Monday, October 29, 2012

Uncommon Stock on Urbanspoon

Uncommon Stock is an interesting place.  It’s owned by the same people that run Happy Gillis in the garage behind the restaurant.  It’s a “take and bake” type of place.  You walk in, place your order and take the soup home to reheat it.  Uncommon Stock is only open from 10am to 4pm Friday and Saturday and from 10am to 2pm on Sunday.  I wish that they would remain open until 5:30 on Fridays, that way those of us who still work downtown could pick up a quart before heading home.  At this point it seems that 3 different soups will be prepared each weekend. You can find out what soup’s on by checking out their web page each week.

I have tried four of the soups so far, first up, Lentil Soup with Autumn Vegetables and Sausage.  The sausage was crumbled into really tiny pieces, the vegetables were cut into tiny cubes as well; you could tell that someone had gone to a lot of work.  The vegetables hadn’t been cooked to mush; they were still slightly firm, which I like.  It had a great flavor, and a slight kick.  I would definitely buy this one again.    

I have also tried the Slow Cooked Beef and Toasted Barley Soup a classic, comfort soup. The ingredients were listed as: Tender butcher’s cut beef, pearled barley, onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, mushrooms, garlic, fresh herbs, rich stock, a splash of orange juice, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

They suggested pairing this soup with a warm baguette and soft, high quality butter with a sprinkle of fleur de sel. It was also sugguested that this selection would pair nicely with a Belgian Ale.

The tender butcher’s cut beef turned out to be ground sirloin. I was surprised and disappointed.  To me it was like eating a “loose meat” sandwich with vegetables in it, in a thin hamburger juice broth, not the "rich stock" I was expecting.  I guess I’m just not used to having hamburger in my soup.  It wasn’t that it was bad; I guess I was just expecting something different in a heartier beef broth. 

I’m going to continue checking this place’s website this winter.  I love the concept, high quality “home-made” soup to go.  I just have to reheat and eat.  It makes an easy Sunday night dinner.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lidia's Italy - Kansas City

Lidia's Kansas City on Urbanspoon

I am a big fan of Arancini.  At Lidia’s they are stuffed with Lobster, ever so lightly breaded and plated on a bed of pureed corn, drizzled with basil oil.  There aren’t words in the English language that can adequately describe the pleasure I receive by eating these.  Add a glass of wine, a few friends and/or family members that you love and they launch the start of a perfect night of dining out. 
I truly enjoy everything about Lidia’s; the setting in an old freight house, the atmosphere that the designers have created with the space, including the wisteria and mandevilla covered trellis that you walk under to the front door, the hand blown glass chandeliers that hang from the ceiling and the interesting way in which the space is divided to create more intimacy. 
I always order the Pasta Trio; mostly because I like pasta but also because I love the whir of activity that surrounds the table when the guys bring out the still sizzling skillets filled with pasta that they scoop directly onto your plate.  They will bring out more if you like, but I never do, I save room for dessert, you should too, their dessert chef just won a “Food and Wine” award.  There are always interesting options, however, one of us always picks something with chocolate that we all share, because as I always tell my son, money can’t buy happiness, but it CAN buy chocolate, so we do, and eat it while sipping a cup of good coffee.
The food here is always good and the service is some of the very best in the city.  I really enjoy spending an evening here eating, talking and laughing.  My son says he wishes that he could live here… yup, we like it that much.  As always, we have a great time, maybe next time you can join us.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plaza III Steakhouse

