Monday, February 23, 2009

Check, Please!

If you haven’t been watching Check, Please! Kansas City, you should start. It airs Thursdays at 7:30pm on KCPT-19. The premise is this: there are three local guests and a host (Doug Frost, sommelier extraordinaire). Each of the guests selects one of his/her favorite restaurants. The other two guests visit and have a discussion about their experience over wine. They also tape a brief segment at the restaurant with the owner and/or chef.

The spots they have featured run the gamut from the highbrow (Krause Dining and the fabulous Justus Drugstore) to the comfortable (Succotash and the delightful Max’s Burgers and Gyros). It’s a great way to find a new place to visit or see if you agree with what the guests have to say.

Sidebar: Last week’s episode featured only two restaurants, because one of the guest’s choices had closed since the episode was taped. Based on how they described it in the open (something like “a fashionable, stylish restaurant in the River Market”) I deduced it had to be Vivace since that description doesn’t apply to Delaware Café and it sure as hell didn’t apply to River Market Brewery. I never visited Vivace because it never seemed like my kind of place—when you have a bar made of ice, I feel like you’re trying to create a heavy nightclub vibe. That’s just not where I typically go for a meal. Nevertheless, everyone I know who has been there said it was a nice place with good food…I just hate to see locally-owned places close if they were doing things well, and by all accounts Vivace fit that bill. (To be fair, they’re planning on reopening as a bar/lounge in the near future.)

Which leads me to the Phillips Chophouse. I had one of my best meals there on our anniversary a couple years ago. The steak was exquisite and the service was tremendous. Now that I hear they closed, I regret that we never went back. You can debate whether the economy or P&L was a bigger factor in its demise, but it certainly wasn’t the food or service.

To echo what the host said in his introduction last week, go out and support your favorite local restaurants if you have the means to do so. They need you more than ever!


The Union said...

Check, Please! has been a Chicago public TV staple for years. We have found so many great places from watching that show. They recently re-ran an episode from several years ago when one of the guests was a local, young, state senator with a funny name. Anyway, I hope the show catches on in KC. In fact, here in Chicago, if your restaurant gets on the show, it's guaranteed to be packed for months following the airing. I just hope your host is better than ours. She knows her stuff, but has no TV "presence", you know? Still, it's a testament to how good the concept is, having regular people review restaurants, that even a dull host can't ruin the show.

JJSKCK said...

I hope it catches on too. It has reminded me of a few places I need to try (and a couple of old favorites). I went to Max's Burgers and Gyros (83rd and Wornall) the weekend after their episode aired, and there were over 100 people there. The vast majority of them were talking about the show. It was a madhouse, but I was in no hurry and I was very happy for the guy who owns it.

I think the host in KC is great. He's a local wine guru, and he always does a brief interlude segment to demystify wine and basically call people out for being too snobby about it. Best of all, he has "it" when it comes to TV awareness.

kcmeesha said...

I was also wonder what was the closed restaurant they were referring to. That's probably a disadvantage of filming episodes ahead of time. I like Dough Frost but the guests are hit and miss. And I hate when he tries to make annoying puns relative to their occupation.

JJSKCK said...

@m.v. - I agree some of the guests leave something to be desired, but not to the point of distraction--I think I can tell really quickly how much I'm going to value their opinions.

Good point about the occupational puns. (How many freaking lawyers have they had on there anyway, to please the court or make their case?)

The most uncomfortable one was when they had the guy from Devo on there to talk about Cafe Trio. Frost dropped "Can't Get No Satisfaction" and "Are We Not Men?" references on him, and dude wanted NONE of it. I was waiting for someone to drop a "Mongoloid" blast.