I was enjoying a morning jog with my run group a few weeks ago and they were talking about my blog. I have to admit, I freaked out a little bit on the inside...I mean, people are actually reading this thing? And trying the recipes? YIKES! So, I got home and freaked out a little more and haven't been able to blog since. Totally kidding. My lack of posts is because I was busy doing research. Okay, that's the fancy way of saying it. In reality, my hubby was working for two months in Kansas City and he had the computer so I was stuck with no way to blog. Sad face. The good news is, what's a girl to do when she goes to Kansas City to visit him while he is staying in an apartment on the plaza? Easiest answer ever: try a bunch of restaurants in the area! (DUH!)
And try new restaurants, I did. I threw all worries about budget out the window and thankfully Josh was on board with me as well. He kindly pointed out there will not be an abundance of restaurants in Temple when we move and he fully supported my abnormal dining out spending. Isn't he the best?!
I had so much fun visiting all the places I've wanted to try, but never got the opportunity to. Three, count them, THREE snowstorms hindered my plans a bit as well as my poorly timed choice to start a cleanse, but I still managed to make it to all but two places on my list. Not too shabby. I won't write a ton about each place and it'd take me forever to discuss all the menu options and pricing, but make sure to check out their websites if you're interested for further information. So, I'll just be skimming the basics, but if it's on here you should definitely give it a try!
JR's is actually not by the plaza/downtown area. In fact, we can walk there from my parents house in Overland Park. The first weekend I was here visiting we enjoyed an after church lunch as a family. It's a new BBQ place and I say you have guts to open up a BBQ place with Oklahoma Joe's as competition. Two reasons I deemed this place blog worthy. 1) I have learned I can find vegetarian food at any restaurant except BBQ establishments. Unless I want to eat french fries for dinner I'm usually in a jam. JR's had a salmon salad and a salmon sandwich. I went with the salmon sandwich. I was a little hesitant because I'm not usually a fan of coleslaw, but JR's is not too creamy and it was a nice, light addition. While we were eating, one of the owners came over and told us about their sauces. Unfortunately, I was almost done, but my last couple bites I tried the Blueberry Habanero BBQ sauce on my sandwich. LOVED it! I took the opportunity to ask if the salmon was wild caught...sadly, that was a no, but I'd still recommend this place for BBQ lovers. (which, I'm not, but the flavorful sauces were intriguing) My whole family was very impressed with the beef and pork dishes and being from KC, the BBQ experts of the country :), I'd say that counts for something, right?!
Right before this picture of Josh and me was taken I learned a lesson. Perhaps my rule (which is NO CELL PHONES AT THE TABLE) should be amended slightly. When we were all finished eating I grabbed my phone to have our server take a picture. I had several missed calls from my parents, and text messages from my parents and my brothers. My stomach dropped; I knew something bad happened. Turns out, they were checking on us because they saw that JJ's on the plaza had an explosion and they were worried we might be eating there. My poor mother! Because of my silly rule she was worried for much longer than necessary. Josh ALWAYS tells me he should keep his phone out should someone need him and I tell him whatever it is it can wait for an hour. He's a keeper for so many reasons, but mainly because this was the perfect opportunity for him to look at me and say, "I told you so", but he restrained.
Coopers Hawk got off to a rough start. I had it all planned out. (Like I always do!) They have their own winery and all the wines available in the restaurant are their own label. The bottom floor is a wine showroom as well as tasting area and then upstairs is the restaurant. My sister-in-law had visited here and recommended it to us and she also got us a gift card for Christmas. She told me it was a great deal and for $7 you can do a wine flight tasting. When we arrived we were greeted by a tray of samples and a complimentary tasting of their wine. Don't you wish every restaurant greeted you like that? We walked around a bit and then I explained to the hostess I wanted to do a wine flight tasting and I asked if most people do that downstairs. She informed me I could do it upstairs. Perfect-we could sit at our table and enjoy the whole experience. Our server sat us down and as we looked at our menus I noticed the only wine flights listed started at $14. Trying not to sound like a total cheap-o, as politely as I could I inquired about the $7 flight. She had no idea was I was talking about, but said she'd go find out. Turns out, that's only available downstairs. Thanks for nothing uninformed hostess. For a solid three seconds I contemplated putting my coat back on and telling our server we'd be back in a bit and heading downstairs. I decided not to because Josh would have thought I was insane and really, it wasn't that big of a deal. He ordered a flight, and just to "stick it to them" I ordered a glass instead of a flight. The wine was nice-nothing that knocked our socks off, but tasty. I would say the highlight of our food was the appetizer. Josh ordered a buffalo chicken flat bread and the chicken was plenty large for me to pick off and we both loved it! Josh ate a chicken sandwich with fries and I had eggplant ravioli. My final verdict: beautiful decor, great atmosphere, uniformed hostess, nice wine, good food at a very affordable price for the plaza. I would definitely return to Coopers Hawk for a fun dinner out.
