I needed to get out of town for a weekend getaway and decided to catch up with two friends in Kansas City. I arrived there last Friday afternoon and figured I'd tour the city until my friends arrived the next day. By chance, I ran into California Zinfandel maker Pete Seghesio at the hotel I'd booked as I was about to take the elevator up to my room. He was in town to host a dinner Saturday night, showcasing his wines at Jasper's restaurant. He asked if I'd like to join him for dinner Friday at "the best hamburger joint in America."
Pete is a regular visitor to KC, both to sell wine, but also study barbecue, one of his cooking passions. On our drive to Blanc Burgers & Bottles for hamburgers, we talked about perhaps hitting a few BBQs spots on Saturday. I could tell Pete was going no matter what.
Depending on the source, Blanc (www.blancburgers.com) makes either the best, or one of the best hamburgers in KC, or Missouri, or the United States. Take your pick.
The small bistro was filling up as we arrived. We were fortunate to get a seat before a line of customers formed outside.
We ordered three of the burgers – the Classic, the Inside Out and the Au Poivre, along with French fries and a bottle of 2007 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, a charming wine from Spain with wonderful floral and berry aromas and a smooth texture (about $27 on the list). We took a few bites of each burger, since Pete had a grander agenda. After Blanc, he wanted to visit at least two more restaurants that night to check out some other cuisines and see what people were drinking. It's what a lot of wine marketers do: hit the ground running and cover as much territory as possible.
All three of the burgers were great, but the Inside Out (seen in the video below), stuffed with blue cheese and topped with applewood-smoked bacon, edged the pepper-crusted Au Poivre and the Classic (made with aged New York white cheddar cheese and served on a sesame seed brioche bun with homemade pickles, red onion, lettuce and tomato).
Next stop: Extra Virgin (www.extravirginkc.com), Michael Smith's classy tapas bar, a fancier restaurant on Main Street in the Crossroads Art District. There we sat at the bar next to the kitchen where we watched the entrées being prepared and plated. We ordered a half bottle of the 2007 Siduri Santa Lucia Highlands Rosella's Vineyard, which was smooth, with complex floral, smoke and berry notes, but it didn't have quite the depth it had shown when I reviewed it in a blind tasting. At Extra Virgin, we nibbled on three or four starters prepared by the chef, including a spring asparagus salad, a fava bean and escarole salad and a gratin of fresh gulf shrimp.
We agreed to one more stop, at Starker's Restaurant, another upscale spot on the Plaza with a fine wine list. Owner-chef John McClure prepared a menu of specialties. First, though, I ordered a 2007 Carlisle Russian River Syrah, a richly layered, expansive wine with gobs of dark berry fruit. The menu included stinging nettle soup with tempura Missouri morels; grilled La Belle Farms foie gras with Creole beignets and an orange and almond salad; and ravioli stuffed with Louisiana crawfish and ricotta cheese and served with English peas. There were also herb-crusted lamb chops with nettle flan, black trumpet mushrooms, fava beans and salsa verde.
Having heard of our earlier hamburger taste-off, he insisted on entering, and whipped us up a Shatto Milk Company cheese curd and bacon-stuffed burger with fried pickles and remoulade. It, too, was excellent.
For dessert, we nibbled at his chocolate pecan pie with pecan praline ice cream and lemon pound cake with macerated berries and cream. (Just to note, I paid my share of the bills for the day.)
We were stuffed, tired, it was 11 p.m. and we needed rest for Day Two -- a whirlwind tour of some of KC’s top BBQ joints.
Adam Wallstein — Spokane — May 11, 2009 1:59pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — May 11, 2009 2:36pm ET
Ryan Wilhite — May 11, 2009 3:13pm ET
Chris Haag — vancouver, bc — May 11, 2009 3:38pm ET
R M Kriete — May 11, 2009 4:10pm ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — May 12, 2009 8:52am ET
Milton Boyd Teegarden — May 12, 2009 11:11am ET
Trey Rolofson — Overland Park, KS — May 12, 2009 11:50am ET
Pinnacle Imports — Missouri — May 12, 2009 2:05pm ET
Ryan Wilhite — May 12, 2009 5:48pm ET
Sam Monteleone — Kansas — June 17, 2009 10:41pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions