Monday, November 28, 2016

Ted's Cafe Escondido


  While we enjoy going out as much as the next couple, we also savor the idea of a good deal. What is even better is when we happen upon it without being aware in advance. This is exactly what happened the other day, while we were out partaking in some retail therapy. After a long morning of shopping, we had built up quite an appetite. We were in Overland Park, near 135th & Metcalf, so we did a quick search. I found a handful of options, and Crystal decided on Mexican, which led us to Ted's Cafe Escondido. 


    We entered, and were seated immediately. Lauren, our server, came by and took or drink order, while delivering our first round of freebies. Besides the standard chips and salsa, this place includes cheese dip and warm tortillas. Lauren warned us that the tortillas were awesome, and she was correct. We had a visit from Jordan, the manager, who told us some background on the restaurant. He is originally from Oklahoma, where the chain began, and moved here when they opened up in the Kansas City area. They now have three locations in the metro, with two on the Missouri side.


  The menu is full of great sounding dishes, and we both settled on the Two for $8.99 deal. Crystal chose a Beef Taco, Chicken Enchilada with Crema sauce on the side, and rice. She really enjoyed her selection, and was especially impressed with the Crema sauce, which she used on almost everything. She commented that the rice was standard fare, but good.   


  I ordered the same taco, but added the Ground Beef Enchilada with Chili con Carne sauce, and a side of refried beans. We both noted the over-sized tacos, which had a good crunch to the shell. The Chili con Carne sauce had a slight sweetness to it, but was still flavorful. The beans are my go to staple, and did not disappoint. 


  The staff was extremely attentive, and we had a second visit from the manager. He checked on how we enjoyed our meal, and told us that we were in for another treat when the complimentary sopapillas were served. Not long after our dinner plates were cleared, another server delivered our sweet treats. The airy pillows were coated with cinnamon sugar, and we chose to drizzle ours with honey. They really topped off a great meal, and all of this for a very affordable price. This place was immediately added to our "return visit" status, so we could sample more of the menu options. To learn more about Ted's Cafe Escondido visit them at http://www.tedscafe.com/.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Chappell's Resturant & Sports Museum


  Last weekend we were headed to North Kansas City to listen to the Ronni Ward Band (http://ronniwardmusic.com/) play at Christine's Firehouse. (I will have to remember to write a post about that place.) We were coming from another event, so we hoped to pop in and have some dinner while enjoying the tunes. When we got there we found standing room only, so it was time for an alternate plan. After a short search we found a spot just a couple of blocks away, and made a quick dash over. Located at 323 Armour Road, Chappell's Restaurant & Sports Museum sounded like an interesting place to visit.

 
  One of our favorite things about seeking out new settings is finding an iconic location you never knew existed. Now this doesn't happen everyday, so when it does happen it is special occasion. The outside reminded us more of an old hotel entrance, but once we entered we realized this place had history. Now when I hear museum associated with a restaurant, I expect that there will be a few showcases scattered about, which highlight the specific interest of the owner. That was probably the case about 20 years ago at Chappell's.

 
  Jim Chappell, the owner, has amassed an overwhelming collection of sports memorabilia, and put it on display for all to see. There are over 10,000 pieces of sports history adorning every nook and cranny of the restaurant and bar areas, and the collection spills over to the washrooms. The ceiling in the dining room is covered with football helmets from just about every professional and college team in America.

 
   The collection is not limited to football, where we were seated a pair of boxing gloves, signed by Mohammed Ali, hung enshrined in a display case. In another area the 1974 Oakland A's World Series trophy holds a place of honor. This place has so much history within its walls that Northwest Missouri University holds a memorabilia class at the bar. It is easy to get so caught up in the atmosphere that you forget the original purpose for the visit. But soon our hunger brought reality crashing back down, so we ordered our meals.
 

  Crystal chose the Chicken Strips dinner, which comes with Honey Mustard dipping sauce, and curly fries. The chicken was crispy, and the honey mustard was creamy and tasted homemade. The curly fries were standard fare, but good. The overall presentation was lackluster, but the portion was generous.


