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bluestem: The new and improved - Kansas City


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Advice is noted,  thanks u.e.  Have a great day on me.  lol

joiei, you have *NO* idea how dearly you shall pay to make one of my days "great."

I will be anxious to see (and eat) what changes ChefCAG makes to the menu at bluestem.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Went to the lounge tonight, and maybe I'm the last to find this out, BUT...there's a dish with braised oxtail, tongue, croutons and Humboldt Fog cheese in a veal/onion jus on the regular dinner menu right now that is a wintertime rockstar. Seriously, that alone was worth the trip into the arctic wilderness.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As many of you know, Chef Garrelts is back in the kitchen now full-force, and I'd say his efforts are paying off. I had a very enjoyable evening with two friends over a 7-course dinner recently. I was told that the menu was a work in progress, and I found that there were some weaknesses (the pastas were touchy). But, overall, it was a great dinner - some of the most interesting dishes and flavor combinations I've experienced at bluestem, yet.

Here is what we had (you can see all of the photos on my flickr account); I've commented on some of the dishes that stood out:

*****

Amuse Bouche: Shotglass containing layers of mascarpone and red beets (suspended in a jelly-type substance) topped with champagne foam. This is what I call "schmancy borscht." :cool: It was a more accomplished version of a beet and horseradish cream amuse I had at Bouley.

*****

First Course:

Pear Salad

Pecans, bacon, frisee, Stilton, Champagne vinaigrette, Blis Syrup.

Bay Scallop

Green apple, fennel, endive, grapefruit, honey.

*****

Second Course:

“Manhattan Chowder”

San Marzano tomato, mussels, shrimp, bacon, potato.

Oxtail, Natural Broth

Braised tongue, sourdough crouton, Cypress Grove “Humboldt Fog.”

The server aptly described this as "French onion soup, but better." Yes, it was. The broth was immensely and satisfyingly rich and complex. The oxtail meat was moist and soft, the tongue was thin and appropriately cooked. The best part, for me, however, was the Humboldt Fog cheese, which melted ever so slightly in the warm broth and imparted a wonderful creamy pungent aroma.

*****

Third Course:

Wagyu Tartare

Black olive caramel.

How beautiful! I don't know if this was a spontaneous presentation, but this is probably my favorite incarnation to date. The cake of beef was ringed by a confetti of tiny vegetables and dotted with that addictive black olive caramel that I love so much. The beef was finely hand-chopped and nicely textured. This dish was served with a side of potato chips which made this dish fun to eat.

Foie Gras au Torchon

Quince, pomegranate, peanut.

Crispy Sweetbreads

Rock shrimp, watercress, apple, squash, pickled shallot.

*****

Fourth Course:

Calamarata

Braised short rib, goat cheese, pinenut.

My friends thought the calamarata was bland, but I thought the ragu component was rather lovely. It wasn't the most complex and nuanced ragu, but it was very lovely in a subtle way. The pasta was nicely cooked. The reason the dish might have seemed a bit flat was because I *think* it was missing the goat cheese, which I didn't realize it was missing until I thought about the dish more. Still, a very good ragu pasta; I just think there was a level of complexity missing that would have been provided by creamy, tangy cheese.

“Mac & Cheese”

Al Ceppo, fontina, black truffle, “La Quercia” speck Americano.

Burgundy Escargot

Gnocchi, porcini, Parmesano Reggiano.

This was the only true disappointment of the meal. The last time I had the gnocchi, it was the best dish of my meal. But, that was a very different dish, it involved bay scallops and piquant Grana Padano cheese. It was salty, briny, earthy-beefy, and comforting.

This dish, unfortunately, was completely bland. I think they forgot to season it. The porcini also failed to impart the earthy aroma I expected. The escargot also had a bit of sandy grit in it. The gnocchi were nice, but not as fluffy as last time. Not a disaster, just not as good as I know it could be.

*****

Fifth Course:

Seared Haddock

White beans, chorizo, onion, herb emulsion.

Had I the night to do over again, I would have ordered this fish for myself. My scallops were perfect, but this dish was more interesting. The haddock fillet was silky and moist. The beans were cooked to perfection. I liked their meaty sturdiness against the supple fish. I didn't get much chorizo flavor (but I didn't get much of a tasting at all), but the velvety herb emulsion (which was more of a sauce) really brought the fish and beans together nicely. The seasoning reminded me of Ripert's cod with potatoes and chorizo, and the simplicity and cleanness of the dish's preparation and presentation reminded me of my meals at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Gramercy Tavern last year. Yet, this dish managed to be something altogether its own. This was excellent, the highlight of the dinner.

Arctic Char

Braised brisket, mustard greens, pumpernickel horseradish crumble.

