Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Legendary KC Restaurant Cuisine

Last weekend, Hubby and I had a wonderful culinary experience....

We participated in a dinner entitled, "Legendary Kansas City Restaurant Cuisine," where seven courses of famous dishes in the Kansas City area were presented and explained. This was held at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, one of our favorite gastronomy experiences.

The chef, Richard McPeake, is a local legend...developing over 30 restaurant concepts in his 35-year career. A lot of the restaurants are now closed, but the dishes live on - and we jumped at the opportunity to feast, once again, on some of our favorites from yesteryear.

We began the evening with steak soup - a recipe that was developed in 1968 and served in the Plaza III restaurant. The Plaza III, in operation since 1963, is a Kansas City landmark - and their steak soup is an award-winning recipe that is FABULOUS.

You'll find lots of copy-cat recipes on Google, but none really capture the true essence of the soup. The Plaza III has a secret ingredient, and unless you know what it is, you won't be able to duplicate the unique taste of the original soup.

This soup did not disappoint - it was as creamy & savory as I remembered. If manners would have allowed me to lick the bowl - I would have.

Once the soup bowls were whisked away, out came the next course - Champignon Magique...or, crabmeat-stuffed mushrooms.

These were also served at the Plaza III, beginning in 1978. Along with the rosemary & thyme-flavored stuffing, the mushrooms are topped with a decadent cheddar cheese sauce, flavored with a hint of Worcestershire sauce. I am not a mushroom fan - at all - but these were very tasty.

Our salad course consisted of a Sliced Tomato Salad, a recipe from The Bristol Restaurant, first developed in 1980.

A light black pepper vinaigrette dressing dusted the top of this, and it was zingy, but refreshing. Served with some blue cheese, it brought in some zip, as well.

The fish dish was a pan-sauteed lemon sole, again from Bristol' almost "fish-pancake", if you will, and it was crispy and tasty. Very lightly-seasoned, I found it delightful. Hubby thought it was almost bland, but I thought it was perfect.

I rejoiced in the lightness of the fish dish, because the main course, pan-seared chicken Saltimbocca, with sauteed spaghetti squash, was rather heavy. And the entire plate was very beige. I wish it had some color:

These dishes came from a restaurant long closed, Fedora's, which was a European bistro in the heart of Kansas City. The restaurant at one time had been named as one of the Top 10 bistros in America...but "bistro" and "Kansas City" don't exactly go together - and it eventually closed. Kansas Citians love their steaks, and European bistros aren't going to make the grade.

As far as the dish, I liked the sauce - consisting of a veal demi-glaze, mixed with marsala wine and reduced with butter - but the chicken itself was just too massive...and along with the squash, I was feeling a bit bloated by this point. A half-serving would have sufficed, at this point.

For dessert, a classic from Fedora's was served - chocolate truffle cake.

This is a very dense, flour-less cake, and a little bit goes a long way. Topped with a chocolate ganache, this dessert was just the right finale for a very good meal.

During the dinner, Chef McPeake entertained us with stories behind the dishes and behind the restaurants kept us laughing and intrigued as we heard all the "kitchen gossip".

A very delightful Saturday night, indeed.



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