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Aaron Deacon

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Everything posted by Aaron Deacon

  1. I do need to get here for a proper meal sometime. We revisited bluestem's brunch on Easter. My wife's eggs Benedict (with ham not salmon) was absolutely terrific. I only got a couple bites, but perhaps the best I've ever eaten. I'm not usually a big eggs Benedict fan, so that's not saying much perhaps. Still... I ordered the merlusa escabeche...a fried than pickled fish dish (oddly, not entirely unlike this traditional Swedish herring preparation I recently encountered. (I believe (from quick googling) merlusa is also known as hake, commonly served in Spain.) The fish was delicate and perfectly cooked. The dish in its entirety was a bit too dominated by the vinegar...I would have probably enjoyed it more as an appetizer portion. There was something sweet or nutty in there to balance the acidity, but I can't recall what it was and I thought it needed more. Still, quite enjoyable. The French toast was again terrific (though I preferred the blueberry to the nectarine). The pancakes had an unfamiliar taste to me, which wasn't so much to my liking. I couldn't quite place what it was. Service was friendly and efficient, the two young boys were treated well, and I still thoroughly enjoyed my brunch, even if not quite as impressive as the first time 'round. I believe they hiked all the prices a couple bucks too, hopefully just for the Easter menu, which is not unexpected.
  2. Hearne Christopher apparently doesn't have a lot of respect for G.E. Fellrath's m.o. http://www.kansascity.com/216/story/57597.html As far as Fellrath goes, while I appreciate a willingness for "harsh" criticism, I have mixed feelings. The reviewer seems to be angling toward the British over-the-top reviewing style, though considerably scaled back. That can be amusing but only moderately helpful. The review of Piropos, it seemed to me, seemed borne out of disgust that the food wasn' t "authentic" Argentine. I have great appreciation of the nuances of that line of argument, but it struck me as a too-dominant note in this sort of review. Even though I don't make a habit of researching critics' professional history and qualifications, the anonymity strikes me as a bit either cowardly or precious for someone who wants to build their rep by delivering a good dressing down. Fellrath? Wrathful? Please. Edit: And to address the Judy's main question, I have no problem with Christopher taking this issue on. There seems to me a long tradition of opinion writers, reviewers, and gossip columnists across town calling each other on the carpet.
  3. Yes, I made them immediately after posting. I should mention, though, no problem getting a 1:00 for 4 on Easter Sunday four days out.
  4. Excellent! I've been considering it specifically at my wife's request this afternoon, and had just meant to check if it was offered. Thanks!
  5. Kicking off a recent weekend trip to St. Louis, my wife and I stopped at Starker’s Reserve on the Plaza for lunch. The lunch menu was a little confusing to me, sort of skipping around from cuisine-to-cuisine: shrimp po’ boy, bucatini all’amatriciana, nicoise salad, steaks and burgers, etc. While I was happy to see local producers on the menu, I was hoping for a more seasonal approach and some more creatively intriguing dishes. I usually avoid pasta when eating out…it’s often done poorly and it’s relatively easy to make well at home, but the promise of guanciale and bucatini swayed me (I notice its now pancetta and linguine, which probably would not have). I was glad to be swayed, because the dish was really quite good, well-cooked pasta, dressed with welcome modesty. Certainly a satisfying lunch. My wife ordered pasta too, with butternut squash, greens and Scimeca sausage. She was quite satisfied, and based on a bite or two, I can see why. Neither dish was earth-shattering, but a solid bowl of pasta is a worthy accomplishment. We ordered the crab cake appetizer, which did show a little more creativity. I really enjoyed the dressing of seaweed salad with bits of nori. The crab cakes themselves were a little disappointing, though, as there were very few actual