There are some sure signs that spring is in full bloom in Kansas City.
Morel season has come and gone. I finally had the nerve to plant our tomatoes, peppers, flowers and herbs without the fear of frost. And new springtime menus are rolling out across the metro.
Milano in Crown Center is among Kansas City restaurant celebrating spring with a new menu. It has been one of my favorite restaurants for years, and it was nice getting re-introduced to the space.
For Brent Grider, who oversees Milano and several other restaurants and a bar in Crown Center, crafting a new menu is a lengthy, time-consuming process.
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“It starts as soon as one season’s menu has been implemented,” Grider said. “We begin with offering weekly specials for both lunch and dinner. What we are looking for is how well the specials sell. We also get feedback from our guests and service staff on what they would like to see offered on our menus.”
Grider says they get ideas from everyone and start developing a menu for each season based on customer preference, kitchen capability and the availability of ingredients. From there, they start creating recipes.
So, what does Milano’s spring menu hold? Grider said a bit more thinking, and cooking, outside the box.
“Being in Crown Center, we are a destination restaurant for the office lunch crowd, visiting local families and the hotel guests,” he said. “While we will continue to offer familiar American Italian favorites during lunch, I’m excited that with the spring and summer menu we will take some chances and begin offering more classic Northern Italian dishes, with a focus on steaks, seafood and fresh vegetables.”
Milano is at 2450 Grand St. in Kansas City.
Checking out Q39
At Q39, the restaurant is celebrating one year of serving upscale barbecue to an ever-increasing audience.
To help in its celebration, chef/owner Rob Magee has crafted a menu featuring new items from savory to sweet.
I had the chance to try those new dishes recently, and my mouth is still watering. Starting with more traditional barbecue items, Magee is offering both pulled pork and burnt ends, and both are excellent.
The pulled pork is served with a white cheddar fondue, yellow mustard and sliced pickles on a pretzel bun. The burnt ends come solo, accompanied only by a classic barbecue sauce and a piece of cornbread.
Magee also crafted a burnt end sandwich called Mr. Burns. The burnt ends are sliced and topped with a chipolte barbecue sauce, pepper jack cheese and crisp Q straws.
I would never even think of putting cheese on a barbecue sandwich, but there’s a reason Magee is a Culinary Institute of American graduate and Reserve and Grand Champion of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and I’m not. The sandwich, cheese and all, is fantastic.
On the more nontraditional side, Magee is rolling out a barbecue salmon fillet that is as beautiful as it is scrumptious. Served with a chipotle barbecue glaze, jalapeno cilantro slaw and seasonal vegetables, this dish resonates on all levels. Same with smoked fried chicken, which is both smoky and crispy at the same time. I will order this for sure.
Finally, dessert, though I honestly don’t know who would possibly have room after an appetizer, sandwich or entrée. The fudge brownies are decadent with vanilla bean ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauces, and pecans, and the hard root beer float served with Row Hard alcoholic root beer from Weston is about as unique a dessert as you’ll find in this, or any, restaurant.
Q39 is at 1000 W. 39th St. in Kansas City.
Yep, spring has definitely sprung.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.