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Kansas City weekend--finally reporting back

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Kansas City weekend--finally reporting back

Aaron D | Jun 18, 2003 12:35 AM

Sorry for the long delay in reporting back on my Kansas City trip over Mother’s Day weekend. Many thanks to all who helped plan an exhausting but enjoyable trip. Hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long, billy52.

First, the food. Got in late Wednesday night. Thursday morning was lunch at Arthur Bryant’s. We actually tried to got to Stroud’s, but it wasn’t open at 11:30 a.m. so we drove back up to Bryant’s. We got ribs and beef sandwiches. The ribs were excellent, but I like the sandwich even better–a perfect ratio of fat to meat along with a nice dousing of the famed BBQ sauce. That afternoon we made a trip to the Dean & Deluca in Leawood–quite a disappointment really. When thinking about a Chicago to KC move, I was excited about what the presence of Dean & Deluca might mean in terms of interesting product offerings–but damn that place is expensive! While the cheese selection was pretty good, prices were often 50-75% higher than what I’d pay here. And everything perishable (especially prepared foods) seemed to be of markedly lower quality than I expected. The bakery was quite good, though, judging by the various samples they had available. I’m sure it’s still nice to have around because they do offer a nice assortment of products, and I don’t mind splurging for a special occasion, but I was really shocked at how high the prices were. And, again, I didn’t think the prepared foods looked as good as they should, though I didn’t taste them.

Thursday night we ate with family (also fantastic); Friday we left the baby with the grandparents, got a room at the Phillips downtown, and had the city to ourselves. We explore Brookside a bit, stopping at Breadsmith (a chain that I rather like) and some little Italian import store whose name I can’t remember but had a decent selection. We went to lunch at Carmen’s Café and got a salad and a few tapas–the bacon-wrapped shrimp were especially delicious, if perhaps a bit too salty. But the salt made it that much easier to down the delicious Boulevard Pale Ale. Our pre-dinner snack was baklava at some middle Eastern place on 39th, but Stroud’s was the day’s crowning achievement. We hit it at about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. and there was no one waiting but we waited for about 5 minutes before being seated and ordering up some fried chicken. Delicious, though I’m not quite sure it’s all it’s cracked up to be, but that’s a minor quibble–can anything be all Stroud’s is cracked up to be? Still, I loved the place–the location, the atmosphere, the piano player, and some damn fine fried chicken, thin skin, crisply fried, lots of meat, green beans with bacon, mashed potatoes and gravy, and some mighty fine sweet rolls. I’ll be back for sure.

Saturday morning started with some coffee and what I thought were really exceptional blueberry and cherry muffins from Muddy’s on 39th. The scone wasn’t as good. We drove around a bit and stopped at Annedore’s to pick up some chocolates for the moms. Cute place, but unmemorable chocolates. We also stopped at House of Hezekiah “Your Herb & Spice Specialist Since 1972.” Are they ever. This was a very cool place, with a huge selection of, of course, herbs and spices. Lots of teas too, quite good based on the samples. We didn’t walk out with any herbs but did get a nice Afro-Portuguese CD. Next door was a Wild Oats that pretty much sucked–small, cramped, unexciting product selection. I don’t know that I’d ever been in a Wild Oats, but I’m pretty sure most of them are much better than this one. All of this was a prelude to a drive out to Raytown and Lee’s Summit, which in turn was a prelude to lunch at LC’s coming back on Blue Parkway. Man, oh man, was this place barbecue. Thanks much to all the fans on this board, because there’s no way I ever would have chanced into this place. Driving down Blue Parkway you feel like you’re entering an industrial zone because of all the smoke billowing from the small shack that houses LC’s delicious slow-cooked creations. I got burnt ends, and I have never tasted anything like it in my life. The only way I could have gotten more smoke was to plant my face in front of the smoker when they opened it up to retrieve some meat and a large, fragrant cloud makes it’s way behind the counter and through the ventilation system. And he does a pretty mean sauce too. I’m still dreaming about those burnt ends. Bryant’s wins for the beef sandwich though, in my book, as there was too much fat and not as much flavor in LC’s brisket. Now I need to go back for Bryant’s burnt ends. Having filled up at LC’s for lunch, I was well prepared to hit Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner in some north suburb for a large extended family gathering. The most striking thing about this joint was that they have a drink special: two for one drinks all the time. Now I didn’t really notice how much the drinks cost, but I don’t think it was that much. Sat at the bar and we ordered something like 4 beers and a glass of wine. Up pops eight beers and two glasses of wine. Weird. But hey, free beer. It was even weirder at dinner when my wife’s uncle ordered a glass of wine with his food and they set down two right in front of his dinner.