Plaza III Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Plaza III Steakhouse has a great reputation in town.  It is a place that many people go to celebrate special occasions in their lives.  It was my spouse’s birthday, so I went here on a Sunday evening with my spouse and my 17 year old to celebrate.  I hadn’t been here in years and I must admit that I was surprised.  When we walked in the door on Pennsylvania Street we were immediately greeted by an incredibly unpleasant smell.  It was a very strong distinctive sewer odor, as if theirs had backed up into the basement.  That smell was present in the dining room as well.  I understand that these things happen, so I don’t begrudge them for that, I just think we should have been told, “Hey look, our sewer backed up, you may want to come back in a few days after we have it cleaned up”.  But, my spouse’s heart was set on eating here so we did. 
The next surprise is that it was like stepping back in time.  I don’t think the decor had changed since the last time I was there a few years back, even then it was like a time capsule to 1978 – 1982, with one exception, it looks like hooligans were set loose to beat every surface with sticks and chains.  Everything is now very well worn and in dire need of an update. 
Lastly, the tables are very uncomfortably close together, so it’s more like eating in a bistro than an upscale steakhouse.  We could hear the conversations of everyone around us, which was uncomfortable for all.  The worst offender was a man, probably in his 80’s, sitting in the far corner by the windows that face Ward Parkway.  He needed to turn his hearing aid up.  He was making scandalously crass remarks about other diners in the establishment, some of which were racist.  He was doing this at full volume; everyone had to be able to hear him.  Luckily for the other diners, all those who were being viciously, verbally attacked, graciously ignored him and didn’t create a scene. 
Looking around the room, I noticed that nearly everyone was of retirement age (or getting there fast); we were the second youngest couple there.  The youngest couple was seated next to us but demanded to be moved.  They refused to sit at any table they were offered and were finally seated in a back room all by themselves.  This brings me to my final observation.  They level of pretention in this place is higher than anywhere else I’ve eaten in a long while (again, not Plaza III’s fault).  The fact that I’m not used to being around so many condescending, arrogant, nasty people, along with the fact that the tables are so close together, made this dining experience unpleasant.  The saving grace, I was with the two people I love most (and I drank the better portion of a bottle of wine).
The food wasn’t amazing by any means, it was just average, the service however was great.  The wait staff here earns every penny.  The patrons are people I’m glad that I don’t know.  I think it will be a while before I return.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Opera House Coffee and Food Emporium

Opera House Coffee and Food Emporium on Urbanspoon

This is a very interesting and eclectic place both foodwise as well as atmospherewise. First foodwise, it is a collection of three main businesses. A  coffeehouse, a bakery and a grill that serves burgers and tacos and the like; breakfast is also available.

Paleo Burger

Bacon Cheese Burger

The grill is called the Paleo Grill (as in Paleolithic), there was a well worn book propped up on a stand on the order counter entitled “The Paleo Diet for Athletes”.  In case you are not familiar with this diet, it’s based on a very simple principle, if the cavemen didn’t eat it; you probably have no business eating it either. Relax, they aren’t going to force you to eat this way, they have two menus.  The Paleo Menu is seasonal and changes based on the availability of the farm to table items.  This makes me wonder about sourcing during winter, but I guess we have something that the cave men didn't; freezers.  Is freezing food cheating?  The Paleo Grill guarantees that all of their meat and produce is certified naturally grown on a farm.  This means that the farmers did not use chemical pesticides or herbicides.  The animals used for meat were grass fed and not injected with antibiotics, steroids or growth hormones.  I like that idea a lot!  My spouse ordered a burger, sting beans and a side of guacamole from the Paleo Menu.  It was alright, but not amazing by any means.  I tried a bacon cheese burger and the pork carnitas from the regular menu.  I liked the pork carnitas, the marinade had a nice flavor and they were very juicy.  The bacon cheese burger was ok, but both of us thought the bun tasted odd, it was sweet, and that made it a no for me. 

We had two items for dessert from the Bake Haus bakery.  A macaroon and a lemon bar.  Both were good and went down well with a cup of coffee from the Classic Rock Coffee Company.    

The atmosphere is trashy chic done very well, an eclectic mix of industrial and urban modern loaded full of vintage bric-a-brac. It seems both hip and homey. Although I sure would hate to be the one to dust all of that stuff, I did enjoy sitting there looking at it.  There is a stage where music is performed, one of the guys there that we presumed to be an owner told us that they have applied for a liquor license and hope to have more live music once their license comes through.  I could see people hanging out there listening to music.  It’s a great concept, complementary businesses sharing a space, I know that we’ve enjoyed the time we spent there both times that we went, but we usually do. Too bad you couldn’t have been there with us.   