Beer Kitchen was recommended to us by our friends Scott and Katie. They said the flat bread pizza was good and it was cheap ($5) during happy hour. So, Josh and I made the short trip to Westport and enjoyed a nice, affordable happy hour meal. One word of caution: NEVER order the sangria. It was much too sweet and not drinkable. I wasn't going to say anything, but when our server asked how I liked it I had to be honest and I told her it was not very good. She was very understanding and offered something else, but I stuck with water for the night-you can't go wrong there. Bad sangria aside, our pizza's were terrific. Josh ordered pepperoni pizza and a slider and I got a mushroom, onion and basil pesto pizza. I highly recommend Beer Kitchen for a fun, delicious happy hour. Our server was awesome and we had a fun after work meal.
My Dad actually recommended this place to me after he went there for a business lunch. It was a very fun atmosphere and I went on a Thursday night and it was packed. Rest assured, I had reservations. (Never leave home without them is what I always say!) I don't know the official decor word to use, but I describe it as the fanciest picnic you'll ever go on. No, you're not sitting on the floor or anything, but there are checkered napkins on the table and everything is very rustic. The decor accompanies the menu as they have macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, and you can order a whole chicken. There was trout, steak, and pork as well. The menu is a great variety for any meat lover. I'll be honest, I did have a bit of trouble eating vegetarian here. Normally, I would never order macaroni and cheese, but this was my first meal after my cleanse (more on that later) and I was excited for some cheese! If it weren't for the cleanse I would have tried a soup and some salad, but I had eaten to much of that the 7 days prior I splurged a bit. The picture on the right is a side of Brussels sprouts and they were delicious. I highly recommend them-perfectly blackened and seasoned. The best part of my meal was I enjoyed it with two friends I used to play softball with who I had not seen since my wedding. They agreed, the restaurant was a keeper and they would return soon.
THE ROASTERIE CAFE
The Roasterie is a local coffee company. I have visited the actual production roasting plant (we used to serve their coffee at our restaurant) and I always wanted to visit the actual coffee shop. It's location is prime; right on the corner as you enter Brookside from the plaza area. However, it wasn't what I was expecting. When I see the word cafe in the name I assume there's some food involved. Well, there was if I wanted a fattening pastry or muffin. I left with just a coffee and it was a delicious cup of coffee, but I was a bit disappointed in the lack of food options. To sum it up: cute coffee shop, good coffee, I always love supporting locally, and I would recommend it if you're in the area. (Just don't plan on eating breakfast like I was hoping to)
*However, best cup of coffee is still at Revocup in Overland Park.
You probably can't tell in my tiny picture, but I visited Sama Zama with my mom as snowstorm #3 began to fall. The good news is, I love snow and we had a perfect seat by the window. Nothing better than lunch with your mama watching the snow fall. My mom recommended this place to me months ago. She read about it in a magazine and took my brother there and they thought the food was so original. My brother returned with his girlfriend and she was excited to bring her family in as well. I am so glad my mom read an article about Sama Zama because one of the things we tried is something I never would have ordered on my own. Check out this description from the menu:
JAPANESE STYLE SAVORY PANCAKE
Okonomi Yaki means "grill what you like" in Japanese. This authentic Japanese dish comes from the traditions of Osaka and Hiroshima. Often referred to as a Japanese style pizzas, it is a batter made out of a variety of ingredients and grilled to perfection. Each one comes topped with a fried egg.
