Archive for the ‘Burger’ Category

Guest Blogger: Superb Happy Hour Treats At “Crave” Coral Gables

Lately Maria, a popular food blogger in Miami wrote a spectacular review of CRAVE Restaurant in Coral Gables. Maria visited one or two places around Coral Gables as she wanted to review their Happy Hours. She generously offered to allow us to re-post it here on our Daily Crave-ing’s Blog.

Here is Maria’s post:

My last journey in my search for dazzling happy hour bites occurred atCrave Restaurantin Coral Gables, found at 4250 Salzedo Street, Suite 1425, at Merrick Park. This place actually offers ‘the king ‘ of all happy hour bites, with an intensive menu of food ranging in price from 4 to 6 bucks, and a variety of dishes from ‘kobe beef tacos ‘ to sushi. It's also a beautiful place, with a wonderful outdoor dining area where you can kick back and enjoy a nice breeze together with a luxuriously decorated interior, housing a ‘wine wall ‘ and glass chandeliers made in an idiosyncratic yet elaborate fashion. You may find an impressive sushi bar inside, cozy ‘chef-tables ‘ for some privacy, and a pleasant event room for social gatherings that seats about 50 folks. I was amazed at the size of this place, and yet it emitted such a warm and inviting ambiance; along with the conscientious client service of Clifton, the Assistant Managing Director, who was always perceivable across the eatery, talking with the patrons.

I looked through their happy hour specials for both food and drinks and they were remarkable. Their happy hour runs Monday-Friday from 3pm-7pm and then again from Sunday-Wednesday from 10pm-Close. Not bad. You can eat a few bites, do some shopping, and come back after 10pm for a second round. After perusing thru their assortment of beer, wine, sake and cocktail specials for 5 dollars, I selected theMalibu Peach,a delicious tasting mixture of Midori, Malibu, peach puree and soda. It was good; so good that I swished it down quite swiftly and needless to say, ordered a second. At this point I have to say that their happy hour bites menu was so superb, that we ordered about 9 different plates. I just could not stop. I was craving ‘Crave ‘, what am I able to say? So , I chose my 4 favorite plates, which were really tough to pick because they were all so delightful, and will talk about those. You can just have to come here to try the rest.

First up is thesushi. It's so fresh and tasty that I would have liked to resume trying different rolls. My favourite was thePhilly Roll. It was masterfully prepared with salmon, cream cheese and sesame seeds. We also added an order ofSalmon Nigiri(two pieces to an order), which was really priced the same as their ordinary menu. Loved it!

Next we ordered theMini Burgers,which came with smoked cheddar and caramelized onions with a side of fries. I simply cannot resist sliders on a menu and these were totally worth it. The two patties that came in the order were thick, and the protein was tasty. I assumed I wouldn't be well placed to finish them but I could not put them down.

My 3rd favorite bite was theCeviche Shooterwith Wonton Chips. The pieces of shrimp and fish in the ceviche were terribly fresh, and it was sour with a bite that really stood out. I had a hard time-sharing this one. It was right up there with the best ceviches I have had.

Eventually, the 4th dish I may tell you about is theMini Fresh Margherita Pizza.I bit into it, and had to close my eyes to relish the flavor explosion. It was made with Focaccia pizza dough, stove dried tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil. The taste that lingered most in my mouth was the blend of mozzarella and fresh basil, which was wonderfully balanced.

Before I finish, I do have to admit I could not resist ordering two their desserts -Desire Miniatures.They're not on the Happy Hour menu, but at $2.95 a pop, you can’t go wrong. Carla, our waitress, extraordinarily artfully laid the carrousel of revels in front of me, unaware (or maybe quite aware) this was my weakness. So , despite being full to capacity, we ordered 2 to sample: TheFrench Silkand theTiramisu. I think I could have entered a Time Continuum while I ate these, as there are seconds in my life I don't recall anything other than the decadent taste of these desserts. I strongly suggest that you leave some room for them when you come here, and if you do not, just hold your breath and swallow, like I did, because you may regret it if you do not. As an undeniable fact, I'm making reservations for dinner next week as there is much more I want to try. To get more information, visit Hunger for online at http://craveamerica.com or call them at 305-444-4595.

I hope you've a chance to visit these amazing happy hours and enjoy their foods and drinks. The service was excellent in all 3, and the adventure, one I will repeat extremely soon.

– Maria, Guest Blogger from Adventures of the Foodaholic

Follow Maria on Twitter mariasgoodtasteorvisit her blogto follow her food blogging in and around Coral Gables and Miami.

http://Adventuresofthefoodaholic.blogspot.com.

T.J. McLeod is a foodie who likes to find and follow Crave Rest.. As well as dining out, he loves Crave in Coral Gables, events and catering corporations providing the best service to good clients.

