This is a continuation of a report started on the South Board detailing our recent trip from Atlanta through Illinois, Missouri and Kansas and back.
On Tuesday afternoon, June 29th an afternoon snack seemed appropriate when we saw Debby's Route 66 Frozen Custard on IL 3 @ I-270 in north Granite City, IL. We ordered a Concrete (similar to a DQ Blizzard) with chocolate chips and pecans and two spoons. Janis chose well.
Wednesday morning, we crossed the Illinois on a free ferry at Kampsville on IL 108. It was too early to eat at the Kampsville Inn, so we proceeded to cross the Mississippi from Batchtown, IL to Winfield, MO on a toll ferry ($5.00 for passenger cars). We stopped for lunch at the Hilltop Grill on MO 47 just west of US 61 in Troy, MO. We both opted for the buffet ($5.49) which consisted of roast beef, roast pork, chicken, baked potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, tossed salad, several salad dressing choices and bread. It was quite good - especially the two roasts - but we noticed that most of the noon crowd was ordering sandwiches - which were more expensive than the buffet. We may try the sandwiches next trip. They looked very good.
Wednesday night, we stayed with my son in Overland Park, KS and took him with us to Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue at 95th and Metcalf. My wife and son shared a Roundup, which is a two person serving of assorted meats along with a couple of sides and bread. It included ham, pork, pork ribs, chicken, beans and slaw - as I recall. I had a combo plate of lamb ribs and beef brisket. We shared a creme brulee for dessert. My son, who later admitted that he really doesn't like BBQ, said that this was the best BBQ he had ever eaten. Message boards suggest that this is the least impressive of their three locations - more of a corporate feel is how one member described it. Just the same, it was a winner. The place was packed on a weeknight, and the food was delicious. My lamb ribs didn't quite measure up to my expectations, but I may have been expecting too much.
My son doesn't eat breakfast - plus he starts work at 7am. We walked two blocks to Mildred's Coffeehouse, 7921 Santa Fe, in downtown Overland Park. We had noticed it the night before. The food and coffee were quite good, but Janis has no desire to return soon. She ordered a breakfast sandwich and a water while I ordered a cranberry walnut muffin, a cinnamon roll and a coffee. I was handed a cup and directed to choose from the six pots at the end of the counter. It quickly became apparent that all six were empty and the young lady asked which variety I would like, so that she could make it first. After I got my coffee, she went back to the four or five people who had been in line behind us and took their orders. Then she went back to making the other coffees. As I finished my muffin and started on my cinnamon roll, Janis inquired about the status of her sandwich. Janis was told that it would be made just as soon as she finished making the coffee. Janis asked for a refund instead, and quickly asked me to stop eating the cinnamon roll. She ate the rest of it while I sipped my coffee. The food and the coffee were all fantastic. Perhaps by next year Janis will be willing to give them another chance. A two block walk for good food is a find.
For lunch on Thursday, we picked my son up at work and went to his favorite place - Avelluto's Italian Delight, 6522 Martway, Mission, KS. He obviously eats there a lot because half of the staff greeted him by name. I had the daily special, which on Thursday is Chicken W/Spaghetti ($5.45). The four pieces of chicken on top of my plate of spaghetti was probably about a full breast. I had a lot of food. Janis had Stomboli ($4.25) and my son ordered two slices of cheese pizza ($1.85 each). For dessert we ordered Cannoli ($3.05) - and I wouldn't do it again. Very busy place at noon. Lots of room inside and lots of takeout orders being processed. Fast, clean, pleasant.
Thursday evening we went to MelBee's on Johnson Drive just east of Metcalf. We each ordered their prix fixe dinner, which is $38/$58 with wine pairings. The menu was divided into four sections - appetizers, something else, entrees and desserts - with individual prices ranging from $6 to $26. It was the highlight of the trip. I can't remember the exact twelve items we ordered, but I remember my son particularly enjoyed his rack of lamb. The evening we were there was also the opening night of a new art exhibit at the restaurant. It was explained that a new exhibit was brought in every six weeks - and it begins with a reception for the artists, publicists, etc. who enjoyed wine, cheese and fruit from a table along one wall while we dined.
Friday noon we tried to find a Chowhound recommended Mexican restaurant on Southwest Blvd. and gave up after three passes along the street where it should have been. Because of all the traffic we saw going in, we chose to eat at Sol Azteca, 542 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, KS. It was excellent. I ordered Pollo la Parrilla ($5.95) which is described as a 4 oz. chicken breast marinated in their own secret recipe, cooked with onions and served with beans, rice, guacamole and warm tortillas. Janis had the Lunch Chicken Chimichanga ($4.95) and my son ordered two tacos. Very fast and very good.
