The restaurant's owner, Jane Zieha-Bell, made several changes after her partner, chef Susan Rowzee, left the restaurant last month. In addition to returning prices on most items to what they were before she and Rowzee purchased the restaurant, she brought back the Bluebird's former chef, Summer Knudtson, to coordinate what Zieha-Bell calls "a group-chef experiment" that includes Ally Conrad, Liz Neal and Maurico Arouso, along with pastry chef (and jazz trumpeter) Chad Boydston. Knudtson has brought back veggie lasagna, hummus and veggie burgers, and Zieha-Bell plans to introduce a "happy hour," featuring special appetizers, in January.
Meanwhile, far from downtown, an old standby is having its own revival at the Bloomsbury Bistro in the Mission Road Antique Mall (4101 West 83rd Street). Chef-owner Cari Jo Cavalcante added Jell-O to her lunch menu last summer. Each week, Cavalcante adds or subtracts sandwich and entrée items to reflect seasonal changes, but she always features a side dish of warm potato-and-garlic chips. "Last summer, I wanted to offer something sweet and cool, too," Cavalcante explains. "So I adapted a Jell-O recipe my sister Debbie had given me, an orange gelatin concoction with mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple and a whipped lemon topping. And I started selling out of it every day."
The next month, a new creation, Cherry Pistachio Jell-O Delight, was an even bigger hit. And for November, Cavalcante created a Cranberry Jell-O Orange Delight. "When I saw my sales figures," she says, "I knew I couldn't take Jell-O off the menu." Two decades ago, you could find the jiggly stuff at the Italian Gardens, the Gold Buffet and, amazingly, the Raphael Hotel, where sixty cents bought a bowl of fruit Jell-O at what was, even then, one of the city's snobbier dining rooms.
"We served Jell-O? Really?" asks the hotel's general manager, Cynthia Savage, who literally grew up in the hotel founded by her father, Phil Pistelli. "I don't ever remembering seeing it, but maybe I need to talk to our chef, Peter Hahn. Maybe it's coming back."
Equally sweet but much less fattening is the $75 "chocolate mousse wrap" at the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs. Customers are coated with a clay that's been "flavored" with liquid distilled from cocoa. After twenty minutes, it reportedly draws toxins out of the body. "Isn't everyone's fantasy to be dipped in chocolate?" asks spa director Vicky Bates.
Not mine. I jiggle enough to pass for Jell-O without adding insult to injury.