lumps…texturally more similar to shredded crab. This is not an unexpected complaint, as you don’t typically get good lump cakes in this part of the country. They generously split our order between two plates, and it was a satisfying start. Cookies were our dessert, and they were enjoyable as well. I got a cup of coffee, brought in a small French press, which was excellent. The wine list is massive and extremely deep. What was most striking to me about the whole meal, though, was the feeling I was eating at my (well, not mine, actually, but someone’s) grandma’s house. The room (which I think may have been recently updated?), menu, and clientele were surprisingly subdued and conservative. I was, for some reason, expecting something a bit more contemporary, but I certainly blame only myself for that. The dinner menu looks a little more interesting, but quite expensive. I’m interested in going back, but honestly, don’t have a great sense of urgency to do so. I wrote this before looking back over this thread, and it looks like I've got to go back for a summer menu for dinner...those meals from last July sound fantastic. Starker’s Reserve 201 West 47th Street Kansas City, Missouri 64112 816-753-3565 http://www.starkersreserve.com/
  6. Fear? Bring on the hordes. I'm just looking for signs of life. Took the opportunity of an ultrasound visit today at St. Luke's South to try SPIN! Neapoliatan Pizza (demerits for all caps AND punctuation in the name). I thought the pizza was okay (best in town so far, but that's another story), but you know, at least the place was buzzing. Almost all the tables were full, there was a bit of liveliness in the air. Westport at Sunday brunch was a ghost town. It was kind of depressing. The food, thankfully, lifted my spirits.
  7. Absolutely. We were there a few weeks back with our boys age 3 and 5. Stopped in for brunch at blustem a couple weeks ago and was very impressed. My wife got a Croque Madame, a ridiculously huge fried ham and cheese sandwich, topped with Mornay sauce and a fried egg. A terrific cholesterol-bomb of a sandwich, complemented by some pretty tasty frites. I don’t understand how someone could actually eat this entire plate of food. I was full just watching her eat half of it. Really a delicious sandwich, though. I ordered conservatively, the bluestem breakfast. My first choice was the mussels (Anthony Bourdain be damned, ordering mussels for Sunday brunch), but they were out. My first choice actually would have been the aforementioned scallop dish, but for a scallop allergy. So I settled on scrambled eggs, ham, corn muffin, and sausage gravy. This was an excellently prepared breakfast also, not quite on par with my first breakfast at RJ’s (which I haven't posted on yet, but damn it was a standard bearer) but very well done all the same. Bluestem is the not necessarily the kind of place I’d go for a comfort food breakfast, but it’s admirable that the kitchen treats the old breakfast stand-bys with such respect. My friend Ramiro got fried rock shrimp, which was a nice surprise for a brunch menu. Also served with frites. Very nice. The two boys though, scored the real coup, the French toast. Wow! This was some killer French toast. An inch+ thick (and dense) slice of brioche (“Texas toast”) that seemed soaked through like bread pudding. It was served with a killer blueberry sauce and a visually appealing egg-shaped dollop of whipped cream that actually stood somewhere on a continuum between whipped cream and butter. Really terrific. I was glad we had kids in tow. My biggest surprise, however, was not the food quality, which I expected to be quite good. What I couldn’t believe, was that the place wasn’t full for brunch, with an overflow crowd waiting in the bar area. And this wasn’t some early meal…I think we got there between 12:30 and 1:00. All of Westport was D-E-A-D dead. Are all the brunchers at a First Watch in Johnson County? WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE? Sorry, still adjusting to a somewhat different lifestyle. Yes, the prices are $3-4 more per person than First Watch, but for food executed this well, a unique environment, and supporting a one-off local establishment, I found bluestem an excellent brunch destination.
