Posts tagged ‘salads’
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.
No surprise that Forbes Cross and Michael Peterson* are a winning combination. If you mention their names in the same sentence, people assume that whatever they are working on will be successful.
So it is with their latest venture, Hickok’s Bar and Grill. It has taken over the space previously occupied by Dos Hombres in the River Market area. The interior reminded me of restaurants I have frequented in Portland, Maine, with high ceilings, brick walls and exposed pipes. It consists of several rooms, with an attractive bar in front. Though the menu is heavy with Southwestern dishes, diners will also find burgers, ribs, salads, hangar steak, meatloaf , fish and pork chops. And everything sounds appealing; it’s one of those places where it’s hard to decide what to order.
Each time I’ve been we’ve gravitated towards the Southwestern choices. The red chili chicken quesadilla was killer–a bit sweet, with pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, poblanos, and tons of flavor. The grilled shrimp tacos are another winner, served on fabulous corn tortillas, dripping with a red chili mayo. The nachos were substantial to say the least, and though I couldn’t resist plowing through the layers, they could have benefited from more “stuff” besides chicken and cheese. And then there’s the tuna. Tuna “takos”, tuna nachos on rice chips, and grilled tuna with cabbage and a red chili vinaigrette. The vinaigrette shows up often, but that’s a good thing, as it was when it graced the blackened salmon sandwich at Trezo Mare, one of the many restaurants that Peterson helped launch.
Happy Hour offers some great drink and food specials, with more than enough options to make a whole meal.
Word has it that Hickok’s has some awesome handcut French fries, so that’s a reason right there to go back, but there are two pages worth of other reasons.
* UPDATE: Michael Peterson has left Hickok’s and is planning to open his own restaurant. Hopefully, they have a chef in place who can continue what he started.
Ever heard of Taylor’s Automatic Refresher? It was the model for Rob Dalzell’s now shuttered Chef Burger, but it has drawn crowds in St. Helena and Napa for years. It recently changed hands and is now called Gott’s Roadside, but nothing else has changed.
This is no ordinary burger drive-in, though that’s exactly what it looks like. There is a long list of hamburgers, ranging from the Wisconsin Bacon Blue to the Texas burger. The ones we sampled were good, not great. But you can also order a cobb or Chinese chicken salad, chicken sandwiches in the style of the burgers, and even fish tacos. I had the ahi tuna burger, a thick tuna steak cooked rare and topped with Asian slaw and ginger wasabi mayo and served on the same egg bun as the other sandwiches. Sauces dripped down my arm as I sunk my teeth into this hefty two-hander–it was fabulous.
We sampled regular French fries, garlic fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings, none of which compared to Blanc Burger in Kansas City, but we managed to devour them anyway. The milkshakes, on the other hand, were winners. It’s probably best to judge a restaurant by how well they do a vanilla or chocolate shake, but we went for the mint chip and espresso bean shakes and they were outrageously delicious…and the perfect thickness. Not so thin that it’s like milk and not so thick that a straw is useless.
A good selection of beer and wine round out the menu, which is something you don’t often see at a roadside stand.
This is not a drive-in in terms of ordering. You walk up to a window, place your order and wait for your name to be called before hauling your tray to whatever free table you can find. There’s no indoor seating, though covered outdoor seating is an option in inclement weather. On a typical California day, the ideal place to sit is at one of the backyard picnic tables.
I have heard that the food is not as good at Gott’s as it was at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher. Though I never had an opportunity to try the original roadside stand, based on our experience I would buy that assessment. However it’s a very fun place to go on a pretty afternoon. I would definitely go back for the atmosphere and the ahi tuna sandwich. Probably a salad, too, if my snooping around the tables is any indication.
Many Kansas Citians are familiar with the La Bodega on Southwest Blvd., a longtime Spanish tapas restaurant in midtown. Its owners recently took over the vacated JP Wine Bar space in the 119 Center at 119th and Roe in Leawood, and they have certainly made it their own. The walls are now brightly colored, there’s a fireplace in the trendy bar, tapas plates are piled high on every table and the place is hopping.
On a recent visit for lunch, my group sampled a variety of sandwiches. Not the usual fare for a tapas restaurant, but that concept is better suited for dinnertime conviviality when people are more apt to linger.
