Monday, May 23, 2016

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.

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.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Restaurant Review: Sake Lounge

  How many times have you came up with a great idea for date night, but had to make last minute adjustments? When this happens I try to have a couple of backup plans in my pocket just for such emergencies. Unfortunately, sometimes those can have glitches, as well. This past weekend we made a last minute change, and opted for a movie and dinner. We piled in the car and headed to the Olathe Fork & Screen, but when we arrived we found the timing didn't work well. Our backup plan was dinner off site, but it needed to be close and fairly quick. While there are a lot of restaurants in the vacinity, most are fairly overflowing on a Friday night. 

  From our parking spot at the theater we were able to spot a sushi restaurant that we had never tried, and we hoped it would fit our needs. A short walk found us inside the Sake Lounge. The restaurant is decorated in a contemporary lounge design, and the dining is split between two rooms. We were quickly ushered to our seat and our server took our drink orders. The menu is fairly robust, and includes bento boxes, and hibachi meals, as well as a wide selection of entrees, noodles, and rice dishes. Obviously they serve sushi and sashimi, and their offerings are quite extensive. On this evening we decided to skip the sushi.

  We started with a couple of appetizers, which were Gyoza (pan fried dumplings), and Crab Rangoon. The dumplings were meat filled, and the flavor and texture were good. The Rangoon were crisp, as I like them, but there was hardly any flavor of crab to be noticed.

  We have a standard routine when ordering at most Asian restaurants, where we order a couple of appetizers, and then split an order of Fried Rice. We chose the same thing here, as well, so that we could equally judge their offerings. The rice had a good mix of diced vegetables mixed in, and our choice included chicken. The entree is made with a smaller than usual amount of soy sauce, which would work well for some people. Of course they have a bottle readily available for those who prefer more. The texture was good, and the vegetables were still crisp enough to enhance the texture of the dish. Overall it was a good meal, and the timing worked perfectly for us to make it to our movie.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Restaurant Review: Manny's Mexican Restaurant

  Kansas Citians are not quiet about their favorites. If you ask about BBQ you will get a plethora of names, all of which are the favorite of someone, and for a good reason. The same thing goes when you mention Mexican food. When you ask a group where to get good Mexican food you may be directed to an assortment of locations in the metro. In realizing this, I have decided it best not to single one out at the top, but to merely offer up some information on various locations, and let the reader make the decision on which is their favorite.

  Sitting squarely in the Crossroads District, Manny's Mexican Restaurant has been serving up family recipes for about 33 years. This family owned and operated business sits on the corner of 20th Street & Southwest Boulevard. Open for lunch and dinner, their menu is packed full of options beyond just tacos. Their fajitas are served sizzling hot, and accompanied by an assortment of topping options. They offer some Americanized recipes for those unsure about how far to wander from their comfort zone.

  On First Fridays expect to find the restaurant overflowing with patrons looking to satisfy their hungers. Many will choose to order a Manny's Margarita, which the restaurant claims to have served over 1,000,000 of throughout the years. With all of the menu options available it can be difficult to decide on just one main course. When in doubt I just look at the taco selections. Manny's has the standard hard shell tacos that most Americans picture, but they also offer a more authentic version. Their Street Tacos are made with pork, and topped with onions and cilantro. You can choose either flour or corn tortillas, and both offer a slight taste variation to the meal.

  So the next time you are in the Crossroads District be sure to drop by Manny's Restaurant, and find out for yourself how you would rate them on the Kansas City scale. You might just discover your new favorite Mexican food location. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Restaurant Review: The Art of Pizza

  The Crossroads District in Kansas City has seen a revival in popularity since the introduction of the First Friday Art Walk. This monthly event brings in crowds from around the metro, and even from outside the region. We find it an opportunity to explore the area in search of new destinations. The recent addition of the streetcar will make this area even easier to explore, as parking can sometimes be difficult to find. One new food location we have found is The Art of Pizza at 1801 Baltimore Avenue.