I have no idea what Chef Garrelts' inspiration was for this dish, but I found it to be a wonderful take on Scandinavian cuisine (specifically, Swedish). Char, brisket, pumpernickel, and dill, with nose-poking mustard greens standing in for horseradish. The mustard greens, with the horseradish crumble, was pretty aggressive, but I like mustard/horseradish and enjoyed the prod.

This is an unlikely surf-and-turf combination, but one that bluestem (and Swedish cuisine) features often: char/salmon/sea trout and beef. It's definitely a heartier coupling and it's the perfect kind of haute comfort food on a cold wintry night.

Diver Scallops

Rock shrimp & mussels, turnip, potato, Champagne emulsion.

*****

Sixth Course:

Campo Lindo Hen

Anson Mills grits, cippolini, oyster mushrooms, Parmesan.

After 20+ visits to bluestem, this was the first time I've actually tried to hen. It was great. I have to say that I'm not a huge Anson Mills grits fan (I like my grits more textured - more "gritty"), but, for those who are devotees to the soft-milled grit, hie thee to bluestem for it. I've seen it out on the Lounge (Shrimp & Grits, and with Brisket/Short Ribs) menu.

Roast La Belle Duck

Butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, maple.

“Akaushi” Waygu Flatiron

Crispy creamed spinach, potato puree, corn nuts.

Brilliant. This is my first time trying Chef Garrelts' Akaushi Wagyu Flatiron (I'm very excited about the Akaushi dinner at Starker's Reserve on March 17). It is spectacular. I understand that he has come up with a way to roll and cut it like a filet, which makes a more tender cut. Indeed, it was. And, the meat was nothing short of blissful. I've seen this of meat raw, and the marbling is unbelievable. Eating this cut and preparation of Akaushi makes you think twice about the way beef should taste.

The roulade of beef (you can see, it was coming unrolled) sat atop a potato puree with a breaded and fried ball of creamed spinach (the inside was velvety spinach with a creamy, cheesy mix), a clever steakhouse rift that played out with equal wit on the palate.

Also on the plate are citrus rind powder, blood orange sections, and crushed corn nuts. I was thrown by the blood orange and the citrus rind powder. But, their contribution was not unwelcomed. The citrus powder, together with the beef and demi actually reminded me of (very fine) orange peel beef, a Chinese original.

As for corn nuts, I wished there were more. Reminded me of the buffalo encrusted with corn nuts I had at The Avenues three years ago.

*****

At this point in the game, we had over-stayed our welcome in the dining room and were kindly asked to remove ourselves to the Lounge to accommodate the following party. We were more than happy to oblige.

*****

Pre-Dessert: The sous pastry chef, JWest, sent out a wonderful pre-dessert amuse. It was so refreshing. In fact I would have been happy with a bowl of it.

Dessert Amuse

Fresh orange, vanilla ice cream, lemon sherbet, vanilla bubbles.

*****

Dessert (7th Course):

Dark Chocolate Mousse Sponge Cake

Milk chocolate semifreddo, lime curd, Amerena cherries, hazelnut “glass.”

It wasn't hard for me to to like this dessert, I love chocolate and I love cherries.

This was my favorite of the three desserts for the evening. The sponge cake was moist, yet fluffy, filled with a light mousse. There was just the slightest hint of amarena cherry in the cake crumb itself, and larger morsels of cherries in the mousse filling. There were some macerated amarena cherries as garnish also.

The milk chocolate semifreddo was wonderful. I especially liked the bracing tartness of the lime curd against the cream milky chocolate goodness. Texturally, this dish also had a lot going for it: crunchy hazelnut glass, light and airy cake, luscious curd, and meaty sweet cherries.

Marcona Almond Tart

Rose petal meringue, cardamom, hibiscus, brown butter almond gelato.

Hot Valrhona Cocoa

Warm churros, Bourbon marshmallows, cinnamon ice milk.

What a fun dessert. Sipping, dunking, and munching all come together on one plate. The hot cocoa was very rich. We floated some of the marshmallows in it and dunked the churros in. While the flavors were all there, the churros were too crispy/hard. Otherwise, an enjoyable dessert.

*****

Service was friendly and accommodating. Jeremy Lamb, the wine director confidently paired two wines with my dinner, as requested. For the first courses, he poured a Sauvignon Blanc, which I loved (can't remember the label). It paired especially well with my sweetbreads and scallops (and the haddock). The red wine, a Cedarville Cabernet Sauvignon (California) - spicy, jammy and bold, with a full, velvety body - went perfectly with my Akaushi beef course.

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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Ooooh, AND, as if all of that dinner wasn't enough, bluestem's pastry department is upping the ante with a wonderful post-dinner parade of mignardises: lavender dark chocolate truffles, pecan toffee (correct me if I'm wrong, JWest), and green apple (?) pate de fruits. There were also suckers - cinnamon honey (I tasted all honey, and no cinnamon) that were just wonderful. The server told us that the suckers were a good "digestif," as if I needed convincing. :laugh:

“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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Ooooh, AND, as if all of that dinner wasn't enough, bluestem's pastry department is upping the ante with a wonderful post-dinner parade of mignardises: lavender dark chocolate truffles, pecan toffee (correct me if I'm wrong, JWest), and green apple (?) pate de fruits.  There were also suckers - cinnamon honey (I tasted all honey, and no cinnamon) that were just wonderful.  The server told us that the suckers were a good "digestif," as if I needed convincing.  :laugh:

Depending on the which evening you were dining with us, it was either pecan or walnut pralines that was a part of Megan's Petit Four Collection. The honey lollipops have fresh hand grated cinnamon for hidden depth and the green apple is what we call sour apple pate de fruit utilizing citric acid (think of kid's sour gummy worm candies) in a mixture of sugar rather than just the traditional sugar coating. We're glad you enjoyed the candies :smile:

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

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Ooooh, AND, as if all of that dinner wasn't enough, bluestem's pastry department is upping the ante with a wonderful post-dinner parade of mignardises: lavender dark chocolate truffles, pecan toffee (correct me if I'm wrong, JWest), and green apple (?) pate de fruits.  There were also suckers - cinnamon honey (I tasted all honey, and no cinnamon) that were just wonderful.  The server told us that the suckers were a good "digestif," as if I needed convincing.  :laugh:

Depending on the which evening you were dining with us, it was either pecan or walnut pralines that was a part of Megan's Petit Four Collection. The honey lollipops have fresh hand grated cinnamon for hidden depth and the green apple is what we call sour apple pate de fruit utilizing citric acid (think of kid's sour gummy worm candies) in a mixture of sugar rather than just the traditional sugar coating. We're glad you enjoyed the candies :smile:

Actually, JWest, bluestem's green apple pate de fruit was *better* than those sour gummy worms. For one, bluestem's ACTUALLY contains green apple. :wink:

Yes, pecan toffee. And, I don't even LIKE toffee - usually. This was more of a pecan toffee crumble. It wasn't the tooth-sticking crackle substance that they sell in bark form in candy bins. This was an incredibly buttery, crumbly candy studded with bits of pecans.

“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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Oh, AND p.s.s.s.s.s.s.s.: I heard that starting March 1, bluestem will be closed on Mondays. Can I get a confirmation on that, ChefCAG?

So, if there are any of you who would be silly enough to drive a considerable distance to a oft-booked restaurant sans reservations or response on the phone (ahem, Zeemanb :wink:)....

“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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So, if there are any of you who would be silly enough to drive a considerable distance to a oft-booked restaurant sans reservations or response on the phone (ahem, Zeemanb :wink:)....

Definitely a mistake I would never make on my own.......and if "the guys" tried selling me on the scenario they would be met with a broad range of expletives. However, when non-foodie girls demand an impromptu trip to Justus Drugstore to celebrate a birthday, well, I was so impressed that it wasn't ReVerse or some such spot that I figured "what the hell". That was a tough lesson though.....Saturday night at Zona Rosa....that place makes The Legends look like, well.....Parkville.

And I do believe that Oxtail/Tongue soup is going to prompt a visit to Bluestem this Thursday evening. The Humboldt Fog really does make the dish.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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I like how bluestem always asks me if I have a reservation when I go in for brunch.

I always say no and they seat me right away anyways.

My buzz immediately returns after one bloody mary and I sweat while I stuff my face with eggs benedict or chicken livers.

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would anyone be interested in dinner at Bluestem on the 26th?  I'll in KC giving a presentation to the Olathe North Culinary Arts program that afternoon, and would like to try the new menu before I head back east.

MWD,

Sorry I missed this somehow. I would've been happy to meet you there. Damn job - how am I supposed to keep up with eG and work?

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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would anyone be interested in dinner at Bluestem on the 26th?  I'll in KC giving a presentation to the Olathe North Culinary Arts program that afternoon, and would like to try the new menu before I head back east.

MWD,

Sorry I missed this somehow. I would've been happy to meet you there. Damn job - how am I supposed to keep up with eG and work?

'scool. I did two three hour classes at Olathe North, and it took way more out of me than I expected. Who knew 16-18 year olds were such a handful? And to think high school was only a decade ago!

