Friday, May 9, 2014

La Tienda Chiquita

Avocado Tacos
Ok- full disclosure- my daughter works here (if you go in and get her as your server please be nice she is still working on being a good server-- for those of you who have not waited tables there is a lot to it-- you have to learn to multitask). She works here because it is the best Mexican food and the nicest family ever.  I love this place. The pecan cilantro pesto shrimp quesadilla is to die for (really it is). I have tried other dishes but it is my favorite dish.  I don't have pictures of them because they never last long enough. Katie likes the ground beef enchiladas and the cheese enchiladas. Steven likes everything- his current favorite is the pork plate (I am not even going to try to spell what they call it). I live for the shrimp cocktail (it has avocado- I love everything with avocado). Oh! They also have avocado tacos. I like those too.

They have specials every day. I am often tempted by the specials (especially the shrimp cocktail hint hint). They also have a meat of moment, soups in winter (mmmmm soup), and I am told there will be salads soon. I can't wait to try the salads especially if they have avocado..... Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot about the tamales. I don't like tamales and I like their tamales. Lots of meat not a lot of mesa. Really good. They freeze and heat up well.
Mini Beef Tacos- Daily Special

La Tienda Chiquita started as a grocery store and evolved into a restaurant.  They do not have a large kitchen so no deep fryer. I personally think this is a plus- I don't want to be tempted by fried foods and La Tienda Chiquita does have a deep fryer smell. It has eclectic seating; there are tables and chairs that don't match.  I think it adds to the charm. I think it is like going to your cool aunt's house for a meal. Everyone is friendly and welcoming with the accompanying banter that you would expect at a friend's house or at your aunts. They are moving (soon) to a new location which will have a larger kitchen and more space for tables and a deep fryer (which means homemade chips-- I am going to have to run more).

You need to try this place. It is incredible.  Here is the link La Tienda Chiquita
Cheese Enchiladas with Rice and Beans
Katie's View
I love this restaurant. I can honestly say they make the best Mexican food I have ever had. Their ground beef enchiladas are AMAZING! The family that owns the place is very nice and I'm not just saying that because they could fire me. The restaurants aroma is incredible, it smells like heaven.  If go to bed after work without showering,  I wake up at random parts of the night craving Mexican food.     La Tienda Chiquita on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Van Till Family Farm and Winery

Strawberry Festival Wine
I love Van Till. Our family has been going to Van Till since we moved back to Kansas City. It is off the beaten path. But then I really like going off the regularly traveled paths. You know, places where you get great food, great service, and feeling that the people who work work there and own the place want to sit down and have a chat. Yes, Van Till is that kind of place.

It is a way from downtown Kansas City but it is worth the trip. I couldn't tell you how to get there. If I tried you end up in Nebraska. Trust be you are better off going to their website and figuring out for yourself.

I go to Van Till for the pizza. They have an Italian style pizza oven in which they bake their pizzas. I love the pizza. My favorite is the chipotle chicken. I would drink chipotle raspberry sauce if they gave me a glass of it.Yes, it is that good.
Chipotle Chicken Pizza
I am also partial to the rosemary pear. Katie's current favorite is the Tuscany. She also likes the pesto.

The Pesto Pizza
They have suggested pairings with the pizzas. I usually get a beer (I love wine but it doesn't love me). We made an exception to our "no wine rule" the last time we were at the winery. We had a a bottle of the Strawberry Festival Sparkling wine. It was delicious. Yum!

You can wander around the gardens and peek into the green houses which I think is worth the trip alone. It is a beautiful place.  I like to sit in the outdoor patio, watch the pizzas being made, and relax. Oh! I almost forgot, there is also a tasting room where you can taste the wines. I also think the event space is open now.
The Pizza Oven on the Outdoor Patio
Katie's View
Amazing pizza! The food here is simply delicious. I love the Pesto and the Tuscan pizza. The restaurant has a family friendly environment. The people who own the place are awesome! I can't wait to go there again!!!

Van Till Farms and Winery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bo Lings for Dim Sum

We have been going to Bo Lings on the Plaza for dim sum for years. I love dim sum.  Dim sum is a type of Cantonese food prepared as bite sized or individual portions served in steamer baskets. Bo Lings servers roll carts filled with the steamer baskets to your table and you choose which ones you want. For someone who is hungry it is wonderful because the cart comes to your table and you get to eat. Sometimes it is difficult waiting for the particular cart that has the dim sum dish you have been craving.