The 3 Critical Characteristics Of The Best Burgers

History vaguely records the hamburger as originating from the city of Hamburg, Germany, arriving in the United States during the European immigration boom of the 1800s. Because of the burger’s widespread appeal it soon became very well known, almost to the point where one can fairly claim there’s probably no one over the age of 3 who hasn’t eaten at least one hamburger in their life.

To the casual observer, our humble burger seems to follow a fairly predictable pattern of construction – a meat patty counterbalanced by a bread-like bun on either side. But what escapes the view of most is the basic paradoxical nature of this beast – that it can altered in ways uncountable, limited only by the chef’s own imagination and the nature of the complimentary ingredients he has on hand. Yet, despite this perplexing contradiction in terms, there are still immutable laws that govern what constitutes the best burgers, and they must be met – namely, the “3 Burger Axioms”.

The First Rule of Burgerdom dictates that whatever type of bread or bun is used to construct the burger upon, both the top and bottom pieces must be at least slightly toasted. Purists may insist on browning said bun without the benefit of any accoutrements such as butter or, less nobly, a fine mist of cooking spray, but the requirement remains – the bread must be toasted. Not only does it contribute to the overall melange of flavor being delivered to the anxious consumer, but it also helps postpone the inevitable creep of sogginess for those who insist on dallying while enjoying this consummate creation.

Secondly, it is absolutely imperative that only bovine or bovine-wild animal flesh be used to fill the role as the burger’s noble foundation, and furthermore, that it be fresh and of the utmost quality. The hamburger patty is the absolute epicenter of flavor for the entire burger construct, and there is no room for equivocation here. Whether it consists of top-shelf, Grade-A ground sirloin with a 10% fat content, or the more exotic yet very flavorful grind of domestic bison flesh, only the best burgers consistently use the best meat.

The third axiom is related to the second, specifically to how, to what degree, and what the ultimate result was of cooking the hamburger patty. Different tastes and cooking techniques allow for different methods, and one can argue the relative merits of frying versus open-flame grilling versus baking versus…well, you get the drift. Even the question of to what degree (rare, medium or well-done) the patty is cooked varies by personal taste with all choices equally valid (although undercooked ground red meat fanciers will need a strong immune system to shield them from the inevitable E. coli and salmonella bacteria they’ll be ingesting.)

The 2nd Burger Axiom clearly and simply states that regardless of how the burger was cooked, that it must always be presented to the consumer in a hot, juicy and succulent state. Undercooked, overcooked, or cooked “just right” are always debatable goals, but at the end of the day, was your burger “hot, juicy and succulent?” One CAN find the perfect combination of cooking methods and preferences to satisfy this critical axiom if one looks hard enough.

With the axioms a comfortable given, one’s thoughts can then turn to the important gustatory issues to be dealt with – shall I order a double-meat or just stick with a single? Yes, a single with double cheddar cheese, please…no tomato but double lettuce and red onion, please. And only ketchup. The imagination and endorphins kick in and the highly pleasurable process of customizing your burger gets underway. The sky can be your limit if you wish, with a simple loosening of your belt later as the only remaining pressing challenge to be dealt with.

Regardless of the source – your backyard grill, the neighborhood fast food drive-through, or a nice dine-in restaurant somewhere – to achieve the pinnacle of the hamburger heights, obeisance must always be paid to the all-important 3 Burger Tenets.

Has it been awhile since you had a really memorable hamburger? Our modest author – a food expert who can readily prattle on about trivial tidbits like where the best burgers in San Antonio can be found – can probably also tell you where to find the best Mexican food in San Antonio, and more!

The Top 3 Best Burgers in Los Angeles

Burgers are indulgent, comforting, and all over delicious. A true carnivore’s dream, Los Angeles has some of the best burgers that ever consumed by humanity. People might be intensely health conscious, and somewhat vegetarian, in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t sink your teeth into a massive, delicious burger once in awhile.

We do not discriminate here. We’re on the hunt to find the best burger in Los Angeles by counting down our top three choices with no discrimination based totally on categorization. Some folks prefer to split the categories up between gourmet burgers and pub burgers, but in the final analysis, a burger is still a burger. The world-famous In-N-Out would possibly not be gracing our list, but these burgers will certainly make you feel full, satisfied, and like you experienced the heart of L. A..

The third best burger in Los Angeles is at the Apple Pan located at 10801 West Pico Blvd.

The Apple Pan is a LA landmark because it's been around since the late 1940s. With a diner-style feel, and a casual laid back menu, it is amazing that a seemingly greasy tiny cafe can produce a burger with such force. The hickory burgers are a life-changing with a nice balance of smoky and sweet. Nonetheless you cannot go wrong with the classic thin-patty cheeseburger with bits of cheese oozing with each bite. They may be simple and old-fashioned at the Apple Pan, but they sure know their classic American cuisine, particularly their burgers.

