and daubed with whole-grain mustard. I would have liked it better with a real Gallic cheese — a nutty Grùyere or a creamy Brie — instead of bland Swiss, but that's not the style that Peralta, chef Josh Eans and company are going for in Lee's Summit.
"We're very sensitive to the economic times and the demographics of this area," Peralta told me later. "We aren't going for fancy. We're going for comfort."
I'm not sure I would use that word to describe Jenifer Price's not-very-warm interior, which is vaguely reminiscent of the cartoon home of George and Jane Jetson. On my first visit to this restaurant with Carol Ann and Martha, the décor wasn't as cold as the air conditioning, which felt meat-locker frosty. We ate outside instead. And I'm glad we did because B:2 has one of the most pleasant patios in Lee's Summit, with an almost gardenlike quality.
We also had a charming, engaging waiter who added a great deal of joie de vivre to the meal (unlike the impersonal dolt I had on my second visit, when I dined alone and had all my food, including the appetizer, served at once). Martha is never as happy as she is when there's an equal-opportunity waiter flirting with everyone at the table. It's not very discriminating, of course, but it's flattering.
Martha and Carol Ann liked the fried pickles, though the slices of fermented cucumber weren't sour, sweet or garlicky. They could have been fried squash for all we knew. I did enjoy Andy Ward's take on the classic patty melt, but once again the Swiss cheese — it's featured on three of the 12 sandwiches here, and it's not even baby Swiss! — sort of put my nose out of joint.
"You could have requested a different cheese," Carol Ann told me. And she was right. Why hadn't I? Carol Ann thought that the black-bean burger was terrific and insisted that I taste it. I've had some bad luck with black-bean burgers before (typically too crumbly, too boring, too beany), but B:2's is terrific: not as spicy as the lentil creation served at Blanc but with a subtle, sexy kick.
Martha ate her French onion burger without the bun. "Those carbohydrates are very fattening," she said, watching me devour the grilled marble rye around my patty melt.
I felt vindicated a bit later when Martha ate most of the dessert. At Blanc, the only real finale on the menu is a milkshake, which doesn't count as dessert in my book. Looking to expand this restaurant's repertoire, Peralta has started purchasing folded apple pies from pastry chef Erin Brown, the dessert doyenne of the Dolce Baking Company in Prairie Village. The kitchen fries the apple pie until crisp and rolls it in cinnamon-sugar until thickly crusted in a sweet-savory armor. It's a glam variation on the old McDonald's fried apple pie (not fried at Mickey D's anymore but baked) and really very good with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think the pastry could use more apples, but I got just a couple of bites before Martha and Carol Ann took greedy possession.