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Friday, August 17, 2012

Frank Food Adventures: Weekend in KC

Last weekend, my wife, son and I embarked upon a weekend getaway to Kansas City. The time has come for my son to start kindergarten, and we have another baby coming in November, so we really wanted to get in a small family trip.

My wife stumbled onto a fantastic deal for the Westin Crown Center, for a King room with four tickets to Lego Land Discovery Center, four tickets to Sea Life Aquarium, and even a $20 gift voucher for Crown Center shops. All this for only $80 per night. Needless to say, we leapt on that deal!

As you already know, this is a food & drink blog, not a travel blog. This post will be more about our food adventures, than about our trip.

We pulled into Kansas City right before supper rush on Friday night. My pregnant wife was craving Cheesecake Factory. We shared a spinach cheese dip for an appetizer, and I ordered the Over the Top Meatloaf Sandwich with a side salad. The sandwich was enormous (which is the Cheesecake Factory’s m.o.) on buttery grilled brioche. The sandwich consisted of very generous slices of a hearty meatloaf, Guinness marinated Swiss cheese, portabella mushrooms, caramelized onions, aioli, and arugula. Served with a side of tomato-bacon jam. It was fantastic!! I could only make it half way through this monster, and brought the rest home for lunch during the week. Of course we had to get a cheesecake slice to take back to the hotel. We chose Chris’ Outrageous Chocolate Cake (layers of moist chocolate cake, chewy brownie, toasted coconut-pecan frosting, and chocolate chip coconut cheesecake); it made for a nice snack after swimming, and as we watched the fountain show and very loud Diamond Rio concert from our eleventh story room!

Over the Top Meatloaf Sandwich

Saturday morning, we went to the Crown food court to grab something from Einstein Brothers. Simple breakfast of turkey sausage and egg on asiago bagel for me. The service there was horrendous!

We headed out to the City Market. It had been many years since my wife and I had the opportunity to check out the large market. We made a plan not to buy anything we could grab at our local farmer’s market. There was plenty of produce vendors, and many, many specialty vendors. I picked up a small assortment of heirloom tomatoes from URBAVORE Urban Farm. I also finally had the chance to pick up some award winning nettle fresh sheep’s milk cheese from Green Dirt Farm. They have made quite a name for themselves as one of the most recognized cheese producers in Missouri. I had been wanting to give them a try for a long time. There was a booth set up selling a variety of granolas, produced by a local company, called Hippie Chow. I opted for the five pack sampler.

In addition to the numerous produce vendors set up in the middle of the square, there are permanent stores lining all four sides. One of these is a great Italian deli called Carollo’s Groceria Italiana. You can get specialty imported products, meats, cheeses, an assortment of desserts, and even sandwiches and the like. They even have the old style barrels full of olives, pickles, and antipasta salads. We picked out a couple salamis, some oil-cured olives, and of course, for me, a cannoli. And anytime I think of that treat, this iconic quote rings in my mind:

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” 
~ Peter Clemenza from The Godfather

By the time we were leaving the market, pizza was on our mind. We found a place called The Art of Pizza. It’s a New York style pizza joint on the way back to the hotel. Not a fancy establishment by any means, and had hardly any customers at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. We had no fears; we had read about how great, and N.Y. authentic the food was, due mainly to the transplanted New York native owner. My son had a very large slice of sausage pizza, and my wife and I split a stromboli and a pane stuffata. The stromboli was pizza dough wrapped around a split Italian sausage with roasted red pepper and mozzarella. The pane stuffata was Italian dough with baked in herbs, filled with salami, pepperoni, ham, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes. Both were served with a side of their pizza sauce. This was some seriously delicious food, and great prices! I’m glad we chose Art of Pizza over the more trendy wood-fired place across the street called Pizza Bella. I really liked the more “authentic” feel of the food.

Pane stuffata to the left, Stromboli to the right. 

Back to the hotel after lunch, and to the Sea Life Aquarium. I didn’t eat there, so I will not go into that part of the weekend.

For Saturday night supper, we chose to take Daniel to a unique place in the Crown food shops. It’s a railroad themed burger joint/diner called Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. The food was pretty good. Mainly the old style drive-in 1/8 lb. burgers in several different forms, greasy but crispy onion rings, etc. Basically, that’s what I had. But the unique feature of the restaurant is how the food comes to you. You have to order on an old phone handset at your table. Then, your food is delivered on one of the trains running on tracks over the tables. It was entertaining to see other people get their food. Often, the tray of food would be vicariously balanced on the drop down platform, or an empty table would receive a random order, or even the platform might malfunction and never deliver the food down to table level! My son loved it, and we used our $20 voucher, here, to make it a $4 net cost for supper!

Train delivering food at Fritz's
Yes, that happened!

Sunday morning, we decided to drive down to the Plaza to eat breakfast at Ingredient Restaurant. After a long time examining the great menu, I selected the Portabella and Spinach Benedict. A twist on the classic, this dish was a toasted English muffin topped with fresh spinach and portabella mushrooms, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce, accompanied by skillet potatoes.

Before heading back to the hotel and Lego Land Discovery Center, I had to run an errand for a coworker: I had to grab some chicken feet from Bo Lings Chinese Please! on the Plaza. The chicken feet are from their very ample Dim Sum menu. Breaded, and cooked in a black bean sauce, they were delicious and tender (I got to try them on Monday, when I brought them in for her). I know there are haters out there, but trust me, until you try it, ZIP IT!

Maybe I DO have a foot fetish!
Before leaving Kansas City, we needed to grab a late lunch/very early supper. We were all tired, and blah after Lego Land, but had to come up with something. We decided on McCoy’s Public House in Westport. They brew a selection of their own beers, so I had to give a couple a try! For the beer, I chose their Unfiltered Wheat and their Czech Pilsner. Both fit nicely into their classic guidelines. The Pilsner had quote a refreshing note of citrus underlying. They were a nice compliment to my food order. They have three different sausage plates: Bavarian style, Moroccan style, and Tuscan. I selected the Bavarian. Their sausages are ground, seasoned and cased in house; a great touch! The Bavarian is a brautwurst style sausage poached in their Landing Light Lager, which came on a small square cast iron pan atop smashed potatoes and topped with applewood bacon and braised red cabbage-apple kraut. I also selected a salad to enjoy. The Baby Spinach Salad is a vegetarian salad with roasted beets, crumbled fresh goat cheese, crispy parsnips, toasted pistachios with a a sour apple-mustard vinaigrette. I can’t tell you enough how fantastic both dishes were! And to top off our supper, we grabbed a dessert called the Ice Cream Sandwich! It is homemade peanut butter ice cream layered between oatmeal stout chocolate brownies, with hot fudge for dipping/drizzling. Wow!

Baby Spinach Salad

Bavarian Style

Ice Cream Sandwich

I was very pleased with our food experiences from the weekend. There are always a thousand places I want to try. We’ll just have to get back up to Kansas City again, soon!

Here is a list of links of interest:


  1. Nicely written! Something about a guy with blood running out of his forehead in the middle of a food blog that makes the experience a little less appealing. ;) Just sayin'. You are a guy though. Thanks for the info, Frank!