Our number 2 favorite burger is the Umami Burger located at 850 S. La Brea Ave.

Los Angeles seems to love and embrace Asian fusion foods and Umami burger is no exception. Umami is described as the “fifth taste,” and these burgers with their handmade ketchup are certainly one of a kind in flavor and satiety. Although everything on their menu has melt-in-your-mouth potential, the

standard Umami Burger is our all time favourite with shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, and a tangy parmesan crisp to top it off. If you’re in L. A. and love fusion foods, Umami Burger is to die for.

Father’s Office burgers top our list, although this can come as a surprise. These burgers are unchangeable, and you'll basically get booted from the restaurant if you ask for ketchup or try and remove anything off their perfectly proportioned patties. The restaurant/bar is always crowded and very tiny so get there early. Nonetheless it is totally worth the wait. The food is some of the finest bar food you’ll ever come across. On top of a french bun lies a rare piece of dry aged meat crowned with caramelized onions, bacon compote, a mixture of gruyère and Maytag blue cheese, as well as arugula for a bitter bite. This burger is really one of a kind, and regardless of how many times we attempt to replicate it, we simply can’t match it’s greatness. If you are going to have any burger in LA, Father’s Office is where it’s at.

Amy Turman is a LA, California resident and food enthusiast. She logs her expert experience to share with others and give them a local look into the city of angels.

Food Network in Kansas City

As I type this, I’m on a tour bus with Food Network’s Guy Fieri and his crew. I have been on the road for almost four weeks, starting in Naples, Italy, with America’s Chefs, where I cooked for 1,000 soldiers-and got the idea for Banana Rat Wing (BRW) sauce. Named after the infamous rodent at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, BRW sauce is on sale at Grinders and we’re donating a percentage of proceeds to military charities.

After America’s Chefs, I flew to South Carolina where I joined the “Guy Fieri Roadshow Tour,” which is being filmed by Food Network. We’re traveling across the United States with a quick side trip jaunt into Canada.

All of these food-related projects have been an interesting turn in my career; until now I’ve primarily been a sculptor. Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t stopped making art by any means. I still start and end every day in a creative mindset. In fact, I don’t think I will ever stop creating and making things.

While it’s not exactly a logical leap from metal sculpting to cooking, I have been preparing food and working in restaurants off and on since I was young. I worked in a variety of bars and kitchens while attending art school at the Kansas City Art Institute; I would make sculpture during the day and cook at night.

It was circumstance that made me a restaurant owner. When I returned to Kansas City after my stint in New York City working with Mark DiSuvero and the Socrates Sculpture Park, I missed the New York-style pizza and Philadelphia cheese steaks that I’d had at my fingertips. Grinders was born.

That’s how I met Guy Fieri: He came to Grinders to film “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Up to that point, I had done several TV appearances as a sculptor on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Monster House.” But now my two disciplines have merged, and I have landed my own show on the Spike cable network. It’s called “Hungry Men at Work,” and it pairs acclaimed chefs with men working incredibly dangerous jobs around the world-from fighting forest fires to working on oil rigs.

And it’s through this TV-box that I am hoping to bring the arts to the masses.

Speaking of art, when I think back to the years of “plowing the fields of the Crossroads” to create an arts district in Kansas City, I can’t help but remember how wild the area was back then. I rented a 5000-square-foot studio for incredibly cheap. My art gallery, Zone, was the third gallery to move into the area-right after Leedy-Voulkos and the Dolphin Gallery.

We were pioneers, forging a new arts scene without the help of sponsorship or city funding. Now, the Crossroads Arts District is a thriving area that brings thousands to downtown each year. With the addition of Grinders West (my deli located directly next door to Grinders) and the collaboration with CrossroadsKC at Grinders music venue, I have been able to foster an arena where food, art and music converge. That’s what I hope to continue doing on the national stage.

We all create in different ways. There’s no right or wrong, no good or bad way to do it. The important thing is that we always learn from others and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. We have to evolve, but we can’t forget where we came from. And we have to have integrity. The paths I’ve chosen have taken me on great journeys, and I have never regretted them.

I’ve just had to keep an open mind and follow my dreams.

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Shopping District in Kansas City

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating its grand opening September 16. The Performing Arts Center is the latest development in the area between 16th and Pershing and Wyandotte and Cherry Street.

A short walk from the new Kauffman Center is one of my favorite places to explore: Webster House. What was once a public school has been turned into an antiques shop and restaurant that offers some of the best shopping and dining in Kansas City.

Stop by the restaurant for an early supper before a show at the Kauffman Center: I recommend the sauted salmon, Gruyere macaroni and cheese, and lightly battered and fried green beans. Or if you’d rather, drop in for dessert afterward. Webster House has the best caramel corn in town, and you simply have to try the apple crisp during apple season.

