Kansas City Bier Company
One Saturday evening a week or so ago, I headed to Waldo to visit a new brewery. Bier (German for beer) was my destination. The place had only been open for a few weeks, and few people I knew had any details.
The location is a little odd, almost down in a hole half a block east of Wornall Road at 79th Street. I could tell I was in the right location, but the scene was something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, that moment when the protagonists are approaching the mountain, only to discover others equally determined to reach the same destination, drawn by some inexplicable force. People were flowing in on foot from every direction. That should tell you a little about the parking situation. Completely mystified, I apprehensively approached the door of the drab looking industrial building where a steady stream of smiling people entered. Those leaving seemed even more jovial. The brightly lit room was packed; the crowd animated. I soon found out why.
Kansas City Bier Company had just opened for business, a veritable celebration of house-brewed German-style beer, made with imported German malts and hops, using traditional German brewing methods.
They feature several fine standards on tap: Helles (a light colored lager, very clean and refreshing), Hefe-Weizen (unfiltered wheat ale still containing the yeast), and Dunkel (dark brown Munich-style lager without the charcoal bitterness of Belgian and British style dark lagers). Seasonal offerings currently include Weizenbock (a pale, intensely flavored doppel wheat bock) and Hopfen Doof (“hop stupid,” KCBC’s interpretation of really old-style brewing techniques using German yeast and German and American hops). Although I fell in love with German beer as a student in the Black Forest, I went for the Hopfen Doof, because I do love some good bitter hops, and I wasn’t disappointed. Communal tables surround the room, and a central stand-up rail anchors the center of the room. The rail is just wide enough to hold your beer and lean on while you wait for a seat, if so desired. For home brewers and other beer geeks, there is enough information just on the beer menu to keep conversation at a fevered pitch for hours. For everyone else, it just tastes great.
If you’re hungry, daily specials (pretzels, meats, sausages and the like) are written on chalkboards around the room. Coming later this spring—a biergarten, right off the trolley trail, respite for tired joggers, walkers, and moms and dads pushing strollers. Just when you thought exercise was boring… (By the way, don’t judge a book by its cover.When I went back in the daytime, it was actually a pleasant green.) For more information, visit kcbier.com.
In another instance of not judging a book by its cover, an interesting little kitchen has opened on 39th Street. By that I mean that the exterior of the building is not going to get your attention. I stopped by shortly after Kansas Town opened in January when it was mentioned to me by a friend who had noticed changes in the old Macaluso’s space at 39th Street and Terrace (1403 West 39th Street). Owner Mike Bechtel and chef Garrett Kasper (with the help of consultant Joe Shirley) have put together something worth noting.
I have eaten there twice, and I must say, if nothing else, the food is striking. And tasty. And reasonably priced. And tasty. It’s certainly a conversation starter. And there’s no rush to turn the table. The dining room, which only has 14 tables, is a bit severe, with a cool, almost austere, gallery feel. That must have something to do with owner Bechtel’s personal history as an artist. (A number of his paintings are hanging in the space, but he is now showcasing other area artists as well.) Chef Kasper’s menu changes almost nightly (sometimes even during the service), keeping every experience fresh. Look for a more extensive review in these pages soon. Follow on Facebook at Kansas Town. Reservations at 816-931-8696 or opentable.com
Kansas City’s original Spanish tapas bar, La Bodega on Southwest Boulevard, has just updated their menu with some exciting new dishes. I love the energy in this place. Some of the new featured tapas include roasted Piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna; grilled chorizo and Morcilla sausage with curtido (Central American-style sauerkraut) and pimenton aioli; a Basque country piperade of rilled bread topped with fried garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes; and empanadas de bacalao, a pastry stuffed with salt cod, heirloom tomato confit, garlic aioli and pickled jalapeños.
Many of the new tapas are featured during happy hour (you know I love happy hour) when they are available for half price. New entradas (entrees) include the smoked paprika and roasted garlic-rubbed beef filet with chimichurri and the pan-seared pork chop with pork rillon, sautéed baby kale, chorizo and carrot purée. I’m looking forward to their Wednesday signature special, the unlimited Paella Trio served tableside ($25) or with salad and dessert ($35). 816-472-8272 or labodegakc.com