The Cubano came highly recommended and was excellent. A long chewy bun was layered with thin slices of pork loin, proscuitto, Manchego cheese, yellow mustard and a pickle. The flavors were wonderful, but I think the sandwich needed more of each ingredient to make it a complete success. The Bocadillo con Entrecote a la Parilla was served on a demi-baguette and was loaded with beef tenderloin, burgundy onions and blue cheese. That combination is on many a menu, but La Bodega does it as well as any restaurant in the city. Smoked salmon lovers will revel in the Bocadillo con Salmon Ahumado, and those who crave Italian muffaletta sandwiches will be very pleased with La Boedga’s Spanish rendition the Serrano, which featured cured serrano ham, Manchego cheese and olive tapenade and tomatoes on a baguette.
Sandwiches are accompanied by a side of French fries (tasty, but they wouldn’t make my top ten), and Judías Verdes a la Vinagreta de Breba, a relatively healthful side dish with green beans, roasted potatoes and figs in a walnut-fig dressing.
A long list of intriguing salads and soups round out the menu, most of which are suitable for vegetarian diners.
Servers are still in the process of being trained. Ours was well-intentioned but didn’t know the difference between a white and rose wine. She made up for that by giving us a fabulous chocolate cake gratis for the birthday girl in our ranks.
Next time? The full tapas experience in the evening.
Webster House’s loss is Cafe Tempo‘s gain. Tim Johnson, former chef of Sebree and Crestwood Galleries and Webster House, is now running the kitchen in the Nerman cafe, which sits on the Johnson County Community College campus. Though not the menu is not as high brow or upscale, Johnson continues to emphasize quality and freshness (but he can’t fully utilize his talents in this setting).
The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch. After standing in line to place an order, you wait for your number to be called. There are salads and sandwiches, including panini, most of which can be mixed and matched. We had a very pretty but typical cobb salad (with canned olives, which always ruins a salad in my book), and a tasty mango chicken salad.
The description, which indicated grilled chicken on greens with fruits and a mango curry vinaigrette, was in fact a chopped chicken salad with those fruits tossed in with the chicken. Though not what I thought I ordered, it was a successful dish and I enjoyed it. Light and flavorful, leaving just enough room for dessert. Which we didn’t order, but should have–the carrot cake looked fabulous.
If you’re in western Johnson County, Cafe Tempo is a pleasant place to enjoy a bite. But parking is not easy–the JCCC campus is packed, so allow extra time if you’re meeting someone for lunch, you’ll need it.
The Classic Cup has always been one of my favorite restaurants, but it’s been ages since I had eaten there. As much as I love the outside deck, for quite a while the menu never changed and I grew tired of it. I had stopped ordering the Thai Chicken Pizza when the crust didn’t seem quite as fabulous as the original and I had mastered the recipe at home. Moving on, I hit upon the Magic Mushroom sandwich, a grilled Portobello with roasted peppers and goat cheese aioli, a meaty, messy stack of deliciousness, but chef Michael Turner is so talented, I wanted more from him.
I recently noticed some menu changes when I was surfing online and decided it was time for a return visit. So, on a gorgeous fall day, four of us went for lunch, sat outside and had dishes that were recent additions. I enjoyed a Tuscan tuna salad, with grilled romaine, ahi tuna and white bean salad. Though a bit heavy on the lemon caper dressing, the overall dish was solid. The crunchy texture of the grilled lettuce provided a nice contrast to the creamy beans and the tuna was prepared rare as requested.
The Cuban Muffaletta was a takeoff on two trendy sandwiches, the cuban, which pairs pork, ham and cheese, and a muffaletta which uses an olive salad as a sandwich topping. Thick and rich, it was very tasty. The lamb gyro used ground meat rather than shaved, it was spiced with harrissa, then wrapped in a thick pita and served with a cucumber salsa and tzatziki sauce. Again, another winner.
The Classic Cup is one of the few independent restaurants left on the Plaza. Given Highwood’s propensity to bringing in chain stores, it’s important to patronize each of them. And the Classic Cup been an institution for more than 20 years– we need to make sure it lives on for another twenty.