Downstairs in the shopping area, the jewelry collection is exquisite. I’m still beating myself up for not immediately buying the multistrand pearls anchored by a cobra-head clasp that was gone soon after I saw it, and you’d be hard pressed to find one-of-a-kind antiques alongside the cutest little baby booties ever made anywhere else.

Retail Therapy

Head over to Birdies, which stocks elegant lingerie, including beautiful bras in hard-to-find sizes. After all, Oprah has made sure we all know that most women are wearing the wrong bra size and type, and I personally can testify that wearing the correct size makes a huge difference in everything from how you look in your favorite dress to how you feel after a very long day. Fortunately, Birdies’ helpful saleswomen won’t let you walk out in anything that isn’t right for your body.

Now it’s time to move onto what goes over it. Whether you’re looking for a gown to wear to a Kauffman event or a casual outfit for knocking around town, you’ll be able to find it in this neighborhood.

The Gown Gallery offers special occasion attire including wedding dresses and attendants’ attire, tuxedos and special occasion dresses. Floor-to-ceiling windows in this second-story, corner space add to its elegance. Check the Web site for the dates and times of trunk shows; that’s when you often can get discounts on dresses that rarely go on sale.

A bit farther north is the base of operation for Tomboy Design Studio. Head designer and owner, Laura McGrew, creates custom and off-the-rack designs that are comfortable, flattering and stylish. Sewing every piece in her McGee Street studio, McGrew guarantees the quality and fit of her garments. Even better, you can walk out knowing your money is going to local talent instead of faceless corporations.

Find the perfect pair of shoes to wear with your new dress at the Shoe Loft. There’s surely something you can’t live without among this relative newcomer’s dozens of pairs of stilettos. Even if you haven’t been able to stop by yet, you might have seen their woven, strappy wares paired with local designer Tonia Barksdale’s collection at the 18th Street Fashion Show earlier this summer.

Palate Pleasers

On the east side of the Crossroads, two of my favorite bars serve up cold beer, delicious food and hours of stellar people watching. Get your smart friends together to play Trivia Riot at The Brick on Friday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. The winning teams get cash; the losers get needled mercilessly by the regulars.

In addition to having the best thin-crust pizza and chicken wings in Kansas City, Grinders offers live music at Crossroads KC. This month’s concert lineup includes Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Butler Trio, Jonny Lang, Yonder Mountain String Band and TV on the Radio.

For something a bit more refined, hit Christopher Elbow Chocolates, where the chocolates are so beautiful it may seem a shame to eat them-at first. This notion is disabused the minute you place one in your mouth and realize your mother was right about a beautiful interior trumping what lies on the surface. Elbow’s genius lies in his ability to create works of art that taste spectacular.

A discussion of food in the Crossroads isn’t complete without mentioning Freight House Row. Situated along 22nd Street and backing up to Union Station’s train tracks, these restaurants represent some of the best of their individual genres: If you’re in the mood for barbeque, Fiorella’s Jack Stack can’t be beat. Italian? Head to Lidia’s, of course. Craving wiener schnitzel or tafelspitz? Make a reservation at Grnauer.

Art and Soul

But it’s the many art galleries that first drew crowds to the Crossroads. Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. The gallery represents local, national and international artists and is celebrated for building relationships between artists and collectors.

The other side of the tracks from the Crossroads Arts District is anything but the wrong side. Union Station alone holds almost 100 years of Kansas City history. Built in 1914 and renovated in 1999, you probably know it as home to Science City, Pierpont’s and Kansas City’s largest movie screen, The Extreme Screen. You might not know that it also houses the Irish Museum and Cultural Center, a planetarium, The City Stage Theatre (offering performances for children during the day and adults at night) and endless rotating exhibits.

Through August 7, ArtsKC is holding its fifth annual Art/Work Corporate Arts Festival in Union Station’s Grand Hall. The exhibition features artwork by Kansas Citians with regular day jobs who spend their nights creating art. I’ve been every year, and I’m always amazed at the talent displayed-some of the pieces are even for sale.

Something Old, Something New

Just across the street from Union Station is a new store owned by Kansas City home design diva Geri Higgins. Located in the historic Pershing Building, the Portfolio Flagship Store features a showroom that rivals those in larger markets like Chicago and LA. It has a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, numerous display environments a retail store and a lovely terrace. The space also will be available to rent for private parties.

Up the hill, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial overlooks downtown. Restored at about the same time Union Station was renovated, I think this is one of Kansas City’s greatest sites. The exterior grounds are awe inspiring and the Memorial itself offers the best bird’s-eye view of Kansas City you can get, short of chartering an airplane to buzz the Country Club Plaza.