Anyway, this takes us to Mother’s Day brunch, which was the subject of my original thread. Looking back, this was mostly my own fault, and I hope, Jane, I’m not being too harsh and I am very thankful for your help, but if you got to Leona Yarbrough’s in Shawnee, make sure you know what you’re getting into. The party was my wife and I and child, her parents and an aunt and uncle (all in their 50s) and an early 20s cousin who, unfortunately for him got there about 20 minutes before the rest of us. (My mom, thank goodness, didn’t make it.) I give the ages because I think I might have given the impression that our folks were older types who needed a Cracker Barrel-type setting (I did mention Village Inn–perhaps the Village Inns in KC are different than those I’ve been at); I think that the target audience for Leona Yarbrough’s is either over 80 or dead. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone in the geriatric ward of a hospital, but that is not where I would choose to treat my mother to a nice brunch. When we walked in the lobby was packed, probably because no one had moved in several years. Half of those waiting were attached to a mechanical device of some sort. The atmosphere and the smell were stifling. And sitting there amidst it all was my young cousin-in-law, who I should probably take to Ruby Tuesday’s for beers after having to spend so long, so alone in such a foreign land. Had it not been Mother’s Day, with hour-and-a-half waits to welcome us at other, more appealing places, we would have left. We might have anyway, but before we knew what was happening we were slowly being sucked back to our waiting table. Plus, ever the optimist, I thought, well maybe the food is really good. But no. It wasn’t bad, overall, and I can’t particularly fault the recommendation based on food alone. But when dinner started with a canned fruit cocktail, I was wary. In fact, I was already wary because dinners were all that were being offered for this 11 a.m. Mother’s Day brunch. The main courses–I don’t remember exactly, fried chicken, Swiss steak–were all pretty good. But suffice it to say, that my wife won’t even read this post because she can’t relive the trauma that was Leona Yarbrough’s. I’m sorry, Jane, I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings. The real lesson here is that we should have checked the place out in advance. If it was just the two of us, stopping in for lunch, no big deal. But when you have a special occasion in mind, well, what you have in mind doesn’t always come across on the board. Oh, well–it’s at least proven to be a very memorable occasion for me and my in-laws.

On the way back to the airport, we stopped at Winstead’s, which I thought produced a pretty decent fast food burger–certainly a step or two above your usual chains. There were a couple other places that piqued my interest that we didn’t get to stop at–an African grocery somewhere on Main and a meat store called something like MacGregor’s. We also heard that Southwest Trafficway had a bounty of Mexican restaurants that we didn’t get to try.

Wow, that’s a lot of time on food.

As far as the potential move goes, my wife came back more convinced than ever that KC was the place for us, and I came back more convinced than ever that KC is not Chicago. But I do think it is a really nice town, so we’ll see. I also think that KC would take at least five years off my life what with all the coronary-inducing deliciousness to be had. All your neighborhood suggestions were great and we followed up on many of them. We really liked Waldo and Westwood, though like Nick, I’m not sure if we’d be able to swing the house we would like in those neighborhoods. We didn’t get a chance to check out down south where Nick ended up. But move or no, we’ll be back, and I eagerly await my next trip.

Thanks again for all your suggestions.

Aaron

Annedore’s Fine Chocolates
106 E. 43rd Street
816-753-5012

Arthur Bryant Barbeque
1727 Brooklyn Avenue
816-231-1123

Carmen’s Café
6307 Brookside Plaza
816-333-4048

Dean & Deluca
4700 W. 119th Street
Leawood

House of Hezekiah
4305 Main Street
816-753-3312

LC’s Bar-B-Q
5800 Blue Parkway
816-923-4484

Leona Yarbrough’s
10310 Shawnee Mission Parkway
Shawnee
913-248-0500

Muddy’s
1719 W. 39th Street
816-756-1997

Stroud’s
1015 E. 85th Street
816-333-2132

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