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When Price is No Object

There are those special occassions in life when we want the very best our city has to offer. Sometimes it’s a milestone anniversary or birthday, a retirement or celebration of a baby or a new job. For many people New Year’s Eve is the night to put on the fancy clothes and live it up! With that swanky event just around the corner, I thought it was a good time to give you my rankings of  the the BEST places in KC when price is no object.

Not all of these venues have sky-high menus. I listed many because you get can get the feel of an exclusive, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, fine-dining experience wiouthout emptying your wallet. Check out their online menus to find out if will fit the bill for your next big night out.

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Your Dining Dollars Matter

Eye-opening article in the Pitch discusses what KC restaurants have come and gone this year. It’s a stark reminder that how and where we spend our dining dollars will impact the eating options we have down the road.

Read it here.

Most heartbreaking on the list of closures was Skies and the legendary

Peachtree Buffet on Eastwood Trafficway. Every time  we wanted to show off Kansas City to out-of-town visitors we took them to Skies for cocktails. The fantastic views at dusk were hard to beat. And it was the perfect opportunity to point-to and brag about the multitude of KC sights, activities and offerings for visitors and locals alike. Sharing my town with friends from that birds-eye view made me realize my love for KC more every time. Hopefully, the venue isn’t closed for good.

Skies had the most amazing 360-degree view of KC

The Peachtree Buffet was everything you could ask for a in soul-food buffet: piles of fried okra, spiced syrupy sweet potatoes, amazing fried chicken, seasoned collard greens and fantastic pork  neckbones. And best of all – as much of it as you want to eat! I was terribly disappointed when Peachtree closed their Power & Light location but elated just a year later when I discovered their buffet. Now both are gone. I suppose I’ll have to check out some of KC’s other soul-food offerings.

As for the list of newly opened destination, I can’t wait to try the Plaza’s new gastropub Gram & Dun. The menu looks enticingly creative and the patio will surely be a hit as the weather warms this spring.

This Week’s Tastings

Oh my, the day after Christmas – Decision Point!!! To either turn it around, put down my mom’s homemade peanut butter balls and get the eating back on track OR to have just  a few more bites of the leftover potatoes and dressing and one more slice of pecan pie????

Of course I know what my decision is as I write. We’ll see if it holds up when I go by grandma’s house for lunch. It’s always an interesting week of cuisine, the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It seems to be one extreme or the other – feast or famine. Holed up inside the house, eating whatever’s left in the cupboard, living in your pajamas…… or on the go, more parties and lots of good food from your kitchen and others. Well my week seems to be shaping up like a feast this year!

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Sweet Ham-n-Cheese Baby Buns

There are so many delicious dishes around the holidays, it’s hard to pick just one to share. So today, I decided to go with the most recent and one of the easiest.

I’m a big fan of King’s Hawaiian bread. I first discovered it in college as the bread bowl holding some outstanding spinach dip at a Super Bowl party. I got the recipe from my friend and made it for our next gathering. As much as I loved that dip, I couldn’t get over how satisfying the bread was! It was soft and sweet and rich, but substantive enough to hold a big ‘ol hunka dip.

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Oooey Gooey Chocolates

The holidays bring with it an abundance of wonderful indulgences. SOooooo many, in fact, that we often times find ourselves passing over the sweets, snacks, chocolates and candy – even the homemade stuff sometimes – in order to keep the waistline under control.

Well, that was part of my plan this week. I would just have a select few, very small sweets in the days leading up to Christmas so that I could partake in every whim of sugar-filled, sugar-coated, sugar-frosted Christmas goodness that came my way over the weekend (and don’t forget those crazy good fatty homemade dips, too)! That was UNTIL the most gorgeous cookie and candy tray showed up on a coworker’s desk!

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This Week’s Tastings

Well I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but tonight’s dinner consisted of free samples being handed out in the mall food court! Considering all I’ve been eating lately, it might be  decent diet plan. It strangely worked out very well. I parked by the food court entrance and as I hurried through to finish some Christmas shopping, I got a sample of teryaki chicken, a sub and some orange chicken. Then on my way out I had more of the same. Nothing like dinner served on toothpicks! (By the way, that teryaki chicken from the Japanese place was very good.)