If you head to the museum before December, you’ll get in on “Man and Machine: The German Soldier in World War I.” This special exhibit tells the story of the war from the viewpoint of a German soldier and includes personal items that soldiers carried into battle with them. Like many of the permanent displays in this, the only official American museum dedicated to World War I, it offers new insight and an opportunity to go beyond what we think we know about world history.

Crowning Glory

Back down on Pershing Road, Crown Center has long been a destination for Kansas City visitors and residents. With its wide variety of shopping, restaurants and activities, it’s easy to see why. This time next year it will be home to a new, $15 million aquarium. But one of my favorite destinations is an old standby. I first went to Kaleidoscope when I was about 8 years old, and I still have detailed memories of placing my drawing of an orange cat into a giant machine where it was magically transformed into puzzle pieces.

Crown Center also is home to one of the best theaters in the country for young people-Coterie Theatre-which offers performances and classes for children and teens and occasional special shows for adults. This fall, don’t miss “The Outsiders” for teens, “Children of the Damned Corn” for adults and young adults and “Seussical” for families.

While Crown Center houses other theaters, including American Heartland and Off Center, you can have a dramatic dining experience there, as well. Don’t miss Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, where your meal is delivered to your table by a model train. Kids in your party will leave with engineer hats; the adults, with bellies full of hamburgers and fries.

While d’Bronx offers delicious pizza and sandwiches (without the New York City attitude) and Taste of Philly serves up a delicious gyro, my very favorite place to eat in Crown Center is Milano.

One of the most underrated Italian restaurants in Kansas City, Milano’s beautiful, glass-enclosed dining area offers the perfect view of the Crown Center fountains. I love the pizza Margherita, chicken saltimbocca and eggplant parmesan. And Milano’s tiramisu is so good that I have, on two occasions, ordered an entire pan for a birthday party.

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West Bottoms of Kansas City

The American Royal represents all three with double-dares and deliciousness. Alas, the rodeo has moseyed over to the Sprint Center this year. No matter, there’s still plenty of action to catch down by the river.

The American Royal gets a jump start with its annual parade. Last year, there were 115 marching bands, including the Marching Cobras, parade balloons, floats from various city groups and more than 50 groups of Shriners with their miniature cars and boats. I go just for the beautiful horses that prance through downtown as if they know the city is throwing a party just for them.

What’s the Royal without their World Series of Barbecue? More than 500 teams bring their sauce and secrets to compete in a series of events culminating in the naming of the Grand Champion, Best Sauce on the Planet and Party of the Year. Kids even get to try their hand at meat mastery in the junior contest.

My advice is to find someone who has a tent for the Friday night Party of the Year event. Corporations, families and individuals attempt to outdo each other with food, drinks, music and entertainment. If you’re not lucky enough to know someone who has a spot, head on down anyway. This is Kansas City, and odds are you’ll have five new best friends before the night even gets started.

Barbecue and ponies aren’t really your thing? Dolphin Gallery offers art from local artists, along with archival framing, art consultation and more. Originally located in the Crossroads, John O’Brien moved his gallery to the West Bottoms in 2008, leading everyone to speculate about the area’s potential for development. There are also numerous smaller galleries and art collectives in the spacious brick warehouse buildings that dot the landscape between the train tracks.

If you are looking for art by up and coming artists then the West Bottoms are the place to be!

Most of the galleries and spaces are open on the first weekend of the month. Look for homemade signs and groups of bohemians hanging around what used to be loading docks.

The West Bottoms is also home to some of my favorite restaurants. A Kansas City institution, The Golden Ox has been grilling steaks and mixing highballs since 1949. I like to sit in the bar during happy hour (one of the longest in town, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Drinking in the dimly lit room with its polished woods and historical photos makes me feel like an old-time Kansas Citian.

While the Golden Ox epitomizes where we’ve been, the two restaurants across the street tell us where we’re going. The Genessee Royale Bistro serves fabulous morning and mid-day eats in what used to be a gas station. For breakfast, you can’t beat the fried egg and country ham biscuit, which is a glorious combination of sweet raspberry preserves, salty country ham and heat from a judicious amount of hot sauce. For lunch, go with anything that includes fried chicken and wash it down with their fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The R Bar offers a seasonal menu, music on select nights and a top-flight bar. There’s always a vegetarian option, locally raised chicken and some manner of steak available. The bar is scratch and features some of the most creative bartenders in town. I like to give them an idea of my mood and let them decide on my drink. They’ve yet to choose wrong.

Amigoni Urban Winery, located in the bottom floor of the historic Livestock Exchange Building, is the perfect place to stop for a drink before you go to dinner. Drop in Wednesday through Saturday for a wine tasting and wines by the glass or bottle. Amigoni specializes in small-batch wines from their own vineyards in Missouri. A nice red petit verdot or a white malbec is just the ticket for the next dinner party.