A fried egg? That's what would have kept me from trying this on my own. Side note, I did just read an article that said the new "craze" is to put a fried egg on food and interestingly enough, we were in Nashville last weekend and Josh ordered a pizza that came with an egg in the middle. Maybe the Japanese are way ahead of us in America and what's cool for food. Anyway, the top left picture is our mushroom Okonomi Yaki. (You can also get it with chicken, shrimp, or pork) I can't even describe it as I've never had anything like it. However, it was one of my favorite things I ate while visiting and I can't wait to go back! The pancake was more crepe like, but not too sweet and the sauce was so flavorful. Combine the mushroom and egg and I was in heaven. As I type this, I realize that completely sounds like a breakfast food, but magically Sama Zama's sauce keeps it form resembling or tasting like breakfast at all. Definitely add Sama Zama to places to eat if you are in the Westport area. Oh yeah, we had some teriyaki noodles too. They were tasty, and if you're not feeling adventurous you will enjoy them, but I can't rave about them like I can the Okonomi Yaki.
Season's 52 has been on my list of places to eat forever! It opened a couple years ago on the plaza and I met my friends there for a glass of wine once, but never had a chance to eat. I love their concept as they change their menu 4 times a year around what is in season. They use no butter, no grease, no frying, etc. and overall, you can leave feeling like you ate healthy. As I mentioned above, I thought it was a good idea to do a 7 day cleanse while in KC with my mom so we could do it together. It was a terrible idea. I was in an apartment with scarce resources to cook, plus, it's pretty hard to eat out while cleansing. My mom and I decided to go to Season's 52 one day for lunch while on our cleanse and see if we could stick to it. I think we managed to! We enjoyed a vegetarian bowl of black bean soup. (It was good, but without patting myself on the back too much, I like the one I make better) However, the fish we ordered was the bomb! I love fish and always like trying new kinds. My mom was very excited when she saw Corvina fish on the menu as that's what she orders at McCormick and Shmick, her favorite restaurant on the plaza. Just like with Sama Zama I was glad my mom was there to guide me. She told me Corvina fish is mild and very light. We confirmed with our server there was no dairy, gluten, or added sugar in the meal and we were set. He was a very enthusiastic server, which worked out nicely because we were so limited on what we could eat and had lots of questions. It's been many weeks since I ate this I can't even remember, but I believe the "sauce" on the bottom was pureed corn of some sort. My mom and I ate every bite, left feeling like we stuck with our cleanse, and ate a healthy and delicious meal. The serving was much larger than I expected as well. I highly recommend Season's 52 if you enjoy dining out, but want to keep it healthy! I know there are several locations around the country.
TAVERN IN THE VILLAGE
I joined my friends at Brio on the plaza for happy hour one night (best happy hour there is!) and I was telling them all the restaurants I had tried so far. The next day, my sweet friend Emilee e-mailed me a list of places she thought I might want to add. Her and her husband have an awesome tradition where once a month they go out to eat and they have to go somewhere new. They rotate turns picking and she said it forces them to try something new one time per month. I think it's awesome they do that! On the list was a place called Tavern in the Village. I looked the menu up online and you know those rare times where you find about 8 things you want to order? That's what happened to me so I was there the next day for lunch. I ended up with a scallop salad with a lemon dressing that might be the best salad dressing ever. I confirmed before I ordered that the scallops were served hot on the plate and they were cooked to perfection. Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I was so intrigued by scallops on a salad. I've never heard of such a thing. But, I love scallops and I love salads so I gave it a whirl. It's a very complimentary combo and I can't wait to go back!
Oh, Succotash, how I love thee. I am NOT exaggerating when I say I went here 7 times. I wish I was joking, but I'm not. Furthermore, the dish I found that I'm obsessed with is vegan. I'll say this, if I had Succotash to cook for me everyday I could be vegan easily. This might be the best breakfast I've eaten. Ever. If you don't know what you're looking for you'll drive right by. It's located close to Children's Mercy Hospital. So, not in the greatest part of town, but it's an adorable building none the less. Once again, I have my parents to thank for this gem. This was the first new place I tried and I got lucky with my drink choice as well. I love ginger and I noticed they had steamed ginger milk. I asked about it and they said they take fresh ginger and boil it down and add it to milk. I ordered one with soy milk and one sip and I knew I'd be back just for the drink. I went home and Googled ginger milk with no success. I couldn't find a recipe anywhere. On my second visit I asked some more questions. On my third visit I got my server to go ask the kitchen how they make it because I was concerned with how much sugar is in it. (Which, was true!) He returned with, "It's a secret kitchen recipe."
I'm still at square zero in that I have no idea how to recreate this at home and I have no idea if there's 27 grams of sugar in it. So...I continued to treat myself on visit 4, 5, 6, and 7. And, there may be some hope. My mom found a recipe for ginger hot chocolate so I'm thinking I can use it and sub soy/almond milk instead of the chocolate. I found an $80 milk frother for $19 at Tuesday Morning so I'm all set. It's on the list of recipes to try. I'll keep you posted.
The decor in Succotash is very eclectic. The tables don't all match, the silverware is all different, but it's cozy. The servers are very...hmm...what's the word? Downtowny? I don't know, just pink hair, big earrings, funky tights, you name it. I always had very friendly and prompt service. Succotash was always pretty busy when I was there. I order the Vegan Kitchen Sink and it has succotash and edamame hummus on top of spinach and potatoes along with mushrooms and tomatoes. If it's called the Kitchen Sink I am definitely the human garbage disposal. Never once did I leave even one bite of this. (Sorry, Bethenny Frankel fans...I didn't follow her rule in the least!)
The picture below is the main focus on one wall and it drives my mom crazy. It's a picture of a lady eating tomato soup, but really she looks like a vampire enjoying a bowl of blood. It's a bit disturbing, but just pick a table away from it and you're good to go.
I met my grandparents here one morning and they ordered omelets and eggs and agreed it was very good. Then, one day towards the end of Josh's two months I had the chance to go for breakfast with Josh. He ordered a breakfast burrito. Let's just say, when he got home from work that night, he said, "Man, that burrito was good." If he's still talking about it 10 hours later it must have made an impression. We went back two more times together. Yes, my entire pay check may have gone to Succotash and I'm totally okay with that. Once again, a great local restaurant to support.
Bella Napoli was another restaurant on the list my friend Emilee sent me. I'm so glad she did!
My mom and I stopped here for a very late lunch after shopping one day and we were starving! Just take a look at the middle picture on the right. Those were our risotto ball appetizer. My mom ate hers before I could even turn to get my camera out! :) Even though we were extremely hungry, I think we fairly judged the food. It was melt in your mouth delicious! The risotto balls were definitely not healthy as they were fried and full of cheese. (cleanse was over!) We split eggplant Parmesan and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. I love eggplant parmesan and my favorite is at a restaurant in Vegas, but I will say, this comes pretty stinking close to being just as delicious. Their red sauce is perfect and the eggplant was so tender and flavorful. Furthermore, staying true to authentic Italian it wasn't loaded with too much cheese. The cannelloni was also very tasty. Our only complaint during this visit was both entrees were not hot in the middle at all. Our server was apologetic and reheated the canneloni, but we were so hungry we ate the eggplant even though it was cold.
As for decor, I would not recommend this place for a romantic date night. It's very casual and the set-up is interesting. On the right side there's a coffee shop (I didn't try any), the middle has a small grocery store as well as a deli along with some tables to eat at, and then the left side is more tables. It's very casual and laid back, but the food is good. I think it's a great lunch spot or early/casual dinner. I bought some sliced deli turkey, ham, and provolone cheese to send in Josh's lunch and he said it was very good. It was priced just like any deli meat at the grocery store. Other than the food being cold, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Bella Napoli!
Do you ever have those moments where you take a minutes and just soak it all in? That's what I did at Story. True to Kansas weather, yes, we had three significant snow falls the past two months, but somehow the day my friends and I met at Story we got the one day that was nice and we surprisingly got to sit on the patio. Story is tucked away in Prairie Village and sitting on the patio and looking out it was as if I was on vacation. It was a lovely evening with my friends. This, too, was a place Emilee had visited with her husband so we met for happy hour so I could try it.
Brace yourselves, I went totally crazy and didn't order my standard glass of red wine. I was living extra dangerously this particular afternoon. A pomegranate drink caught my eye. It was made with pomegranate vinegar and vodka. Who knows, it could have had some secret syrup in it, but I asked my server and it seemed to be a good low sugar option. I am so glad I ventured out of my norm because it was delicious! I would go back just to enjoy the pomegranate yumminess.
