Just got back to blighty after a recent trip to Kansas
While I was there, I was taken by two sets of clients to two very different styles of restaurant. I had hoped to be taken to a few 'que places, but I think they wanted to treat me and I appreciated their efforts
My first dinner was at Zin ( 1900 Main St ) this was the sort of Identikit mid level restaurant that is springing up all over the US. The menu almost writes itself and without looking I guessed that there would be Ahi tuna, Alaskan salmon, Hudson valley foie gras, Kansas Strip, Videlia onions, Heirloom tomatoes etc etc on the menu. I was not disappointed. I am not quite sure why there is this lack of adventure with ingredients in the US but I have seen all of these things on menus in just about every city and all prepared in incredibly similar ways.
having said all of that, the meal itself was not bad at all. A duck confit salad was well prepared and the duck was just fatty enough. Other appetisers of micro greens were also not bad.
Main courses of Roasted salmon were Ok, but the salmon was farmed and fatty and the idea of cooking it rare seemed a little alien to the waiter when we suggested it.
The real surprise at Zin was the quality of the small wine list. We chose a bottle of 1996 Qupe Syrah for a mere $43 which is close to what I buy it for at retail in the UK. It is interesting to note that the night before I had been at Veritas in Manhattan for supper and they had an indentical bottle for $490! even taking into account the differing costs of NY and Kansas, the latter was still a steal.
Service was sniffier than it had a right to be, but I am told that this is a "hip" place in KC, so perhaps that is all part of the act.
The next evening I was taken by the good people of Hallmark to Aixois which was a neighbourhood bistro in a rather lovely area called, I think Brookside.
The room itself was very unassuming and looked like a cheap and cheerful french joint. The food however was much better than that. We shared appetizers of Mussels ( in an exemplary saffron sauce ) and an assiette of charcuterie with wonderful saucisson and poor rillette.
Main courses were varied and I can't recall what everyone had but my slab of Elk was excellent and prepared suitably rare.
Desserts were a mixed plate to share with an extra one thrown in by the owner. All were fine if not exeptional
The meal was aided on its way with a very good bottle of Gigondas ( again a steal at $35 )
Service was terrific.
After the latter meal, I was dragged ( rather willingly ) to a couple of bars in The Plaza area for drinks. In one ( called Mi cocina ) I had a bad Martini ( my shallow search for the perfect Martini continues ) in another ( an entirely nasty American Sports Bar ) I managed to hustle a few quid off my host at pool, so all in all a good night.
An enjoyable time in KC where, it seems, everything is still up to date!