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Monday, May 18, 2015

Galvin's fried chicken in St. Joseph is still worth the trip

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 2:41 PM

The chicken is still served family-style at Gavin's.
  • The chicken is still served family-style at Gavin's.

If you can't eat fried chicken without a cold beer or a daiquiri cocktail, you may be in for a disappointment if you make a return visit to the iconic Galvin's Dinner House in St. Joseph, Missouri. 

When the 75-year-old fried-chicken restaurant at 6802 Highway 371 reopened in May 2013 after a fire three years earlier destroyed the kitchen and one of the dining rooms, owner Bill Grace made the decision not to continue serving alcoholic beverages in his renovated business.

"We weren't selling that much liquor anyway," one of the servers explained to me on Sunday afternoon. "Most of our customers want coffee, tea or lemonade."

Galvin's started out as a gas station in the 1940s, and the original owners — Roy and Dottie Galvin — made a little extra money selling fried chicken (with fries and cole slaw) in a basket to the locals and to bus passengers who arrived at the Highway 371 location on their way to Kansas City. In those days, the Galvins even raised their own chickens in a pen behind the gas station.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

After a short closure, Westside Local refines its look and its flavors

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 1:13 PM

The Westside Local's Brandon Strick, left, and chef Justin Voldan, are back in business. - SABRINA STAIRES
  • Sabrina Staires
  • The Westside Local's Brandon Strick, left, and chef Justin Voldan, are back in business.

When a restaurant calls a century-old building home, everyone expects a little wear and tear. But at the successful bistro at 1663 Summit — the six-year-old Westside Local — the leaks and creaks can start to add up.

“We’ve been getting busier and busier every year,” says general manager and co-owner Brandon Strick. “The building had issues that were leading to nonstop maintenance. It was time to get things in shape before the patio season.”

So Strick closed the Local for a couple of weeks’ worth of renovations, including refinished floors in the dining room, new flooring in the kitchen and the walk-in, and a new range with two ovens. It reopened March 5.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Affare restaurant now closed on Mondays because of streetcar chaos

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 1:37 PM

Affare restaurant is now closed on Mondays. Blame the streetcar tracks.
  • Affare restaurant is now closed on Mondays. Blame the streetcar tracks.

Martin and Katrin Heuser, the owners of the Affare restaurant at 1911 Main, have come to the end of the line — at least in terms of their frustrations with the construction of the streetcar line in front of their award-winning contemporary German restaurant.

This week, Katrin Heuser sent out a media notice: "We have decided to close on Mondays, starting March 2, 2015, until completion of the Streetcar construction."

"We will be closed for both lunch and dinner on Monday nights until the construction is completed in front of our restaurant," chef Martin Heuser told The Pitch. "I hear promises every month about how construction is nearly complete on this block, but today was the first day this week that a crew was actually out there working. And I'm tired of the complaints I'm getting from my customers about the traffic and the inability to find parking."

Heuser (and four other noted restaurateurs) first expressed frustrations about the construction delays in the Crossroads to The Pitch over a month ago.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fish fry season kicks off tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 10:32 AM

It's all about fish tomorrow.
  • It's all about fish tomorrow.

Fish frys. Shrimp boils. Meatless meals. For some people, it's a religious obligation. For others, it's a communal culinary experience.

During the 40 days of Lent — the season of penance and prayer that began yesterday — the six Fridays prior to Easter Sunday, April 5, are traditionally observed by many Christians to be fast days (which often translate as meat-free meals instead of eating absolutely nothing).

No matter what your religious affiliation, these modestly priced meals - fish, shrimp or some other meatless alternative (usually, but not always, available for diners who don't care for seafood) - can be a cost-effective way to take a family out to eat.

For the last several years, The Pitch has listed the area churches offering these meals. If you have additional questions (directions, prices), we suggest contacting them directly. One of the most thorough calendars for choosing the most conveniently located fish fry or seafood dinner in the metro can be found at the Catholic Key online site, by clicking here.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jax Fish House adds a fish with many aliases

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 2:15 PM

Call it lemonfish or eight other names.
  • Call it lemonfish or eight other names.

Next Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season — and yes, we'll be posting our list of local fish-fry meals next week — when many local restaurants offer seafood specials for dining patrons who observe meatless Fridays (and Ash Wednesday, February 18, which is also a no-meat day for Catholics) during this period.

In the case of Jax Fish House (4814 Roanoke Parkway, 816-437-7940), the new seafood venue on the Country Club Plaza, chef de cuisine Bobby Bowman is adding a new fish for a limited time to his menu: the meaty, mildly flavored cobia, which is also known as black kingfish, black salmon, ling, lemonfish, crabeater, prodigal son and aruan tasek.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Looking for General Tso's chicken? It opens at the Screenland Armour today

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 9:26 AM

General Tso rules at Bo Lings.
  • General Tso rules at Bo Lings.

There it is, in plain English, right there on the menu at the Plaza Bo Lings restaurant: "General Tso's Chicken...Our #1 Seller."