Another West Bottoms staple is the antique extravaganza on the first weekend of every month. Vendors set up shop in various buildings on either side of the 12th Street bridge. With charming names like Good Juju, Bottoms Up and the Liberty Belle, the collectives stay open late on Friday and Saturday and offer live music during the busier months. I’ve bought everything from a vintage bowling ball bag, which I proudly carry as a purse, to the best lemon juicer I’ve ever used. If it’s been invented, chances are it’s at one of these markets.

I’ve heard tell that there’s a speakeasy located down a dusty alleyway, off a seldom traveled street, not quite in the heart of the West Bottoms. Some say it’s called The Ship, in honor of one of Kansas City’s most reminisced, now defunct bars, but I can neither confirm nor deny its existence. I’ll leave it to you to discover it on your own. In a world where almost anything is at your fingertips, a serendipitous discovery can be a welcome distraction and the West Bottoms is the perfect place to go looking.

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Something Simple

At Genessee Royale, such luxuries are par for the course. And while you must be thinking, “Nine dollars for three pancakes and a hillock of sauted apples?” “Six dollars for a slice of pie?” I happily pay a small premium for the pleasure.

Located in a converted gas station in the West Bottoms, Genessee Royale is Todd Schulte’s second restaurant, a slightly more mature-looking sibling to his hippie-go-lucky luncheonette, Happy Gillis Caf & Hangout in Columbus Park.

You’ll find the same, homey feel at Genessee; it’s just dressed with a slightly more coordinated eye. If the place weren’t so bright and neat, it could be a saloon, recalling the stockyard days of the surrounding neighborhood.

And just like Happy Gillis, Genessee Royale is only open for breakfast and lunch-although here you get table service-and you can’t make a reservation. That can create a bit of a traffic jam on busy days, especially weekends, when collectors from nearby antique shops fill the place.

The chef, Blair Corbett, came from You Say Tomato by way of Happy Gillis, where she made a brief appearance at the pastry station.

There’s an efficiency about her food: It’s simple and delicious, clean and confident-a slightly lighter version of comfort food.

One morning I visited, she offered an omelet, fluffy and light, stuffed with melting cheese and sided by roasted potatoes. There was also a comforting bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, creamy and rich, served with a mini-buffet of accompaniments, including dried currants, crisp walnuts, meaty dices of sauted apples and a drizzle of heavy cream.

Her pancakes are not those fluffy ones that sink in your stomach. The tidy discs have a tightly woven cornmeal crumb that is hearty and good, but not heavy. They’re served with real maple syrup. I liked them a lot.

At lunchtime, soups and sandwiches, and salads and sides appear.

There was a juicy Butcher’s Grind burger-almost a little too juicy for its English muffin bun, which arrived a touch soggy-with a choice of cheese for a dollar more. But the patty had good flavor and texture. So did the potato salad, which had a creamier dressing.

And there was an open-faced Farmers’ Market Vegetable Sandwich that, I suppose, was a stylized tartine-a fancy French word for a very unfancy thing. What I expected was an open-faced, vegetarian version of a muffaletta: the bread soaked with dressing, the vegetables roasted and tender. What I got instead was a salad on top of two buttered toasts that were a little too crisp and crusty. To be sure, there were some lovely, roasted asparagus, fennel and onions among the greens. But the parts were a little too segregated, impossible to eat together as one.

But then there’s Cobbett’s Monte Cristo. I’ve never felt virtuous eating a Monte Cristo until I ate this one-a crustless wonder with two buttery, souffl-like slices of toast laminated together with a warm layer of cheese and turkey. It’s lightly dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of strawberry jam. Though at press time, it had, unfortunately, rotated off the menu, I’m devoting an inch of ink to it in hopes that it will reappear.

Until it does, the Creamtop Buttermilk Biscuit and Fried Chicken represents the best of what’s printed on the menu (twice-it’s offered at both breakfast and lunch. The biscuit was fluffy, gently tanned on the outside. The chicken was tender and evenly breaded with a golden-brown crust that was crunchy and crisp. And the gravy was a thinner, slimmer cousin to the paste-like gruel I usually see. At first I thought it was a bit too runny, but draped across it all was a beautiful, sunny-side egg with a warm, runny yolk that helped give the gravy some hips.

But the best things at Genessee Royale aren’t on the menu. That honor goes to Cobbett’s pies du jour. By my fourth visit to the restaurant, I wasn’t asking the server what they were; I was just asking her to bring us some. Once, it was buttermilk pie with a sugar cookie crumble topping. Another time, it was an apple and sour cream pie, rich and tangy with a beautiful crust. There was also a wedge of chocolate, as dark as Mississippi mud.

