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babern38

Circe or Zin in Kansas City

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I was wondering if anyone has eaten at either Circe or Zin in Kansas City and what their impression of them were. I am curious to hear about the 5 cours menu available at Zin.

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I was wondering if anyone has eaten at either Circe or Zin in Kansas City and what their impression of them were.  I am curious to hear about the 5 cours menu available at Zin.

I've only eaten at Zin. It's a very good restaurant - nice room, nice menu, good execution (the portions can be enormous, though).

Never have done the 5-course menu

But have you considered bluestem?


Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

- T.S. Eliot

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I never came across that restaurant when doing my on-line research. I pulled up the website and it looks great. It looks like a great tasting menu. You can't beat 7 courses for 70 dollars and only$20 extra for wine. Have you eaten there? How was the food?

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I was disappointed with my meal at Circe. THe menu read better than the presentation or the taste. The service was standoffish to a single diner.

I have had great recommendations about Bluestem and will definitely check it out on my next trip to KC.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Best Restaurants in KC: 40 Sardines, Blue Stem, and The American Restaurant


"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Zin has been good for years but I've not been since current chef took the helm and have yet to try Circe, although local reviews have been mixed. I will, however, toss-in with the above recs for bluestem and 40 Sardines. I recommend both without hesitation.

And I have to add that the locals think bluestem is pricey, which some of us find dismaying/amusing. In their defense, it is at the high-end of our spectrum but, if you're used to paying Chicago/NYC/SF/LA prices, it's an absolute steal. It is small, though, so be sure to reserve -- and sooner, not later -- so you won't be disappointed. And 40 Sards is a sure thing in any season -- more approachable and straight-forward. Good fresh stuff not overly fussed with.

Let us know where you end up and how you like it.


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Along with this thread, I would like to comment on Le Fou Frog. I had gone there a couple years ago and thought it was wonderful. I remember that was where I had my first glass of Tokaji and have been in love since. I was wondering how 40 sardines compared to this place?

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The Frog remains a treat, and I eat there more often than many other places...but it's not for everyone, so I tend to recommend places that I think have more broad appeal. Maybe that's a mistake and maybe it's unfair. The people at the Frog are the best, as are the classical French bistro dishes. If that's what you're in the market for (e.g. cassoulet that's been cooked for days, rabbit, loup de mer) by all means, that's your best bet. Perhaps I underestimate the appreciation for that sort of cuisine. Or perhaps I have a deep-seeded desire to keep the crowds down at my favorite boite?


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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And I have to add that the locals think bluestem is pricey, which some of us find dismaying/amusing.  In their defense, it is at the high-end of our spectrum but, if you're used to paying Chicago/NYC/SF/LA prices, it's an absolute steal.

It depends on where you're at on the pay spectrum!


"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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The Frog remains a treat, and I eat there more often than many other places...but it's not for everyone, so I tend to recommend places that I think have more broad appeal.  Maybe that's a mistake and maybe it's unfair.  The people at the Frog are the best, as are the classical French bistro dishes.  If that's what you're in the market for (e.g. cassoulet that's been cooked for days, rabbit, loup de mer) by all means, that's  your best bet.  Perhaps I underestimate the appreciation for that sort of cuisine.  Or perhaps I have a deep-seeded desire to keep the crowds down at my favorite boite?

i dredged up this thread only because i wanted to ask about circe, as i have not been. i have been to zin (twice) and have found it relatively solid, my second experience with the tasting menu topping the first (a la carte). i'm a little turned off by the space, which i found a bit cramped and contrived, but the food was nothing to complain about. circe? anyone?

moosnsqrl, i'm sorry i have to disagree on "the frog." i have been there numerous times and have learned well not to spend any more (of my) money there. on no less than four (consecutive) occassions, their food has been mediocre to disastrously bad... the service as well can be really spotty (slow and unattentive). value is another place where i mark them down... for the same price, i can get much higher quality products, presentation, preparation, and service elsewhere (imho). even for a bistro, i find le fou frog's cuisine to be terribly crass and unappealing.