Like everyone else we have our favorites and here they are in no particular order:

One of my all time favorites is a shrimp and meat pie that we call footballs. It is deep fried but it is so good. Just a touch of sweetness. Yum yum yum.


My daughter loves bubble tea. I am not crazy about the bubble tea; I just can't get past the tapioca balls in the bottom. They are tasteless and I think they have a weird texture.

Bubble Tea

Another favorite is sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf. It goes pretty quickly. Actually we usually attack it and it is every person for himself/herself.
Glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf

My husband really likes funn rolls. I have grown to like them. You can get a variety of fillings. We usually get shrimp.

Shrimp funn roll

All of us love these noodles. You can get either the rice noodles or the yellow noodles or mixed. We get a little of both with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Stir fried rice and yellow noodles
 The first time we had seaweed salad was at Bo Lings. We were hooked. We all love it so as you can see by the empty dish.

Seaweed Salad
My only complaint was our bill was incorrect. We were charged for items we did not order. We asked them to correct it and gave them our card. They came back with our credit card charged for the wrong amount and we had to send it back again.

Katie's View

Best birthday brunch ever!!!! The food is AMAZING!!! The footballs, noodles, fried noodles, seaweed salad, sticky rice, shrimp dumplings, and many other dumplings there are so tasty. The bubble tea is awesome!!! The tapioca balls in the tea are fun to eat. I do have one regret, I didn't savor my food when I should have. I love the food at Bo Lings because it's extremely tasty. I have many great memories of going to Bo Lings when I was younger.

  Bo Lings on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Haus- Causal German Dining at its Beery Finest

Haus pretty much had me at beer. I love craft beer. Haus has a fantastic German and Belgian beer selection. They also have sausage and homemade kraut.  I knew I was going to love Haus. I was not wrong.

When we got there, we were starving. We started with the appetizer plate. We were so hungry that we had pretty much devoured it before I remembered to take a picture. So you get a picture of a mostly eaten appetizer plate. We had a lovely pretzel dipped in beer cheese, homemade sauerkraut (which is incredible and makes me think about making my own), sausage (yummy!), fries (also dipped in the cheese), and deep fried mac n cheese (not our favorite).

Yep- pretty much gone

Now for the tough decision... beer. They have 20 glorious beer on tap (all craft beers). I was torn until our server told us they have beer flights. I love places with beer flights. I get to try new beers without committing to a full glass. Not that there are many craft beers I don't like but it has happened. We had to from between a German, Belgian, or craft beer flight. I chose the Belgian (which should be no surprise) and Steven chose the German beer flight.
My beer flight
I kind of cheated on this beer flight because I had had all of them except for Houblon Choufee. So I knew I loved these beers. I had no idea the surprise I was in for--- my favorite out of the group was Houblon Choufee. It was in a word spectacular. It paired perfectly with my sausage. Houblon Choufee is a Beligian IPA. I was surprised that I liked it so much because I tend to lean towards stouts. I don't like "uberhoppy" beers, but I do like beers that have some hoppiness without being over the top. Belgian IPAs fit that description. The best description I can come up with is they are a cross between an IPA and a tripel. I know it sounds strange but good. Trust me. They are deceptively smooth and that smoothness hides a really high alcohol content (the Houblon Choufee is 9%).  So it was a good thing that it was in a small glass.

Pork glorious pork

Let me tell you about the sausage. It is delicious. It is from the Local Pig which has incredible sausage and other meats as well (check them out). The meats are locally sourced. Haus had a wide selection of sausages from which to choose. I went with the classic bratwurst with sauerkraut and caramelized onions. I then dipped my sandwich in different mustards. Ahhh..... pork heaven.

At this point I am pretty much full. Katie however has her eyes on dessert. They only have one dessert choice but they only need one...... wait for it......It was a fried Belgian waffle sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce, and served with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It was gone in less than three minutes.

Haus style Belgian waffles
My only regret- I did not get the Razberry Cho-co-lat Mash-up which is a combination of Dopplebock & Framboise. It sounds amazing. I am ready to go back and get one now.