Friday evening found us back at 95th and Metcalf at Red Lobster. What can I say? My son loves their popcorn shrimp platter and he had been a very good sport about where I wanted to eat. But I can eat at Red Lobster in Georgia.
Saturday brunch was at First Watch - a chain I had never heard of, but had seen while we were driving around. They have thirteen locations spread from the Saint Louis suburbs to Lawrence, KS. They remind me of LePeep. I ordered a Key West Crepe ($6.25) and Janis had the Breakfast Scramble ($6.25). Both were very enjoyable.
Saturday evening was at Freestate Brewery in downtown Lawrence, KS. It seems to be the most consistenly recommended place on the message boards, and my daughter and son-in-law had only been there twice in their eight years in Lawrence. We had a party of eight and arrived at 7pm on a Saturday evening. We were told it would be 30-45 minutes, so we decided to sample their brews while we waited (I tried their Wit Lightning). Seven minutes later our table was available. We were just walking back to the wait area from the bar. They were very accommdating. We had three children (10, 8 & 6), as well as natives of South Africa and Mauritius in our party. That could be a challange - trying to find enjoyable food for all. Freestate had no trouble doing just that. My daughter felt that her soup wasn't as good as she remembered it being. I finished it and thought she was crazy. It was all very good. We had no leftovers, but I was the only one who thought he had room enough for dessert. If you are in Lawrence, Freestate Brewery is a must stop for food or beer.
On Monday, July 5th, we drove from Lawrence to Abilene, KS - a distance of about a hundred miles. We had told Janis' mother that we would be there in time for lunch. On the way to the Turnpike from my daughter's home, I noticed a Runza Restaurant. I had heard about this Nebraska based chain on one or more of the message boards and was anxious to try them out. They offer a variety of burgers, salads, sandwiches and sides, along with Runzas - which are their take on bierocks. They offer three Runzas - Original OvenStuff'd Sandwich ($2.79), Cheese OvenStuff'd Sandwich ($2.99), and Swiss Mushroom OvenStuff'd Sandwich ($3.29). I ordered one of each and we headed for Abilene. They open at 10:30am and my receipt is marked 10:31am. I had to wait for them to be served. When we reached Abilene, they were still warm enough to eat without having to warm them up. I cut each into thirds, and we each sampled all three versions. As fast food goes, this is great stuff. We all liked the Cheese and Swiss Mushroom versions more than the original.
Tuesday evening was at the Abilene Pizza Hut with lifelong friends of Janis. What can I say? They comped one of our pizzas because it took so long to get to us. We had already finished the first one when the second one arrived. We tied up one of their tables for three hours. We enjoyed the pizza.
Wednesday evening we ate at Mr. K's Farmhouse Restaurant in Abilene. For thirty-five years (1939-1974) this was the site of the well known Lena's Chicken House. After being closed for twenty years, new owners came in and reopened the place as Mr. K's Farmhouse. As you might expect, Eisenhower memorabilia abounds. I ordered beef brisket ($7.99), Janis had Chicken-Fried Steak ($7.49) and her mother ordered Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry ($7.99). Mr. K's is noted for pie and on this evening the choices were peach and coconut cream. We chose the coconut cream, and it was delicious. Typical of small towns, while we were raving about how tasty the pie was, Janis' mother offered to get us the recipe. She knows the lady who makes all of their pies and knew that it would be no problem at all.
Thursday lunch was planned for Newton, KS. Several message boards had mentioned a very good place in Newton, but no one could remember the name of it. We stopped at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Goessel, and after touring their fascinating museum, I asked if they knew of a particularly good place to eat in Newton. After mentioning that there was a good place in Goessel, the cashier looked up The Breadbasket, 219 N Main in Newton and said that this is what I was looking for. Next, it was time for more cash, so I stopped at the Bank of America branch in Newton - where they also recommended The Breadbasket. The original owners operated The Breadbasket from 1984-1991 and the current owners have operated it since 1992. They have an interesting lunch concept. They offer Petite and Regular Soups (8 oz. & 16 oz.), Sandwiches (half & whole) and a Salad Bar (7" & 9" plates). Petite is $2.77 and Regular is $4.04, with two Petites for $5.41 or two Regulars for $7.90 - very efficient once you figure out the system. The table preceeding the salad and soup bar is filled with several fresh loaves of various breads. You slice off what you want and proceed to the bar. They are only open in the evenings on Friday and Saturday - when they offer a German Buffet for $9.69 for adults under sixty years of age. I had two bierocks (much better than Runza), which counted as a Regular Sandwich and Janis had a Regular Sandwich. We shared a dessert that was to die for - chocolate, caramel and nuts.
The conclusion to this trip report will be found on the South Board.