Tuesday, October 20, 2009

KC on $40/Day

I got a day off from being a housedad yesterday, so Stella and I had the opportunity to get out to some good restaurants. We decided I would pick her up for lunch. Since Stella is the prototypical Johnson County woman; mother and works for a nonprofit doctoring type outfit in Leawood, we were stuck eating somewhere in the Leawood area. When I left the house I had it in my head I was going to try some fried shrimp po'boys from Westchase Grill but my heart was telling me we should go to Blanc Burgers and Bottles. Once I found Tomahawk Creek Parkway and her actual building (they all look the same out there, luckily I was tipped off that it had a fountain) I had decided to go with my heart. I wasn't going to try someplace new, I was going to go to Blanc for a burger.

Stella offered no objection to a Blanc burger so we headed over to Blanc in the Mission Farms development. Luckily for me, Tomahawk Creek Parkway turns into Mission Rd. on the north side of 435 so I at least understood the street names and could find Mission Farms rather easily. We each got the lunch special which is one of five burgers and your choice of fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings or you can go with one of a couple of salads. I got the burger au poivre with regular fries and Stella got the classic with onion rings. I would have got the sweet potato fries but I wanted a piece of Stella's O-ring and she only enjoys a good stiff fry in return, sweet potato fries don't typically cut it.

My au poivre burger was excellent and in my book, the second best burger in town behind the Blanc Kobe burger. Stella's basic burger was good, but she agreed the au poivre one was better. She was concerned it would be too peppery, but confirmed that it was not. With the lunch special you don't get your side order in the fun little shopping carts, they just come on the plate and are about half portions which meant only four onion rings. The fries were nice, but once you've had the truffle fries there, it's hard to appreciate the regular fries. I wish they had a deluxe lunch special with the Kobe burger and truffle fries for $12 or something like that, the extra $3 (the regular lunch special is $9) would give people a great value for the best burger lunch they'll ever have. In any case the $9 special is plenty special and we got out of Blanc for under $25 (with tip) full and happy.

I dropped Stella off back at work (I'm pretty sure her building is 90% women as I didn't see any guys at all) and ran a couple of errands. I then went to see "Paranormal Activity" to try and scare myself silly. Shortly after I got home from the movie, Stella got home from work. We decided we weren't really that hungry after the Blanc meal and thought it a good idea to try out the small plates at Extra Virgin's happy hour.

Extra Virgin's (19th and Main) happy hour lasts from 11:30 - 6 and includes about half the menu at half price. What is already a fairly priced restaurant for what it is transforms into a very affordable meal during happy hour. We decided to each get a small plate and then share one since we weren't that hungry. I would suggest, if you're making a meal of it to at least get 2 plates each with another plate for every 2 people to share. I wouldn't get more than 3 plates per person, because you do end up getting plenty to eat on each small plate. Most of the items are between $8 and $12 so at half price they're $4 - $6, you've spent more on fried appetizers at Chili's. The Extra Virgin small plates have the added benefit of using quality ingredients.

The empanadas caught my eye but I didn't know what cabrito was so I had to ask our lovely waitress. She told me cabrito was baby goat at which point I got very excited. Since it was baby goat it likely hadn't been molested by Chimpotle. The waitress said she either gets my reaction or people are horrified. I knew I was going to have the cabrito empanadas. I was a little upset that the braised pork cheeks were not one of the half price plates. That was the only item that would have gotten me away from the cabrito empanadas.

Stella was a bit torn between the duck leg confit, the chicken thighs stuffed with figs and chorizo and the prosciutto raviolis. She went with the prosciutto raviolis. For our shared plate we got the baked mussels with herb garlic butter. I think I could eat every meal with some mussels.

I don't think 4 prettier empanadas have ever been made. They were absolutely perfect looking served atop what they called a green olive salsa. From the first bite, I knew that these were going to be the best thing I ate all day. They were just perfect, I don't even have a nit to pick with them. Perfect spice, perfect tenderness, the pastry was just the right consistency to go with the tender meat, even the olive salsa added a nice little bite to each bite. On a day where I ate a Blanc burger, the cabrito empanadas were the best thing I ate that day.

Stella's raviolis were quite wonderful as well. They were gloriously light and perfectly flavored with the chimichurri. If I'd known chimichurri was involved with those raviolis, my initial cabrito decision would have been made harder.

The mussels were the worst part of our little meal. That's not to say they were bad, they weren't, they just had some stellar competition. They came on a very hot plate, each mussel covered in a little breading. The ones I squeezed enough lemon on were absolutely wonderful. The ones without enough lemon seemed just a little dry and the flavors were muted to a point that each mussel was just mediocre.

Everything was just so good we couldn't leave without one more item, the churros and chocolate. Stella loves Churros so much I almost believe that her German ancestors mistook a Mexican for a Jew a long time ago and enslaved him to make them churros all the live long day. For $5 you get 5 little churros (3 or 4 bites each) and a ramekin of chocolate. The chocolate was a shade too bitter for the 2 of us but it was very good. The churros themselves were excellent. The combination of the 2 was just about perfect with only the chocolate being a tad too bitter being the nit that needs picking. I think our tab for the whole thing including drinks and tip was about $35.

I don't really eat breakfast but I did have some Shatto eggnog with some granola with spiced figs which probably cost about $1.50. My lunch was about $13 and dinner was about $20. I ate the best KC has to offer for under $40. Rachael Ray is my bitch.


Chimpotle said...

Have you had the Pork & Bull at Blanc? It gets my vote for best burger. I had a near ejaculatory experience with the last one I had. It could have been the burger, or I might have just pretended the ampersand was missing from the name.

Bull E. Vard said...

Have not had the Pork & Bull. I almost got the pork burger yesterday, just couldn't pull the trigger on it.

The DLC said...

'm a big fan of the inside out. i didn;t like the bun for the au poivre.

Also that Blanc is the single hardest place to hold a conversation in town. Terrible acoustics that jack up the volume such that I couldn't even hear the waiter.

Pat said...

the au'poivre is the best burger in town! good call.

KC Wort Hog said...

I absolutely love EV - I keep meaning to go on Monday nights for half-price bottles of wine!

Oh and I came here to say that you tipped your servers, which is more than Rachel Ray can say for herself. ;)

JJSKCK said...

Nice work. I'm a big fan of Extra Virgin (and Blanc for that matter).

@Wort Hog--the 1/2 price wine and pizza night is indeed wonderful. They discount every bottle that is listed for less than $75.

Bull - It sounds like Stella works at the same place as my fiancee! Did she have to go to an assembly on the east coast two weeks ago? Regardless, I'm sure they're at the same facility (tallest building in Leawood, from what I hear). 90% female (except the executive board, of course).