Monday, April 30

Vinyl Renaissance

Kansas City, Missouri » 39th Street
Music stores, especially record stores, seem to be a relic of the past these days, but there are still a lot of vinyl lovers out there. 39th Street is great for niche markets – this fun music shop occupies the former Boomerang space. This is the second location for VR, they are originally from Shawnee, Kansas. Not only do they offer lots and lots of vinyl, their also carry a wide selection of audio equipment.

Thursday, April 26

alberto s.

Alberto S. | Head Barman / Bar Manager
Extra Virgin » Crossroads
Years of Industry Service: 16
Alberto moved to Kansas City when he was 18. He bartended at P.F. Chang's for eight years, been a server and bar manager, but says, "Bartending is definitely the coolest thing I've done work wise." He has been raised in the restaurant business since he was a little kid. He bussed tables at his dad's restaurant in New Jersey and his mom, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a sommelier. However, he doesn't think his parents wanted the service industry life for him, but says it's their fault! With all the fanfare he gets from the local press, Alberto says, "My grandma is really proud of me."

Over the years, with all the great information gleaned from his experience, Alberto said all of sudden, he knew the answers people kept asking. That confidence and knowledge has led him to playing with some fun things behind the bar at Extra Virgin, like infusing Samogon with golden delicious apples, bartlett pears, all spice, berries, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks so he can make a punch. Or barrel-aging rye whiskey for Manhattans and Negronis. He continues to hone his drink-making and service skills by reading cocktail books, experimenting with infusions and barrel-aging, and working with all the fresh, seasonal ingredients that he gets to rifle through at Extra Virgin. There's always something fun and delicious going on.

When he's not playing mad scientist with his cocktails, he's playing video games and watching movies. Plus he reads a lot, autobiographies, some Eastern philosophy and of course, cocktail recipe books. 

  Make KC Better » Have a chapter of the United States 
 Bartender's Guild in Kansas City

Monday, April 16

Vietnam Cafe

Kansas City, Missouri » Columbus Park
Eating at Vietnam Cafe is tricky. You have to time it so you're not arriving with everyone else, which means standing around for a table. Or too late, it just isn't the same during late dinner as it is during lunch time. Same place, different energy/vibe. You want to squeeze into that dirty booth right before it's cleared and then stare at all the new customers who walk in after you. Just watch, everyone does it. Don't forget to order Chanh Muoi, the yummy pickled lemonade drink that I sometimes wish came with vodka!

Goi Cuon (Fresh Spring Rolls), $2.50 for two
These are not the best I've ever had by a long shot, but I still enjoy them. The kind I like have more herbs inside, a bit of cilantro, a sliver of chive and some bean sprouts make all the difference.

Mi Hoanh Thanh (Wonton Noodle Soup), $6.95
Pork wontons, egg noodle, green onion, fried garlic.

Hu Tieu Chay (Vegetarian Clear Noodle Soup), $6.95
Tofu, broccoli, carrots, onion, cabbage, clear bean thread noodles.

If you don't get this plate to add to your soup, you're missing out. Everyone adds different things, but I add everything: Thai basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeno, and loads of lime. Top off with a healthy squeeze of Hoisin and Sriracha. Purists, of course, want to enjoy their broth untouched, but not me!

Saturday, April 14

austin c.

Austin C. | Server
Garozzo's Ristorante » Columbus Park
Years of Industry Service: 6
Austin is carrying on a family tradition. His dad works at Garozzo's and is the General Manager at the Overland Park location. His grandfather worked there too, now retired. Even though Austin essentially grew up at the restaurant, it was only six years ago that he was handed the official uniform of tuxedo shirt, black bow tie and suspenders. Austin has 10 siblings, six brothers and four sisters. He is the second oldest. After the many hours of restaurant work, Austin says, "I just sit and relax."

  Make KC Better » Stop with all the construction