Katie's View

Haus was really good! I loved the bratwurst and the fries dipped in cheese!!! I have to say my favorite thing was the Belgian Waffles. They were covered in caramel and chocolate and deep fried with ice cream. I loved it!!! When we go back there I will get the bratwurst and the waffle.

Haus on Urbanspoon

BobKorn Kettle Corn- A Delicious Little Popcorn Store in Excelsior Springs, Missouri

I love popcorn. I can't remember a time when I didn't eat large amounts of popcorn. My family also loves popcorn. We can go through a tub of popcorn in no time flat.  I used to love movie theatre popcorn but not so much anymore. I don't know when the change happened but it just isn't as appealing as it used to be.
I prefer homemade popcorn. Or better yet homemade caramel corn. My husband makes great caramel corn. He actually has the patience to stir it for what seems like an eternity until it reaches the correct temperature.  My favorite popcorn of all is kettle corn. I've tried and I can't seem to come up with an easy way to make this at home. Which is probably a good thing because once I start eating kettle corn it is hard for me to stop. Thankfully, there aren't that many places to get really good kettle corn.

Until now. About a year ago, a new popcorn store, BobKorn, opened in Excelsior Springs. Needless to say, I tried to avoid BobKorn like the plague. But it kept calling to me. I knew once I went in there I would be hooked. I was right. Wow.

First of all. Really nice people. The kind that take a bit of extra time to make sure you feel at home and that you get what you want.

Second, they had tasters. You get to try the different types of popcorn. Why? Because you are going to want them all.
My current favorites: lemon blast, caramel, and sour cream, cheddar and chive

Third, they have all kinds of popcorn. My current favorite is Lemon Blast. You are probably thinking, lemon popcorn? Really? I thought the same thing until I tried it. I love it. It is lemon flavored popcorn with lemon white chocolate drizzle with shortbread cookies. At least that is what I think it is. I guess I need to go back and get more popcorn to figure it out.
Cinnamon and sour cream, cheddar, and chive

We also get the caramel corn and the sour cream, cheddar and chive. I mix the two together. It is wonderful. We can't leave Katie alone with the popcorn because she will eat it all. We also get the cinnamon which I think is Steven's favorite. They also have watermelon, chocolate drizzle, English toffee, strawberry shortcake, sweet butter, cotton candy, and ... I know I am forgetting some.  Besides popcorn there are drinks and shaved ice. I've never made it past the popcorn.

Katie's View

BobKorn is heaven on earth in the form of a popcorn shop. The shop is amazing! They have popcorn of all colors of the rainbow and flavors of popcorn that sound gross but taste AMAZING! I love the cinnamon popcorn, the caramel popcorn, the cheese popcorn, actually I love all popcorn. I can't wait to go back and get more popcorn! It's amazing and it tastes wonderful. Bobkorn on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Affäre 1911 Main Street Kansas City, MO

The lemon mousse at Affäre
On February 23, 2012, over 110 Kansas City restaurants had a fundraiser for  JJ's Support Fund. All of these restaurants pledge 10% of sales. Affäre had a special meal where 10% went to JJ's so that is what we ordered. It was a 4 course meal and there were two choices for each course.  So Steven and I were able to try each choice. Sadly, Katie was not with us so she was unable to enjoy the meal. Yes, Steven and I actually had a date. It is hard to believe but it is true.

For those of you who have not been to Affäre,  the restaurant is in a large space in the crossroads district. It was still warm and inviting not stuffy. I like the exposed pipes in the ceiling and the art on the walls. Steven and I had a booth along the wall which gave me a great view of the restaurant. I enjoyed the people watching. The Chef, Martin Heuser, is a James Beard semifinalist for the Midwest. I had high expectations for my evening.


Yes, they had a gin cocktail at the top of their list- oh happy day. It was the Affäre and I had to order it. It was lovely. It looked like Windex but certainly did not taste or smell like it. It was subtle- especially for a gin drink. There were flower petals floating on top and you could taste a bit of floral essence. Steven had the Closing, a bourbon drink, and liked his as well. Of course, I thought my drink was the superior beverage.

The Affäre 
First Course

Yes, they had a salad with beets, and yes, I ordered it. It was lovely with a light fresh dressing. The beets were beautiful. I could have eaten a giant bowl for dinner and been completely happy.

