Being a Foodie, it is my job to notice and seek out new things happening in the world of food. (Chocolate dipped, dill pickles seen at the Tulsa Fair last summer? (Ahhh, no thanks. Yeah . . no, really, I'm good.)
In the online world, it is easy to follow food. I have it pushed to me via my in-box. I subscribe to hundreds of online newsletters in every city in the U.S., restaurant trades, gourmet magazines, recipe sites, food blogs the list goes on and on.
I am also lucky of enough to have many good Foodie friends in the business who email, text or call to let me know what they are into and up to around food. PR reps, restaurateurs, Chefs, wine reps, retailers . . .even fellow Foodies call to talk to me about what their passion is at the moment, what is getting their juices flowing, and dish (literally) about what's next for their business or them personally.
Since Kansas City is where I am living my off-line life at the moment, I also move through this city with one ear to the ground, one eye on the press stands and my palate in and out of our local restaurants, pastry shops, grocery stores, ethnic markets, wine shops and even peoples homes looking for and trying new Foodie things. I do the same thing when I travel to other cities . . .it s what I do, because it is what I am interested in.
Like going to my local bowling alley, Park Lanes, for an evening of family fun, and being charmed by the bowling pin shaped beer bottle that I am served, along with some excellent cheese fries. Smile for the camera, please. Snap! Snap!
Or the luck of having the Ambrosi Bros. Cutlery Co. van that travels around to all the restaurants picking up, or dropping off, sharpened Chef's knives pull out into traffic in front of me. (Click on the photo to make it bigger and check out the yellow safety sign on the back. It's a little dude looking like he is walking with a knife in his hand, blade down and away from his body. Ha! Safety first, right?) Look at the birdie, please. Snap! Snap! I capture the van's image, while I fight off the urge to follow it to it's next destination. (Note to self: Knife delivery could be an excellent line of work for a Foodie with a "Chefetish".)
It is during these moments, when the thrill of the hunt and the discovery of unexpected food experiences that I just adore being who and what I am.
It has only been in the last few weeks that I have taken note of an interesting trend in Kansas City's food scene. One that found me when and where I least expected it, but I am glad that it did.
The emerging trend is a local independent restaurant setting up shop inside of another business. A thing inside another thing. This is not too unusual, think about airport restaurants or even food courts inside of malls . . . but these places I found food, these did take me by surprise, and I thought they might surprise you as well.
The Mixx inside Woodside Health & Tennis Center - What can I possibly say about Woodside that hasn't already been said . . .it is a wonderful gym that has recently undergone a multi-million dollar make-over. It has a low key approach to fitness, which is great when you just want to get in, get your business done - sweat, steam and shower - and get out. It is centrally located in the city. And like most gyms, it is filled with some of the most interesting people you could ever lay eyes on. (Really, though, what gym isn't a freak show? Tell me, I would love to see it with my own eyes.) Clientele includes this Foodie and a few local Chefs among many others dedicated to treating their body like a temple. Part of the new construction has included a juice bar, that up until a few weeks ago sold the usual stuff - Clif Bars, Smoothies, Coffee, fresh fruits and pastries.
So, I go strolling in for my morning workout and this is what I find parked outside the door. A sign that reads The Mixx at Woodside. Coconut Curry & Chickpea and Southwest Tortilla. Menu items are curiously non-descriptive. It is soup? A salad? An entree?
Once I scan my card inside the door, I flip my sunglasses back on the top of my head and as the gal at the front desk: "So what can you tell me about The Mixx serving food at Woodside." I hear nothing but crickets, and the sound of the space between her ears.
I try again, "I saw your sign outside and would love to have more information about your new menu." Finally, a manager comes over and explains that The Mixx is delivering fresh food each day from their restaurant on Main Street to the club for lunch. Ah-ha!
Whatever they choose to bring over is what will be on the menu. It will be the only food served at Woodside.
