Friday, January 22, 2016

By far, the best of 7 restaurants I tried during KC Restaurant Week: Le Fou Frog in River Market

I made it, in the ice storm, to Le Fou Frog for KC Restaurant, and it was worth risking the highways and streets for their generous and delicious dinner.  Out of seven restaurants I have visited this week for KC Restaurant, Le Fou Frog was by far my #1 choice.  Food and ambiance.  Value.

Think of it as a trip to Paris, without ISIS.  And very affordable.

I didn't want to be all tourist or foodie, so I did not keep whipping out my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge to photograph each dish.  I figured they would be online.  Alas.  Ironically, out of 105 photos on line, the dishes I just tasted and loved were not there.  Use your imagination, or go and take your own pics.

In addition to the great food, the restaurant exudes a unique charm through the pink brick exterior, the chalkboard menus and the single-room dining area.  Le Fou Frog is kind of funky, there with its eternal Christmas lights, (hey, Paris is the City of Lights) at 400 E. 5th in the River Market.

An online photo of the dining room shows daytime lighting.  That's not what you want.  Go at night. imagine a scene out of my favorite date movie, "Midnight in Paris" with Owen Wilson, time travelling into a magical bistro with perfectly dimmed lights, where he hangs out with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.  At Le Fou Frog, somehow everyone in the room just seems more interesting and full of joie de vivre.

Now a great French restaurant serves an amuse bouche, a little unannounced appetizer, meant to be one bite that amuses your mouth.  Le Fou Frog does not disappoint.  Mine was a liver pate with a tiny crouton.  Served in the little square two inch dish, shown below with a different mouth teaser.

For starters, I needed something warm.  I chose gratin with smoked chicken, potatotes, leeks, Gruyere cheese and cream.  Or you might try smoked duck salade with raspberry vinaigrette.

And for dessert, there is no way to show this perfect dish.  Pot de creme, which is a coffee pudding with Frangelica, (hazelnut liqueur).  So here it is:


Now the whole point of KC Restaurant Week is sampling new places.  It's also a charity event, tho I'm not sure how they manage that.  Selfishly, choose the best, go for $33 dinners.  The couple next to us had scored a last minute reservation when someone else cancelled.  Be unstoppable.  And it's fine to take and post your photos.  Tho you'll never get it right to capture the candlelight...and if anyone needs to know what to do re Valentine's week, birthday, anniversary or Better Nookie Night:
  book now.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Day 2 of KC Restaurant Week: Grunauer's Viennese decadence--be sure to order the Esterhazy Torte. Book your res on

How lucky are we to have Grunauer Restaurant in the Crossroads?  Because their second location is not just across town, it's the other side of the planet: in Austria.  And this week, thru Sun. Jan. 24, during KC Restaurant Week, you may choose pork roast,  Schnitzel or Hungarian goulash, for lunch for $15, and more choices for dinner, $33.

Now usually I skip desserts at lunch.  Not at Grunauer.  I can't say it loud enough: Instead of the healthy and light winter salad, go straight to Valhalla.  Choose their most popular dessert ever, the Esterhazy Torte!

Trevor Ashby, a most personable gent with a great sense of humor, is the GM.  He described this signature dessert as pure decadence.  "It's almost too much," Ashby said.  And I replied, "Actually, it's like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  It's JUST RIGHT."

I admit, I was a bit rusty on my history of the Esterhazy family, until I googled it when I danced a waltz in my kitchen upon returning home.  I was reminded that Franz Joseph Haydn, one of the big six classical composers of Europe, was born just outside Vienna. He worked for three of the Esterhazy princes.

"The Esterházy family was one of the richest and most powerful in the Hapsburg monarchy. In addition to their palace in Vienna, they owned palaces throughout Hungary and in today`s Austrian province of Burgenland. The Esterházy princes led a regal life and governed as sovereigns over their principality. A significant period in Haydn`s life commenced as Prince Esterházy`s “deputy kapellmeister´´ in Eisenstadt, “...where I wish to live and die,´´ Haydn wrote in a letter dated 6 July 1776.  

Think of that--he penned that letter two days after America's founding, July 4, 1776.

Esterházy I, had converted a glasshouse into a theatre in the palace park. The family's motto was: Lovers of splendor.  Esterhazy palace was known as a Hungarian Versailles, containing an opera house, puppet theatre and numerous adjacent buildings – a cultural centre on par with European standards. Haydn lived and wrote and conducted there for 11 summers, from 1766/77.

You know who would have loved Haydn?  Taylor Swift.  He was 250 years ahead of her time.  Because he negotiated owner's rights to his music.  He was allowed by the three Esterhazy princes to sell his work elsewhere.  And that is what led to his wider fame and popularity.

