Sunday, February 6, 2011

circqe d'alex

★★★★(4 stars)

three words: vegan hot dog.  life changing, my friends.  so, i'm over-hyping.  in fact, i never have really enjoyed a hot dog, vegan or not.  but as soon as i saw this place, i was on a quest to go and enjoy a hot dog.  mostly because i wanted to support a place in kansas city that would have a vegan hot dog.

so the place isn't really my style.  it's very 'carnivalesque' and definitely geared for kids (i am without child).  it was a visual onslaught of bright colors, clown pictures on the ceiling, and weird plastic chairs. yet, i know some people (and their kids), would feel right at home.  despite the awkwardness, the husband and i forged ahead and ordered two vegan dogs.   it was pretty awesome - you could order it in a number of different styles - chicago, coney island, etc., or you could customize your toppings.  we went ahead and got chicago style, which has onions, tomatoes, sport peppers, relish, etc., and then retired to our weird plastic chairs to wait for impending deliciousness.  they steam the dogs to order, so it ended up taking 15 minutes or so before our order was brought to our table.  the wait was worth it, as we finally  presented with two 'designer' dogs...  they looked just like the picture!   and man, these rocked.  about halfway through, we decided we needed two more....

i'm completely recommending this place, for those with kids or without.  i'll probably get mine to go in the future to avoid the kiddos whining about ice cream, but that's just me.  overall, this is kind of a unique place in a kansas city, and a huge step for the vegans.  (i did call twice to confirm the dogs were 'vegan' - they are).  unfortunately, i can't review the veggie chili since they were out when we went.    but, i just visited their website and they now have a 'muffuletta' dog, which you know i have to try!

cirque d'alex

7308 tiffany springs parkway
kansas city, mo

7107 nw barry road
kansas city, mo

Thursday, December 2, 2010

café cedar

★★★★★ (5 stars) 

one day we planned a jaunt up to parkville, mo for a friend's block party.  however, being aware that our veg-friendly diet usually means snacking on a veggie tray at parties, we decided to stop in town for small a bite to eat first.  that sort of backfired in our face.

now, the reason it backfired:  so much awesomeness to choose from!  like two kids at a candy store - when we find large selections of food that we *can* eat, we have trouble with moderation.  this was supposed to be just an appetizer to hold us over to the block party veggie tray, but turned into a full-on food fest. to start off, the husband could not resist getting the appetizer for two - which consisted of falafel, taboulei, baba ganoush, hummus, stuff grape leaves, spanakopita (not vegan), and warm pita bread.

typically we split a normal appetizer, so we were feeling a little full already and decided to put the breaks on.  we split the cauliflower sammie (Karnabeat), but it also came with a side salad.  our waitress, who had an awesome australian accent, had previously chatted with me about my veganism and made sure they took the feta off my salad (i had totally forgot to request it).  she even let me know that the salad dressing was vegan without me asking!  i love when i get service like this.

after we wrapped up an extremely messy meal, we bid adieu.  i don't think i ate one damn veggie at the block party...  i was so stuffed i could have popped at any minute.  the only thing i can saw that isn't a glowing review is the menu is both 'mediterranean' and 'american'.  it's sort of an odd combo.  however, if you know what you are going for, it's not a bid deal.  café cedar totally rocks and if you are anywhere near parkville, missouri, this place is a must.

café cedar

2 e. 2nd street
parkville, mo  64152

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the klub (mound city, mo)

★★★★ (4 stars) 

the husband and i took an early anniversary trip up to big lake state park in northwestern missouri.  when we travel to rural parts of the country, i always try to scout things out ahead of time, food-wise.  luckily, i saw a restaurant at the location we were staying with great veggie options.   however, when we got there, we learned about a recent flood that had done some damage to some of local places - including the restaurant.

the nearest 'town' was about 15 minutes away, with a population of just over 1,000.  there was a pizza shop attached to a gas station, and a steakhouse.  oh yea, and a mcdonalds. things were looking pretty bleak.  i pulled out the droid and found the only other restaurant in the area.  granted, it looked as scary as the pizza/gas station joint, but maybe better than our other options.  it was call 'the klub' and ended up being quite a rural foodie dream. although when we pulled up, it was a corrugated steel building and scared us shitless, we forged ahead (and there was a full bar luring us in).
after we sat down, the server started to run down the specials, which (as most vegans know) are typically meat based, but she piqued our interest when she mentioned the wild mushroom marscapone cheese ravioli with a creamy port sauce.  uh, what?!  as it turns out, the owner is actually a chef, and makes almost everything homemade.  he uses local foods whenever possible.  i asked if he could make a vegan meal off the menu, and they were happy to!

