Hey Anthony Bourdain, Try Dining in Brookside!

So Anthony Bourdain’s excellent travel show, No Reservations, broadcasts an episode tonight that filmed in Kansas City last fall.  According to the article in today’s’ Kansas City Star, the visit focuses on many of our beloved barbecue joints.  It’s been done, Anthony!   We know how much you love Oklahoma Joe’s….you need to make a visit to Brookside for dining!  And if you did….here’s where I would take you….

First, a short stop at Waldo Pizza for an appetizer of their St Louis Style pizza.  OK, so maybe this pizza with provel cheese originated in St Louis, (and it’s in Waldo) but this is the kind of place Tony would like:  locally owned, crazy busy all the time, interesting artwork on the walls and a wait staff with lots of tats. My personal favorite is the fresh mushroom and pineapple pizza..go ahead and groan.  Along with our cheesy treat, Tony can try several of the freshly brewed beers from Boulevard.

Julian in Brookside

Our next stop for the entrée:  Julian.  No need to hop in your chauffeured limo, Tony, we can just walk along the Trolley Track Trail.  We’ll dine outside, as it would be a perfect spring evening.  Knowing what a pork fanatic Tony is, I would suggest we order the crispy pork shoulder with sweet potato puree.  This is SO tasty, I almost have to order it every time I go to Julian.  It must be a house specialty, as owner Celina Tio once told me how it’s made—it takes two days to concoct this dish!  Of course, Celina and Tony may recognize each other from their appearances on Top Chef—and don’t all those famous chefs know each other anyway? As tempting as it would be to stay for chocolate pudding and a ginger doughnut, we move on for dessert…

Tony isn’t big on eating sweets, but who could resist the profiteroles at Aixois?  A light pastry puff, split open and topped with vanilla bean ice cream, toasted almonds and chocolate sauce…so simple yet so good.  He would appreciate another casual, locally owned restaurant with a warm  atmosphere and reasonable prices. Tony might compare it to his old French bistro, Les Halles.  We’re not done yet, though, there is one more stop…

Heading back south on the trail, we would order lattes at The Roasterie Café.  Notice, Tony, the wide rimmed cups that provide a creamy sip of foam with

The Roasterie Cafe in Brookside

every drink of locally roasted coffee!   Ok, it’s not like drinking espresso in an Italian courtyard, but still, the people watching is good, the service friendly, and if you  crave another shot of chocolate…indulge in  a Christopher Elbow chocolate with your beverage. Or we could walk a bit further to Glace and try scoops of their artisan ice creams:  basil lime sorbet, salted pretzel, goat cheese and wildflower honey.  Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

You see, Tony, our barbecue has  a well deserved great reputation..but there’s more to Kansas City than big smoky meat, fries and a cream soda.  Brookside is your kind of place…the next time you come to KC to satisfy a craving for Oklahoma Joe’s, spend some time dining in Brookside. Like all other  die hard New Yorkers, you’ll be surprised at what’s happening here outside of the barbecue scene.

Skip the Mall–Holiday Shop in Brookside

A friend recently posted on Facebook that she went Christmas shopping to the stores at 119th and Black Bob in Olathe.  She hated it!  So much traffic, a vast parking lot, long checkout lines and crowds everywhere.  There are some times you just have to make a trip to a big box retail store for some specific generic item on someone’s list.  But if you want to get something a bit different…and have a  pleasant holiday shopping experience at that same time…  head to the Brookside shops centered around 63rd Street and Brookside Boulevard.   Here you will find the usual–and the unusual–gifts for those on your list.  And make your first stop Stuff.

Browsing through Stuff  I found so many very cool gift ideas–at all price ranges.  I hear guys complain about how hard it can be to buy for a girlfriend, a mom, a sister.   Not at this store.  No matter what age–Stuff has something for her. And it’s all unique, much of it made locally, and the staff is super-friendly, offering great suggestions if you are stumped.  Here’s just a few of the things I saw that would make a special gift: brightly patterned baby burp cloths; blue striped fingerless mittens; oversized luggage tags; cord wrap for USB cords; sparkly hand clutch purse; custom number/letter tiles for your home; framed wall earring display (great for  a teen); rich lotions and soaps (a splurge for the stressed); one of a kind ornaments;  jewlery!!!;  and…my favorite…the (well made, cotton) Brookside sweatshirt, available now as a zip up hoodie or pullover ($48).  The Stuff staff is personable, friendly, and will gift wrap your purchase!

