Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Restaurant Review: Old Shawnee Pizza & Italian Kitchen

  One of the mainstay businesses in Shawnee, Kansas is Old Shawnee Pizza. Established in 1969, Joe Walker saw the need for this type of restaurant, and brought it here. Years later, seeing the need for more room, he moved to the current location at 60th & Nieman Road. They have since expanded to add a second location in Lenexa, Kansas.

  Their menu is not limited to pizza alone, but also offers a variety of appetizers, salads, pastas, and sandwiches. Those in the know look forward to starting their meal with a club salad oozing with the house dressing. Add some Cheese Crust or Bread sticks, and you have a meal already, but why stop there. 

  For the main course have them dish you up a  serving of one of their delicious pasta dishes, like Chicken Alfredo or Cani-cotti, which is the best of both worlds, as you get a manicotti, and a canelloni. If a handheld is more your style, try the Sicilian sandwich. It's stuffed full of capicola, salami, pepperoni, and provolone, and topped with their garlic salad dressing. 

   Of course you probably came for the pizza, and why wouldn't you. Serving up almost 30 different specialty pies, it can be difficult to decide which one to try. Of course you can always just build your own. Whatever you choose you are sure to leave with a full belly and a new go-to pizza joint. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Restaurant Review: Christy's Tasty Queen

  We all know of that one roadside diner that serves up a specialty that is an experience all of its own. Some places are known for their chili or sliders, while others focus on a specific side dish. There used to be a stop in Armourdale that made some of the best taco salads. It seems like most places find at least one menu item that becomes synonymous with their name. The same can be said for Christy's Tasty Queen in Turner, Kansas. The diminutive stop beckons diners with fresh fried menu items, and cold sugary treats. 

  On any given day it is not unusual to be greeted by the owner,  Marla Christy. The family is very involved in the local community, and you will often see flyers for various fundraisers and events plastered to the windows. Seating is not a problem, as there is none to choose from on the inside. On the outside you will find a picnic table, but most people choose to eat in their cars or take the food to go. During the lunch hour this place can be a madhouse, as people flock here from the local businesses and schools.

  If you ask a regular at Christy's what the specialty is the answer would probably come out the pork tenderloin sandwich. The bun is a standard hamburger size, but it is dwarfed by the over-sized breaded slab of meat. It takes a strategic plan to attack this sandwich, and many find themselves having to divide to conquer. When coupled with fries, or better yet onion rings, this combination will satisfy all but the most hearty of appetites. 

  Christy's carries an assortment of other finger ready foods. Most are not anywhere near the realm of health food status, but suffice it to say a meal from here once in a while is not the worst thing you can eat. Christy's opens at 10:00 am on Monday through Saturday, and closes around 7:00 pm except for their 3:00 closing on Saturdays. They are not open on Sundays, so make your plans accordingly. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Let Them Eat Pie

  One of the reasons we were looking forward to our visit to Downtown Overland park was the chance to visit The Upper Crust. For those of you that have been here you know why we were excited.

  This place is a straight up pie shop with no qualms about their specialty. They aren't trying to serve a hundred different dessert options, and have honed in on the idea of offering the best pies they can make. They do offer a few cookie and bar options, but it seems they focus on just baked goods.

  Here is a picture of their price list, but on the third Friday Local Life events they offer a 3 slice for $7.00 special. e were all about taking them up on this deal, and picked up a second set to take home. 

  Their in-store displays set the mood for what is to come. With so many choices how could you settle on just one flavor? We know the best things, like pie, come in a variety pack. 

  For our choices we picked, from top to bottom, blackberry, German chocolate, and pecan. The fillings were awesome, but they part that separates them from many pie makers are their crusts. This place is definitely worth the trip if you are a pie fan. Give them a try on the next third Friday for their 3 slice offer, but you'll want to get there early, as they sell out fast.

Restaurant Review: The Peanut on Santa Fe

  This past Friday was the Local Life event in Downtown Overland Park. While there, we wandered the street looking at our dining options. When we happened across The Peanut we decided to give it a try. 

  In the past we have eaten at their site in downtown KCMO, but this was our first visit to this location. The inside was bustling with the after work Happy Hour crowd, but we were just a little late to make that cut. Even though it was crowded, we were promptly seated. 

The menu is fairly robust, and on this evening they also had a few additional specials noted out front of the restaurant. One of these was fish & chips, which is a favorite of my wife. I was pretty sure she was planning to order that, which she did. It comes with tarter sauce, and a side of Cole slaw. 

  One of my favorite sandwiches is the Cuban, but it is rarely found on menus, and even rarer that it is made well. It was pan pressed, as it should be, and comes with house made chips. It was good, but could have used more spicy mustard.  

  Our daughter was along for the excursion, so she and my wife split the fish, but added a side of onion rings. These were crispy, and had an interesting mixture of spices in the batter. 