  8. Made a trip to Souperman for lunch a couple weeks back. If I worked in the Crossroads, I'd return; I probably won't make a special trip from NE JoCo. Initially we'd planned to lunch at 1924 Main, but when it was closed due to a burst pipe, we went to Souperman instead. I got the roast pork "sanditto" (I really hate that word), and a cup of poblano corn chowder. My wife had the brisket and blue cheese and the ham and white bean soup. We both got the small orders; I can't imagine how big the large must be. These are no chintzy portions. I thought the food was fine. With my sanditto Cubano, as it were, I really just wished it were a regular cubano. I can see the tortilla advantage from a convenience standpoint, a pre-prep standpoint, a marketing gimmick standpoint, but I'd much prefer really good bread. Tortilla wraps, to me, have too many bites with too much tortilla, and it’s hard to balance the flavors. Brisket sandwich was decent too, though more unbalanced than the pork, with cheese and mayo dominating one side. Also, the beef was kind of stringy--not in a "bad beef" way, but in a way that made the sandwich a little difficult to eat. Soups were both fine, but very salty. Sandwiches were salty too, actually. Also, they were too chunky for my taste...they sort of struck me as a really good canned soup. I was hoping for something a little more refined. All in all, I like the idea behind this place. It didn't execute quite as well as I'd have hoped. The marketing conceit plays to the sympathies of people who post on boards like this. I like the super-hero/fast food fighter motif; I'm very glad to see a nice, local, non-chain alternative pop up. And yet (I really feel guilty saying this), I felt like the big portion, pre-prepared, oversalted aspects of the meal are some of the same things I dislike about the chains. I can imagine Rob Dalzell hearing this and really getting pissed. I understand there’s still a great (and important) difference between a local joint like Souperman and a behemoth like Chipotle. Still, it was very easy for me to stand in Souperman and imagine 5 or 10 around town, and the next town and the next town. And you know, Chipotle has its place. On its own merits (anti-chain bias aside) Souperman didn’t do all that much to distinguish itself. I’m curious to hear if others have at all the same feeling.
  9. Edit: Sorry, meant to post this to the Souperman thread. You can find what was originally here over there. A mod can delete this.
  10. I don't want to out anyone who doesn't want to be outed, but I'm four back on the left.
  11. My memory for specific dishes at specific restaurants at Chicago Thai places is a little sketchy. I didn't like the sai krawk as much as Chicago stuff, generally. I want to say it is more similar to that at Sticky Rice, which I don't care for as much as that at Spoon or TAC Quick. But I'm not 100% on that. I agree with moosnsqrl that this was not quite as far off the menu as I had hoped for, but a game effort nonetheless. Baby steps. Interestingly, talking with our Chicago Thai guru Erik M. last night, he advised that everything arriving at once is pretty authentic, and you really do have to make a special request if you want stuff spaced out.
  12. Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of convening some KC local eGulleteers, Chowhounds, and LTHers for an “authentic” Thai-style meal. The impetus for choosing this restaurant was mostly proximity. When I moved in last fall, I noticed Thai Orchid a few blocks away and checked out the website. I sent an email, and several exchanges and a few months later, there we were. I had sent to the owner of Thai Orchid, Wilai Rojjana (a delightful woman, by the way), a menu from a meal I had eaten at TAC Quick last summer, not so much to replicate that meal, but to convey the seriousness of my desire for the goodness of full-on Thai funk, heat, et al. After I convinced her that yes, I did like nam phrik, she gave me a menu, I got some interested folks to agree to join me as guinea pigs. All in all, the meal was quite a success. The menu (I've used Wilai's spellings): tod po pia – Thai spring rolls, seemed pretty standard to me, fine but not particularly noteworthy. som tum – We were given two papaya salads, on one northern-style (which she also called Isaan-style or Thai-style, pictured) and one central-style (which was also called Lao-style). I really appreciated the opportunity to try both. The northern-style had considerably more chili heat—hottest dish of the night, in fact—and the central-style had a sweeter character. Neither had much fish flavor…no pickled crab or dried shrimp, for example. This is as good a place as any to note my biggest logistical misstep: all the dishes were served, basically, at once. This made it quite impossible to try everything while hot, and quite difficult to devote attention to any one dish before moving on to the next, or maintain much balance in the meal. Next time I’d request a little more staggering of dishes. lab moo – Pork laab (minced pork “salad”). This was the largest mound of laab I’ve ever seen served on one plate. Pretty good. I admittedly get a little confused with the range of dressings on this and similar Thai dishes. I was expecting a little more heat, a more piquant sauce (fish sauce, lime juice) and the textural contrast of toasted rice powder. But I don’t know if a) I’m confusing my expectation with similar-style dishes or b) these elements were there, and I missed them. This is a good example of how the quickness of the meal and all the dishes served at once means I’m offering somewhat fleeting impressions. sai grog esan – Esan/Isaan sausage, served with sliced Thai chilis and sliced ginger. (Also sometimes served with nuts.) I enjoyed this. I love that Thai menus have a category basically called “drinking foods,” and Isaan sausage is a particular favorite. This was a pretty fine textured, slightly dry version. Not particularly funky with fermented flavor, but some for sure. These were purchased someplace at City Market (I think, didn’t catch the name), but Wilai said she prefers sausages that she gets from a local Laotian woman who makes them at home. I’d love to try this. pla chu chee – Fish with chili sauce (catfish, I believe). The catfish was breaded, fried, and coated with a sweetish, slightly sour and fairly mild chili sauce. I thought the fish was cooked quite well and was very pleased to have a meaty, fish preparation on the table. Not quite sure what the difference is between this and the pla lard prig on the regular seafood menu. kai yang – Grilled chicken, cut up, with a Thai-flavor marinade, a simple kind of dish that seems so inoffensive yet so tasty that I’m not sure why dishes like this aren’t offered up more frequently and more often associated with Thai food. nam prig platu – Shrimp paste dip, mackerel, veggies…perhaps my favorite dish of the night, though it still seemed a bit muted. That was fine because nam phrik is pretty powerful stuff. I thought the mackerel was excellent. po tak – Seafood combination soup (“Thai bouillabaisse”). When this came to the table, it had a little warming fire beneath it, making me feel comfortable ignoring the raves around me, holding off on the soup, figuring it would still be warm when I got to it. Unfortunately, the fire went out, and my soup was lukewarm. And it was still pretty darn good. Very rich-flavored broth accented by the brightness of lemongrass and basil. sa koo tua dum – Tapioca, black bean, and coconut pudding…a surprise dessert, and to my palate, the most deliciously surprising dish of the night. I’ve had mixed luck with Thai desserts and with bean desserts. I had asked about sticky rice and mango, but Wilai said the available mangoes weren’t right (though come back for the Thai New Year meal April 13th). I’m glad they weren’t. The beans and tapioca combined to give this pudding a smooth and delicate texture, the coconut and sugar adding the right amount of sweetness. Some impressions of the meal as a whole… I was quite happy that Wilai and the staff at Thai Orchid agreed to prepare this meal for us, and I hope for the opportunity to do something similar in the future. There are two standards by which I’ve been evaluating this meal. By KC standards (my own KC standards, which are new to me and a work in progress), I was quite happy and will certainly return, with a goal of making this food more easily accessible. By the standard of some of the top places in Chicago (for example) where most of my Thai experience lies, well, I guess I can say that I still look forward to returning to Chicago for Thai food too. I had a meal last night at Aroy Thai which, again, just blew me away. I’ll link when a report is available. The northern Thai-style som tum was the only dish that really registered much on the heat meter for me (and did so quite admirably, to be sure). The fish flavors seemed a bit muted, whether the fish sauce in the dressings on the som tum or laab moo or the nam phrik or even the fish itself. The overall funk factor was lower than I had thought it might be. There are also certain dishes that are difficult for Thai Orchid to prepare, especially on this kind of scale. They were stepping out of their comfort zone to prepare a meal like this for us, and for that I would rather applaud than criticize them. They don’t regularly