  The menu lists a few of Jim's Picks, so I opted to try the London Broil, which comes with a vegetable and choice of potato side. The steak was cooked perfectly and included some of the au jus sauce for added flavor. Flank steak can be a challenge to serve tender and flavorful, but this place does it right. An added surprise was the sweet potato fries. Fried up crispy, they are served with a sweet and spicy chili dipping sauce that keeps you coming back for more. Needless to say we left without doggie bags, and headed off back to the live music event. By the way, we were able to finally snag a couple of seats when we returned, and the band was awesome. for more info, and to review the menu visit http://www.chappellsrestaurant.com/.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The BrewTop Pub and Patio


   There are a plethora of bar/restaurants to be found all around the metro. Fortunately for us residents, good eats can be located a short drive from wherever we find ourselves. The other evening that wherever happened to be in the Zona Rosa area of northern KCMO. After a few hours of retail therapy we had worked up significant hungers.


   A quick check of Yelp identified some potential options close by, and we chose one that allowed for us to spot some college football. (Okay I wanted to see some football.) We settled on Brewtop Pub & Patio, which is in a strip mall area on the east side of I-29, and just north of Barry Road.


   The inside is your standard sports bar with a multitude of screens located in every nook and cranny. The bar area is wide and open, and seating comes in table top and booth options. Additional rooms in the back offer more seating availability. They also have a small game room with billiards and video games for those looking for extra sensory stimulation.


  We arrived around 7:00, which seemed to be a good time, as we had no issue finding seating. The server was prompt, and in no time we had placed our orders. Crystal chose the Fish & Chips, which includes Cole slaw. The fish was not impressive, but not overly greasy. She felt that in may have come from a box. The waffle fries were better, but the Cole slaw was the best part of her meal. The sauce was sweet, but had a nice tang at the end.


  I chose the Chicken Fried Chicken meal, which includes mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. The chicken was very good, with a nice crust. The potatoes were bland and had an odd texture, but not terrible. The gravy was okay, just not very flavorful. The corn was the star of my meal, as it was fire roasted. The taste came through quite well. Overall we were less than impressed with the food, but we do realize that this place is primarily a sports bar. Perhaps you have visited Brewtop Pub & Patio and had a different experience. We would love to hear your opinions, so drop us a line in the "Comments" section below. For more information about the bar visit http://thebrewtop.com/.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Easy, Tiger.

Not your average West Bottoms shop.
    It is amazing to hear the background stories from some of the businesses around town. People can be very inventive when they launch a start-up, and if successful, the business may slowly transform into something almost unrecognizable. Such is the case for Easy, Tiger located in the West Bottoms.


   The premise of the company started with delivering greeting cards. Not your average frilly, and sugary-sweet type of greeting cards. Their product has sarcastic overtones, and comes emblazoned with retro style graphics. The end result usually brings a smile to the face of the giver and receiver, so the cards accomplish their purpose. They just do it with a twist.


   Finding a way to get their product out to the public brought out their creative juices. They refurbished old vending machines, stocked them with their cards, and set them up in strategic locations like coffee shops. Their strategy worked, and their business flourished.


   As the business grew, they expanded their offerings to include much more than greeting cards. A visit to Easy, Tiger shows the variety that they have added. Statues, cork-board maps, drink ware, clothing, and lots of trophies fill their warehouse location. 


  It is easy to see why their popularity continues to grow. They offer fun products in a relaxed atmosphere. They don't take themselves too seriously, and are always happy to interact with customers. The space they have created is inviting, eclectic, and offers a departure from the standard antique stores that fill the west Bottoms.


  They are open weekdays from Noon until 5:00 pm, as well as during the First Friday weekend events. Be sure to stop by Easy, Tiger to get your fix of fun. To find out more stuff about them just visit https://www.easytigerco.com/.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Westport Saloon serves up fun country-style.

The stage at the Westport Saloon.
  As the weather cools we have the tendency to move our date night venues indoors. We have a few standards that we will fall back on, but we are always looking for something new. We try to keep date nights simple, usually dinner and one activity, and prefer to keep them centrally located to limit travel time between activities.

