Side-by-side treats for the palate on 39th Street

03/25/2014 6:47 PM

03/26/2014 8:47 AM

The restaurant row on 39th Street has added two neighboring businesses.

Kansas Town was the first to open in January.

Owner Mike Bechtel spent 11 years in management at QuikTrip, while thinking about having his own restaurant. He took over the former Macaluso’s spot at 1403 W. 39th St., but he doesn’t count the first six weeks of operations when it was “9 degrees out with ice and snow.”

Since then he has been tweaking his hours to fit his customers’ schedules. He has dropped weekday lunch to concentrate on happy hour, dinner six days a week, Saturday lunch, and Sunday brunch.

“It’s all made from scratch, so prepping for lunch and then prepping for dinner wasn’t a doable scenario,” Bechtel said. “We needed twice the staff and twice the kitchen to do the quality we wanted for both. The whole basis was to bring the chef level of cuisine to a casual atmosphere.”

Executive chef Garrett Kasper’s dinner menu includes Corvina bass with vegetable salad and quinoa, chicken roulade with mac-n-cheese, root vegetables and red eye jus, and Banh Mi (chicken liver pâté, braised pork and vegetables on flatbread).

Kansas Town also is offering specials from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays, including half-price drinks, along with spicy meatballs, empanadas, a “smoked and fried” half-chicken with potato salad and biscuit, Korean street tacos, and gnocchi. For dessert there’s a salted Boulevard Tank 7 caramel flan. It also offers the bar food menu on some late nights, as well as lunch on Saturday.

A brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays with an ever changing menu, $26 for three courses or à la carte. On a recent Sunday the choices included a black pepper/orange/fennel scone, ham and cheese bread pudding with greens and a poached egg, and oatmeal carbonara.

Kansas Town is closed Mondays.

Its new neighbor, Drunken Worm, a bar that specializes in tequila, opened in February.

Partner Matt Laffey decorated the spot at 1405 W. 39th St. so customers would have something interesting to look at wherever their eyes land — Day of the Dead decorations, Pancho Villa puppets, Lucha Libre wrestling masks, and vintage lamps.

It’s stocked with 76 different tequilas. Laffey plans to add four more this week and keep adding new ones.

The menu includes a variety of tacos such as chicken with grilled red onion and cream cheese, as well as tamales and nachos.

“I wanted to open something a little bit different but still with a warm feeling,” Laffey said.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. It offers happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Thai for the Crossroads

For nearly 30 years a restaurant at 1513 Grand Blvd. offered Thai food.

Now a new owner is updating the space for Thai and neighboring dishes.

Steve Srivisay plans to open S-E Asia Bistro in May. It will have a short menu including authentic cuisine from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos — noodle bowls, soups, salads, sandwiches and specialties such as red curry chicken.

The crispy garlic chicken is expected to be one of the most popular items.

Srivisay attended culinary school in Los Angeles before going recently on a three-month food tour of Southeast Asia.

He grew up in the Kansas City area, and most of his family still lives here. During a visit with his family he decided to move back and open his first restaurant.

“The Crossroads is an up-and-coming area. I’m really just impressed by it all,” Srivisay said.

Willy Cafe, which opened in the spot in 1981, served Chinese and Thai cuisine. The owners sold the restaurant in 2000 but then came back two years later to open Thai Paradise in the spot. They decided to retire and put the restaurant up for sale in 2009.

Christopher Long and John Lewis bought the building a year ago. They plan to open a loft event space on the second floor by late summer and eventually a rooftop deck.

New steak and seafood place at Harrah’s

Harrah’s North Kansas City will put its own steak and seafood restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Mike Garozzo Charlie Gitto’s Italian Restaurant, as well as the former VIP lounge next door.

The restaurant, tentatively called ’37 Steak Seafood, is scheduled to open in June. The 16,000-square-foot space is being completely remodeled.

Harrah’s employees are doing menu tastings this week, but it is certain to include a variety of Black Angus cuts and seafood. John Woods, who has been with Harrah’s North Kansas City since 2005, will be the executive chef.

The restaurant will have a large open bar with seating for 85 people in three different areas. It also will have three private dining areas — one seating up to eight, one seating up to 18, and one seating up to 30.

Scott Lokke, vice president of hospitality for Harrah’s North Kansas City, says ’37 will have a custom ice machine and a wide range of glassware to fit specific drinks, as well as 100 bottled wines and about 20 wines by the glass. The restaurant will have about 40 employees.

Harrah’s was founded in Reno in 1937, thus the ’37 in the name.

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