stock green papaya; the supplies of Thai sausage in the city are limited; the kitchen isn’t set up to prepare sticky rice for 12. I’d never seen sticky rice served in plastic wrap packets (though I have in banana leaves). Within these limitations, I was quite pleased with Thai Orchid’s execution. They definitely went above and beyond to prepare a special meal for us, and I had a good meal and a great time, and met some great fellow food lovers in KC: Perhaps my favorite part of the evening was meeting two other random food geeks in the restaurant. About three quarters through the meal, a guy came up to the table and announced something like, “My name is Danny. I’m Thai. I love food.” And asked if he could join our group, eager to tap into what (thankfully) must have appeared a pretty appealing situation. And as we were finishing our meal a woman approached us with her husband, she’s a Chowhound lurker recently moved to KC, and gave us her card to contact for future events. Ah, future events. We’re in pretty good shape, Thai and otherwise. (For anyone looking for a little more of a Thai food primer, for sure poke around LTH and Chowhound Chicago threads circa 2003, searching for threads on Spoon Thai, TAC Quick, Sticky Rice, and Aroy Thai for starters. Also check out Erik M.’s website and various Thai posts and menus here. Good stuff.) P.S. Not all of these dishes are available on Thai Orchid's regular menu. I believe the soup, pork laab, and grilled chicken are, though not sure if the farang preparation is much different than what we got. It very well might be. I need to get info from Wilai on how one might actually go to the restaurant and get food like this. Also, we are likely to get together for future meals, so please drop me an email or PM if you're interested. Aaron LTHForum KC Index
  13. See, I love that stuff. Yeah, it cracks me up too, but I'm cool with romanticizing your wine. I'd take a glass of the Broadley right now. I'm not sure they teach Eliza Doolittle in wine writer school. Cheerio, mate.
  14. On a more positive note, I do like how Ms. Chapin includes a good bit of detail on the wine list and service in her reviews, often as a sidebar.
  15. Are brains hard to find? I thought perhaps I saw some at the middle Eastern market next to Holy Land Cafe. What about Mexican markets....although, is there a decent Mexican market around? I've not seen one, but I'm not sure I've ventured to where I would, excepting a trip for the al pastor at Camino Real (7th and State in KCK)...wow, terrific tacos! Don't recall if cesos were on the menu.
  16. I think you missed a (the?) key point--it usually tastes better.
  17. No need to apologize, this is a good topic that needs a lot of words.
  18. I visited this Shawnee Mission strip mall shortly after moving in. The restaurant name, according to the business card, is Korea Royal China Restaurant. It shares a card, address and phone number (at least according to the business card) with Sapporo Japanese Restaurant. It's funny, I stopped in to see if they had hot, fried chicken wings, common to a lot of Korean-Chinese places. Now I can't remember if they do or not. I think precisely what I was seeking got a little lost in translation. Korea Royal China certainly is more open about its Korean-ness than a lot of Korean-Chinese places. The market in that strip mall is also Korean, rather than Chinese, although my guess is that there is a bit of Pan-Asian to most ethnic Asian markets around town. I was recently in a pretty much abandoned shopping center at 95th and Nall, and stopped in the Asian Market there (yes, actually called Asian Market, as far as I could tell). It appeared to be Korean too. On my way out I noticed a Korean Methodist church on the NW corner of 95th and Nall. Anyway, there's a restaurant in said shopping center, ostensibly Chinese, but circumstantial evidence leads me to believe you might be able to get some of your Korean fix there as well. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Korean food, but I'm willing to keep trying. My wife is even less so, which somewhat limits my opportunities. Edit: Oh, by the way, Korea Royal China was in The Pitch recently.
  19. Yes, food goods...it's a place that deserves a fuller write-up. They had some Georgian coil sausages I'd been eager to try, as well as some Armenian basturma. Unfortunately, I still haven't learnt to carry a cooler in my car for such serendipitous purposes. I did pick up a few bars of unseen-before-by-me European chocolates, thinking back to your chocolate quest, and the first one was surprisingly and unabashedly awful. Really a poor chocolate bar. Some other stuff looks promising, though.
