CG and I drove from Minneapolis this week to Kansas City for the sole purpose of food. We wanted to dine at Bluestem (recently nominated for a JBF award) and decided to add in a trip to Arthur Bryant's as well.
We drove down on Wednesday afternoon, and stopped at the Maid Rite in Valley Junction, (West Des Moines) IA. (Thanks to the 'hounds for that suggestion!). The owner is a doll, the sandwiches tasty (I'd never had one before, and CG hadn't had one in decades), but the fries.... the fries were quite possibly the best I'd ever had. Crispy, hot, fresh, thin, and completely ungreasy. I couldn't stop eating them. CG made me stop so I could at least eat some of my sandwich! I may have to drive back just for them.
Dinner at Bluestem. We had the 12 course chef's tasting menu, and were not disappointed. The service was outstanding (especially Jeremy at the FOH), and the courses perfectly timed-- although if we make it back, I will definitely start earlier. We were still there at almost midnight, but we never felt like we were keeping them too late. They were perfect. Chef Colby's use of ingredients and balance of flavors was impressive. Only one of the courses was underseasoned for my taste (an English pea soup IMO needed a sprinkling of Maldon or some other texture/flavor brightener, but the sweetness of the peas was fantastic). The torchon de foie gras came with some rhubarb compote and crushed peanuts that reminded CG of the world's best adult PB &J. I think my favorite course was the diver scallops, with some rock shrimp and mussels and a turnip puree. Perfectly cooked. CG's favorite was an Akaushi Wagyu flat iron steak, that he aptly titled, "beef foie." It was so luscious and melted in your mouth, contrasted by a smoked tomato confit.
Chef Colby Garelts really enjoys using gels and carbonating unusual flavors to be creative. We noticed some touches that reminded us of our meal at Tru. It all became clear when we met him, and he told us he and his wife trained at Tru (that was where they met). He was so nice and friendly, that made the meal even more enjoyable. Best of luck to him this year.
The next day, all full from the night before, we waddled into Arthur Bryant's (the original, on 17th and Brooklyn). We waited in a long but quick-moving line to order- I had a combo plate of beef and pulled pork, and CG had the rib tips and fries daily special. We both loved it. Great full smoky flavor, not all soaked in sauce (which I think means your meat is dried out and they are trying to hide something). You can add sauce yourself-- CG preferred the original, grainy vinegar based sauce. I like that as well, but preferred the Rich and Spicy sauce. That was weird, since I usually think most sauces are too sweet, but this one's sweetness was so balanced.
Three delicious meals in all. Hope to make it to Milwaukee soon for the fifth of our JBF Best Chef- Midwest Award nominees. Will let you know.
Arthur Bryant's Barbeque
1727 Brooklyn Ave, Kansas City, MO 64127
900 Westport Road, Kansas City, MO 64111
Maid-Rite Valley Junction
524 Elm St West, Des Moines, IA