The Beet Salad
Steven had the snail soup. It was divine. Very rich and creamy. Yummy! I don't think I have ever seen Steven eat soup so fast. I think he was concerned that I would steal it away from him and eat it. I must say the thought crossed my mind.
Steven's cream-based snail soup
Second Course

I had the mahi-mahi. The presentation was awesome. It came in glass dish with a lid and a ramekin of what looked like hollandaise sauce on the side. I was intrigued.

A wonderful presentation
The fish and potatoes were tender and perfectly cooked. The hollandaise sauce had a bit of mustard and was so good. I think I am going to have to try to copy the mustard hollandaise at home.  I finished off the fish and was busy trying to figure out how I could discretely drink the broth. Steven had quail and really enjoyed it. I had a small bite and it was good.  I thought the fish was better. A day later as I type this I still regret not drinking that broth.
The quail
Third Course

I had the ribeye with green beans and mashed potatoes. It was good not great. The two other courses were great. The ribeye was a bit dry. The citrusy sauce was lovely.
The ribeye
The highlight of this course was the German dark wheat beer (Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel)
that our server Mark recommended (thanks Mark). Steven had the duck and his duck was a bit dry too. It was also good not great.
The duck
Steven also loved his German wheat beer (Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier) it was truly wonderful and paired nicely with his duck. Our server was wonderful discussing beer pairings with our food. It is always nice to have a server who is knowledgeable about beer, not just wine. It was also wonderful to have two great beers with our dinner.
Our Beers
Fourth Course

Ok- I thought this was small plates. The plates really weren't that small. I am starting to get quite full. We still had apple strudel and lemon mousse. I have to admit, Steven's was better than mine. He must have realized this because it was gone in a flash. Amazing. The apple strudel was really good but that Meyer lemon mousse was fantastic.
Apple Strudel
My Regrets

There were several items on the menu that I really wanted but did not get. One of them was the mussels. The table next to us had mussels. I thought briefly about introducing myself and asking them if they were going to eat all of their mussels. But I did not. They looked like nice people, I'm sure that they would have given me a mussel. I would have given them one. I was already taking pictures with my iPhone in a dark restaurant; it wasn't that much more of stretch to join the table next to us. So our next visit we will be getting mussels and I will be taking pictures of them. My next regret was asking Mark, our server, what his favorite dish was. He told me the Ricotta-Erbsen ravioli with carrot puree and balsamico foam. I have very fond feelings for dumplings. I wanted a dumpling. But sigh, I will have to get these on our next visit as well. Finally, they had bison shortribs topped with seared foie gras, truffle scented celeriac puree. My mouth waters just thinking of the shortribs. So I am destined to return.  I will not have four courses next time maybe just two or three. Steven and I can split the mussels and I will have plenty of room for the ravioli and shortribs.
Affäre on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Elms and 88 at the Elms

First the disclaimer, I love the Elms. I even liked it way back when it had a funky musty smell and the lap pool was, well, scary.  The Elms has just experienced a $17 million (or is it  $19 million?)  overhaul. The result is incredible. The must smell is gone and the place is absolutely gorgeous.  I could live in the grotto... but I am getting ahead of myself. Let's start with what is normally my focus: the food and drink. There are two restaurants / bars. The first is 88 at the Elms which is formal yet still comfortable. The Tavern is a casual place where sometimes, if you're lucky, there will be live music.

The Food

The food is amazing. The restaurants (both 88 at the Elms and the Tavern) focus on local food with flair. Importantly, it is approachable food that is executed well. I really like the small plates. My favorites are the beet salad and the short ribs. The salad is a lovely mix of beets, cranberries, and Shatto farms (a local diary) curds.  I think it's incredible, but then I am a sucker for beets. The short ribs are melt-in-your-mouth tender. I only got one bite of them -- I did not order them myself. I will not make that mistake again. My husband liked the calamari with pickled veggies.
The calamari with pickled veggies

Now on to the entrees... My husband loved the antelope. I tried it and it is delicious - who knew? I had the salmon which was perfectly cooked and quite tasty.

The salmon at 88 Elms
I have not had the rib eye or the entre version of the short ribs which are next on the  list. On a different visit I had the pasta with spinach and squash. I loved the squash. The pasta is handmade but not quite there -- those of you who make your own pasta will know what I mean. It was good, but not perfect.  Maybe it was an off night for the past person.