We ordered food off the happy hour menu and two of my friends got the cheeseburger and fries and said it was good. I ordered the shrimp and scallop risotto and the beef rib gnochhi with no ribs. Looking back, I should have made the connection that if there were ribs on top it would be in a BBQ like sauce, but I was surprised by it. I wouldn't have picked it had I known and while I ate it, it wasn't my favorite. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure I was picking around chunks of bacon and when I ask for no ribs on top and if there's meat in things I would have liked my server to tell me there was bacon in it. Anyhoo...it was good gnocchi, just not what I would have picked. I ate all my risotto though and very much enjoyed it. Emilee ordered the duck empanadas that she had the last time she was there and liked them the second time around as well. Story was very nicely decorated on the inside, has a beautiful patio, and some interesting and fun food choices. I would come back for happy hour for sure! I'm not sure if I'd visit for dinner as it's pricey and I have other placed I'd like to go to if I spend that much. Definitely add it to the happy hour places to visit!
Pot Pie got added to my list because I saw someone I went to high school with check in on facebook many months ago. Just like Succotash, you'll drive right by if you don't know what you're looking for. There's no storefront sign, just a logo in the window. The restaurant is very small. Only about 15 tables, but I loved it. They change the menu frequently and it's posted on a chalkboard at the back of the restaurant. Just like at Tavern in the Village I wanted so many things!
We had a wonderful dinner with my sister-in-law Kelsey and her fiancee, Dustin. Josh and Dustin both ordered chicken over mashed potatoes and enjoyed their meal. I recently blogged about Newport Grill and how they change their fresh fish frequently. One time when I was there I tried monk fish for the first time and I haven't seen it anywhere since. That is, until that glorious, chilly evening at Pot Pie. They had monk fish! I devoured it and then I did the unthinkable. I ordered dessert. I never, ever order dessert out to eat. I mean, ever. I can't bring myself to spend the money or to devour the calories/fat/sugar, etc. But, I'd read online how they are known for their chocolate chip bread pudding. Dustin had also read about it and so we decided to give it a whirl. It was worth it. Every penny. I highly, highly recommend it!
Josh was very excited at dinner to show off his sticker!
*I should mention, yes, they do have pot pie on the menu at Pot Pie. The table next to us ordered it and it was huge! It's actually one of the cheaper menu items and I guess if you like pot pie it looked good.
Last, but not least we enjoyed a celebration dinner with my family at J. Alexanders. We had lots to celebrate that night: my Mom's birthday, Josh's fellowship, some cool stuff with my Dad's job, Tyler had just returned from D.C. where he lobbied for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, and Travis had just returned home from Texas where he's training for football. We missed my youngest brother that night, but he was in AZ for Spring Break and this was the only time we could get almost all of us together for a dinner out.
Since it was my mom's birthday celebration she picked J. Alexanders. It's one of my parents favorite restaurants and oddly, I'd never been. My Dad started us off with a salmon appetizer that was amazeballs! We all loved it! It was nice because it didn't have a lot of creamy sauce; just enough to hold it together. I ordered red fish tacos with black beans and knew at the time I shouldn't even pick up the second taco. But, I did. And, then I finished it. I was full for awhile! My mom gets the same thing every time-a grilled cilantro shrimp dish. Her side of purple cabbage was one of my all time favorite side dishes! It was served warm...I might need to see about making some of that too. All the boys ordered steaks. I think my poor dad is caught is a catch 22. He grills an awesome steak. I mean it! Even Josh says my dad has ruined his eating out experiences because every time he orders a steak he compares it to my dad's. I know it makes him happy to hear such a high compliment, but I doubt he likes that feedback when he's buying us all dinner and they get steaks that are "pretty good". :)
We had a fun night celebrating and as I sat there I thanked God for my awesome, close knit family and all the fun stuff going on in our lives this year! So much to be thankful for!
If you can believe it, I even hit some other restaurants that aren't on here, but I'd eaten at before. I decided this blog post would only be new places. If you're wondering, yes, some days, I ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I will be cooking for the next two months for sure!
The two places I didn't get to:
Bluestem (in Westport, next door to Pot Pie)
I looked at the menu and didn't think Josh would like it much and it was very pricey. They had a nice happy hour menu, but with Josh's work schedule and the snow I just never got there.
Justus Drugstore. (In Smithville, MO)
Smithville is a 30 minute drive from the plaza, so it's quite a hike! I've heard such amazing things about this restaurant so a little drive wasn't going to stop me. Guess what did though? Snow! The third and final snowstorm forced me to cancel my reservation and I came back to Wichita the next day. I was very, very sad! I guess it gives me two more placed to make sure I eat at before I move this summer.