How interesting and smart, I thought. For years Woodside had tried to fill the dining room and kept a full cooking staff on hand. But the food was just okay, and the hard core clients that came to eat did it because they could charge it to their account. You can eliminate that overhead by partnering with a local restaurant and having them cater their food into your place. Your club gains instant food street cred. by having a well known and well liked restaurant provide the food. The restaurant wins through it's additional food sales that they did not have to pay the overhead on. It's like having the business of a second location without the overhead of actually paying rent/staff for the space. Brilliant! I asked about prices, knowing that The Mixx is not cheap, but since this was their first week, they did not have many details about what we would be charged. Check it out! I know I am going to the next time I find myself in there around the noon hour.
Kaiyo Sushi Restaurant inside of Cosentino's Market Downtown - I ended up attending the press event for the opening of Cosentino's Market downtown, an invitation I received through my friends at Tastebud Magazine.
Let me just tell you, the market is gorgeous. The decor and the selection of prepared food and wines - way, way exceeded my dreams and aspirations for it. I waved to our Mayor Funky, talked wine with Crosby Kemper and saw an odd smattering of KC media elite all mixing it up with Foodies like me.
I was really in the dark when I attended the press event, as I had not read the press release about the market that was forwarded to me. So, I was thrilled when I realized my good friends Chef David Loo and his wife, Karen, who own the best sushi restaurant in town, Kaiyo's, in Leawood had opened a second sushi counter inside of Cosentino's Market. Sitting in the prepared foods area, is a lovely round sushi bar where Chef David will be rolling sushi like a madman under a ring of lights suspended from the ceiling with the name of his restaurant Kaiyo.
The night of the grand opening I congratulated Chef on his second location and he told me that he would be at the counter at Cosentino's for lunch and back at his restaurant for dinner. His wife Karen, and two lovely children were also at the grand opening - the kids doing their homework at the end of the bar just like they do in their Leawood restaurant.
This is a nice big next step for Chef David and his whole family, and I couldn't be happier for them. The best sushi in town can now be had downtown inside the new Cosentino's Market. (I have a feeling I'll be in there so much, I'll be helping David pay his rent on the place.)
Mildred's Coffeehouse inside the lobby of the Ten Main Center/AMC Building Downtown -My first Mildred's Coffeehouse experience was about a year ago in the Crossroads when I was doing that silly Chevy Cobalt shoot at Pizza Bella. It was a gorgeous summer morning, and the photographer they had flown in from Detroit to shoot the story had me up at the butt crack of dawn as we had to pick up the Chevy Cobalt for the shoot in Lee Summit, then drive to Pizza Bella in the Crossroads, then back out to Smithville to see Chef Jonthan Justus at Justus Drugstore, then back down to Martini Corner to shoot at Eddie Crane's place, The Drop. It was the only schedule that made sense for the restaurants given their peak hours of operation.
The photographer, Joe Vaughn, really needed coffee before we started setting up the shoot at Pizza Bella, so we walked around the block to Mildred's Coffeehouse. The second we pushed the front door open the intensely heady and smoky smell of freshly cooked bacon hit us square in the face. It smelled like FOOD in this coffee shop! Immediately impressed, I walked up to the counter and ordered our large coffee's while Joe stood quizzing the cute gal behind the counter about being a Kansas City Roller Warrior. Our barista turns out is a famous roller derby queen. As she was talking to Joe about the roller derby scene in KC, I was watching her peel hundreds of strips of bacon off parchment paper that she had baked to a crisp in the oven. Finally, when the Derby talk ended I had a chance to say . . "Why so much bacon, girlfriend? What goes on at Mildred's Coffeehouse that you need 400 pounds of crispy cooked bacon?"
The answer was they make a killer BLT sandwich that sells like hot cakes and certain salads they make also use bacon. Basically, she was prepping for her day. Lucky, us. I looked at the menu and was surprised it was as large as it was considering I thought this place was just a java joint. The menu features a nice selection of breakfast and lunch items. Salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and, of course, coffee.
Debbie Luce Ashby, the owner of Mildred's Coffeehouse, has had a couple of locations in Kansas City, including one in downtown Overland Park that eventually became Farm to Market Cafe. There are also rumors that she plans to open in the Mission Farms complex sometime in the near future.
But besides her Crossroads location, her other more hidden location is inside of the Ten Main Center/AMC Theater Corporate offices at 9th and Main Street downtown. I was there for a meeting and when I came downstairs to leave I noticed this cute little place opening for the lunch rush. It is called Mildred's on Main.
It smelled like fresh coffee and bacon in there, and I was envious of all the corporate workers in that building who used Mildred's on Main as their corporate cafeteria. I had a crappy cafeteria in my corporate building downtown. I would have given my right arm for some Mildred's back then.
Souperman Soups now being served inside of Yummo - Okay, so I will go on record now as saying . . .I have yet to get myself into Yummo. Which means this photo I am posting of the interior was borrowed from fellow KC blogger AngelaMuir, many thanks to her for allowing me to use her photo.
When I heard about Chef Rob Dalzell's plans to open up a yogurt shop in the P&L District next to his burger joint chefBurger, I thought the location made sense, the same people that would go to chefBurger would go to Yummo and visa versa.
But, honestly I cannot get myself excited to eat frozen yogurt in the winter. They opened Yummo's doors around Octoberish as I remember, and all my Foodie friends were asking me about it. I stayed silent, promising myself the first really warm day I would get down there. Looks like Chef Rob has decided to go ahead and take away that excuse, as he is now planning to offer a limited selection of his Souperman soups at Yummo in addition to the addictive yogurt.
They will be serving soups like Chorizo Chili, Lemon Artichoke, Smoked Tomato Cheddar and Pumpkin Bisque everyday until 8 pm. Soup costs $3.75 for a 10 oz. portion and is served with Herb Foccacia Bread.
I guess I also didn't get Yummo because I was thinking simply, "froyo" or another frozen yogurt place. I did not understand that the flavor of Yummo's frozen yogurt is supposed to be similar to Pinkberry, which has swept the weight-obsessed West Coast (it has fewer calories than other frozen treats) and made a very nice Korean woman in LA, a whole heck of a lot of money. Every starlet on the cover of People magazine right now is snapped with a Pinkberry frozen yogurt cup in her hand. Check it out, it's a hot trend just now hitting the Midwest.
Aside from from reasonable calorie count, Pinkberry is famous for their creative flavors each highlighting the unique sweet and tangy Pinkberry trademarked whang. It is a patented formula, but it is not rocket-science. You could get close to replicating the flavor without the need to hire a Super Taster to get the job done. Sounds like Chef Rob has done just that with Yummo. People are enjoying the 16 different flavors and the ability to serve yourself and then top them with any number of toppings.
So, in the case of Chef Rob Dalzell, he has put his own thing inside of one of his other things. Okay, that didn't come out sounding quite right, but you get the idea. It's a brilliant way to bring Souperman soup to the traffic at the P&L without having to open another location there.
Dolce Baking Company is my favorite bakery in the city at the moment. Everything I have tasted from there - from bread to scones to cupcakes to whole cakes have been expertly made using only the finest ingredients. The quality of ingredients mixed with Owner/Chef Erin Reynolds creative and whimsical take on sweets puts her little place at the top of my list.
My problem is I live in Lenexa and she has her shop in the Mission Shops in Prairie Village, which means I don't always get over to see her as often as I like.
The good news for me, is Erin's Mom has just opened her own franchised Scooter's Coffeehouse near me in Lenexa at K-10 and Woodland. It is right on the pad of the brand new Price Chopper they just opened up and it is a very pretty little spot to land for a cup of coffee or a spot of tea.
Her Mom has a large glass jar filled with Erin's biscotti's made fresh at Dolce Baking Company. Erin tells me as soon as her Mom's Scooter passed the corporate sniff test, then there is the opportunity for Erin to cater all of her Mom's baked goods. Which means I can get my Dolce Baking fix without having to drive all the way to Prairie Village. I love the idea of Erin's bakery helping her Mom's coffee sales and her Mom's coffee/pastry sales helping to extend her daughters brand and business.
I love this new thing inside another thing trend. Especially, when it tastes great and makes good business sense.