I also stopped at World’s Window  for some (locally made) ZUM soap.   This is a great shop as well– a focus on ethinic clothing,   lots of pretty scarves and bright clothes, plenty of  jewelry, folk art, textiles and imported decor.  When I checked out I received a coupon valid for 20% off  during the after Christmas sale–which will come off their already reduced after Xmas prices!  They will gift wrap your purchase here as well.

A few other ideas for those who may be hard to shop for:

Tasty Italian delights from Bella Napoli;  all natural products from  Brookside Barkery for the dog lover;   decadent Christopher Elbow chocolates from The Roasterie; a Christmas pop-up book from The Reading Reptile; a classic toy or game  from Brookside Toy and Science; unusually scented candles from 5B and Co candles.  And there are a few chain stores sprinkled in that also offer gift options:  Baskin Robbins (gift card stocking stuffer); Hallmark card shop (ornaments, wrap and ribbons); Beauty Express (hair/nail salon products).  Another gift I really appreciate as a working mom–gift cards for a take out dinner.  That gives me a night off from cooking–what mother doesn’t appreciate that?  Carmen’s Cafe, Jalepeno’s or Blue Grotto are good options, but don’t forget Julian for a nice evening out dinner option. At Julian I want to dine in with my husband…and no kids!

Didn’t this blog post actually put you in a shopping mood?  You don’t have to dread holiday shopping…if you head to Brookside!  Thanks for reading my blog–you can reach me via email or my website.

Brookside’s Iron Chef

Yes I’m hooked on “The Next Iron Chef”…because fellow Brooksider Celine Tio is in the competition.  She’s a formidable competitor for the male chefs on the show–even though they don’t seem to think so.  As of last Sunday, there are five competitors left–and Celine is the only female. 

I’ve eaten at Julian, Tio’s restaurant located here in Brookside,  and interviewed Celine for this blog.  She’s a friendly, no-nonsense, dedicated chef and doesn’t have the drama personality so many reality shows attract.  Each week I watch her and think, ‘good for you–just crank out the food, stay above the bickering and go for the win’.  She’s so unlike the men who seem to be much more cut-throat and ego-driven. Celine has had to face an unruly outdoor flaming grill of fire and a plastic coated bowl melting at the stove–of course she’s frazzled but manages to overcome the problems and create winning dishes.  I suspect she cringes at some of the staged antics she had to go through on the show–the promo photo of a tough-looking, intimidating chef isn’t her at all. 

Last Sunday’s episode had the chefs preparing four dishes, representing the north, south, east and west areas of the U.S.  Celine cooked various representations of a lobster roll, dirty rice, pork belly pot roast and a Philly snack cake.  She didn’t win the challenge, but she ‘survived to cook another day’ –meaning she wasn’t eliminated.

Chef Tio is a master at marketing her restaurant and, along with her appearance in the show, is  featuring a special Sunday seating at 7pm.  Dinner is served that includes food she cooked on the show; at 8pm diners stay to watch the next episode on tv.  The Next Iron Chef tapings concluded months ago–we don’t know at this point if she was the ultimate winner. But the fact that she’s made it this far–and turned  the appearance into a smart publicity tool for her restaurant–surely makes all the frantic competition worth it.

I would love to interview her again about the Iron Chef experience–some good behind-the-scenes stories that any viewer would relish hearing! In the meantime, I’ll just have to make another date for dining at her place and hope she can pass along a story or two as she table-hops through the restaurant. Even if she doesn’t ultimately become The Next Iron Chef, at least more local Kansas City folks are discovering–and patronizing–Julian. It’s every chef’s dream to open their own restaurant.  She did it during the economy’s collapse and survived, thrived through her own hard work, great food and dedicated staff. Support local businesses…dine at Julian for lunch or dinner. And don’t forget dessert…mmmm, the chocolate pudding and ginger donut!

Thanks for reading my blog–you can comment here or reach me at mary.hutchison@prukc.com