Restaurant Review: Julian, Brookside, Kansas City, MO

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(Photo Credit kansastravel.org)

Julian is located in a cute little Bavarian-inspired building in the cute Bavarian-inspired neighborhood of Brookside, just south of the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. The building looks incredibly small on the outside, but it definitely doesn’t feel cramped on the inside. It’s more the “just right” level of intimacy you want in a classy restaurant. There was a louder main dining area in the back, and a much quieter three single tables next to the bar near the entrance. We were seated in one of these tables, and at first were a little put off by the isolation, but immediately forgot about that as soon as our drinks and dishes started arriving. Fear not, these three tables got just as much, if not more attention than those tables in the back room.

We started off with glasses of wine and a variety of appetizers. The mussels in a Chinese black bean sauce were especially good. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an Asian inspired black bean sauce, but it was surprisingly tangy and flavorful. The sauce was so good I mopped some of it up with the bread our waiter brought out. The arugula salad with blue cheese, currants, and walnuts was tasty, but as with all field green salads, certainly not worth the price you pay for them unless you are simply obsessed with your health, (then you are just paying the restaurant to not feed you).

My entree was the marquee of the night. A seared trout, served on a butternut squash puree with a lump of mustard greens on top of the fish. The mustard greens were to die for. Cooked in bacon fat, they were the least healthy and most delicious greens I’ve ever consumed. The skin of the trout was perfectly seared, and added a wonderful flavor to the usually less interesting white-fish trout. The butternut squash puree was perfect, it’s very easy for those purees to turn soft and soupy, but this puree was rich and thick and help up to being scooped up with bites of trout.

I has asked our waiter for a wine recommendation to go with the trout, with the caveat that I didn’t want anything too sweet or too acidic. He recommended a California Chardonnay (all you wine snobs, don’t hate) that was actually one of the most interesting Chardonnay flavors I had ever tasted. Definite flavors from oaking, but a very fresh and almost fruity flavor to go with it, with almost no acidity. It was amazing, and I took the wine information down to try again later. It paired perfectly with my entree, and was everything I hoped for and more.

I only had the 1/2 order of the trout and it was plenty enough to fill me up. In contrast another member of our party ordered the large order of tacos, and the plate looked more like an appetizer than an entree, so the portion sizes are rather unpredictable. While we were finishing our entrees, the chef and owner, Celina Tio, seen below, walked by and asked us how everything tasted. I was very happy with my entree, and even happier to see that the chef and owner really cared about how we were liking her dishes. Definitely shows why she deserved to be a Top Chef.

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(Photo Credit juliankc.com)

Finally, after two great courses, I was excited to order dessert. Loving the butternut squash puree from the trout dish, I ordered the butternut squash cheesecake for dessert. I took one bite of the cheesecake and all I tasted was charcoal. the entire crust of the cheesecake was burnt black (see photo below). For a chef that has competed on Top Chef, this seems like a really amateur mistake to make. If you burn and ruin a dessert, you need to take that dessert off the menu. Unlike a steak, you really can just look at a pie crust to see if it’s been cooked properly. This was really just laziness by both the chef and waiter to not quickly glance at the crust and see that it’s black as charcoal. Our waiter was very nice and quickly removed the charge from our bill without question. He was very friendly and professional about the whole thing. After such a great meal, it was just really unfortunate that it had to end on such a bad note.

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All in all, I was mostly happy with my meal. An unfortunate lapse in food quality for the dessert, but the mistake was handled quickly and professionally. The mistake seemed like a fluke, and I believe if I dine again at Julian, which I would very much like to, I believe the odds are low a mistake like this would happen again.

After dinner, check out the neighborhood Julian resides in. Brookside is a very cute neighborhood full of shopping, dining, and drinking district. A very good dive bar to hit for drinks after dinner is just around the corner from Julian called Charlie Hooper’s. We stopped by for $3 beers to watch the KU basketball game after dinner, and had a great time.

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(Photo Credit himeshomes.com)