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Local Pig

The Local Pig on Urbanspoon

I first learned about Local Pig while eating at Haus.  Haus’ sausages come from Local Pig.  I hadn’t had exotic wild game sausages like those before so I decided to hunt this place down to see if I could buy some of those sausages myself to make at home for backyard cookouts with friends.  And hunt down we did, this butcher shop is well off the beaten path in the Northeast Industrial District, below the bluffs, south of the river and east of I-35.  Local Pig touts that they select only hormone, steroid and antibiotic free meats, most of which are raised near the city.  I like that.  I also liked the helpful guys working there on a Sunday morning. 

I chose a few pounds of bacon burger, hamburger with bacon ground into it, so ingenious in its simplicity that I had one of those “Why didn’t I ever think of that?”moments.  I’ve wrapped burgers with bacon, cooked bacon separately and placed it on top of the burger, but I had never thought about grinding the bacon into the beef so that it is thoroughly and evenly mixed.  The end result after grilling was an amazingly delicious bacon flavored burger.  We also requested 2” bone-in pork chops.  I’ve always liked going to the butcher since I was a kid.  It was always cool to see them picking up those big chunks of meat and either slicing or grinding it per request and then wrapping it in white butcher paper.  The Local Pig wraps theirs in the same white butcher paper but then places them in a cardboard box tied shut with twine.  Nice touch.   We ate the burgers for lunch and the 2” bone-in pork chops for dinner making us gluttonous local pigs ourselves.  
There are several great locally owned and operated butcher shops carving up a quality product that are much easier to get to.  I like Local Pig because they offer classes.  They offer a class that teaches you how to butcher a pig from snout to tail as well as one that teaches you how to make sausage.  Being a lifetime learner, I really like that.  The whole hog butchering class is probably a bit much for this city boy to handle, but I’m planning to get some guys together to go to the sausage making class, I think it would be a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have fun there, just as we always do, maybe this time you can be there with us.

Haus on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Parkville on the Med

Cafe Cedar on Urbanspoon

Odd little place, it seems that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.  The facade from 9 Highway looks like a decaying riverboat.  When you walk in, you walk down a hallway that has little rooms on the left with windows so that you can see that they are stuffed full of Native American paraphernalia.  A hand written sign on each window reads; “Not for sale, for display only.”  The dining area is a large, rather open area with a bar in the center surrounded by booths and tables.  There is an eclectic menu offering, American or Mediterranean cuisine. 
Our little trio tried the Chicken Noodle soup and the Lentil soup.  Both were very good and obviously house made.  The celery and carrots in my chicken soup were still a bit firm, I liked that.  The chicken had a nice flavor as did the broth, although it had slightly too much cracked black pepper for my taste.
I went with the Chicken Kebab.  It was served over saffron rice.  The pieces of chicken were huge, nicely seasoned, juicy and tender.   
My 17 year old chose Lahamei Pasta as his entrée.  It is lamb (you can also choose beef), with tomatoes,
onions and green peppers over linguine pasta in a zesty tomato fresh garlic dill sauce.  This sounded like it would be spicy, but it turned out to be sweet.  He didn’t like it and ate a couple of pieces of my chicken and the tomatoes from my plate instead. 
My spouse had the Be Dejaj.   It is the same marinated grilled chicken that I had on my kebab, so it was good.  It also comes with tomatoes, onions and green peppers but is served over Humus or Baba Ghanouj instead of saffron rice.  My spouse asked to have it served over half Humus and half Baba Ghanouj.  We enjoyed eating it with the pita wedges provided.
The only thing we did not like here was their house wine.  I had a Cab and my spouse a Merlot.  Both were beyond awful.  It’s as if they had been uncorked and left to sit out for a week.  Mine tasted like it had gone to vinegar.  I took three sips and left it.  My spouse’s was no better.  This must not be a wine drinker’s place… 
Although this isn’t may favorite Mediterranean place.  The food is not bad.  I will admit that my favorite item was the chicken noodle soup.  I wanted to buy a quart of it to take home.  The lentil soup is also good as was the chicken on this visit.
We had a great time here, just like we always do.  I wish you could have been here with us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are you Greatful?

