Two weekends ago, Henry and I took a last-minute, 42-hour trip to Kansas City on clandestine Nom Nom Paleo business. (Don’t worry, all will be revealed in due course.) The few meals we had in KC were already planned, with the exception of Sunday brunch. I’m a firm believer that no meal should ever be wasted, especially in a new-to-me city.
Although we’d hoped to try the legendary barbecue at Oklahoma Joe’s, it’s not open on Sundays, so I polled my pals on Facebook and tweeted my favorite Kansas City homie for recs on the best brunch in town. After scrolling through the different options and checking out Zagat scores, Yelp reviews, and restaurant websites, I chose Bluestem.
Bluestem is located in the historic Westport neighborhood, where the streets are dotted with bustling restaurants and funky boutiques. Chef Colby Garrelts has been nominated seven times for the Best Chef of the Midwest by the James Beard Foundation, and this year he won the coveted prize. (In your face, Susan Lucci!) His food has been described as “progressive American cuisine with seasonal selections and a bounty of local farmers and producers to showcase the best of Kansas City and the Midwest.”
Admittedly, I’m a bicoastal food snob who was wary about Midwestern cuisine (outside of Chicago). Bluestem might be good for Missouri, but it can’t be better than what I’ve eaten in San Fracisco or New York, right?
Wrong! Our meal at Bluestem may have been one of my favorite brunches of all time.
I know what you’re thinking: What the FEENA FOO?!?! (BTW, that’s Lil-O’s favorite made-up curse phrase of the moment.) Wasn’t your trip to Austin over TWO weeks ago?
Yes, grasshopper, your observation skills are very strong indeed. But I did tell you that I was gonna milk this trip for as many blog posts as possible. Before the gull wing doors lock on this modified DeLorean, gulp down a chill pill ‘cause we’re talking one last trip to Austin.
Bright and early Easter morning, our posse met up with Melicious…
….her hubby Dave….
….and Danielle for brunch at 24 Diner. See? We do eat several meals at this restaurant every time we’re in Austin. As luck would have it, a bunch of other like-minded Paleo food bloggers had the same idea and we ended up dining in a booth next to Julie, Charles, and baby Scott…
…and waving out the window at a whole mess of other Paleo pals brunching al fresco.
It’s been over a week since we left Austin, but in my mind, I’m still there, eating my way through the city with my friends.
Want to see what we ate for dinner — just a few hours after finishing up our fantastic lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe? Then let’s grab some plutonium and fire up the flux capacitor. Hop into my DeLorean, and we’ll travel twelve days back in time to relive my dinner at Barley Swine and dessert at Lick Ice Cream. (No, it wasn’t perfectly Paleo, but neither am I.)
Ready to accelerate to 88 miles an hour?
Despite the full slate of speakers, discussion panels, and cooking demos at PaleoFX, I attended only a few Saturday morning presentations before heading back to our bungalow in Austin to hang with my family. It was hard to sit still when I knew my boys were having fun without me.
Diana and Cathy joined us, and we all took a stroll down to Elizabeth Street Cafe for lunch.
You wouldn’t know it from its name, but Elizabeth Street Cafe serves up tasty Vietnamese fare. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Vietnamese food; the dishes always have the perfect balance of savory, sweet, tang, and crunch. Blending Chinese and French influences, the cuisine of Vietnam is pure alchemy, combining flavors, textures, and temperatures to create unique, surprising dishes that really pop.
I’ve had my fair share of terrific Vietnamese grub, but as soon as we sat down, I knew this place was gonna be good. Why? Because there were bottles of homemade sriracha AND Red Boat Fish Sauce on every table. And you know how much I love both.
Read on to see our chow!
**Spoiler alert: Continuing with the Paleo People Gone Wild theme, we ate some non-Paleo foods (Rice noodles! Rice wrappers! Sugar!), so skip this post if you don’t want your eyes to explode and melt off your face.**
Guess what we did for spring break! Nope, we didn’t pile into an RV bound for a booze-soaked Florida beach to shed our inhibitions, clothing, and sobriety. Instead, we hightailed it to Austin so that I could attend (and do a couple of cooking demos at) PaleoFX — and where Henry and the kids could roam around town doing whatever it is that boys do.
On Wednesday, after hurriedly chucking some clothes and toiletries into our luggage and hustling our children out the door, we caught a flight for Austin.