Posts tagged ‘fish’
After two pleasant visits to Tavern in the Village, the new hot spot in Prairie Village, it would seem that owner Kelly Manning has a winning formula. He’s worked in the PB& J restaurants, at Houston’s and Morton’s, so he has a solid pedigree. The Tavern is a comfortable place, with well-spaced tables, spacious booths and nice lighting. It’s family friendly, and on both occasions the service was competent. The menu, which is the same at both lunch and dinner, has a broad range of options, including chicken tacos, creole pasta,fresh fish, grilled pork chops and steaks, as well as a dozen salads and sandwiches. And, in keeping with Manning’s plan to attract repeat business, prices are reasonable.
I enjoyed both the Santa Fe chicken salad and the Asian tuna salad. However, each of them, as well as the soup and salad combo, come with a very average roll on the edge of the bowl. There’s something about the rationing and presentation that rubs me the wrong way. A bread basket is much more gracious.
The chicken nachos were an interesting appetizer, displayed as individual nacho pizzas with black beans, charred corn, pico de gallo and a goat cheese sauce on saucer-sized tortillas. Pretty as well as tasty, and certainly not an appetite-killer as some nacho platters tend to be. The upscale chicken tacos are also a bundle of flavor, served with a bowl of black beans to make it a complete meal.
I have yet to try the entrees, but I did get a look at their presentation during a recent tasting event. All of the dishes looked quite substantial and are accompanied by whipped potatoes and green beans or asparagus.
And head bartender David Smuckler knows what he’s doing–he was the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition Champion of 2007. The cocktails are creative, employ many ingredients I’ve never heard of, and have some fun names, like Thai Tavern Julep, Rosemary Monk, and Peach New Fashion. Being more of a wine snob than a cocktail maven, I was delighted to see Orin Swift’s The Prisoner on the wine list. Did I order it at $78 a bottle? No, but it’s an indication that wine is not an afterthought.
Judging from the crowds, it would appear that the Tavern achieves its goal of being a neighborhood restaurant with broad appeal. The concept is safe which, in this economy, is probably smart. And it’s been packed since day one, with families and couples young and old, most of whom are probably from the surrounding area, delighted that Prairie Village finally has an upscale restaurant that still manages to fall in the “something for everyone” category.
I’ve always loved Room 39. The servers are consistently friendly and knowledgeable, the space has a lovely coziness to it and the restaurant’s personality shifts as the clock does. In the morning it’s an upscale coffee shop, with exceptional coffee and egg dishes, including a quiche that is probably four inches high. At lunchtime, it’s a soup and sandwich spot frequented by lawyers and artists alike. The veggie burger is one of the best around, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the offerings.
Come sundown, tablecloths and votives grace the tables, transforming the restaurant into a serious, upscale dining experience. The menu changes daily and is posted online so you can get a peek of the chef’s selections before making a reservation. (The breakfast and lunch menus are set seasonally, but an extensive list of daily specials is also available.)
Owner Ted Habiger and his chefs are all about fresh and seasonal ingredients, which is why the menu has to change each day based on availability. We were lucky to be there on a night when beets were so prominently featured. The beet risotto was a stunning magenta, and the beet vinaigrette that accompanied the succulent scallops was bubble gum pink. The color could have been off-putting, but knowing that it was redolent of beet and far from artificial made it a good thing.
The rib eye was huge, prepared as ordered and very tender. (Unlike the leg of lamb which was without even a touch of pink though the server explained that the chef likes to serve it medium).
While I think of Room 39 as being quaint, and it is, that doesn’t mean it’s quiet. We were there the Thursday before Christmas, and as more diners squeezed in at the bar to wait for a table, the louder it became. We could still carry on a conversation at our table of six, but it wasn’t as relaxing as when we first sat down to a half-full room.
Room 39 also has another restaurant by the same name in Mission Farms at 105th and Mission Road. The fare is similar, though the chef at that location puts his own spin on the menu. I prefer the more charming ambiance at the location on 39th St, but the food is excellent at both.
Until last month I had never been to Pot Pie for dinner. I’m not sure what took me so long, but I’m very glad I finally made it. With its brick walls, subtle lighting and lively buzz, it’s very cozy, and an ideal winter locale. (My apologies for the poor quality of the photos, it was too dark to take decent pictures but at least they give some context to my comments.)
The nightly menu is displayed on a green board in the back of the restaurant. Unfortunately, we were seated right under it, making it a bit difficult to read, but not impossible. There were three or four salad offerings, a few appetizers, two soups and a handful of entrees, including meatloaf, scallops, grilled fish and chicken and, of course, the obligatory pot pies in meat and vegetarian versions.
This is not trendy or cutting edge cuisine, but it is very comforting and enjoyable.
Because the scallops, grilled fish and roast chicken are most often mentioned as the restaurant’s “go-to” dishes, we tried each. The scallops were tender and sweet, and the roast chicken was moist and flavorful. I wasn’t as enthralled with the mashed potatoes and gravy that accompanied it however, because surprisingly they didn’t have enough salt. How often is that the complaint? Usually, I’m turned off by oversalted foods because I rarely salt anything. But potatoes need a shake of salt to “pop” and bring out the flavor, and that mistake made this dish less than exceptional.
The fish on this night, was barramundi, better known as Australian sea bass. It was grilled perfectly, and served with a light gnocchi that was dressed with blue cheese, walnuts and spinach. An unusual combination to be sure, but it worked (though not if you’re trying to avoid a cream sauce).
The wine list is compact, but well-rounded. The best part is that they don’t go wild with the markups. Each bottle was marked up much less than most restaurants seem to do. Certainly less than the almost-standard 50%. We enjoyed one of Missouri’s finest, an Inland Sea Cabernet Franc (recently renamed Amigoni Vineyards, after its founder).
Word has it that the restaurant does an amazing chocolate chip bread pudding, so don’t miss it if you are a fan of that type of dessert. I’m not usually, but based on its reputation, this one may make me a believer.
Consumers vote with their pocketbooks, so it’s important to be well-informed. By being aware of what species are threatened, we will know what not buy in grocery stores or at restaurants. And if we stop purchasing endangered species, fish mongers and restaurants will have to follow suit and make more appropriate choices. Wild is usually better than farmed, although there are farms that are raising fish in ecologically acceptable circumstances–in general it depends on the practices used, the location and the species.
The best website I have found is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. It lists recommended fish, alternatives and species to be avoided, and is constantly updated. You can even use a mobile guide on your cell phone as you peruse options at the fish counter. Or just print out the lists and take them with you. I have provided a link below for your convenience.
The Bristol in the Power and Light District has a Happy Hour that is budget-friendly AND has outstanding food. With a broad selection of $4, $5 and $6 appetizers, you can have a drink and eat well for under $20, which at the Bristol is no small feat.
We sampled tamales with corn, lobster and just enough diced poblano pepper to give it a kick, New England-style lobster rolls, an unusually creative and deconstructed goat cheese bruschetta with tapenade and tomatoes, heavenly crab spring rolls and seared tuna tartare with wasabi vinaigrette. Roasted duck flatbread, sushi rolls, mussels, calamari, grilled chipotle shrimp and even a cheeseburger round out the creative offerings.
Each dish was beautifully presented, almost in that too-pretty-to-eat category, but we managed to devour everything that we ordered, as well as the complimentary Bristol biscuits. And we were able to dine outdoors which, on such a beautiful evening, added another positive dimension to our experience.