we ordered the bruschetta (no parm) to start. as the husband and i were enjoying an anniversary cocktail, i glanced out the window and saw a women come shuffling out of the restaurant/shed kitchen area.  she ran over to the fence line, looked among the many plants and picked a sprig off a purple one, smelled it, and ran back towards the kitchen.  i told the husband that i thought it was odd, only to be delighted when our bruschetta was served about two minutes later with a fresh sprig of purple basil.  i almost died.  an herb garden in the back of restaurant...  in mound city, mo?  and it was to die for.  after the first bite, i realized i needed to be documenting this place for all the vegetarians and vegans in rural northwest missouri.  (so half the bruschetta is gone).

the salads came next and were okay (not glamorous), but i could tell they were fresh.  and my balsamic vinagrette was definintely homemade.  even if it was just a plain jane salad, they make a point of using local produce, so that's some deliciousness on a whole other level.

 our meals?  the husband ordered the mushroom marscapone ravioli (he's a vegetarian), and they made a fresh veggie pasta with homemade marinara for me.  perfect veggie fare for our anniversary.  the honey's pasta and sauces were homemade, and it's wild mushroom season in missouri, so i'm sure it was local.  although they told me my noodles were't homemade, the chunky marinara was and had some great seasonal veggies.  additionally, when they served the bread with our meals, they made a point to tell me they used olive oil instead of butter on the bread.

although the klub isn't a dedicated vegetarian or vegan restaurant, they sure did step up to the plate.  the food was good and the attention of the kitchen to our special diet was great.  it was like finding a diamond in the rough rural terrain of rural missouri.  one anniversary dinner disaster averted! 

the klub

1710 nebraska street
mound city, mo  64470

Sunday, September 19, 2010

the farmhouse

★★ (2 stars) 

over the summer, i met my friend kim for lunch at a newer restaurant in the river market called the farmhouse.  i hadn't heard of it before, but was exited when the website said it focused on using crops from local farmers.  yay - sustainable and responsible food love!  i knew they'd be great for a vegetarian which usually means you can veganize quite a bit.

after i sat down, the server came over and i asked about a particular beer.  there were only like ten to choose from, but the server didn't seem to know anything about it.  i thought this was odd, since when i walked in he was actually behind the bar, but really not a big deal.  i ended up getting the beer and started to ask about the egg and dairy content of a couple items.  to my surprise, there weren't a lot of vegetarian options and only one could be made vegan (besides the salad).  isn't this a farmer based restaurant?  oh well, the one item i could have was the chickpea fritters (minus the parmasean), although the garlic aioli sauce had mayonnaise.  i asked about the different salad dressings, thinking i could sub one of them for the aioli.  no dice.  every dressing had eggs or cream in it!  i finally relented and just figured i could live with the herb oil that they are drizzled with.  when my chickpea fritters finally arrived (they took forever!), they had the pamesean shavings and the aioli served on the side to boot.  after pointing out the issues, he took them back and later came back with non-cheese fitters, but also brought me a new side of aioli.  i guess you could say he didn't get it.

the fritters were okay.  kim had a blt, and said it was okay, but wasn't a stand out sammie.  it looks like the menu will change based on seasonal produce, but i wouldn't go in thinking they have a lot of vegan options.  and maybe my server was just having a bad day, but this visit certainly didn't entice me to go back.  which is too bad, really, because i'm all about supporting local farmers.  maybe i'll give it another shot, but based on this experience, i have to give it two stars.


the farmhouse

300 delaware street
kansas city, mo  64015

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

taj mahal

★★★★ (4 stars)

taj mahal recently opened a location in independence, mo. we've been eyeing it from the outside for a couple months, and finally decided to give it a try when we had planned to meet my family for a movie in the area. this review is based on the independence location only, since i've not visited the kansas city one yet.  if i do, i will update this review.

i was... surprised. it's in a strip mall, but the inside certainly does not feel that way all. very clean, a great menu and service, and it definitely had fine dining appeal. and like any good indian restaurant worth it's curry, they started us off with some yummy papadums. i couldn't place the flavour, which killed me, but they were some of the best i've had. the only downturn came when i was trying to order something without ghee, cream or yogurt, which seemed to present a little bit of a problem. i'm guessing they don't have too many vegans coming through. after being told they couldn't make any of the first three dishes i wanted, i finally settled on baingan bharta (eggplant). to be fair, there were a number of other dishes that they suggested for me - mostly lentil and chickpea dishes. i guess i just get burnt out on lentils and chickpeas because i make them so much at home. the husband got something with paneer - i can't rightly remember because the paneer chunks were like the size of my head! it looked really good! we also got some roasted garlic naan (specified no butter) that was drool worthy as well.

all in all, a good indian restaurant. vegans will face a lot of the same dishes they can normally eat, so nothing above and beyond in that respect (at least at the independence location). however, the food was super delicious, service was good, they did have at least four or five vegan dishes and you'll be dreaming about the garlic naan for days. i'm not sure how friendly their buffet is (lunches), so this review is based on dinner only. not too shabby for the suburbs of the midwest heartland (which can often be a vegan wasteland).

no website

locations (2):

19210 e 39th st
independence, mo


kansas city
7521 wornall rd
kc, mo 

Friday, May 21, 2010

the brick

(3 stars)

i've been wanting to write a review of the brick for a while now, but have never found the right time to go and scour what is truly vegan.  we finally found the opportunity when a local band was playing, and headed down early so we could grab some grub.  they have a separate section of vegetarian options on their menu - probably more options than any other bar in kansas city.  unfortunately, their 'hipper-than-thou' staff seriously detracts from the underwhelming food.

granted, it's not the first time i've had server/bartender issues there before, but you always go hoping for the best.  we were the only people there at the time, and i politely inquired about the bun the portabello burger is served on.  the bartender checked, then came back and told me 'no', it's not vegan, and then walked away.   i had to flag her down and ask about some other options, and she seemed frustrated that i was bothering her.  as i said, we were the ONLY people there.  finally, she found a lady in the kitchen who came out an offered two bread options - the pita bread or a wheatberry wrap.  i was happy and decided on the wrap.  unfortunately, the end result wasn't all that great.  it was flimsy, and not very veggie stuffed.  it certainly seems a little overpriced.  not to mention, this all came after they told us the kitchen was closing late, and then rushed us to make an order at like 8pm.  whatever.

so truthfully, they only have two vegan options because the veggie burger has eggs. and they weren't all that impressive (seriously, check out the record bar's wrap in comparison).  and, of course, it isn't served up by super friendly staff or anything, so that also kinda detracts.  i give them props for having a robust vegetarian section on their menus, but the final product is sort disappointing (especially for vegans).  i went there thinking i would surely give them four stars, and i'm only giving them three because of all the vegetarian options.  otherwise, this is a two star vegan joint (with good music).  bummer.

the brick


1727 mcgee
kc, mo  

Friday, April 16, 2010

thai paradise

★★★ ★ (4 stars)

recently a couple of the thai place restaurant locations have closed (bummer economy!).  in fact, the two closest to me - the north and downtown location were victims.  i wasn't aware of this, and had happily made the trip to downtown kc for some serious thai indulgence.  after realizing it had closed had closed, we headed over to thai paradise on grand boulevard.  we had eaten there once before, and i'm happy to report, it's as delicious as i remember.

we started with the crispy fried tofu.  although the tofu chunks were a little too big, they were still nicely crunchy.  we ordered the spice tray to kick our sauce up a bit. although the tray isn't as robust as the thai place spice tray, they do have jalapenos marinated in soy - seriously awesome.  for our entree, we both ended up getting the tofu cashew, but there are plenty of other options.  and, they don't use fish sauce, so veg folks can order safely.  the helping was very large, definitely enough for leftovers (and chock full of cashews).

the staff was super friendly and definitely were knowledgeable on the vegan/fish sauce issue.  it's not a glamorous place, but the tables all ornamental hand carved wood - gorgeous.  the tables are all small, so it can be a nice little date restaurant.  i would definitely put this as my second favourite thai place in kansas city, and who knows - now that it is the closest one to me, maybe it will become number one.

thai paradise

1513 grand boulevard
kansas city, mo