Fortunately, the rest of the week will more than make up for my lackluster psuedo-dinner. Tomorrow is a very big day with both a new adventure and some old favorites.

I’m meeting some girlfriends for lunch at the new Westport Cafe. It’s new to me at least….I sadly have not yet made it there to check out what I hear is pretty good French food. Then the evening holds a wine tasting and Christmas party at two of my favorite culinary neighbors – bluestem and PotPie! I’m already trying to decide if I will order the scallops or the pan-seared chicken. Then again, the fish is always great at PotPie…and there’s, of course, outstanding potpie!

Friday we’ll meet up with friends for a pre-holiday dinner at one of KC’s most unique and delicious fine-dining establishments, Piropos. This Argentine steakhouse is a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or just grab a fantastic steak. With a gorgeous view of downtown Kansas City and the Briarcliff Village Shoppes lit up like the Plaza, it’s a wonderful place to indulge.

Then on to the fun of the holidays! Saturday morning I plan to make a soup and my favorite deviled eggs to take to the family gathering. If you like garlic, you’ll love my eggs. Just replace the yellow mustard in your recipe with Stonewall Kitchen’s Roasted Garlic Mustard.  It gives it a little kick and a wonderfully rich flavor! Try other mustards too – wasabi or horseradish flavor. Try a few. Perhaps your experiment will turn into your Perfect Bite.

Champagne Wishes

Having limited options can sometimes be an opportunity to create! That’s just what I did one morning on our trip to the Dominican Republic.

For my birthday, The Hubs had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting in our room after we returned from dinner. It was a wonderful treat and a very sweet surprise.

But an even bigger surprise was the fantastic cocktail I crafted the next morning. Surprised to see a few bits of ice still floating in the stainless steel wine chiller, I thought I would pour a little and hope for some bubbles. Amazingly, the champagned fizzed up to the top of my glass and I knew I was in business.

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Looking back, I’m not sure what made me think eating Chinese or Japanese on a tropical island was going to be a good experience. But now that I’ve made this mistake twice, I thought I would try to save others at least.

We arrived in the Dominican Republic Thursday afternoon and got checked into our all-inclusive style resort without much fuss. Now before some of you foodies snarl your nose at the “mass-produced, recycled, monoflavor cuisine” that is stereotypical of this hotel genre, you should know that we’ve been lucky enough to find a couple all-inclusive places with very, very good food – good enough that we keep going back. At the same time, I’ve been to my share of beautiful resorts with grandiose rooms, pristine beaches and down right nasty food.  It’s just a chance you take whenever you try something new in another country.

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Nestled among the boutiques and specialty stores in the Village Shopping Center, Story is another jewel in Kansas City’s crown of progressive culinary offerings. Opening over the summer, this spot – perfect for lunch or dinner – has lived up to the high expectations so many had for Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen.

Having worked under Chef Micheal Smith at 40 Sardines and most recently as his chef de cuisine at Extra Virgin, Thorne-Thomsen had a great reputation. Lucky for KC, he and his wife Susan took the plunge and decided to bring our town another great establishment.

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Cocktails in KC

Creative cocktails can add the perfect touch to a pre-dinner chat or make a night out with friends just a little more interesting. Menus filled with classic drinks, many a throwback to the days of prohibition, are all the rage right now. Some talented bartenders are taking a culinary approach to their art and turning a great drink into an even greater sensory experience.

In Kansas City, you can find some very adept mixologists around town. Both Justus Drugstore Restaurant and bluestem will whip up a magnificent drink to suit your fancy. And Manifesto is one of my favorite places to take out-of-town friends and show them just how awesome our city has become. If you go, you must try the Beautiful Red Bell – a lovely gin drink highlighted with basil and red bell peppers. And yes, even non-gin drinkers routinely love it! My other favorite is the Winter in Buenos Aires (and boy, is now the perfect time of year for that baby). It’s a fantastic rum drink that reminds me of pumpkin pie baking in the oven…. A-MAZ-ING!!

Now KC’s getting some national attention for its spirits, and of course I had to share!

Read the Reuters story here.

Next time you’re feeling adventurous or just want a NEW take on your favorite booze, drop into one of these establishments. You might find your “perfect bite” before the food ever hits the table.