We began our evening in the Crossroads at Jack Stack BBQ, where the wait line for tables was snaking out the front door. W.P. and I squeezed our way through the people and found a crevice at the bar to enjoy our first beer of the evening; Chambord and Weston were on their way to meet us. The really, really nice thing about Jack Stack is the smell!! Whether you’re in the Crossroads location or in the one on the Plaza, the smell of freshly smoked barbecue is quite fantastic! It’s a smell that’s “ok” to take home with you, unlike the clinging stench of cigarette smoke. Ahhh, the essence of The West buried deep in your sweater vest the next morning is a pretty good thing, indeed!
The cell phone vibrates (which is always exciting – especially if it’s in your front pocket), and Chambord tells us to meet her and Weston next door at The City Tavern. This was my first “first” for the evening. A new bar! I’d only walked past the City Tavern a few times in the past, and tonight was the night we’d get to experience it first-hand. I was a little apprehensive as we entered, and only saw a handful of people in the bar and restaurant. Why was it not packed like Jack’s next door? Did it not have a reputation for being a good place to spend an evening with friends? We’d soon find out.
Quickly, we were seated an open table in the bar area. Our waitress was immediately friendly (but not in a groping-hand-up-the shirt-or-shorts kind of way). She was attentive and spot-on for knowing everything about the menu items and the beverages offered at the bar. I didn’t know this, but City Tavern is a little famous for its raw oysters. Betty (this is what we’ll name our waitress) told us that we could get a whole dozen of them for like a billion dollars. Yes, they were expensive, but I assume they came all the way from the ocean, and not from the Mighty Mo? This was my second “first” for the night. I’d never had the opportunity to try, nor had I had the desire to try, oysters on the half-shell. This has never been an appealing thing to me. Ever. I would almost rather gouge my eyes out with a hot poker, or gnaw off my left arm and have someone beat me with it.
So we send Betty off to go whip us up some raw mollusks, while I decide to use the men’s room. This was my third “first” for the evening. No, not because I don’t normally use the men’s room, but because there was ICE in the urinal…!? Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but throw me a bone here, why do they do this? I have to admit, it was really fun to try to melt the ice while I peed, but it was a little disturbing. If I had been wearing glasses, they might have even fogged up right there in the restroom! I must have been amazingly HOT, because of the steam I created! Ohhh-Lah-Lah! What’s more disturbing, was that I snapped a picture of the urinal to share with you, our faithful three readers.
Back at the table, I excitedly offered the news, about the urinal only fit for an Eskimo. This opened up a lively conversation (er, can of worms) as we enjoyed our beer and wine. Weston suggested that maybe, just maybe, it would be fun if a business were to install some type of “wheel” (think very small pinwheel) in the urinals. He went on to elaborate how that when you relieved yourself on said wheel, it would spin quickly, causing small LED bulbs to light up above the toilet. The faster you could make it spin while relieving yourself, the more bulbs would light up, which would in turn, earn you more "points." But I'm sure they'd be like the points Drew Carey gives out on Who's Line is it Anyway? (Where the points don't really matter.) Fascinating.
Back at the table, Betty appears suddenly with more drinks and an armful of slimy clams on ice. I was secretly hoping that the ice didn’t come from the men’s room... She told us that many people enjoy the oysters with Tabasco sauce and a squirt of lemon. Weston and W.P. were “old pros” at sucking down the slime, but I was leery. Chambord was not willing to participate in this act of public indecency. I watched first, as my other two pals showed me the ropes. “Just let it slide down your throat,” they said, sucking the muck out of the shell. I spit up a little in the back of my mouth, as I garnered the courage to give it a shot. I squirted a bit of Tabasco and lemon on my spineless sea creature, and moved it around a bit with the fork (just to make sure there wasn’t a pearl underneath the grey fish-flesh) and then did as they said and sucked it down. It was pleasantly good! It didn’t have the “bottom of the bay” gag-me flavor I’d anticipated. It was slightly salty, and nice and spicy with the Tabasco, which I’m sure helped cover up some of the sea-taste.
The second one I tried was even more fun. I got up the nerve to actually chew this one a bit. My pals cringed at the thought, but when they saw that I didn’t die, and that I kind of actually enjoyed it, they offered hi-fives and we then ordered another round of drinks.
The City Tavern, overall, was a good place to enjoy the company of friends. The atmosphere was nice, and the service was impeccable. I’d recommend it, but take some extra cash along. Betty deserves it!
Next stop: 1924 Main, a trendy, up-scale bistro-type restaurant in the Crossroads region. Weston said that we really needed to stop in and experience the “cool bar in the basement.” He and Chambord described it as being an intimate, lounge-style bar with comfy chairs and sofas to gather with friends. Unfortunately, the basement bar was CLOSED. This would have been my fourth “first” for the night, and another new bar to explore and report about. But it didn’t happen. And on a FRIDAY!? Why would the bar have been close on a Friday??? We didn’t stick around, and opted instead to head over to Pierpont’s at Union Station. 1924 Main will have to wait…
If you’ve never been to Pierpont’s, you’re missing one of the best treats in Kansas City. This is a remarkable bar in probably one of the most romantic and architecturally significant buildings in the Midwest. It feels like you’re in New York City’s Grand Central Station and you can nearly hear the masses of people scurrying about as they try to catch their trains. Unfortunately the trains seldom stop here any more. There is Amtrak service, but the few daily stops do not rival the hundreds of trains that would come and go from this place back in the 1930s and 1940s… Anyhow, on to the BAR!
Pierpont’s is located on the northeast corner of Union Station. It doesn’t look too impressive from the main part of the terminal building, but once inside, a magnificent, library-type bar opens up before your very eyes. It’s perhaps two stories tall, and shrouded with dark wood, mirrors, and is stacked to the hilt with bottles of booze. Thanks, Ward Parkway, for the nice picture of the bar!!
My fifth and final “first” of the night came to an abrupt end, however, when the bartender said that they were out of a new and intriguing beer. I really wish I could remember its name to share with you, but we were a bit drunk by this time of the evening. All I can recall is thinking, “Wow, this is a beer I’ve never heard of before and it needs to be tried.” I believe I ended up drinking a Coors Light – oh the blasphemy!
In summary, Jack Stack and City Tavern are great places to get your smell on, pee on ice, and suck down some raw fish. 1924 Main is still new, unexplored territory, and Pierpont’s at Union Station is the most amazing bar in Kansas City, period. If you don’t check it out sometime, you may very well have missed one of life’s greatest drinking experiences. Bottoms UP!