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special birthday dinner in KC - 40 Sardines or 1924 Main?

Hi, I'm new to KC from NYC, and facing a big birthday. Where can I go to soften the double whammy of homesickness and impending middle age? I know there are some good eats here in town, but I've been a bit discouraged by recommendations for places like Garozzo's (some of the worst food I've EVER had). So far I've been happy with Blue Nile, the Ethiopian place at City Market, as well as the Middle Eastern place in City Market, think it's called Habashi? Not very fancy but really fresh, super authentic mezzes and fabulous dolma. Nara was fine but just a Saturday night out. JP's ditto.

For the birthday I'm considering 40 Sardines or 1924 Main, unless someone has a great suggestion otherwise. Would love to go to Pierpont's b/c I love Union Station and seems way more romantic to go there than all the way down to 109th Street for 40 Sardines. But is Pierpont's any good? The thing about 1924 Main,unfortunately, is that I find the room less than pretty. Those glass blocks and the terra cotta walls--ugh. I feel like whoever designed it is stuck in some horrible Tuscan=fancy mindset left over from 1994. It's sad b/c it's such a beautiful building and should be true to that era.

I guess you can tell I'm pretty opinionated, so feel free to tell me the truth on any or all of these options. Thanks guys!

Oh and also, is the American any good? Their website doesn't seem to be working. Have they closed?

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  1. Have you tried Mel Bees?

    http://www.kansascitymenus.com/melbees/

    8 Replies
    1. re: WyCo

      No, have heard good things about it but Johnson Drive doesn't exactly seem as festive as I'm looking for! I'm starting to lean toward The American, if anyone can tell me how it's been lately. If only their website worked so I could see the menu... I just love the idea of a gorgeous room AND good food. If I have to choose I'll choose the food, of course, but a strip mall in Overland Park isn't the location of my dreams.

      1. re: KCyumyum

        I went to the American for my birthday earlier this year and I found it extremely formal, though others didn't find that uber formal. This is just my opinion.
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/420651
        Well, maybe if one finds it stuffy, then one could find solace that you're not getting *that* old but don't you know, 40 is the new 30 and 30 is the new 20?

        40 Sardines and 1924 are on my list of restaurants to try, but if you've been to 1924 and didn't like the decor, why not try something new like 40 Sardines or Bluestem?

        1. re: vsoy

          Thanks for the feedback. I definitely like innovative food so if the menu at the American is old-fashioned, I'm not that interested in just a good steak. Tell me more about Bluestem. Is it a pretty room or will I feel I'm just in a good bistro?

          1. re: KCyumyum

            Dinner at the American is rather elegant, it might be exactly what you are looking for.

            1. re: KCyumyum

              The room is nice, though not overly formal. The food is not bistro food at all. I've only been for brunch, which is stellar, but it easily tops my list of must-try fancy dinners.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45155...

              http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

              1. re: Aaron Deacon

                Bluestem is a white linen tablecloth kind of a place but there's a bit of an ecelectic feel. The one curious thing about the decor was the numerous Kevin Sink photos of prairie fires. They're cool pictures, but there were like 3-5 of these giagantic photos in the dining room. They're not cheap and it's as if whoever decorated the room, really, really, really liked the photos. Maybe they got a really good deal, buy 2 get 1 free?

                1. re: vsoy

                  Blue stem grasses are one of the main groups of native grasses of Great Plains (from Google)...so I am assuming that the reason they have three Sink photos of the prarie burning is further play on the name. I lived in Manhattan (Little Apple, not Big), KS druing college so the photos brought warm fuzzies.

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/din... Here is an article from the NY Times about KC dining and one of the featured places is Bluestem. The American and Lidia's are also mentioned.

                  I recently celebrated my b-day at Bluestem and, as I said in another recent post, my only regret is that we did the five course tasting menu instead of the seven. The food was amazing, we weren't let down by one dish. Definitely less formal than the American ( from what I've heard), but a wonderful experience.

                  As you will find in most Midwestern establishments, there are people in all types of dress from jeans to suits. You would feel comfortable in either attire.

          2. re: KCyumyum

            There was good press for Starker's recently. The chef is now the owner, dropped the Reserve part of the name.
            I would agree that the American has great food, but it is not what I would consider a "fun" place. We had a very nice dinner at Trezo Mare a couple of weeks ago.

        2. I agree with many of your comments kcyumyum- I don't know what part of town your coming from but I too consider 119th st a bit too far south- and though 40 sardines is good and its interior is nice its still in a strip mall. Have you considered Bluestem- its more special than any you've mentioned or how about Seven. I have had great meals at PotPie its not "fancy" but the service is dead-on and their bread pudding is better than my moms! I'm also a big fan of Shiraz the middle eastern influence of Ali's meals are a delight.

          1. I know if you've read my posts in the past, you'll simply be shocked that I love 1924 Main! ;-) I can't really compare it to 40 Sardines though, because I've only been once and it was a while ago. For what it's worth, I'm an interior designer and I can look past the interior at 1924 for the food. They've opened up the room next door, and I haven't been in it, but something about it looks more romantic, but I could be wrong.

            If you're concerned with the design of a restaurant, then I would definitely take Starker's off your list, unless they've made major improvements in the last few months.

            1. How about Justus Drugstore in Smithville? It got a rave review in the Pitch this week.

              1. My suggestion would be Michael Smiths downtown, excellent food, nice atmosphere.
                Make reservations if it is on a Friday or Saturday. American Restaurant is very good, she is an excellent chef, but the dining room needs renovations, I know that shouldn't make a difference, but if I'm paying these prices for food & wine I want the surroundings to match.

                1. Here's another option for looking at menus: kcrestaurantguide.com

                  1. Bluestem rocks! I had the 7 course there a few weeks back...and walked out of there so full and satisfied that I thought I was going to give birth to twins! haha I love the decor and the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Try the banana dessert with the chocolate consomme...I cant even use words to describe how great it was...!!!!