Instead of a visit to the Bluestem lounge, I ventured down K10 to Lawrence and hit up Wheatfields for a few loaves, Free State for a few pints and Lovegarden for a few platters of vinyl (actually made out like a bandit here and found a few out of press records for way cheap).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Quick props to JWest...... I had dinner at Cafe Atlantico in DC last night, and the dessert that came with the tasting menu was White Chocolate Mousse- Warm Over Cold.....don't get me wrong, it was a fine dessert, but as I sat there all I could think about was JWest's version of a Baked Alaska that we were served last year. So thanks for ruining the end to my meal last night pal! :biggrin:

Edited by Zeemanb (log)

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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  • 2 weeks later...
Quick props to JWest...... I had dinner at Cafe Atlantico in DC last night, and the dessert that came with the tasting menu was White Chocolate Mousse- Warm Over Cold.....don't get me wrong, it was a fine dessert, but as I sat there all I could think about was JWest's version of a Baked Alaska that we were served last year.  So thanks for ruining the end to my meal last night pal!  :biggrin:

Chef Megan and I have already begun to adjust the dessert menu to the new season...keep an eye out for other versions on a variety of new american sweets :cool:

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

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I'm especially excited to try the new carrot cake dessert. I'm more excited to try the ginger-carrot sorbet that it comes with.

The lemon curd sous vides I had recently was really quite a sight to behold:

gallery_37441_5839_56980.jpg

“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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Oh, and I've been hitting the Lounge for their Happy Hour quite frequently over the past few weeks:

The spicy shrimp fricasse is my favorite dish, by far.

The duck confit has been re-tooled, and I love it. It's moist and flavorful - with a dark caramel-y dijon mustard-spiked sauce. The peas I experienced last time were WONDERFUL. ChefCAG, where are you getting them peas? They were big, meaty and sweet.

“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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My report on the carrot cake is as follows............ it is excellent.

Thanks, Zeemanb, for the report. Any other details?! I'm particularly interested in the ginger carrot sorbet.

“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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My report on the carrot cake is as follows............ it is excellent.

Thanks, Zeemanb, for the report. Any other details?! I'm particularly interested in the ginger carrot sorbet.

The sorbet is much lighter/mellower than one would expect seeing "ginger" as an ingredient, but in a way that really compliments the spice in the cake. And the nougatine is reminiscent, in its own unique way, of "mom's" homemade carrot cake cream cheese frosting. A total winner, but I'm just a sucker for carrot cake of any kind.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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My report on the carrot cake is as follows............ it is excellent.

Thanks, Zeemanb, for the report. Any other details?! I'm particularly interested in the ginger carrot sorbet.

The sorbet is much lighter/mellower than one would expect seeing "ginger" as an ingredient, but in a way that really compliments the spice in the cake. And the nougatine is reminiscent, in its own unique way, of "mom's" homemade carrot cake cream cheese frosting. A total winner, but I'm just a sucker for carrot cake of any kind.

The peas man, did you have the peas. Report on the damn peas. Did I mention I like fresh peas?

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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The peas I experienced last time were WONDERFUL. ChefCAG, where are you getting them peas? They were big, meaty and sweet.

Yes, Z, how were the peas?! Did you try them peas?

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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The peas I experienced last time were WONDERFUL. ChefCAG, where are you getting them peas? They were big, meaty and sweet.

Yes, Z, how were the peas?! Did you try them peas?

I went over the menu about five dozen times before deciding on the Arctic Char, Mustard Greens and Lentils.......so none of 'dem peas for me. It was a tough, tough choice, but a very good one. Having such limited capacity for food now DOES have its drawbacks......BUT leftover char and greens makes a pretty great late night snack.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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The peas I experienced last time were WONDERFUL. ChefCAG, where are you getting them peas? They were big, meaty and sweet.

Yes, Z, how were the peas?! Did you try them peas?

I went over the menu about five dozen times before deciding on the Arctic Char, Mustard Greens and Lentils.......so none of 'dem peas for me. It was a tough, tough choice, but a very good one. Having such limited capacity for food now DOES have its drawbacks......BUT leftover char and greens makes a pretty great late night snack.

Oh, you didn't say you were dining off of the dining room menu! I just assumed you were taking advantage of that great happy hour deal!

I won't argue with char and greens as a midnight snack!

“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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The peas I experienced last time were WONDERFUL. ChefCAG, where are you getting them peas? They were big, meaty and sweet.

Yes, Z, how were the peas?! Did you try them peas?

I went over the menu about five dozen times before deciding on the Arctic Char, Mustard Greens and Lentils.......so none of 'dem peas for me. It was a tough, tough choice, but a very good one. Having such limited capacity for food now DOES have its drawbacks......BUT leftover char and greens makes a pretty great late night snack.

Oh come *on*, man!

"All we are saying is give peas a chance!" ;)

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