  The meal was decent, and as good as what we get at most bar & grills. The service was a little hectic, but that is to be expected during a special neighborhood event. The beautiful weather probably drew a much larger crowd than usual. Our overall experience was good, and we would probably look for an opportunity to revisit, but maybe next time we can make it for Happy Hour.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Hour Review: Harry's Country Club

  Located on Missouri Avenue just South of the City Market area, Harry's Country Club reminds me of a 1940's style honky-tonk bar. The low light, wooden tables and chairs, retro bar stools, and jukebox all add to this persona. During Happy Hour the crowd noise can swell to the point that you find yourself almost shouting to your table mates.

  Sitting in the front window area of Harry's, you find yourself looking out at the Kansas City skyline. The view is obstructed at times by the constant flow of traffic searching for a parking spot, which are limited nearby the bar/restaurant. The windows do bring in some extra light, so that is an added benefit. 

  Happy Hour brings in groups from all around the Market area, as well as from downtown offices. The specials run from 3:00 to 7:00 pm on Monday through Friday, and from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturdays. The majority of the Happy Hour offerings are in the drink category, but they do run a few specials on appetizers. We found the food to be passable, but nothing special. The drinks are where they excel. They offer a handful of $5.00 cocktails that each have a unique combination of flavors. The Pom Collins is delicious, and on our next visit I plan to give the Rumchata Root Beer Float a try. harry's Country Club makes a great stop after some heavy duty Farmer's Market shopping on a Saturday afternoon, and the weather is getting just right for that activity.

Restaurant review: T-Rex Cafe

  When I started doing the restaurant reviews I decided that I would omit any entries of places we found unfavorable. I figured that it would be better not to write negatives, and let people try them out for themselves. Too often you could have a negative experience, but it may not reflect the true atmosphere or the eatery. T-Rex Cafe is not a place we would visit for the food, but it does make for an interesting dining experience.

  Located toward the western edge of the Legends Shopping Center, T-Rex Cafe is easily identified by the exterior decorations. I would guess that every parent or grandparent who has passed by with a child in tow now knows exactly where the restaurant resides. One of our visits involved two of our grandchildren, and it is easy to understand the draw of this over the top attraction. The rolling mists and growling dinosaur skeletons beckon the visitors inside.

  Upon entering you immediately experience sensory overload. The big draw is the animatronic dinosaur replicas scattered throughout the building. A giant T-Rex greets you at the doorway, periodically letting out a roar and a hesitant attack. Looking around the restaurant you will find a wide variety of dinosaur, oceanic, and even some ice age creatures. Most are well labeled, which helps the visitors better identify them. There are an assortment of aquariums scattered throughout the building, and they always seem to be a crowd favorite. 

  The food, while sounding quite interesting, to me was just run of the mill. The menu is pretty run of the mill, but they give them interesting names. Prices are a little above average, but I'm sure it is part to cover the overhead of the decor. The portions are average, and most people should leave with a full belly, but a lighter wallet. Be prepared to spend considerable time, either before the meal or after looking around and visiting the gift shop/play area. 

  Located inside the restaurant is a considerable gift shop area. Here you can peruse through a wide assortment of souvenir options, which include a Build-a-Dino. This is presented by the same company who runs Build-a-Bear, but of course here it take on a Jurassic twist. There is also a Paleo Zone where kids can experience a hands-on dig site, and pan for treasures. Obviously all of these extras come with a price, so be prepared. The T-Rex Cafe is not a restaurant that we would eat at on any regular basis, but it is certainly an entertaining venue when you have children in tow. I have to admit that I kind of enjoy all of the theater at times.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Restaurant Review: Arthur Bryant's Barbecue

  As I have stated before, Kansas Citians have strong opinions about BBQ. While we have our top locations, we don't mind trying new ones. We also have assembled a few go to places when we are in specific areas of the metro. So with Spring almost over we are sitting squarely in baseball season. While the Royals play in Missouri, we find more entertainment at the T-Bones games. I have spoken about this in a previous post, so I'll get to the food review.

  The Legends location is not the original Arthur Bryant's site, but they still offer up the same quality, and quantity of food. While a lot of people choose to bring their tailgating supplies to the ballgame, we enjoy stopping in Bryant's for a meal before the game. They offer a good variety of meat options, and sides, plus they have variety of sauces. This will allow those who like sweet to eat at the same restaurant as someone who likes a little heat with their food. 

  Our go to meal is to order a combo ham & beef sandwich with fries. This is plenty of food for two, and we will split the sandwich up by meat type. I will always happily take the beef, as it is pull apart tender. The fries can be a little greasy, but not any more than Five Guys or some of the other burger joints. They also have decent ribs and short ends, as well as burnt ends. 

   An added bonus for us is that hey will smoke meats for customers. Every Fall we get a turkey for Thanksgiving. I used to smoke it myself, which is an enormous task, but now I just drop it off 2 or 3 days prior to the meal day. When I pick it up it is ready to reheat and serve. As you can see, it has plenty of good smoke color, and the taste is so good. 

  The next time you are looking for a casual meal, where you get a good value for your money, try Arthur Bryant's. It really is legendary.