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In The Weeds: Check, Please!

November 10, 2009

Check, Please!After moving to Kansas City from Chicago about three years ago, there were many things I missed.  Like….a lake that looks like an ocean, people walking the streets after 9 p.m, riding trains to work that allow me the time to read books, and the public television show called Check, Please! The format of the show is simple.  Three locals each choose a different favorite restaurant, and all three dine separately at each establishment under cover.  Then they come together around a table, roll camera, defend their choice and critique the others.  It’s a great way to hear about local restaurants from regular people.

I’ve apparently crawled out of the rock I’ve been living under and recently discovered that Check, Please! is being produced and aired in Kansas City and is in its second season.  Our local wine celeb, Doug Frost, is the host.  He does what any good host is supposed to do – moves the conversation along, sprinkles jokes and keeps everyone drinking.

Of course, upon discovering that the show is filming in KC, I went into full-on obsessive compulsive mode trying to complete the online application to be a reviewer.  After crafting my witty answers to the questions of my food likes and dislikes, favorite spots, weird food aversions and the like, I clicked APPLY with confidence.  THE FORM IS UNABLE TO CONNECT TO THE DATABASE SERVER was the response I got.  No problem.  Remain calm.  Page back.  Apply again.  UNABLE TO CONNECT….Apply.  Apply.  Apply.  Damnit!!!

Sigh.  If technology had been on my side and I could be on the show, I would talk about my new favorite restaurant, Julian.  Julian is the new restaurant that just opened in the former Joe D’s space in Brookside.  Owner/chef Celina Tio (American Restaurant/James Beard winner) is a local treasure who I am so glad decided to stay in KC after contemplating moving away.

I went to Julian with my chef husband a few weeks ago with the idea that we would just sit at the bar and have an appetizer (we didn’t know the price point or how long a meal would take so we were just scoping) but after looking over the menu for a few minutes and drooling, my husband said, “Let’s get a table.”

We started with the popcorn sweetbreads, which were served in a paper lined basket with a lemon-pickle mayo.  Divine.  We then split a butter lettuce salad (a play on the traditional wedge) that had pancetta, buttermilk blue cheese crumbles, and an egg vinaigrette.  Licked the plate.  His entree was a four-hour braised short rib pot roast (much prettier, tastier, and than what I make on Sundays) and I chose the crispy pork shoulder with mashed sweet potatoes and homemade marshmallows.  Holy. Moly. We finished with a butterscotch bread pudding, the only disappointment.  I didn’t detect any butterscotch flavor, and it was served a little stiff and rather cold.  I like a warm bread pudding with a little more give.  Granted, my man makes the best bread pudding on the planet, complete with brandy marinated raisins and crème anglaise, so I’ve been a little spoiled in that department.  The menu prices were excellent – even with a bottle of wine, two starters, two entrees and one dessert, we got out of there for about $100.

Julian is neighborhood gourmet.  It’s comfort food with just the right amount of sophistication.  And the open kitchen concept (smart smart smart, that Chef Tio) allows people to sit just a few feet from where Celina is working her magic.  Justus Drugstore has finally met its match.

Otherwise, it’s been an exciting week.  I’m working on my first assignment for Kansas City Magazine, a freelance job I scored as a direct result of this blog.  True, this blog also got me fired, but it’s always lose something/win something right?  Also, I had a very successful job interview today that should maybe most likely probably turn into a wonderful opportunity.  If it does, I will never ever write about it.  It would be a job that I would never want to lose.  Like, a job to wear heels to and everything.  Wish me luck!

Check, Please! airs on KCPT throughout each week.  Visit for show times or to watch online.


2 Responses to “ In The Weeds: Check, Please! ”

  1. Chad on November 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    CJ, I am new to this blog and must say it is quite refreshing to hear your perspective on the life in a restaurant. I am also, being new, curious as to how this blog led to your firing (perhaps I will read more…or did you write about it?). Finally, I feel compelled to ask as to where your husband is Chef at in KC as I will be there over the holidays and do not know of good sites to eat. Cheers.

  2. Glenn Crivaro on January 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    OH crud! i just typed a nice comment and as soon as i submitted it it come up blank! Please tell me it worked properly? I do not want to sumit it again if i do not have to! Either the blog bugged out or i am just stuipd :) , the latter doesnt surprise me lol.