Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beer Kitchen

I first went to Beer Kitchen (in Westport across from McCoy's Public House) a couple of days after they opened. I picked up a quick couple of beers and some fries before our Gents KC meeting at McCoy's. I sat at the bar, ordered a Nogne O and an order of Belgian style fries with the malt vinegar aioli dipping sauce. Three things were great about this. 1, fries are a perfect thing to eat while drinking beer and at only $3 you shouldn't even think twice about ordering them. 2, besides the Nogne O being a great beer to have on tap, you get the option of ordering a small 4 or 6 oz. glass so you can drink many different beers if you were so inclined. 3, you get a nice selection of aiolis to choose from: Roasted Garlic, Smoked Chipotle, Malt Vinegar, Horseradish, Cucumber-Dill, Sweet Thai Chili.

My fries arrived in a little bucket and were quite wonderful, everything you hope a fry will be. They were nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. These were not the limp fries that can bend in break when dipping in something substantial like mayonnaise or an aioli. My only complaint with them on that night was they were extremely salty. Each fry had about 10 specks of kosher salt on it. The malt vinegar aioli was wonderful, just the right amount of that vinegar kick. I also tried all 3 of the house condiments, ketchup, chipotle ketchup and whiskey barbecue sauce. All 3 were great, I found myself using the chipotle ketchup the most with plenty of dips in the whiskey bbq as well. The house made ketchup would be the star at any other burger place, the other 2 are just better than that.

Parmesan fries
Paul A. Ner and Yeti arrived shortly after I got my fries and they each got a Nogne O. Paul got the parmesan truffle fries with the roasted garlic aioli. Paul A. Ner is to truffle oil as the father in A Christmas Story is to turkey. He loves it, he's even offered to suck truffle oil off Josh Eans' sweet 'stache. He loved the parmesan truffle fries at Beer Kitchen and I've heard several other people proclaim their love for them. I had a couple of them and I don't get it, they're too parmesany for me. I also didn't like the roasted garlic aioli that much, but I'm not much on garlic so take that opinion with a grain of salt (like you don't already).

Based on my first experience with the Beer Kitchen I knew I was going to be back to try a burger. Stella and I finally had our chance this weekend after the Tour de BBQ (and a visit to la manse du Vard's jacuzzi). Mind you, I'd had 6 beers and at least 4 barbecue sandwiches in the previous 5 hours before we got there but I was still famished. We got there for happy hour which meant the McCoy's beer on tap, Oktoberfest, was only $3. Stella loves marzens so this was quite nice. I had water, I had reached the rehydrating portion of my day. Stella got the Bravo burger and I got the Smokestack and we got an order of happy hour fries (the Belgian style fries without the aioli) to share.

The Bravo burger is a burger with crispy prosciutto, maytag blue cheese, fontina, sun-dried tomato relish, baby arugula & roasted garlic aioli on brioche bun . The key words for Stella in the description were "crispy prosciutto", "fontina" and "baby arugula". The brioche bun didn't hurt. The Smokestack burger's description is smoked gouda & burnt end-stuffed burger, whisky bbq glaze, chipotle aioli & crispy jalapeno straws on potato bun. My key words were "burnt end stuffed" and "crispy jalapeno straws".

Our burgers were sights to behold when they came out. Unfortunately for me Stella won the ordering contest as her burger, in her eyes and taste, was flawless. Every bite perfect. The blue cheese and arugula adding a nice bitterness to the sun-dried tomato relish and the crispy prosciutto throwing the whole thing over the top. I had a bite of it too and I'll be hard pressed to order any other burger at Beer Kitchen in the future. My Smokestack burger was good, but nothing special. I could have used double the amount of jalapeno strings and I would have liked for them to be actually be crispy. I barely got any whiskey bbq glaze and chipotle aioli leaving the burger kind of dry and one note. I don't want to be to harsh on it because I ate every bite of it, but I think there's got to be better options on the Beer Kitchen menu for me. I was also impressed with the fries this time as they weren't oversalted. I also tried the pickle slices that came with my burger. I don't like pickles generally, but these were really good pickles.

In short, I can't wait to go back. In my mind it's the perfect place to eat dinner, drink some great beer with 8 rotating taps and numerous bottled beers that have obviously been chosen with care, have a late night snack, enjoy a good happy hour (though their happy hour specials are hardly publicized with not enough drink specials, no KC Beer Blog certified happy hour here) or just pop in for a good beer. Beer Kitchen is definitely a welcome addition to the KC beer scene.

4 comments:

  1. Beer Kitchen just might have the best fries in town. We had the Smoked Gouda cheese fries last time in we were there. Awesome. I agree on the pickles too.

    Only complaint was it was really loud. There doesn't seem to be any place to get away from the noise.

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  2. I usually hit Westport on Tuesdays; everything is quiet then. :-) Thanks for the review. Sounds like a great place. I was a big fan of the previous tenant (One80); glad to know it's continuing to rock.

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  3. I didn't see you mention that they offered mayonnaise with the fries--in true Belgian style? I remember enjoying that in a Belgian beer place in Boston.

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  4. Anonymous, I think the aioli takes the place of mayonnaise. But, there is no mayonnaise option. Just down the street at the new Westport Cafe and Bar they do serve a nice homemade mayonnaise with fries and it's quite wonderful. The Belgians know what they're doing.

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