  Located in a fairly nondescript building, it serves up the standard fare of American-Italian menu items. The salads are fresh, and the pizzas are hot and bubbly. You can order a whole pizza or by the slice. On First Fridays they will usually run a single slice special, which gets you in and out quickly, so you can get back to sightseeing. They also offer an assortment of hot and cold sandwiches for those in the mood for a handheld dinner.Soft drinks, water, beer, and wine round out their menu offerings. 

  So the next time you find yourself looking for a quick bite to eat in the Crossroads District, stop by The Art of Pizza to satisfy your appetite. If it happens to be a First Friday you may have to wait for a table, but hopefully it won't take long. Remember that they have seating out back, as well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Happy Hour Review: Yard House

  Sitting at the west end of the Legends Shopping Center you will find Yard House Restaurant. Well known for their beers and bites, and the KCK location also offers comfortable patio seating for good weather days. They offer two distinct Happy Hours, with the traditional running Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00. They also offer a late night session which runs from 9:00 to close on all but Friday and Saturdays. On those two nights it begins an hour later at 10:00, but still runs until close.

  Their drink menu can actually be a little overwhelming, so they have the beer selection separated out. They offer up the standard categories of wines, martinis, and cocktails, but also carry a couple sake options. When it comes to beer and ale based drinks, they have a whopping 10 categories, which include something for about any taste. Take a gander at their website and you will see the impressive selection. Since they have such a large variety of offerings, their Happy Hour pricing is based on a dollars off the regular price, rather than a set price point per category. 

  Of course the main reason we partake in Happy Hour events is the chance to try out a restaurant at a reduced price. Their food offerings come in at the $5.00 to $8.00 range, which allows two to eat an assortment of items for around $30.00 or less. That amount will get you plenty of food, and possibly some leftovers for later. The Yard House has built their reputation on offering good food in a friendly, upscale setting, and this model has worked well for them. The food is well flavored and fresh, and the service is usually well above average. Stop in and try out their Happy Hour before doing a little shopping. Or if you prefer a late night option, then park nearby and stop in after you finish your shopping. Either way you are sure to find friendly staff and great food and drinks awaiting you. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy Hour Review: Paulo & Bill Restaurant

  I must admit that Italian restaurants are not usually our first choice for dining. When I was picking a location for our recent date night, I was trying to stay in a specific area of the city, which happened to be Shawnee Mission, Kansas. This definitely limits the Happy Hour selections, but it is still manageable. After perusing the options, I finally decided upon Paulo & Bill, which is located at 16501 Midland Drive, just east of I-435. 

  When I looked at their Happy Hour menu online I didn't think the prices were super low, but in many cases the prices reflect the quality of the offerings. I decided that there were a couple of specific items I wanted to try, so I locked in the decision. We arrived around 5:00, which is half way through their two hour Happy Hour time frame. The bar area was not crowded at all, but it could have been the rainy weather. We also discussed the possibility that the location is not conducive to a big bar rush crowd, as there is a lack of office buildings in the area.

  One of my favorite finger foods is calamari, so I ordered some to get us started. It comes with two dipping sauces, a spicy romesco and a slightly sweet lemon oregano sioli. While I wasn't knocked out of my chair by this dish, it was still good enough to finish the plate. While my wife stuck with water, I decided to try one of their cocktails. I ordered a Sweetart, which has a little tart, but quite a bit sweet. While the sweetness can border on overbearing, I still found myself being drawn back to the flavor.

  For our main course we ordered up a Pizza Classica, which ended up being a full size pizza. At $9.00 it ended up being a pretty good deal after all. The crust is super thin except for the edges, and the pepperoni has a good spicy bite to it. Overall we both seemed very pleased with this selection. I noticed a few of our fellow patrons enjoying plates of the bowtie pasta with chicken, but I didn't dare tell Crystal, since it was here favorite menu item at the recently closed Carrino's Restaurant. When the final bill came it was under $30, which included tax and tip, so I was pleasantly surprised at this selection. Good food, an interesting drink, and not overcrowded. Now if only we can try it again on a night that doesn't included  pouring rain.