Posts tagged ‘small plates’

Oyamel–Washington, DC

Put Oyamel on your list the next time you visit our nation’s capitol. This attractive restaurant features small plates and authentic Mexican flavors, best enjoyed family style to experience the entire array of offerings on the menu.

Mole is an intense sauce, made with a variety of chile pods, fruit and nuts. Oyamel makes several different ones and pairs them with meat or fish. The scallops with green mole were a particular treat, as was the chicken and rice smothered with poblano mole.

The best dish? A quesadilla with huitlacoche and tomatillo salsa. Huitlacoche is corn smut, popularly referred to as a Mexican black truffle. Whenever I see huitlacoche on a menu, I always order it because it’s rare and incredibly delicious (check out a similar dish in Kansas City at Frida’s, along with their fabulous squash blossom quesadilla.)

We also enjoyed wonderful chips and salsa, a corn tamale, duck confit flautas and a taco with Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange, though the latter didn’t have the oomph of some of the other selections.

The choices get harder during weekend brunch, when some incredible sounding egg dishes are added to the mix.

And, not surprisingly, the drink list includes a dazzling variety of margaritas, including the Classic which can even be ordered by the pitcher.

What’s not to like about this place?

Oyamel on Urbanspoon


August 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

JP Wine Bar

I have always been a fan of JP Wine Bar in the Crossroads District.  (The Leawood location recently closed.) I enjoy the wine and cheese flights and the food has always been fabulous. Last year the menu was tweaked to include more entrees and fewer small plates, evidently because Kansas Citians have trouble with the small plate concept and don’t know how much to order (or maybe they just wanted larger portions).

It’s been a while since I’d been and I wanted to check out some of their newer menu items. My friend and I split the scallops with grilled artichokes, carnitas, and seared tuna with a sushi rice cake and stir fried vegetables. Though each dish was good and nicely presented, nothing was memorable or knock- your-socks-off delicious. The scallops were properly prepared, but one-dimensional and  not very exciting. The carnitas were served with good homemade corn tortillas and a spicy green sauce, but the black beans that accompanied the pork were beyond dry. The tuna was rare as requested, but the entire dish lacked flavor and oomph. It was a real disappointment.

The patio was packed on such a beautiful evening and the service was excellent. It’s still a great place for some special wine–I just hope the chef works on returning the food to its former glory.

J P Wine Bar & Coffee House on Urbanspoon

May 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment

Extra Virgin–Kansas City

With its brick walls, open kitchen and oh-so-cool bar, Extra Virgin is an extremely genial spot to try dishes not encountered elsewhere in Kansas City. A New York-styled restaurant in the heartland, this lively tapas spot is for the adventurous eater who enjoys trying unusual disheExtra Virgin-Kansas Citys. Michael Smith is in the kitchen here, and runs a path between it and his eponymous restaurant next door.

Although a special section on the menu targets the “adventurous” eater, mainstream diners will find even the less exotic offerings, from chorizo and fig stuffed chicken to spicy halibut cheeks, a bit unusual.  The tapas concept makes it especially fun, and the menu changes often to encourage repeat business.  It’s a fun place to go with a group to allow a large sampling, or for a sophisticated date-night with your main squeeze. Yellowtail ceviche with fried plantains-Extra Virgin

Having been several times, we opted for some of the selections I had not tried, including yellow tail ceviche with fried plantains, lobster and chorizo fried rice, scallops with sweet potato puree and a beet salad. All were delightful, and beautifully presented.  Scallops with sweet potato puree and goat cheese-Extra Virgin

This is not inexpensive fare. But there are a number of ways to make the experience quite affordable. Go before 6 p.m. and many offerings are half-price, even at lunch. On Mondays, hand-crafted pizzas are $8 (remember that Michael Smith and Debbie Gold were the culinary gurus behind the Spin concept) and bottles of wine are half-price.

Extra Virgin on Urbanspoon

November 19, 2009 at 9:27 am 2 comments

JP Wine Bar

It may be a wine bar, but JP‘s Leawood location most definitely serves lunch. JPWineBar-LeawoodIn fact, the food coming out of the kitchen at noon and in the evening rivals any of upscale dining experiences around town. I have been on several occasions to both locations, for small plates, cheese plates and entrees, but this was my first time trying the lunch menu.