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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moosnsqrl, i'm sorry i have to disagree on "the frog."  i have been there numerous times and have learned well not to spend any more (of my) money there.  on no less than four (consecutive) occassions, their food has been mediocre to disastrously bad... the service as well can be really spotty (slow and unattentive).  value is another place where i mark them down... for the same price, i can get much higher quality products, presentation, preparation, and service elsewhere (imho).  even for a bistro, i find le fou frog's cuisine to be terribly crass and unappealing.

u.e.

No need to apologize -- chaq'un a son gout (pardon lazy lack of diacriticals). That has not been my experience (happily). I think you're a trooper to return so many times. I'm not sure I would continue to go somewhere for mediocre to disastrous food.

I think it's unfortunate that you've had bad experiences there but I'm not sure I understand the more sweeping condemnation of their cuisine as "terribly crass and unappealing." That's a pretty broad indictment and I find it more troubling than the rest. The printed menu is pretty standard bistro fare; they do have a wide variety of chalkboard specials daily, some of which are [again] pretty standard and some borrow from other cuisines reflecting the Marseilles roots of the chef. Can you give an example of dishes that caused such a strong reaction?


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I think you're a trooper to return so many times.  I'm not sure I would continue to go somewhere for mediocre to disastrous food.

I do try to give every restaurant, whether disappointed or delighted, multiple tries to make sure they're truly a disappointment or delight. That said, my budget (and often attitude) prevent me from holding up such a noble goal...

I think it's unfortunate that you've had bad experiences there but I'm not sure I understand the more sweeping condemnation of their cuisine as "terribly crass and unappealing."  That's a pretty broad indictment and I find it more troubling than the rest.  The printed menu is pretty standard bistro fare; they do have a wide variety of chalkboard specials daily, some of which are [again] pretty standard and some borrow from other cuisines reflecting the Marseilles roots of the chef.  Can you give an example of dishes that caused such a strong reaction?

I have no quibbles with their offered fare... in fact, I find the whole chalkboard menu (with eliminations as the service progresses) rather authentic and endearing. Rather, my criticisms are pointed more at preparation, quality and presentation. A couple of times, the meat was warm, while the accompaniments cold (ie. the ubiquitous and unchanging cous cous side which has ranged from mushy to pellet hard - but always cold). Other times, vice-versa. I also find the lack of vegetables very troublesome. I know French (European) bistros are not known for their vast quantities of salads and vegetal... but my goodness, Le Fou Frog has yet to put more than two green beans or two small baby carrots on my plate. Their salads are pretty, but not terribly interesting (especially for their price point).

Also, I've had both fish and meat. While I've had one very excellent preparation of sable fish (though the portion was excruciatingly small), the skate, which I loved on my first visit with the generous reduced balsamic vinegar and caper sauce was nearly fried to a crisp the second try... half was inedible - skate jerky - and that's not an exaggeration. On the meat side, I had a lamb shank that was all shank and no lamb (except tons of fat) - and cold - which, in my opinion, should never be served anything short of steaming hot (giving off wonderful aromas of the richly stewed meat and sauce). Literally, I had two forkfuls of meat and the rest was a gooey gloppy mess with a huge shank bone... I was left hungry.

Desserts I have found boring. The only thing that I can commend "The Frog" on is their interesting, and often very good sorbets and ice creams.

I hope that was a little more specific than my last general criticism.

U.E.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I have not tried Circe, although I have started to -- and wanted to. I stop and look at the menu in the window and it sounds delicious, but even those who have enjoyed it on occasion find it hit-and-miss, so I'm holding off in the hope that they work the kinks out.

Thanks, UE, for the clarification. Again, I am sorry you had unpleasant experiences. Obviously I have not and have been eating there since the night they opened but that doesn't render your unfortunate visits any better -- I am grateful to have dined there well and often. I understand, though. There are places that I have given more than ample opportunity to get it right and they've just never been hitting on all cylinders when I am there, so I have given up -- in spite of the fact that friends swear by their food. Fortunately we have lots of choices now, so no reason to subject ourselves to any further food trauma.


