Food & Drink

Off the Menu: Best Dishes of 2015

We asked 13 food aficionados to tell us their favorite KC restaurant dish from 2015.

Compiled by Kimberly Stern

It’s not easy to be a great dish in Kansas City. After all, the competition is stiff: There are inspired chefs in hundreds of restaurant kitchens dreaming up new creations to tempt our opinionated palates. Although the calendar has turned a page to a new year and all sorts of cuisine adventures await us, we couldn’t resist asking people who dine out a lot to reflect on their most memorable dish from 2015.

From slices to steaks and soups to stelze, the answers may surprise you.

Take Judith Evnen of Overland Park, who finds solace in her home kitchen and inspiration when she tries restaurants new to her: “Pezzettino deserves to be a daily stop. Ordered the blackened cauliflower soup; had relatively bland expectations and was surprised with about five layers of flavor, in which the blackened cauliflower unmistakably showed up at slurp’s end. Absolutely delicious, simple dish with umami-like overtones.”

Or writer and artist Becky Blades of Kansas City who, one cold day in early 2015, abandoned her go-to dish at Aixois—the shrimp avocado salad—and went for the pates fraiches aux crevettes grilles. “The grilled black tiger shrimp sautéed with pasta and tomato sauce transported me to Provence, where the French know how to grill seafood perfectly and where tomato sauce has a French accent, a subtle herb mixture that somehow makes the tomatoes taste like they were picked that morning.”

But Mark Moberly, who works in real estate development in Kansas City, had us at hello. His pick from 2015 was a single slice of heaven from The Milwaukee Delicatessen Company. “My choice is the Canadian bacon, pineapple and cream cheese pizza. It’s a slice bigger than your plate, and sometimes your stomach, can handle. The thin crust gives ample room for an abundance of toppings that answers a pizza lover’s dream. Paired with a frosty Boulevard Wheat fresh out of the tap, it’s the perfect meal in the best-kept secret in downtown Kansas City.”

As we anticipate what chefs, bartenders and food artisans have up their culinary sleeves for 2016, here are the lucky dishes that earned the affections of these fervent KC food fans.

Doug Frost • Wine and Spirits Writer • Corzetti Genoese: Jasper’s Ristorante

My father’s family is from the hills just above Genoa, so I’m an easy mark for anything from the land that brought my great-great grandmother here to America …. Anyway, this dish is so simple, so straightforward as to remove all pretension and let you revel in the beauty of great pasta. Simple, thin-cut rounds with Shatto butter, Sicilian Olio Verde reduction, fresh marjoram and shaved Pecorino Romano.

Photo by Aaron Lindberg


Jennifer Janesko • Artist and Designer at Janesko • Tonkotsu: Columbus Park Ramen Shop

This is my latest umami experience and they don’t happen often enough. The complexity and flavor power of this dish have me like, “Is it Thursday yet?” [Columbus Park Ramen is open Thursday-Sunday.] I personally love all things spicy, so I add the chili bomb upgrade to increase the heat, but this dish can stand on its own. I’m over-the-moon that carryout is now available!

Photo by Bonjwing Lee


Kathy Sudeikis • Vice President of Acendas Vacation Travel • Cast Iron Idaho Trout: Pig & Finch

So delicious—so light! Complemented by toasted almonds and sautéed French green beans—a North Woods experience comes to Leawood. Something I rarely see on a menu but love to experience—well executed and unique seafood!


Michael Corvino • Executive Chef & General Manager at The American • Trout Sardines: Ça Va/The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange

Chef Howard Hanna gave me a reason to embrace river fish. Clean and bright. At Ça Va: crunchy vegetables and pickles, baguette and butter. At The Rieger: with deviled egg yolk, fried hominy, micro arugula.


Arlette Torres • Creative Consultant • Wood-Grilled Rib Eye with Chipotle, Onion and Pistachio Relish: Extra Virgin

I could not stop eating this simply grilled rib eye topped with a smoky, tangy, chipotle-kissed onion and pistachio relish. The perfect accoutrement for an already bold and beautiful steak.


Kathleen Leighton • Media Relations Manager at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art • Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs: Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

Don’t overlook the food just because this is a winery. The red wine-braised short ribs are comfort on a plate. If you maneuver correctly, you can pile creamy mashed potatoes, a morsel of roasted vegetable and the tender, rich short rib together on your fork for the perfect bite. Snag the crispy onion strings in the next bite. Since this dish begs to be paired with a full-bodied red, accompany it with a glass (or two) of the Lux Meritage. You’re welcome.


Mary Bloch • Food writer; KCUR Central Standard Food Critic • Spicy Octopus with Dried Shrimp, Polenta and Red Miso: Novel

Chef Ryan Brazeal often has octopus on the menu at Novel, but the one last spring that I begged him to never take off the menu was this dish. Octopus is braised with lemon and chiles until tender, then charred with a torch to blacken it, Cajun style. Served with soft pieces of polenta, a mix of local greens, and popcorn that has been tossed in red miso butter, the dish is pulled together by a dried shrimp XO sauce. Each bite is a revelation.

Photo by Anna Petrow


Nancy Smith • Restaurateur: Michael Smith, Extra Virgin • Lemon Meringue Pie: Rye

Megan Garrelts makes the best desserts in Kansas City.  The lemon meringue is the most delicious one I have ever had—the perfect amount of lemony deliciousness and fluffy meringue, toasted to perfection. And the candied slice of lemon topping each piece … divine!

Photo by Bonjwing Lee


Jasper Mirabile Jr. • Chef and Co-owner of Jasper’s Ristorante • Stelze: Grünauer

When Peter Grünauer came to the table with the stelze on a silver platter, my wife and I almost fell out of our chairs.  The Viennese classic—a three-pound, slow-roasted for eight hours pork shank served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage—is very authentic and absolutely delicious. This Fred Flintstone-looking piece of meat was so crispy and even more tasteful.


Rob Carson • Radio Host, KCMO Talk Radio; Cooking Video Host, YouTube • Z-Man Sandwich: Joe’s Kansas City

While I ‘d like to say I’ve had the chance to enjoy the haute cuisine of KC’s finest restaurants during my 11 months as a resident, my main goal was to start with the obvious: barbecue. When Anthony Bourdain said Joe’s Kansas City is one of the 13 places you need to eat before you die, I listened. I made the pilgrimage and had the Z-Man: simple and perfect. Rarely does legend meet its expectations. The Z-Man did. As I consumed it, a small tear ran down my cheek. The only thing that could make the experience better is the host of “No Reservations” sitting across from me saying, “See Carson. I told you so.”