Last night my sister and father and I had dinner at Avenues Bistro at the corner of Wornall and 63rd in Brookside, which is considered a top restaurant in Kansas City. I wanted to go there and I decided to take them because I worried that the dinner would be expensive, but it was $150 for three dinners plus tapas, desserts, and a bottle of wine. That was a reasonable amount for very good food—not quite as artisanal as Frasca in Boulder, but not nearly as expensive either. In any case, Avenues Bistro tends toward French- and German-influenced dishes, not Italian.
We sat in the second room, beyond the bar. Behind us a large party celebrated something: a wedding, perhaps, or a well-lived life. We were rather quiet because of the background noise, which makes it hard for my father and me to hear conversation. I think the high ceilings absorbed much of the sound, but not quite enough for us.
The sommelier brought us Jade Mountain 2007 Syrah as a compromise between the red zinfandel I prefer and the merlot my father has been drinking lately. It had an aroma of blackberries and was light-bodied and soft on the tongue. He brought us 3 Riedel glasses so my sister could have a taste.
Since Avenues Bistro offers tapas as well as full-sized entrees, I ordered the ceviche, and the filet tips and the mushroom Cabreles. The ceviche was fish-forward: I couldn’t taste lime or cilantro, which were supposed to be seasoning the lobster, shrimp, crab, and tomatoes. But it was refreshing against the marvelous grilled ciabatta. The filet was wonderful; I loved the blue cheese taste of the sauce and the silkiness of the meat.
By the time we got our entrees, we were getting full, but we soldiered on. The Black Forest Jaeger schnitzel, which the menu calls “a Swiss-German specialty,” was topped with Black Forest ham, bacon, caramelized onions, and mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce. It made me feel like the queen of bacon-gooeyness. When I had the leftovers for lunch today, they were still good. But I would not call this dish subtle. Is there such a thing as a subtle schnitzel?
We still didn’t stop. We ordered the flourless chocolate cake, which had the consistency of a dark mousse, and the German apple cake, similar to carrot cake. As we drove home, I wondered if it were responsible of me to feed my elderly father so much food. But other than an occasional complaint about how full he was, he didn’t seem to mind.
I was having trouble deciding whether to review Brio Tuscan Grille on the Plaza. I didn’t really like the food at this national chain where a high school friend took me. (Apparently there’s one in Centennial, Colorado.)
The seasonal bruschetta reminded my friend of pizza, when it should have been more like the ceviche mentioned above. And the roasted tomato and chicken risotto with prosciutto and asparagus was to risotto what this blurry picture is to photography. It lacked the density of risottos I’ve had, in which the rice was a match for the sauce rather than drowning in it. I did enjoy the fluffy crab and shrimp cakes but not their too-sweet sauce, which my friend said tasted like Miracle Whip. I’ve never had that (at least, not willingly), so I don’t know how it tastes.
The presentation of food was adequate at both restaurants, though the cakes certainly took the … well, you know.