The crowd appears to be enjoying Happy Hour.
  One of my tasks is to do the reconnaissance work to locate potential locations, then we can decide if it sounds interesting enough to visit. We have a penchant for country music, and when I discovered a place that has live bands seven nights a week, I hoped I had hit the mother load. To top it off they have an extended Happy Hour, which runs from 4:00 to 7:00 daily.


Long Islands hit the spot.
  We decided to give it a shot, and headed out for the evening. The Westport Saloon is located in a old brick building along Pennsylvania Avenue. The front entrance leads into a standard bar area with a few high tops, as well as the row of stools lining the bar. Since we planned to stay for the music, we chose to sit in the backroom where the stage is found.

The Happy Hour menu includes drink specials.
  A quick review of the menus ensued, as I went a placed our drink order. Not being familiar with their house specialty drinks, we chose to stick with our favorite, the Long Island Ice Tea. Since it has more liquor in it than a regular drink, the price was $6.00 instead of the $3.00 Happy Hour figure. That was okay, since I totally expected this.

Hummus and Pita Chips.
  We hadn't decided on our main dishes yet, so we ordered some Hummus & Chips off of the HH menu for starters. It had a creamy texture with a nice flavor. The chips were crisp, as they should be. There was even a dash of hot sauce on top to bring a little heat to the bites. A winner, and at $5.00 a good value. The evening had waned on a little, and more staff members began arriving in anticipation of the upcoming crowd. A waitress had started covering the back area, so I no longer had to run to the bar, which was only a few steps away.

Little Class Records Burger.
  We ordered another round of drinks, and chose our dinner entrees.  Crystal went with the burger off of the HH menu, and added a side order of fries. The angus beef patty is topped with American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and condiments. Juicy and delicious are two good words to describe it, and only $5.00 during Happy Hour.


Fries with a ketchup based dipping sauce.
  The fries have to be ordered separately during HH, so by the time you do the math the combination saves you $1.00 over the regular menu. Still a dollar saved matters. A larger than standard cut give the fries plenty of body, but can be difficult to get correctly cooked. This place did it right, and they were crispy without being overcooked. The ketchup based dipping sauce was a good accompaniment.

Shrimp Po' Boy.
  I decided to skip the HH menu, and dive straight into the regular offerings. I noticed a Cubano sandwich on the menu, which is my weakness, but I gathered my strength and went a different direction. Since the whole menu had a southern style vibe, I decided to hit up New Orleans, and ordered a Catfish Po' Boy. Hmm! The picture shows a Shrimp version, but that's not  what I ordered. A quick discussion with the server, and they whisked off to the kitchen to set things right.

Fried Catfish Po' Boy.
  Now here's the Catfish Po' Boy that I was looking for. The sandwich is piled high with crispy, but a little salty, strips of fried catfish filets. It's topped with house made Cole slaw, as well as tomatoes and lettuce. It comes with hush puppies on the side, and includes some of the dipping sauce served with the fries. The sandwich was more than a person should eat, so I was only able to finish half. To be honest I had taken a bite of the Shrimp version earlier. Both types were good, but I still wonder about the Cuban. Oh well, perhaps on a subsequent visit.


Twang Daddies providing some ambiance.
  After dinner we danced a little, while the band set up on stage. While we only stayed for the first group, there were a total of three bands playing that evening. Now this place is a COUNTRY music bar, and that is exactly what they play. I mean old school country, like Cash, Willie, Waylon, Buck Owens, and many of the other greats. The Twang Daddies were the ones we heard, and they knocked it out of the park. It was good hearing tunes that I knew every word of, and the crowd really got engaged. Our first visit to the Westport Saloon will certainly not be our last. Find out more, including their musical guest schedule at http://westportsaloon.com/.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Our Top 5 Christmas Light Displays in Kansas City


  Looking at the calendar we see Thanksgiving quickly approaching, but unfortunately no one notified the weather department. With the start of the holiday season just a couple of weeks away, we figured it was a good time to add a few blog posts on the various subjects associated with this time of year. We hope to add some helpful tips to cut down on some of the holiday stress. We are always looking for time saving ideas, as well as work reducing when possible. There are already too many distractions this time of year, so hopefully we can help you hone down the long list of decisions, and maybe find a new holiday tradition. We'll start with one of our favorites, Christmas light displays. Here is a short list of some of our family's favorites.


#1 Country Club Plaza
   One of our favorite times of year is just around the corner. As the days get shorter, and the nights get colder, the holiday light displays begin announcing their schedules. Now everyone who has been around KC for a couple of years knows that the Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony happens on Thanksgiving evening. This year marks the 87th anniversary of this event, and the weather may be in favor of record crowds. The entire schedule of events is slated from 5:00 to 8:00, and the switch is supposed to be thrown at 6:50 pm. Musical performances will occur before and after the lighting ceremony. We enjoy cruising through the area on the days leading up to Christmas. There is something magical about the glimmering lights illuminating the crisp night air. It makes you want to pile out of the car and take a walk around.


#2 Crown Center
  Another annual event that draws a huge crowd is the Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which is held at Crown Center. The 100 foot tall tree (one of the nation's largest) will be illuminated on November 25th at the program which starts at 5:30 pm. This free event is the kick-off of the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund program, which is designed to help the less fortunate. Fun Fact: After the holidays the wood from the tree is recycled into ornaments that are sold, and the money added to the fund. This is also the place to be for outdoor ice skating and people watching, as well as a perfect backdrop for great holiday photos.


#3 Christmas in the Park
  One of our family's holiday traditions is driving around looking at light displays. There are some big ones to be found scattered throughout the metro. One of the top annual displays is Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake in KCMO. This event runs nightly from the night before Thanksgiving through Christmas. Be sure to top off the tank, and grab some light snacks, as traffic can be bumper-to-bumper on weekend evenings. Of course you could always try a weeknight visit to minimize the wait time.


#4 & 5 (Tie) Legend's and Zona Rosa
  We are all well aware of the fact that the holiday has become synonymous with retail shopping, so obviously most large outdoor malls will be having displays. Most of these have a short program associated with the lighting ceremonies, and some entice shoppers with give-aways or coupon packs. We figure if you can find a way to lower the overall cost of holiday gifts it may be worth standing around outdoors for a short time. Of course it helps if hot chocolate and entertainment are included. Two of the more notable centers with lighting ceremonies that we enjoy are Legend's Outlets Shopping Center in KCK, and Zona Rosa Town Center in KCMO.

  Now these are some of our top choices, but this list doesn't begin to cover all of the wonderful displays our metro has to offer. Besides the larger commercial displays, there are tons of great neighborhood displays throughout our communities. Let us know some of your favorite places by adding them in the comments section below, and we will add them to our list. Thanks!

*All photos are stock images from Google Search*

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Restaurant Review: Zaxby's Chicken


   A while back we visited a fast food restaurant in Blue Springs that focused on chicken strip dinners. We were both a little surprised at the concept, but evidently it is catching on. Recently we made our first stop at Zaxby's Chicken in the Village West are of KCK. Here we found another restaurant chain focusing on this narrow field of protein options. Since we were already there, we decided to try them out.


    The menu is fairly straightforward, but has a surprising number of combinations to choose from. We took a moment to finally decide on our meals, and then placed our order. Like most fast food places, the focus is on quick turn time. Since we were in a hurry, we weren't too worried about the gourmet experience we were missing. We were both taken back a bit by the sheer number of calories allotted to their meals. It was a hefty price to pay for speedy service.


  The dining area follows the lead of most any other fast food restaurant with a combination of table tops and booths. The service is set up so that a staff member will bring your meals to your table, which helps prevent congestion at the order counter.


  We each ordered the four strip meal, which includes cole slaw, fries, and a piece of garlic toast. The chicken was a little bland, but had a good crust. The dipping sauce did add a smoky, peppery kick to the entree, and was a welcome addition. The fries are standard fast food fare, and the toast was saturated with butter, but lacking much garlic flavor. To me the winning part of the meal was the cole slaw. Crisp vegetables with a slightly sweet base is the style I grew up with. Overall Zaxby's Chicken is exactly what you would expect for fast food, and the prices are fairly standard for the amount of food they dish out. If you would like more information you can find out a ton of stuff at https://www.zaxbys.com/.