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Westport’s Dynamic Dinner Duo

Sometimes I find after having a couple great experiences at a restaurant, I’m so excited to return that my expectations exceed the experience. Well, that is definitely NOT the case for PotPie and the bluestem lounge in Kansas City’s Westport area.

I consider this combo to be the dynamic duo for an elegant but cozy night out. With both standout food and spirits, they keep you coming back.

Wagyu Beef Tartare at bluestem (photo: The Employee Lounge)

Located next door to one another, but uncannily surrounded by the neon lights of Sonic, Blockbuster and GameStop, PotPie and bluestem are diamonds in the rough. Most people know, bluestem offers one of Kansas City’s most pristine dining experiences and many save it for special occasions or celebrations. But you cannot overlook the ease, affordability and knock-out culinary and mixology prowess offered in its lounge.

One weekend, I told The Hubs he could pick the place for our Saturday night outing. Who was I kidding! Well, no one apparently. He played along then eventually bowed out of the decision-making , letting me contrive an evening he would label as “signature Missy”. But hey…. If a girl’s gonna dress up and go out for a great dinner, why not experience two top-notch places instead of just one! That’s my reasoning, and to his credit my hubby likes to make me a happy wife when it comes to food.  

bluestemKnowing that he didn’t want a big production or the hassle of trekking to one place for drinks then another for dinner, I settled on this favorite stand-by.

Just after 7pm, bluestem surprisingly still had room in the lounge which gave us a choice of bar seats or a two person table. As expected, the cushy but contemporary couches and chairs were full.

The cocktail list at bluestem is a treat just to read. The mental musings of such spirit and flavor combinations offer a real mouth-watering indulgence, even before sampling. Wanting to try something new, I took the recommendation of our server and ordered the Gazpacho Martini. Wow!

Gazpacho Martini (photo: The Employee Lounge)

Initially, I wasn’t too excited at the idea of tomato, onion and herb flavors in my liquor, but boy was I wrong. Aside from a slight clean, crisp fragrance, this clear drink gave little hint of the dynamic flavors within. I experienced all the joys of the flavor explosion found in the best balanced gazpacho, but through a velvety vodka enveloping my taste buds. And it went down so smoothly!Each sip left me wanting another.

You can find the recipe for bluestem’s gazpacho in their new cookbook (page 72) and they even explain how it’s used in this fantastic cocktail!

We settled on some of our favorite appetizers. The spiced nuts and the beef tartare. Knowing how much I enjoy Chef Garrelts’ tartare, I always look forward to having it. But it’s one of those dishes that far exceeds the ability of your memory to retain.

Surrounded by a delicate bed of tossed greens, the beautiful red beef is covered with fresh parmesan shavings. But the appealing plate is just a forerunner to the delectable flavor and texture combination. The firm, yet tender beef has just a touch of truffle flavor and is accented by a lightly salted potato crisp – The Perfect Bite! The mmmm-uhm-mmm factor was in full effect!

After an experience like that, it’s hard to imagine your meal next door at a tiny open-kitchen spot holding only a dozen tables will begin to compare. But imagine, imagine and then indulge.

We had the table in the window at PotPie, one of my favorites. It gives you a corner view of the quaint little restaurant with the busy city street just behind you.

PotPie's beef potpie

beef potpie at PotPie! Always a favorite.

We went straight for salads and on to entrees. I was in the mood for something new, once again, so I picked the strip steak. My husband stuck with one of their tried and true dishes, the scallops. The steak was good, but it doesn’t compare to their signature pot pie, pan-roasted chicken or ever-changing fish selections that never fail to delight.

The scallops, however, were perhaps some of the best I’ve had. Served with a rich but simple risotto, the flavor profile was precise and satisfying. The scallops were seared perfectly with just enough salt and a slightly crisp edge to balance the soft texture. Each bite was heavenly, and I think I had too many such bites as it WAS my husband’s entre I was eating and not mine.

The night was near-perfect. Almost every selection was not only satisfying, but invigorating. It solidified this dynamic duo as my standard-barer for a simple, but stunning night out in Kansas City.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Margarita Fuksman #

    Oh my goodness! The gazpacho martini is back! I tried this wonderful cocktail last year around this time and fell in LOVE with it. I had the same initial reaction, and didn’t want soup in a martini glass, but it was the best surprise ever and now one of my favorites! They only have it seasonably and I can’t tell you how excited I am that it’s back. 🙂

    March 13, 2012

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