We had a friendly, easy-going server, and were unfortunately  her only table. When we asked about the lack of customers, she explained that people don’t associate a wine bar with food, much less lunch. I’m happy to spread the word because we had a great meal. The hamburgers, both beef and pork, were substantial and well dressed. The grilled cheese was outstanding, undoubtedly due in part to the use of the same artisan cheeses found on the creative cheese plates. And, the french fries are definitely going on my “Best of Kansas City” list.JP-WineBar-Hamburger-Frenchfries-Leawood

J P Wine Bar & Coffee House on Urbanspoon

October 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm Leave a comment

The Drop Bar

I love the Drop. If you haven’t been, go, and if you haven’t been lately, it’s time to go back. It’s on Martini Corner, on 31st Street, between Oak and Gilham. While the stark décor might be more attractive to the under thirty crowd, the food should be pleasing to all palates.IMG_0335

The menu is small, but each item is tasty and fresh. We started with white bean hummus, topped with  toasted cumin seeds that lent an unique taste to the taste and presentation.

The most inspired offering that’s not to be missed is the bruschetta platter. Share it with a friend and make a meal of it. The innovative list of bruschetta features more than a dozen from which the diner picks four to sit atop the thick grilled bread. We chose the brie and apple, the strawberry and IMG_0336gorgonzola, both of which were excellent but couldn’t unseat my two favorites– the one with pistachios, chopped figs and goat cheese, and the other with fontina, caramelized onions and spiced almonds.

Though the original menu featured mostly items that didn’t need to be cooked (the restaurant has a ridiculously small kitchen), the Drop now offers small plates and even such substantial dishes as lamb chops and coffee encrusted ribeye.  The crab cakes were fabulous–as good as anywhere in the  city,with only enough filler to hold each one together, and served with a spicy sriracha aioli and guacamole. We practically licked the plate! IMG_0339

The place is quite the scene, especially during Happy Hour when they offer great food and drink specials, including 1/2 priced starters and $5 glasses of wine.  The music tends to be too loud for the over-40 crowd, but it does add to the lively atmosphere.

Starting Sept 28, the Drop will again be open for lunch, following a break during which owner Eddie Crane enjoyed his new baby. That’s good news for all of us who missed stopping by at the noon hour for a light salad and bruschetta or sandwich.

Drop on Urbanspoon

September 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Cafe Trio

Judging from the crowds at the new Cafe Trio on Main Street, I must be the only one in town who is not a huge fan.

I was always skeptical of the ambitious menu at their old venue on Broadway. How can a kitchen make that many dishes well? When I heard that the new menu had been pared a bit, with an emphasis on small plates, I was excited to give it a whirl.

We arrived during Happy Hour and were lucky to snag a table on the outdoor deck. It’s attractive, with a long, narrow bar and a water mister to keep customers cool in hot weather. The view is among the best around, overlooking JC Nichols fountain and the Plaza. And, best of all, reservations are taken for outdoor tables–I can’t think of any other place that does so, usually it’s first come first serve.

We ordered small plates for the entire table to share. The calamari was a welcome change from the ubiquitous fried presentation, instead sauteed with white wine, capers, butter, herbs and a touch of spice. The pizzas are cracker thin, with ample cheese but not much flavor despite the number and mix of toppings. Short ribs come with mashed potatoes and caramelized onions, and are cooked til falling off the bone. The crab cakes were fried without much filler and served with a spicy aioli and greens.

Each of the dishes was fine. But nothing was particularly noteworthy in terms of taste or presentation. Maybe the entrees are more enticing, I’ll try them next time. The wine list needs some work, it’s clearly an afterthought. Martinis and other cocktails are the focus, and on that score the restaurant is clearly succeeding. The bar, inside and on the deck, is the hot spot of the moment, whether you’re in high heels or tennis shoes.

I hope Cafe Trio does well. It’s gone into a space that hasn’t done a bang up business since Venue held court there for so many years. And with the economy in the tank, it is good to see such activity. If the kitchen were to operate on the same level as the bar (which does seem to have its act together), it would be a winning combination.

Cafe Trio
4558 Main St.

July 3, 2009 at 7:54 am Leave a comment