Not one for pie? Brownies, cookies and a carousel of sweets rotate around a cappuccino mousse called Coffee Gourmand. In fact, all of the desserts here are great, especially those same brownies that first smited me at Happy Gillis.

I hear that special wine dinners are in the works. But even without those, the West Bottoms claims another victory. Do give Genessee Royale a try.

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Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover

Were it not for word of mouth, I might not know about some of this city’s odd but wonderful little eateries, like You Say Tomato.

Save its incredibly low-tech Web site, this quirky luncheonette doesn’t spend a dime on advertising. Yet when I arrived on a busy Sunday morning, I knew to order the apple crostata before I even saw that enormous eyeful selling itself quite nicely atop the counter. And lo, it was good: a beautiful stack of tender apple slices sandwiched between a buttery, crisp topping and a flakey crust. Order it warm, la mode; the vanilla bean ice cream here is fantastic.

The menu at You Say Tomato is just as mismatched as its interior, which looks like a garage sale collided with the corner market. You can order a bierock with a side of potatoes or a tall wedge of quiche, and get a jug of milk on your way out.

That bierock is like a knish, which is also on the menu, but instead of being filled with potatoes the pastry bun is stuffed with ground beef and sauerkraut. You Say Tomato’s isn’t the most well-crafted version I’ve had-the dough was a bit undercooked in parts-but it had good flavor. I preferred the knish, which was served with grainy mustard.

The breakfast casserole here is the size of a bus. Despite the hefty look of this loaf, it’s unexpectedly light, an eggy souffl studded with sausage and mushroom and bubbly with cheddar cheese. Smothered in gravy, it’s not exactly diet food, but it’s immensely comforting.

They’ll ask you if you want “everything” on your pork tenderloin sandwich at Kitty’s Caf, a cash-only greasy spoon on a desolate stretch of 31st Street. You should say yes. Then they’ll ask you if you want hot sauce. You should say yes again.

The crunchy, battered slices of pork tenderloin-three per sandwich-are moist and tender on the inside and fried to order. Paired with lettuce, onions, pickles and that hot sauce, this is a killer stack.

But you do trade comfort for the value. A half-dozen stools, usually occupied by people waiting for takeout orders, crowd the restaurant’s tight quarters lined with counters. On a busy weekday, a line snakes out the door. Be prepared to bag it back to your office.

One of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City is Happy Gillis in sleepy Columbus Park. Todd Schulte and his wife, Tracy Zinn, opened the casual, self-styled “caf and hangout” in early 2008 after their soup delivery business, Happy Soup Eater, proved successful. And the buzz, boosted by playtime in the national press, has only grown since. Walk into the homey establishment any day at lunchtime or on a weekend morning, and you’ll have to wait for a seat at one of the tables or couches or on the patio furniture on the sidewalk.

The food at Happy Gillis is the tidiest and the most focused of the four restaurants in this article. Everything is fresh and made to order. Scrambled eggs arrive fluffy and soft-a joy on a lazy Saturday morning. Butter lettuce is pert and happy; tossed with baby spinach and spiced nuts, it makes a beautiful salad.

I loved the roasted butternut squash sandwich. Served between slices of ciabatta slathered with goat cheese, it’s mottled with a caramelized onion and walnut relish. The BLT is terrific as well, slicked with house-made mayonnaise and overflowing with waxy rashers of bacon from Webster City Custom Meats in Iowa.

Unsurprisingly, the soups here are dependably good and can always be coupled with half a sandwich for a well-rounded meal.

Succotash is a fun one. This off-kilter “bruncheonette” just two blocks down from You Say Tomato is larger than its peers, a considerable expansion from its cubbyhole beginnings in the City Market. Now, the restaurant offers a sweeping bar and a sprawl of tables of different shapes and sizes.

As the restaurant’s name suggests, the menu leans a bit towards the South, full of hearty comfort.

On a recent visit, I had a warm pot roast sandwich-a special of the day. The meat was tender, flavorful and moist with pan gravy. Served with a side of collard greens, it was great. The tuna melt, however, was a sad story. Served cold, the cheese had stiffened, defying the sandwich’s raison d’etre. What’s a tuna melt without the melt?

Desserts here are large and in charge. There are fruit pies and the famous layer cake-a slice of rainbow as colorful as the restaurant’s sign. Strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime cakes are stacked, twice over, in an eight-layer monster held together with bright blue butter cream. It glows neon and tastes like Fruit Loops cereal.

Mismatched, quirky, and small, you’ll find a smile and an honest plate of food at these restaurants. Spread the word.