I don't want to skip over the pub menu. I love, love, love their hamburger with the Fiscalini cave-aged cheddar. (So, so good - trust me. I would never steer you wrong with food).  Katie and I split the hamburger (it is huge). The the fries that come with it are great. I love a good hamburger and this one may be my favorite dish at the restaurant. Steven usually gets the street tacos (also good).  Steven says the turkey club is excellent. I did not try it - I'm not a turkey fan and besides, I was preoccupied with my hamburger.

Katie's View

I love the food! It's amazing and delicious. The Scottish Salmon is to die for. Its flavor is amazing and it has a crispy fish skin on the top as garnish. (In my opinion it's a little too fishy to eat.) The short ribs are very good. They are melt-in-your-mouth tender. The calamari is crispy and wonderful. It has a picked salad that is okay. If you want to get a dessert salad then I totally recommend the apple salad. It has a shortbread crumble that is just amazing.
The salad with shortbread crumble 

The bar menu is good. I like the hamburger - it is my favorite thing on the bar menu.

Cocktails (Amy Again - Katie doesn't get real cocktails)

If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for a great cocktail. I am also pretty picky about my cocktails. I like gin cocktails or drinks that Steven calls "candy in a cup". My preference is gin - usually Hendricks. Like I said, I'm picky. Every once in a while I will drink a dirty Belvedere martini with blue cheese stuffed olives but I am mainly getting the drink for the olives. Steven (who likes vodka more than gin - go figure) gets the drink. I steal his olives.

The Elms does great cocktails. I like homemade sweet and sour mix rather than the usually stale bottled stuff. No, really. I make my own and the difference is amazing. (Here's my recipe for great sweet and sour mix.) I absolutely love the fact that the Elms is as picky as I am. They make their own sweet and sour,  grenadine, and they juice real fruit for their drinks.  It makes a huge difference. Katie will tell you that their Shirley Temples are the best in town.

I have had some of the best gin cocktails at the Elms. (Yes, better than the Manifesto downtown but maybe I am biased). I only get cocktails when Andrew -- the resident senior mixologist) -- is behind the bar. He is even picker about his cocktails than I am. He also knows that I love Hendricks gin so he tailors drinks to my tastes, and will do the same for you. That is what drink perfectionists do.  I currently have two favorite cocktails. The first is Andrew's cucumber gin gimlet made with Hendricks. The cucumber gimlet really plays up the taste of the Hendricks and is fresh and tasty.
Cucumber Gin Gimlet with mood lighting- Yes it's that good
The second drink doesn't have a name-- but lets call it "the Andrew." It is a gin drink made with simple syrup and muddled cucumber and red bell pepper.  It is so fresh, a prefect spring summer drink with a bit of spice. I thought it had jalapeno pepper in it but it doesn't. He may tell you that the White Lady is his signature but trust me if you love gin (especially Hendricks) try the other two.

The White Lady

Katie's View

The Shirley Temple that Andrew makes is the best I've ever had (and I've had a lot of Shirley Temples.) It's made with homemade grenadine and a lot of cherries. The grenadine is delicious and wonderful. I think that is what makes the Shirley Temple so good.

The Spa

Ahh the spa. First, let me start with Kevin Snedden, the spa manager. He has been inducted into the massage hall of fame. Yeah, he's that good. The staff here are amazing - incredibly service orientated and always willing to go the extra mile. The spa is warm and inviting and not at all snooty. It is a place where you want to spend time. And the grotto.... Wow doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about it. The grotto is a heavenly spot for relaxation and recharge. It includes a dry sauna, steam sauna, a huge hot tub, a steam shower and a cold-water "shock" shower. It is wondrous. Truly. Use of the grotto comes with any spa service.   The spa alone is worth a trip -- but you get great food and drinks too.

Steven totally relaxed
Katie's View

The spa is beautiful. It has changed completely. The spa manager is awesome and wonderful at his job. The people who work there are very good at their jobs. The quiet room is beautiful and peaceful. When we stepped foot in the spa, I decided that I wanted to live there.

Katie in the quiet room

I have only touched on the Elms. I did not cover the rooms, the grounds, the cafe, its history or its ghosts. Since it is just a little ways outside of town, I'm sure that I will be visiting often and will have more posts in the coming months.
Eighty Eight at The Elms on Urbanspoon