Restaurant Roundup: June 2017

Anna Petrow

Westport Ice Cream Bakery has set up shop in the former Murray’s Ice Creams & Cookies space at 4120 Pennsylvania Ave.
   “We wanted to do something as a family,” says Steve Engravalle, COO of the company. “We thought about pizza. There’s a lot of pizza around here. We thought about bagels. Meshuggah came, and they’re pretty good… but then we decided that ice cream was something that we’d never explored.”
   Engravalle, along with his brother, Dan and his sister-in- law, Debra, bid on Murray’s founder and owner’s equipment, which was quietly auctioned off on in December. When Steve would visit his brother and sister-in- law from his native New Jersey, they would often go to Murray’s for ice cream.
   The shop carries a rotating roster of homemade flavors like Key lime, strawberry graham, rum raisin, and coffee chip. Specialty flavors include Frankenstein (a green, slightly minty flavor with mystery pieces of candy), Unicorn (lavender-hued ice cream with dried cotton candy pieces) and Cookie Monster (vibrant blue ice cream with a combination of cookie pieces mixed in). Full-time pastry chef Mary Braasch, formerly of Lidia’s Kansas City, will be baking cookies, brownies and small-batch creations like cannoli and tiramisu. At the back counter, the shop will serve Vito’s Famous Shalolly (Italian ice named for Engravalle’s grandfather) in flavors such as Jersey blueberry, Hawaiian pineapple, birthday cake and lemon-lime. Fresh-squeezed lemonade, milkshakes, ice cream floats and take-home pies are also available.
4120 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 214-8887,
EJ’s Urban Eatery, a Southern-inspired restaurant, is the latest addition to the burgeoning West Bottoms neighborhood. Business partners Erik Gaucher and chef John C. Smith plan to serve breakfast and lunch, with weekends-only dinner service soon to follow. The breakfast menu will have classic offerings, and the lunch menu will have a “meat and three” option that includes four to five different proteins and more than a dozen side dishes to choose from. The menus will feature locally sourced meat and produce that will change with the seasons. From-scratch desserts like cakes and pies will be served. EJ’s large bar will offer beer, wine and liquor. The 100-year- old building also houses the Screaming Eagle Bar & Grill, owned and operated by John Sarkis, who owns the property. EJ’s Urban Eatery is slated to open this summer.
1414 W. Ninth St., Kansas City, Mo.
Independence’s Stroud’s restaurant closed its doors April 30, less than two years after opening, to make way for Jazz — A Louisiana Kitchen. According to The Kansas City Star, KC Hopps took over the 6,270-square-foot space, which formerly housed El Maguey Mexican Restaurant, in late 2014. Stroud’s opened in May 2015. Vic Allred, owner of Jazz, hopes to keep most of the Stroud’s employees when he opens his restaurant in early July. He plans to make some improvements and updates to the space to give it a New Orleans vibe. The restaurant will have live entertainment several nights a week.
   Allred opened the first Jazz in 1986 in Lubbock, Texas. He opened the 39th Street location in 1994 and later added locations in Kansas City, Kansas; Columbia; and Omaha, Nebraska. Jazz serves seafood like oysters and crawfish, po’boys, pasta, salads, and specialties like stuffed catfish and Cajun stir-fry.
19700 E. Valley View Parkway, Independence, Mo.,
After more than 40 years of operating as a traditional restaurant, Crown Center’s The American has launched its new culinary and events concept. James Beard Award-winning chef Debbie Gold is at the helm. The American kicked off its transformation with a Mother’s Day brunch May 14, the first in a series of events open to the public. The venue will host “The American Concept Series,” with culinary experiences showcasing chefs from across the country. The iconic venue will serve as a destination for upscale holiday dining, special guest chef events, weddings and private parties.
Grand Boulevard between Pershing Road and 27th Street at Crown Center, (816) 245-7331,
Cody Hogan, formerly chef de cuisine at Lidia’s Kansas City, has been named the restaurants new general manager. Hogan’s 18-year career at Lidia’s began with his role as pastry chef when the restaurant opened in 1998. He was named chef de cuisine a few years later and served as a traveling assistant and studio kitchen chef for Lidia’s Kitchen, Lidia’s Italy in America and Lidia’s Italy, Bastianich’s Emmy Award-winning television series. As Lidia’s general manager, Hogan will lead the operations and service of the restaurant in addition to managing staff and maintaining a presence in the kitchen. Brad Wilson, a longtime line cook at Lidia’s, has been promoted to sous chef alongside the existing sous chef, Jesus de la Torre.
   Lidia’s also launched its first-ever children’s menu, with smaller, simplified versions of Lidia’s classic Italian dishes. The selections range in price from $7 to $9.50 and include kid-friendly favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, grilled mozzarella sandwich with fries and even gnocchi with pesto sauce and fried calamari with marinara for the more adventurous eaters. The menu is available for children ages 12 and under.
101 W. 22nd St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 221-3722,
David Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, opened AnaMarina Cafe on 39th Street last month. It is inspired by other Venezuelan and French coffee shops. Hernandez named the shop after his late mother, Ana, and his late grandmother, Marina.
809 W. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 844-9055,
St. Louis-based International Tap House, known as iTap, will move into the first floor of 1801 Oak St. in the Crossroads Arts District this summer. Partners Brad Lobdell and Sean Conroy opened the first location in Chesterfield, Missouri, in 2009 and now have three locations in the St. Louis area and one in Columbia. iTap has a vast selection of bottled and draft beer, with a BYOB policy on food (or ask the bartender for a menu of local restaurants that will deliver).
1801 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.,
Mission Taco Joint, also from the St. Louis area, has signed a lease on the first floor at 18th and Oak streets. The restaurant and bar, founded by brothers Adam and Jason Tilford, offers eight to 10 gourmet tacos, such as BBQ Duck (slow-roasted duck, ancho-agave glaze, pork belly carnitas, smashed avocado, pickled onions, crisp jalapeno strips) and Mofu Tofu (wood-fire grilled cactus and local mofu tofu, arugula, jalapeno salsa, pickled onions). The menu also includes starters, burritos and tortas. The bar serves tequila-, rum- and mezcal-based cocktails along with a wide selection of draft, bottled and canned beer. Mission Taco Joint is slated to open this summer.
Two 39th Street businesses have closed their doors: D.B. Cooper’s Bar and Po’s Dumpling Bar. Both owners are retiring. After almost 40 years of business, D.B. Cooper’s owner Kim Giese decided to close the bar. Rita Ow, owner of Po’s Dumpling Bar, closed up shop after 10 years of business.