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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... but we digress... Circe?  Reports anyone?

I'll answer my own question.

Lunch found a friend and me at Circe recently.

I had the Smoked Salmon Salad with capers, hard boiled eggs, pickled onions and Dijon vinaigrette. ($9) It was a pretty nice salad, except I found it exceedingly salty with the pile of capers they added. Thankfully, the slightly sweet-tangy vinaigrette helped pull things back a bit. The hard boiled egg also helped even things out.

My friend picked a winner, the "Duck Club" ($9.75). A generous portion of sliced duck breast sandwiched between grilled bread with warm brie, bacon, lettuce and tomato. The sandwich was a little heavy handed on the mayonnaise for me, but it was very tasty. The breast meat was manageably tender. I only wish they had removed some of the chewy fat from the breast meat. When given a choice of French fries, cottage cheese, slaw or potato salad, without hesitation my friend ordered the fries. Generous portion, and not bad.

We split an assortment of, what else, ice creams! Peanut butter was very much so - tasted like creamy frozen peanut butter. Not my thing. Caramel tasted more like butterscotch. Not really my thing either. The best of them all was the whole reason I ordered the dessert - sweet potato ice cream (No doubt a Thanksgiving inspiration). Spiced with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange (?), perhaps some cardamom (?), the sweet potato treat also had toasted marshmallows and bits of walnuts. It was every bit as good as I had hoped. ($6)

Overall, a very good lunch (I'd just ask for them to go easy on the capers and mayo next time). I'd go back.

Sadly, we were the only diners in the restaurant for a good hour. I wondered if our server was also the cook. It was only when the phone rang and it was for someone in the back of the house that I surmised he wasn't a one-man act.

Circe is on 39th Street.

u.e.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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If it came down to Zin or Circe, Zin wins hands down. Have been there (Zin) 4 times though not in the last 9 months. Been to Circe twice, the last time about four months ago. The food is much more refined at Zin than what you will find at Circe. Circe seems to have some kind of identity crisis, not really sure where their cuisine

is going, some of the combinations are ill-conceived. Zin is much more focused, balanced and refined.


Edited by dinerminer (log)

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I was in the throes of indecision amongst all KC restos to take a Chicago guest . . . but the weather ultimately made our decision for us and we cooked chez nous.

I always appreciate updated assistance/advise, though. I hope you'll keep it coming. Not to dis the local media, but I tend to favor advice on these boards vs the (IMHO) generic mainstream press.


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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If it came down to Zin or Circe, Zin wins hands down. Have been there (Zin) 4 times though not in the last 9 months. Been to Circe twice, the last time about four months ago. The food is much more refined at Zin than what you will find at Circe. Circe seems to have some kind of identity crisis, not really sure where their cuisine

is going, some of the combinations are ill-conceived. Zin is much more focused, balanced and refined.

dinerminer, I would have agreed with you - 9 months ago. I think you need to re-visit zin (or not). They have a new chef and zin has lost it's refinement, IMO. The best chef at zin was Derek Nacey. I truly enjoyed a few of my meals under during his tenure in the kitchen. Since then it's been up and down. This new chef, Martens I think is his name, is rather ambitious, but doesn't quite have everything worked out. I've been in zin a couple of times since he's taken over and have been very underwhelmed, a little disappointed even.

I haven't had dinner at Circe, so I really can't compare between the two, but my friend and I were both happy with our lunches.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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We live very close to Circe and because we like to support our neighborhood businesses we've eaten several lunches and dinners at Circe. All of our dinners have been very good, as has the service. The food was straight forward, not especially over the top inventive, but just well prepared dishes using good ingredients. Lunches have been nice, as well. This summer we had a great cobb salad. Our daughter lives in Minneapolis, which is a great food town. We all agreed after our last dinner at Circe that the restaurant would fit the Twin Cities well. Give them a try!

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