OK, local lovers of splendor.  Book a reservation right now, from your computer, at  See the menus, pick your choice of 94 restaurants during KC Restaurant Week.  I hope you love the Esterhazy Torte as much as I did.

Republica on the Plaza shines on opening night of KC Restaurant Week...thru next Sunday, book a meal on NOW!

Friday was the first night of KC Restaurant Week, which runs thru Sunday, Jan. 24th.  The best week of the food year.  I've found some great new haunts this way.  I try to sample the upper tier restaurants for $33 for dinner or $15 for lunch.  This year I will visit five places in the ten days, then back to my Aldi budget and my low-carb diet.  So I can once again zip up my snakeskin leather slacks.  But not this week!

The Country Club Plaza is a mini-me of Barcelona, Spain.  (Miller Nichols came home from vacation, and ordered his architects to recreate the Giralda Tower, etc.)  And now thanks to the fine folks who also brought us Urban Table in Prairie Village, and half a dozen other remarkable restaurants, finally there's a decent Spanish restaurant on the Plaza. You don't need to fly Iberia Airlines for a memorable meal.

SO THERE I WAS, at Republica, the new Spanish tapas restaurant on the Plaza.  4807 Jefferson, where Ingredient used to be.  (Catty corner southeast of Capital Grille.)    For dinner, each diner selects one tapa (hot or cold), one entree and one dessert.  Since tapas are small plates meant for sharing, a smart plan for two people is to order six things and share them all.

A perfect starter, for my tastes, were one cold: the beet salad (with lots of ladidah extras)  and the meatballs.  Some frisky radishes are nestled in.  Never saw that coming.  But it was delish.

For entrees, Julie, my almost sister and I chose swordfish with Northern beans and little bits of some special ham.  Yowser--perfecto.  And grilled Wagyu with green beans.  Since I hate disempowering table talk that can spoil an appetite, I managed to resist making a joke at the table, about Wagyu being the tails of little abandoned puppies.  It's actually like Kobe beef from Japan.  Like buttah.  But of course, now you will be able to remember the name.  

Of course every dish has special Spanish ingredients, fancy cheese in the meatballs, etc.  You may read up on the special menu for 100 local restaurants participating in KC Restaurant Week, when you go to  That's the way all restaurants these days want you to book a table.  Rather than bugging the harried greeter at the front desk when she is way too busy, and does not have time or the knowledge to answer any questions about gluten, for God's sake.  People: stop with the gluten obsession, at least for ten days!  Shut up and order.  Eat something without lecturing the world about your gut and your bowels and how Monsanto is poisoning the world.  

For the rest of your lives, you don't need to check your watch.  Never phone any restaurant at rush hour.  Always go to OpenTable (they have an app.)  Pick date and time, and possibly filter for cuisine or neighborhood.  Then the website filters out what reservations are available.  (Bluestem booked up in October for this special week.  Foodies love that place.)  The regular menus are always available, but the website also shows the KCRW specials for lunch and dinner.

Ah but I digress.  

For dessert at Republica, do not go to jail, go straight to heaven.  Skip any other choices and get two helpings of the lemon cake, with rose-flavored whipped cream--heavenly right there--and paired with clove ice cream!

I once dined at a picnic table in Amagansett in the Hamptons, with Paul McCartney.  Just the two of us, for 45 minutes.  But that's for another blog post.  But I had told Sir Paul I was inventing French vanilla cilantro ice cream, and he said it sounded delicious.  

When I shared that story with Patrick, the perfectly attentive and knowledgeable waiter at Republica, he went to the kitchen.  And the chef sent him out with two extra scoops of clove ice cream.  Definitely worth the little upcharge.

There are many theories about life after death.  And about past lives, multiple incarnations, etc.  How would I know?  This time around, I'm just a gal who escaped Iowa and then Wichita and so far have only ventured to Kansas City.  Though I am open to something new.

 I favor the theories of Dr. Brian Weiss of Yale, but who knows.  I am also inspired by the accounts of Esther and Jerry Hicks.  She channels an entity labelled as Abraham.  It's shared as  Ram Dass--another inspiration of late---my friend Rev. Mary Omwake's buddy on Maui.  

And best-selling author Mike Dooley from writes about "embracing today", especially the physical, the sensory.  Because even if you experience 10 thousand lives, or sit on the sidelines of non-physical for eons of time, there is nothing that calls one to Earth like the sensations we can taste and feel.

I want to spend the next ten days savoring whatever comes my way.   Because even in 10,000 lifetimes, the meal I ate at Republica, and that clove ice cream, may never return.