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon

I admit, I went here for my spouse, I wasn’t too excited to go to a place with an all vegan menu, in fact, I haven’t been to a place with an all vegan menu before but I found several Items on the menu that I liked.

The place is interesting and very “new age-y”, for example, our waitress came over to our table and told us the topic of conversation for the day was “Who inspires you” and encouraged us to discuss this topic amongst ourselves.  Now I have observed obviously married couples who sit across from each other in a restaurant and do not utter a single word to each other for their entire meal.  This may be helpful for them; they won’t have to stare at their plates, other diners, or risk almost falling out of their chairs because they are leaning over so far with their heads cocked to the side, straining to eavesdrop upon our conversations.  Seriously, it happens nearly every time we are out.  To those who are most blatant, one of us will look directly at them and ask them a question and try to draw them in to the conversation.  After all, they were already listening, they may as well engage, and most do.  It makes our outings even more fun.  Anyway, interesting idea and not one I’ve seen elsewhere, maybe it will save a few relationships.

Some items are listed as “live” on the menu, I asked the waitress what that meant (these are plants after all, once you harvest them, aren’t they dead)? It means that they weren’t heated above 115 degrees and therefore keep most of their nutrients and flavor. Many ingredients are organically grown locally at a farm named “Be Love Too”. Okay, so the name is a little odd, but I like the organically grown locally part.  I’m a big proponent of the whole eat local craze, at best, it is hopefully making me healthier, at least, it is supporting local family farmers and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.   

To drink, I ordered the “I AM EFFERVESCENT” (see I told you the place was “new age-y”) This concoction is house made ginger-ale served on ice with fresh ginger juice, lemon juice and agave topped with sparkling water.  I liked it, it was VERY “ginger-y”, if you like eating very sharp ginger snaps around the holidays, you’ll enjoy this drink.  The "served on ice" part is important.  You get a bottle of room temperature water on your table which is poured into glasses without ice.  "It’s better for your digestion".

photo courtesy of Wikipedia
My spouse ordered two items to drink; the first was some wheat grass concoction that was a deep green color and the second was a shot of “I AM ENLIVENED” which is live Klamath Lake blue green algae.  What would possess people to drink pureed Oregon lake moss is beyond me.  My spouse told me that this particular algae from this particular lake was supposed to have powerful therapeutic effects. I just kept thinking about what kind of diseases you could catch from ingesting it.  What did it taste like?  Please! What do you think pureed lake moss tastes like?  It pretty much tastes like it smells, so if you like the smell, you'll love the taste.

For an appetizer we had the “I AM CONNECTED” which was sprouted almond hummus & homemade crackers.  The crackers had a base of shredded carrots and were totally encrusted on both sides with sesame seeds.  Our waitress told us that they dehydrate the mixture and that’s what makes them crunchy.  I don’t know if the hummus was good.  It was served ice cold and after three bites, I could no longer taste anything but the large amount of hot sauce that someone had stirred into it.  Bummer.


I am humble

For an entrée, I had the “I AM HUMBLE”, which is Indian curried lentils over quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah, according to the waitress) with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes, drizzled with a spicy mint chutney.  I had never had quinoa before, at least not that I remember, to me, quinoa can best be described this way; If couscous could procreate, their infants would be quinoa (they seemed like baby couscous to me).  This was okay, but again, it had so much hot sauce in it that I couldn’t feel my tongue or the roof of my mouth after about the fourth bite.  I also burned the back of my throat and esophagus.  To me, this ruins the entire enjoyment of eating, why eat if you can taste nothing.  I only ended up eating half of it.  Maybe this stuff is awful and they hide that fact by making it mouth-burning spicy. My spouse had a wrap which was advertised as live.  It went half eaten as well.   

For Dessert, we shared a lemon, poppy seed pie which was nearly flavorless.  But maybe it only seemed that way because my taste buds had been deadened by the hot sauce in my meal.  The poppy seeds served no purpose other than being annoying objects that became stuck in my teeth.  I wouldn't order this again.

Anyway, we had fun together, just like we always do.  I wish you could have been there with us.