Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Great Friday In the West Bottoms: Inland Sea Wines + R Bar

Last week, I got the weekly "things to do" email from Present Magazine. In their listings for Friday night was a tasting at Inland Sea Wines, located in the old Livestock Exchange Building at 1600 Gennessee.

It took a second to click, but then I realized I had read about the operation in this story that appeared in the Star Magazine several months ago. I was intrigued at the time--a guy wants to grow Chardonnay and the Midwest?-- but had forgotten about it. Once I was reminded, I knew I had to give it a try.

As is usually the case, my idea grew legs and started to run. Back in January, I went to see a friend's band (the excellent Red Lefty) at the R Bar. The food was very good, so I figured we could eat dinner there.

I made a reservation, and found out KC's hardest working band The Grand Marquis was playing (and who happen to be playing with the aforementioned Red Lefty Saturday March 27 at the Jackpot in Lawrence).

The night was set!

My fiancee didn't know where we were going, so when we walked into the Livestock Exchange building she looked at me a little funny. If you walk in from the street entrance, you'll understand why--it's an old office building with most of the original architecture intact.

We found Inland Sea's space. There were about 5 people sitting at one table, and a fellow standing behind a small bar. He (the owner, Michael Amigoni) greeted us and started us with a Chardonnay.

You know how most Kansas and Missouri wines are...well, they're pleasant enough, but they don't use the same grapes that they use in California (or France, for that matter)?

Throw those preconceived notions out the window. This wine is fabulous.

This was my favorite Chardonnay I've tasted. As in, out of all of them I've tasted. From everywhere. It wasn't overwhelmingly oaky; Michael explained that it was aged in older barrels that had lost some of their oakiness. It added character without overwhelming it. Great start.

We moved on to a Viognier, a Malbec, a Cabernet Franc, and an Urban Red blend.

All of them were lovely, the Malbec in particular. It was heavier on the fruit notes (Michael described it as "plummy", which is apt) than your average Argentinean bottle.

If you like wine even a little, go check them out. Their tasting room is open from 4pm-7pm on Friday evenings. Michael is passionate about his wine, he is a local producer, and he has great stories about all the work he has put into the vineyard (including the 60,000 prunings he recently hand).

We walked back across the street, dropped off our wine in the car, and stepped into the R Bar. It's in the old Sutera's space across from the Golden Ox.

It's a gorgeous space. They have created a great chef-driven food menu and mixologist-driven drink menu.

They start by bringing you a savory thyme-and-honey doughnut instead of bread service. We had bratwurst with maple-onion chutney to start. For entrees, she ordered diver scallops with bacon and a sweet potato fritter, and I had braised pork with smoked collard greens (!) and polenta. We finished with pecan pie and smoked vanilla ice cream.

Everything was delicious.

Then the Grand Marquis started, and we listened to them while watching a girl in a retro-pin-up-style red dress tear up the dance floor with her partner. Quite impressive, which basically describes our entire evening.

If you care to replicate our Friday, I know that wonderfully offbeat folk duo Drakkar Sauna is playing this week. I would caution you to call for reservations at the R Bar; they tend to be busy on Friday nights.

West Bottoms FTW!

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kcmeesha said...

I went to R Bar once and really liked, since I was one of a few customers,I had a long and interesting conversation with Shawn Moriarty -the legendary bartender, which I enjoyed even more than drinks.

JJSKCK said...

Yeah, he's fascinating to watch and hear. The whole place feels like you've been taken back in time.

Unknown said...

What were the prices like at each establishment? And I don't mean were they worth what you paid, because I can tell by your review you think they were, but what price ranges are we looking at?

JJSKCK said...

I think the wine was $16 a bottle except for the Cabernet Franc, which was $25.

The R Bar was around $7-$9 for most appetizers and salads, and $15-$20 for most entrees.

Our bill (tax included) was about $57 for a shared appetizer, two entrees, and a shared dessert.