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Grinders Meets It’s Toughest Customer

I’m on a tour bus with Food Network’s Guy Fieri and his crew. I have been on the road for almost four weeks, starting in Naples, Italy, with America’s Chefs, where I cooked for 1,000 soldiers-and got the idea for Banana Rat Wing sauce. Named after the infamous rodent at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, BRW sauce is on sale at Grinders and we’re donating a percentage of proceeds to military charities.

After America’s Chefs, I flew to South Carolina where I joined the “Guy Fieri Roadshow Tour,” which is being filmed by Food Network. We’re traveling across the United States with a quick side trip jaunt into Canada.

All of these food-related projects have been an interesting turn in my career; until now I’ve primarily been a sculptor. Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t stopped making art by any means. I still start and end every day in a creative mindset. In fact, I don’t think I will ever stop creating and making things.

While it’s not exactly a logical leap from metal sculpting to cooking, I have been preparing food and working in restaurants off and on since I was young. I worked in a variety of bars and kitchens while attending art school at the Kansas City Art Institute; I would make sculpture during the day and cook at night.

When I returned to Kansas City after my stint in New York City working with Mark DiSuvero and the Socrates Sculpture Park, I missed the New York-style pizza and Philadelphia cheese steaks that I’d had at my fingertips. Grinders was born.

Guy Fieri came to Grinders to film “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Up to that point, I had done several TV appearances as a sculptor on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Monster House.” But now my two disciplines have merged, and I have landed my own show on the Spike cable network. It’s called “Hungry Men at Work,” and it pairs acclaimed chefs with men working incredibly dangerous jobs around the world-from fighting forest fires to working on oil rigs.

And it’s through this TV-box that I am hoping to bring the arts to the everyone.

When I think back to the early years of “plowing the fields of the Crossroads” to create an arts district in Kansas City, I can’t help but remember how wild the area was back then. I rented a 5000-square-foot studio for incredibly cheap. My art gallery, Zone, was the third gallery to move into the area-right after Leedy-Voulkos and the Dolphin Gallery.

We were pioneers, forging a new arts scene without the help of sponsorship or city funding. Now, the Crossroads Arts District is a thriving area that brings thousands to downtown each year. With the addition of Grinders West (my deli located directly next door to Grinders) and the collaboration with CrossroadsKC at Grinders music venue, I have been able to foster an arena where food, art and music converge. That’s what I hope to continue doing on the national stage.

We all create in different ways. There’s no right or wrong, no good or bad way to do it. The important thing is that we always learn from others and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. We have to evolve, but we can’t forget where we came from. And we have to have integrity. The paths I’ve chosen have taken me on great journeys, and I have never regretted them.

I’ve just had to keep an open mind and follow my ambitions.

Learn more about the best Kansas City Food in the Midwest Kansas City Food.

Who Cooks up the Best Burger in America?

I’m confident you have tasted many great hamburgers with tons of different flavors and seasonings. The real question is, have you enjoyed a burger from Fuddruckers Menu? Constantly rated the best burger in the world. If you haven’t, its time for you to give yourself a reward and have one of their famous burgers.

For one, the burgers are only grilled upon orders and they are neatly laid out on specially Fuddruckers baking trays that make their fresh buns. In case you are not aware of it, the secret of Fuddruckers Menu can actually be attributed to the superior quality of their buns. Here are just a few things you might want to know about the ingredients used in concocting the secret formula for the Fuddruckers hamburger:

The Buns That Flank The Patty

The secret why Fuddruckers burgers have become phenomenal in many places in the world is because of the quality of buns they use. They make it a point that assembling the ingredients is perfect starting from the very buns which will hold the beef patty and all the other ingredients together. First of all; the buns must be sized according to the size of the patty as well as the other ingredients. A big bun stuffed with small-sized ingredients is definitely a no-no! What is more, there should be utmost consideration on how the buns are made as well. Options include those of buns made from poppy seeds, or are multi-grain and home-made.

The Burger Meat

Equal to the burger bun is the hamburg patty. This is probably the most important part of a burger. A hamburger will never ever be a burger without the hamburger. If you don’t want cheese, that’s fine or perhaps you aren’t into pickles (my favorite!) or no lettuce, sauce and skip the tomato. Do you enjoy the onions? If not, that’s alright. These can all be absent from your burger but a burger without a hamburg patty? No way! Plus, Fuddruckers Menu’s big secret is cooking the burger to perfection.

A Peak at the Ingredients

Did you know the Fuddruckers hamburger is made up of vine ripe tomatoes, fresh green lettuce, red onion, the best pickles anywhere and tons of other excellent ingredients from anchovies to mushrooms and cheese to crispy grilled bacon. But what really makes a Fuddruckers Menu burger is actually the juice. As soon as you bite into the tasty burger the flavor of the juice fills up your mouth giving you the wow factor!

Want to find out more about Fuddruckers Menu, then visit Jim’s site on how to choose the best burger recipe for grilling up a tasty burger!

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