  20. It's got Russian in the title, and the previous owners were Russian...they've got a decent array of Russian and central European goods. The current owners, however, are Egyptian, and have added some middle Eastern items as well.
  21. I'm a KC BBQ neophyte--and burnt ends are KC BBQ property as far as I can tell--but Jack Stack didn't serve me at all what I expected as burnt ends after having previously sampled them at LC's.
  22. I've been planning on trying this today or tomorrow. There's a good thread, including some pics and some tweaks over here: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=10612
  23. Stopped by the Farm to Market Cafe twice this past weekend and doubt that I will ever got back. Didn't order much, but I was so taken by negative vibes on two straight visits that I don't feel the need too. The space is kind of weird...I don't really know how to explain it. There's a little "market" area in front where they sell some bread and that cheesy-looking Papardelles pasta they have at the OP Farmer's Market. I like most of FTM's breads well enough, but I have two big problems...1) you can almost never find a whole wheat or whole grain bread. I think they make one, but I don't ever see it. 2) Their bagged bread is a rip-off, and not much better than grocery store bagged bread. Anyway, the physical space really lacked charm, I thought, which is somewhat surprising as it has potential to be a charming location. Just not very comfortable, a little cramped, indifferent service...just not someplace I want to linger. First visit, Saturday, ordered a cherry danish and a ham and cheese croissant with a cafe au lait. The danish and croissant were gone before the drink was ready. It must have taken 5-10 minutes, and it wasn't that busy. The drink was sort of weak and thin...not a great cafe au lait. The danish was chewy not flaky, and the croissant wasn't very well made either. And it looked like it was stuffed with some swiss cheese and folded over deli ham from Hy-Vee. Really disappointing (though to their credit, they did offer a ham and cheese croissant, which is more than I can say for the Andres..."Um, I'm sorry, what are 'savory' croissants?"). So Sunday, I head back, just to pick up a loaf of bread. I look over at the counter where it was the day before...nothing. I asked the guy working the counter: "Oh no, they don't deliver the bread on Sunday's...you could maybe try Hen House." Deliver!? Hen House!? What the heck is this place? Confused and more than a bit put off, I stumbled back to my car and got some FTM French sourdough from Price Chopper. If I go back to the Cafe, it will be because of someone else. Good luck, and report back.
  24. Thanks! I'll credit the grapefruit and the coma to my 2 year old, who said he wanted the pink and the brown. He's a savvy flavor picker, that one. I didn't notice the December 3rd sell by date and meant to post about that as well. My subconscious must have suppressed that information in hopes of maximizing the amount of ice cream left for purchase when I get there. I was sorely tempted by a quart of the carrot cake ice cream, but we weren't heading straight home...about the fourth time this weekend I was burned by not carrying a cooler in my car.
  25. Thanks! I must say, however, that on top of my initial mediocre experience at Balsano's, the following flavor descriptions failed to sway me to indulge this exhortation: Instead, we satisfied an ice cream obligation on Saturday with a trip to Murray's. I love the idea of infusing a delightful ice cream parlor with the smell of fresh-baked cookies. I loved the reality of it as well. Tried four flavors: TNT (toffee, nuts?, t...? sort of a caramel toffee crunch), pink grapefruit sorbet, de-mint-ed, and chocolate coma. All were terrific, though I was especially taken by the clean and true flavor of the pink grapefruit sorbetto. The other three all had chunks of stuff, and the chunks had a very pleasant, "real" seeming chunkiness to them. I preferred the chocolatey chunks in the de-minted to a standard version of mint chocolate chip. I only had a bite of the chocolate coma, but it was a rich, truffle-y indulgence. And the TNT, which I ordered mostly for myself, was very good as well. Charming place all around...we'll definitely be back. And next time I'll get a cookie. In other ice cream news, anyone been to Sheridan's Frozen Custard on 75th and Metcalf? I didn't find anything in a search, but I don't know how well the search function here works.
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