At Blanc Burgers + Bottles, burger doesn’t just mean a basic grilled patty. In addition to American beef, there’s also hormone-free chicken, carnitas-style pork, and curried lentils among nearly 20 protein options. Chefs stuff or pile each with eclectic extras such as wasabi aioli, foie gras butter, and housemade pickles. Hand-cut fries, beer-battered cheese curds and onion rings, and chicken wings marinated in housemade sauce make for marginally less elaborate sides. Though the options might seem overwhelming, servers with deep culinary knowledge acquired by sleeping on a copy of the menu every night are on hand to sort through them all.
Though the burgers take a wide-ranging, global approach to their flavor palettes, Blanc’s décor is decidedly space-age American. Stylized orange starbursts and flocks of bubbles decorate white and glass walls around sleek furniture. Behind a long white counter recalling a luncheonette just opened in 1959, barkeepers pour wine, refreshing seasonal cocktails, and nearly 100 varieties of domestic, imported, and American craft brews, including steam beers, lagers, hop-rich IPAs, and specialty lambics. Even youngsters can hop on the craft-beverage bandwagon with more than 30 boutique sodas in flavors such as apple, blueberry, and pineapple, available with or without cocktail onions.
Fresh ingredients play a starring role in the kitchen at Sammy’s Pizza and Pub, where chefs craft each neo-Neapolitan pizza crust by hand. From there, diners take meal matters into their own figurative hands, customizing each golden-brown circle with a choice of premium red, alfredo, olive-oil, or pesto sauce, and toppings such as meatballs, spinach, capers, and shrimp. Cheese options include a cheddar-mozzarella blend and a vegan-friendly version milked from fresh ears of corn. Those forgoing sliced sustenance altogether can opt for one of the menu's savory sandwiches, such as a house-made meatball grinder, featuring meatballs made from a blend of ground beef and pork and seared in red wine.
The choices don't end there, however, as the eatery's dining room has been cleverly split into two sections. Couples and sophisticated singles can admire the carefully erected towers of glasses filled with Boulevard beer and top-shelf liquor on the restaurant and bar side, and families find suitable midmeal entertainment in a game room that keeps bored tykes from playing with their dinner or sculpting it into a new imaginary friend.
At Room 39, the dinner menu doesn't start with appetizers. Instead, the top of the carte features a short profile of a local farmer, followed by a list of all the small family farms that provided ingredients for the night's dishes. This choice signals the commitment of chefs and co-owners Ted Habiger and Andy Sloan to making local, sustainable food a part of fine dining. At both of the restaurant’s locations, they construct elegant New American dishes, such as blueberry-goat-cheese pancakes at breakfast and housemade pappardelle with bolognese at lunch. They're also no slouches with seafood—their spicy sautéed shrimp was named one of the best restaurant dishes of 2007 by Food & Wine magazine. Behind the bar, craft beers flow from local breweries such as Boulevard, Free State, and Tallgrass, as well as classic cocktails from local negroni wells.
A chef stands over a flaming tableside teppanyaki grill, twirling his cooking instruments in the air and catching them in each hand. As his audience whistles and cheers, he sears juicy morsels of filet mignon, chicken, and seafood alongside colorful slices of mixed vegetables. Chefs are equally busy behind the sushi counter, artfully arranging more than 100 different types of rolls with fresh tuna, spicy salmon, and crispy shrimp tempura. At the bar, expert mixologists shake premium liquors and juices into cocktails, garnishing them with duos of plump olives and curls of lemon rind. At nightfall as the moon filters in through the skylight windows, the contemporary dining room comes alive with glimmering televisions, lively music, and friends debating the existence of wood nymphs over drinks.
Born of a union between Sports Radio 810 WHB and the restaurateurs at KC Hopps, Ltd., 810 Zone marries sports spectatorship with scrumptious sandwiches, burgers, and Kansas City barbecue. Gamblers can down a grilled salmon club at the Harrah's casino location or enjoy pizza at the Lee's Summit Zone, before a trip to the tables or before trying to pass off burgers as poker chips.
While technically and metaphorically a chain restaurant, Houlihan's bedazzles its chain with glitter and winsome intrigue, boldly preparing every last bite of its savory fare by hand. Hosts of diverse ingredients culminate inside one open kitchen where professional food handlers slice, sauté, marinate, and arrange food to its tasty and aesthetic best, allowing each meal to display its individuality before being broken down into individual nutrients for absorption in the body. Casual dining is elevated by meticulously designed restaurants that pepper a patron's experience with a playlist of hand-picked tunes and customer-designed coasters that give a voice to condensation-catchers.