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