Two years after opening on Southwest Boulevard with a splattering of Cajun menu items, Nica’s 320 is making a 100 percent commitment to the cuisine.
By JOYCE SMITH
The Kansas City Star
Nica’s 320 will officially close after dinner Thursday. The restaurant at 320 Southwest Blvd. will then reopen for dinner Friday as Lagniappe — Nica’s Cajun Kitchen.
Lagniappe “can mean something sweet and unexpected, and in the French Quarter it is considered a way of life, to expect the unexpected,” said Bryan Merker, owner.
Lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) will serve dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays. The menu will include soups, salads, small plates like Kiss My Grits (with Parmesan cheese grits, prawns, fig glaze and citrus arugula), sweet potato frites, blue crab beignets, cornmeal- dusted catfish, smoked salmon, crawfish tails and blackened redfish.
As for entrees, look for farm-raised and oven-roasted chicken, spicy smoked Cajun sausage with jumbo prawns, Cajun ribeye and apple moonshine smoked pork shoulder — all with a choice of sauces. Other menu items will include red beans and rice, shrimp creole, jambalaya and Étouffée, along with desserts like beignets, banana foster cheesecake and smoked-bacon praline brulee.
The full-service bar will have one of the largest collections of absinthe in the area with an authentic absinthe fountain. It also will serve French Quarter specialty cocktails such as the Flaming Hurricane.
Merker said he had just “moderate” success with Nica’s previous “fusion comfort food” menu. Then, three months ago, Merker and his wife, Monica “Nica” Merker, opened Beignet, another New Orleans-themed restaurant, in City Market. Beignet’s customers started clamoring for more of the cuisine.
“So that’s when I really started focusing on it,” he said.
• 64 Tavern & Grille, 6312 N. Chatham Ave., plans to open in the former Paddy O’Quigley’s spot in mid-August.
The local owners are completely renovating the space. It will have 13 televisions; live music; daily food, drink and happy hour specials; and a made-from-scratch menu. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.
“It will have great food on top of a great bar setting,” said Daniel Rothbauer, general manager.
• Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que is now open in the former T.G.I. Friday’s building at 17700 E. 39th St., Independence, the 190th restaurant in the Famous Dave’s chain.
Area franchisee Dave Jones recently closed his Overland Park restaurant but plans to open additional area locations.
As for a chain operation taking on Kansas City barbecue, it has worked at the Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., he said.
“The Speedway location has been there nine years, and it is one of the top performing in the 190 restaurants,” Jones said.
To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC.