Vinino and Hannah Montana
Honestly, I had forgotten that Hannah Montana was playing the Sprint Center this evening when I decided to hit Vinino (in the Power and Light District if you didn't know). I feel bad that it's been open for a couple of weeks and I couldn't be bothered to get over there even though I park right below it every day. For that matter I couldn't be bothered to go to McFadden's, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it anyway. After I dropped off my briefcase at the car I walked upstairs to Vinino and then I saw it, women and girls everywhere. I may have been the only guy on Grand that wasn't scalping or a pedophile. Will from "About a Boy" would have had a heyday picking up single moms. Johnson County has some seriously hot moms but the only hot mom I'm interested in was at my house cooking dinner so I was more interested in not seeming like a pedophile.
Luckily Vinino is about 20 paces south of the corner of 13th and Grand so I kept my head down and ducked in the door. I would describe Vinino as a Vegas version of a European bistro. It was really like sitting in a restaurant at the Venetian, which I like but it's not real authentic. Vinino is a bit below street level with windows underlooking Grand and overlooking the courtyard on the west side of the building (the KC Live block). It's a pretty nice space and seemed pretty warm and inviting. The music is NOT very loud but not really what you're looking for in a European wine bistro, but I'm always looking for restaurants/bars playing Nat King Cole. Overall the place was near empty, but being a Monday afternoon with 14,000 kids headed to the block, I don't hold it against them.
I sat at the far bar (there's 2, I didn't see the one closest to the door until I had been there for a minute or 2) and looked around for the taps. I didn't see any and panic set in, what kind of place was I in that didn't have taps. I saw a drink menu, but I really wanted a beer. The bartender came over and I asked what was on draft. She said they didn't have any taps and she was able to name about 10 beers they had in bottles. She recommended one beer that was French brewed in the Belgian style (it had a French name that I wanted to remember and I can't find it using Google so call me a bad beer blogger, I let you down), sounded right up my alley so I ordered it. She grabbed the bottle and asked if I would like a glass. Duh! Yes! She got a nice goblet and executed a tremendous pour. She then introduced herself, Dorie (sp?) was her name. I highly recommend Dorie's services, her bartending was good too.
I spent some time waiting on the beer to warm up a bit to release it's full Belgianness. Dorie kept wanting me to comment on it but I didn't take a drink for about 10 minutes. I tried calling Chambord and Wes, but Chambord had family obligations and Wes was trying out O'Dowds in Zona Rosa. We did some texting and then I tried my beer. Good stuff was this French stuff with French writing on the glass. You know, I speak French and I don't remember the name of the beer. I'm as disappointed as you are.
I watched all the moms sans husband walk in for dinner with their daughters. I guess everyone could only afford 2 Hannah Montana tickets. I think that staff at Vinino outnumbered customers 2 to 1. A good thing for customers probably not so good for the dudes paying the bills (unless it's KCMO taxpayers, then no one really cares). I made some small talk with Dorie, finished my beer, paid my exorbitant tab ($6 for a beer). I decided to go try McFaddens just so I could say I'd been there. I got over there (it's right next door) and didn't see any seats available at the bar so I left again. Then I had to make the walk of shame from where I came. This is when I most felt like a pedophile. One scalper taunted me asking "hey man, you need a floor ticket?". The accusatory bastard! I put my head down and got around the corner and went downstairs to my car to get home to my hot Johnson County wife.
Overall, I dug the vibe at Vinino. It's overpriced, sure, but the servers were very good and attentive. The cocktail menu looks fabulous, with a Maker's Manhattan and Caiprinha being the most tempting for me. Dorie even told me they use fresh fruit juice for all their drinks, which should be mandatory for anyplace charging 8 bones for a cocktail. But, I would be hard pressed to have a happy hour outing with the work buds at Vinino, it didn't have a bar feel, it was more restauranty. I would recommend it for a good group dinner outing. The menu seemed like it could please everyone and had some lite dinner items as well as some nice pizzas and entrees. I almost cheated a little and got a meat and cheese plate ($3) as I sat there, perhaps next time. There will definitely be a next time.