In the 12 years since the first Blue Moose Bar & Grill opened at 4160 W. 71st St., Prairie Village has become a dining destination.
The Prairie Village Shops, where Blue Moose is located, is home to Tavern in the Village, Story, Standees and Café Provence. Less than two miles south at the Corinth Square shopping center, options include BRGR Kitchen & Bar, Johnny’s Tavern, Urban Table and Spin! Pizza.
“There’s a lot of competition in the area,” says Chris Sutton, CEO of the Blue Moose’s parent company, KC Hopps. To stand out, the Blue Moose has freshened up its image with a new look and updated menu.
Renovations started about a year ago with the enclosure of the restaurant’s south patio, which is now an all-season sunroom with communal tables that seat up to 10 people. The sunroom seats 50 and can be reserved for private events.
The restaurant kept the cartoonish blue moose head above the fireplace, but switched up its paint, carpet, tile and lighting. Sutton says the new blue and gray color scheme will eventually make its way to the Blue Moose’s other locations in Overland Park, Lenexa and Topeka.
The Prairie Village Blue Moose also has a new reclaimed wood wall made from wine barrels. The wood’s convex shape created a curvy basketweave effect. The bar area is also brighter thanks to a new garage door-style window that opens to the east patio.
While workers were busy overhauling the Blue Moose’s look, M. Ryan Sneed was overhauling the menu. Sneed, corporate executive chef for KC Hopps, kept the restaurant’s culinary theme — made-from-scratch American food — and customer favorites such as the Buffalo Wings ($9.99 for one pound) and the Spinach Artichoke Dip ($8.99).
The chef upgraded another bestseller, the Stockyard Burger ($10.99) by switching the beef blend to short rib and Black Angus chuck. The juicy half-pound patty is seared to order on a hickory wood-fired grill and topped with tomato-bacon jam, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles.
Sneed also added two decadent yet elegantly presented small plates to Blue Moose’s menu. Slab bacon and grits ($8.99) tops white cheddar grits with coffee and chili-rubbed bacon and a red-eye port wine sauce. Smoked cheddar mac and cheese croquettes ($7.99) are made with the Blue Moose’s popular macaroni and cheese. The gooey pasta is combined with extra smoked cheddar before it’s coated in Panko bread crumbs, flash-fried, and served with spicy roasted tomato sauce.
“The cheese just oozes on the plate,” Sneed says.
The Blue Moose’s customizable mac and cheese ($7.99) is made with six cheeses and swirly cavatappi pasta. I like the smoky barbecue flavor of the 3 Little Pigs topping ($2.99), which blends in pork, ham and bacon. Sneed’s favorite combo is white truffle oil ($1.99) with a skewer of wood-grilled shrimp ($4.99).
Trying to eat light? The Blue Moose’s menu features a “lighter side” section with entrees that weigh in at 600 calories or less. The new ancho honey-glazed salmon ($14.99) features a six-ounce filet basted with a sweet and spicy glaze. The salmon is served with rice pilaf and sauteed spinach.
For $2.49, you can add a side of whipped cauliflower, a Blue Moose specialty that Sneed says has developed a “cult following” among regulars. Just like the mac and cheese, it’s not leaving the menu anytime soon.
Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes about Johnson County restaurants every first and third week of the month. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sarah_gish.
The Blue Moose Bar & Grill
Location: 4160 W. 71st St., Prairie Village
Hours: 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-midnight Sunday.
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Free lot
Don’t miss: The slab bacon and grits small plate ($8.99), the build-your-own mac and cheese ($7.99, plus extra for toppings) and the hand-breaded chicken fingers ($8.99). For dessert, try the new Dueling Gooey Butter Cakes ($5.99). The decadent dessert comes with vanilla and chocolate-hazelnut gooey butter cakes separated by fluffy mascarpone mousse.
Vegetarian: The Blue Moose serves a spicy veggie burger ($9.99) made with black beans and brown rice and a Superfood Kale Salad ($7.99) with carrots, cherry tomatoes, soy ginger quinoa and fresh blueberries. The menu also features two vegetarian flatbread pizzas ($10.99). The Greek Pizza is topped with creamy artichoke sauce, fresh spinach, kalamata olives, red onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and three cheeses. Add $3 for a gluten-free crust.