Batter is ladled out onto the surface of a steaming hot plate, and as the Chez Elle chef spreads it out into a circle with a wooden spatula, it slowly transforms into a light, crispy-edged crepe. Each tender wrap is filled with sweet and savory ingredients, from spinach, artichokes, and crème fraîche, to raspberry sauce and chocolate mousse. Vegan and gluten-free batters cater to diners of all dietary persuasions. Freshly prepared plates, sided with wine, coffee, and beer, are carried to the leather couches and sleek chairs of the dining room, or to an airy outside patio. This parisian atmosphere is cultivated by owner Ellen Trakas, who first became enamored of crepes when she lived in France. She pours that passion not only into the food, but also the eco-conscious business practices at Chez Elle. Paper goods are made with biodegradable corn rather than traditional coal dust, and the café's used coffee grounds find second homes as compost for local farms.
Behind its Parisian-style storefront, Westport Café & Bar serves an eclectic menu of elegantly prepared French and American dishes alongside an extensive collection of flavorful libations. Scrumptious hors d’oeuvres such as baked ricotta with goat cheese and truffled honey ($9) prep palates for further culinary exploration. For the main course, select Westport’s seared tuna sandwich with ginger aioli ($11) or seasonal specialty of spring pea ravioli, with pasta pockets of spring peas, ricotta, and herbs de provence served in a lemon brown butter sauce ($9). Smatterings of sage, pepper, and parmesan flavor the savory pasta au poivre, which, like the Archduke of Brunch, is crowned by a fried egg ($13). Wash it all down with potent potables such as a champagne cocktail ($8) or the house’s specialty Harvest in Jalisco cocktail, an amalgamation of tequila, agave nectar, sweet corn, and rhubarb bitters ($8). Boulevard Tank 7 Ale ($5) flows freely from Westport’s tap, and Parisian strongmen meticulously pump out each french-pressed coffee ($4).
Authentic techniques are the key to French recipes. Understanding this, Chef Emmanuel Langlade honed his cooking skills in Marseille, France, before opening Aixois Bistro with his wife more than a decade ago.
Amid suspended orb lights and rustic, wrought-iron chandeliers, French flavors prepared by chef Pascal Larcher delight palates at all hours. As morning light spills through enormous windows, the staff brews fresh coffee to pair with piping-hot croissants for early-bird visitors. Lunchtime guests sample favorite French sandwiches, from the classic croque-monsieurs to the egg-crowned croque madames. For dinner diners, the kitchen dishes up an elegant menu that includes two varieties of moules frites (mussels with pommes frites), as well as seafood, steak, and oven-roasted chicken. Afterward, traditional desserts such as crème brûlée topped with fresh berries cap off meals and keep sweet teeth from rebelliously biting tongues.
Avenues Bistro's chefs modernize traditional European bistro fare by creatively incorporating Latin flavors, helping earn KC Magazine's award for Restaurant Innovator of the Year in 2009. In addition to frying orders of Belgian-style pommes frites and braising beef short ribs in marsala and veal stock, the chefs also marinate pork tenderloin in chimichurri for guests to enjoy in a newly renovated dining room. This interplay between Old- and New-World flavors extends to the wine list, which features bottles from domestic, international, and trans-dimensional producers, and won the restaurant Wine Enthusiast Magazine's Award of Unique Distinction in 2007.
To find an authentic beignet, Kansas City locals have the option of making the 13-hour, 900-mile journey to New Orleans, or simply shuffling over to Beignet in the River Market. Here, chefs concoct their own interpretations of the famous French donut, infusing pastry with decadent flavors such as Bavarian cream, Butterfinger, tiramisu, and caramel praline. The tasty, fried treats also serve as a vehicle for savory ingredient combinations such as mozzarella and meatballs, or bay shrimp, roasted peppers, and Szechuan cream cheese. The menu ventures into crepe territory as well with cornbread versions loaded down with dusted catfish and crawfish tails.
Kitchen Thyme's cookery experts stock stylish kitchen accessories, top-of-the-line cooking tools and bakeware, and gourmet foods. A range of extra-virgin olive oils ($12–$20) are available on tap for visitors to sample or rub into their ears, and zesty pepper jellies ($8–$9) delight taste buds in flavors including cherry, blackberry, and mango. The clear glass salt box with lid ($10) and Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract ($22.50) both make thoughtful gifts for epicurean pals, and budget-conscious food fans can opt to apply the deal's value toward larger purchases, such as the Epicurean cutting board ($69.50), the Viking professional coffeemaker ($299), or the Vita Craft 13" chef's pan with lid ($135). Kitchen Thyme also stocks a sweeping selection of cookbooks and other artisanal foodstuffs.