Theresa Ng, who runs and co-owns the local Asian restaurant empire with her husband, Richard, says the six Bo Lings restaurants sell more of the sweet-hot (mostly sweet) chicken dish — breaded, fried, glazed in a glossy, sugary caramel-colored sauce — than any other entree.

"You know how American tastes are," Ng says with a shy smile. "They like things kind of sweet."

All of the facets of the iconic Chinese-American dish come into play in a new Sundance Select  documentary film The Search for General Tso, running today through Sunday at the Screenland Armour cinema (408 Armour Road in North Kansas City). The film, by director Ian Cheney, is a very entertaining detective story, tracing the origins of the wildly popular dish. Was there really a General Tso? (Spoiler: Yes, but no one knows if he ever really ate chicken.) What is the correct pronunciation of his name? And, most importantly, why do American diners love this culinary creation so much?

Call 816-421-9700 for ticket prices and show times.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The H Bar at Halls is tasteful and aroma-free

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 2:50 PM

Wine and charcuterie at H Bar.
  • Wine and charcuterie at H Bar.

You can probably count the number of restaurants inside department stores on one hand. Maybe two fingers. There's Cafe Nordstrom, in the Oak Park Mall Nordstrom; and the four-month-old H Bar, in the newly renovated Halls department store in Crown Center.

On my first visit to the very glossy, very bright new Halls store, I overheard an employee refer to the 28-seat H Bar, which has 10 seats at the counter, as "our version of the Walgreens lunch counter."

Cute. But do any latter-day Walgreens drugstores still have lunch counters?

If they do, I assure you that it's nothing like the tasteful H Bar, where Halls shoppers can have a stylish little lunch after, perhaps, an intense cosmetic makeover at the Laura Mercier counter, right across the aisle.

In the old days of honest-to-goodness lunch counters (I'm thinking of the Woolworth's store in my hometown), you could smell grilled onions and burgers sizzling on the flattop as soon as you walked through the door. There are no such culinary aromas at Halls — God forbid the scent of lobster bisque should permeate the fabric of an Oscar de la Renta gown.

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Cafe Sebastienne manager Keith Goldman moving to American Restaurant

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Keith Goldman is moving to the American. - KEITH GOLDMAN
  • Keith Goldman
  • Keith Goldman is moving to the American.

Keith Goldman, who has been the general manager of Cafe Sebastienne — the restaurant inside the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, at 4420 Warwick Boulevard — will be joining the staff of the American Restaurant, he says, in mid-February. The American Restaurant's executive chef, Michael Corvino, will continue to wear two hats at the 40-year-old American Restaurant. He has also been the restaurant's general manager since longtime GM Jamie Jamison left the upscale Crown Center dining venue last summer.

"My title will be manager," says Goldman, who joined the Cafe Sebastienne staff five years ago. "I'll be overseeing the dining room and assisting Michael."

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Ixtapa Mexican Cuisine to celebrate 10th anniversary

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 1:35 PM

Victor Esqueda, left, and Alejandro Hernandez have been serving traditional Mexican cuisine at Ixtapa for a decade.
  • Victor Esqueda, left, and Alejandro Hernandez have been serving traditional Mexican cuisine at Ixtapa for a decade.

Ten years ago today — January 19, 2005 — restaurateurs Victor Esqueda and Alejandro Hernandez opened Ixtapa Mexican Cuisine at 7103 Northwest Barry Road, in a somewhat forlorn shopping strip across the street from the entrance to the newer, more glamorous Zona Rose shopping center. It wasn't a particularly terrific location, and Esqueda didn't want a typical suburban Tex-Mex venue.

In those early days, Esqueda (one of the partners in the original Guadalajara Cafe in south Kansas City) was unashamed about criticizing the "yellow cheese" tradition of Tex-Mex cuisine: "My public is not the yellow-cheese people," he told The Pitch in 2007. "My food is not for everyone, but my public knows where I am, and they find me here. I'm a destination point."

His words turned out to be prophetic: When Ixtapa opened, the menu featured as many Tex-Mex choices as more authentic Mexican dishes. "Now our menu is only 2 percent Tex-Mex," Esqueda says.

But the business is, Hernandez says, better than ever.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Room 39 remodels its original dining room … and ownership

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 3:48 PM

Room 39's Ted Habiger and the new marble bar.
  • Room 39's Ted Habiger and the new marble bar.

When chefs Ted Habiger and Andrew Sloan opened the first Room 39, at 1719 West 39th Street, in 2004 (taking over the storefront previously occupied by a melancholy coffeehouse), they turned the space into a sunny, attractive, 11-table dining room. But no one was going to walk out of the place singing the praises of the decor. Why would they? The excellent food was the draw.

A decade later, the interior of the original Room 39 (a second location opened in Leawood in 2008) has gotten a makeover that's so subtle, even frequent patrons might not notice all the changes. Habiger, with assistance from his wife and co-owner, Jackie Kinkaid Habiger, and design consultant John O'Brien of Hammer Out Design, have slightly narrowed the bar, installed new light fixtures in the dining room and over the bar, refinished the hardwood floors (they're now darker, with a matte finish), and repainted the trim and at least one wall.

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