If you’re a Kansas City barbecue fan, no doubt you rejoice when a restaurant serving its interpretation of our town’s original culinary calling card pops up.
Behold, C. Frogs in Prairie Village—adjacent to Standees Theatres—that stakes its claim on a menu highlighting barbecue, steak and whiskey and focusing on local food artisans.
Opening in mid-August in the spot that’s housed two unsuccessful concepts—Standees-The Entertaining Eatery and Chocolate Frog—the makeover is the product of veteran restaurateur Forbes Cross.
Starting with the comfy-stylish interior accented by vintage lighting fixtures, cushy booths, plantation shutters, a soothing color palette and an eye-catching bar, owner and managing partner Cross set out to create an upscale barbecue-steakhouse hybrid.
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“C. Frogs isn’t a typical Kansas City barbecue or steak restaurant,” Cross said. “Although we serve traditional barbecue—ribs, pulled pork, burnt ends and more—we use a proprietary rub and a great local sauce, Hillsdale Bank Bar B-Q, The whole menu has a unique spin.”
Indeed, where else in Kansas City can you polish off a heaping plate of sauce-slathered pork ribs, seasoned hand-cut fries and smoked barbecue beans ($17) with baked Alaska, a retro dessert that C. Frogs pays homage to with locally made Poppy’s ice cream ($9).
My server one night, Berlin, Germany native Oli , admitted that both barbecue and the dessert he ignited at my table were foreign to him when relocating to Kansas City in early 2016.
“But what’s not to like,” he queried, putting a thick slice of baked Alaska in front of me.
Oli’s onto something. The third time may be the lucky charm for C. Frogs, whose eclectic menu tempts with appetizers like best-selling BBQ nachos ($8.50), slow-smoked frog legs fried in a lemon-butter sauce ($9) and burnt end meatballs that pack a pleasant zing, topped with pickled jalapeno peppers and accompanied by fried banana peppers ($10).
Chef Steve Kerner (formerly of Ingredient) executes house specialties like flavorful grilled fresh water trout with a side of garlic whipped potatoes ($16) and a generous portion of burnt ends mac-and-cheese ($16), an irresistibly melt-y combination of pasta, bacon, caramelized onions and house-made cheese sauce tossed with chunks of smoked beef and drizzled with Hillsdale sauce.
Steaks are celebrated at C. Frogs, too. Headlining offerings from local meat purveyor Scavuzzo’s are an eight-ounce Angus enhanced by a whiskey cream sauce ($19), a 12-ounce KC strip ($27) and beef tenderloin filet ($34).
C. Frogs also serves show-stopping sandwiches.
The ample KC Classic features house-smoked brisket, Fritz’s sausage and ham with cheddar cheese, tomato, ranch and barbecue sauce on grilled Texas toast ($10) and the juicy half-pound Black Angus burger on a Farm to Market black pepper egg bun ($10). The Stanwich is a memorable stack of bacon, Brie, avocado, arugula and tomato dressed with a tangy lemon aioli ($9).
Soups (try the chopped barbecue potato, $6 bowl, $4 cup) and salads (shrimp, arugula, feta, $14, and the Brown Derby Cobb, $13, are standouts) round out C. Frogs menu—unless you want to indulge in sides that range from $5 dishes like grilled asparagus, fontina cheese scallop potatoes and roasted corn poblano and sweet peppers to $3 items like broccoli slaw, potato salad and onion strings.
Whiskey is an experience that gets top billing at C. Frogs, not only as an added ingredient in select entrees, but in an extensive bar menu. Nine categories are included—small-batch rye, rye, straight bourbon, small-batch bourbon, wheated, cask, Tennessee, flavored and Irish. Careful attention was given to pouring local favorites Dark Horse Reunion (small-batch rye, $9) and Rieger (small-batch bourbon, $9).
Cross, who grew up in Prairie Village, thinks C. Frogs is a welcome addition to the collection of acclaimed restaurants in the Shops of Prairie Village—Story, Café Provence and Tavern in the Village.
“We’ve solved this space’s identity crisis,” he said. “Patrons are loving the food, décor and neighborhood atmosphere.”
Whether or not you choose to take in a movie at Standees before or after a meal at C. Frogs, one thing’s certain: the food is no longer a supporting player. At this reimagined restaurant/entertainment complex, it’s the star attraction.
C. FROGS BBQ STEAK WHISKEY
Location: 3935 W. 69th Terr., Prairie Village
Hours: Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. 9 p.m. Lunch served until 4 p.m. Happy Hour daily 3 - 6 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. to close
Don’t Miss: Buffalo cauliflower appetizer ($9.50), smoked red pepper pasta with pulled chicken ($14), 12-ounce French-cut pork chop with apple-brandy demi glaze ($23).
Get Saucy: C. Frogs sells 18-ounce bottles ($5) and 64-ounce growlers ($17) of Hillsdale Bank Bar B-Q sauce.
Kid-Friendly Eats: C. Frogs serves corn dog nuggets, mac-and-cheese, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese and chicken tenders ($4.90, with drink and choice of fruit cup or fries).
Gluten-Free Options: Buns, bread and pasta are available (extra $2 charge).