Friday, February 29, 2008

The Peanut

For the best wings in town, we're at the Peanut's mercy.

Robert: We’ve got some good bar food in KC, but for the best, you’ve got to go to the Peanut. In fact, when Shaw was considering a move back here from Florida, I made sure to take him there for wings. They’re one of this city’s major selling points. Just a shade or two below being ridiculously hot. Fried perfectly. Crazy messy. It is wings like these that make life worth living.

Shaw: It's true. The wings at the Peanut practically sealed the deal on my return to KC. They may have even signed the rental agreement on my U-Haul. Robert knew what he was doing -- it was a total Godfather move. Rest assured, I'm a fan.

Robert: Our standard order is to split a plate of wings, plus get a BLT, also widely recognized as KC’s finest. Then we go ahead and add a chili dog to all that. But today we decided to challenge ourselves to try something different.

Shaw: I chose the Reuben. Robert chose the pork tenderloin.

Robert: We still got wings.

Shaw: It’s really a wasted trip if you don’t. Shortly after we ordered, our guy came back to tell us they were out of swiss cheese, so we could either have the Reuben with cheddar or without cheese altogether. We went cheddar.

Robert: I believe that makes it a “Cheuben.” It wasn’t just a slice of cheddar, either. More like a queso, or something belonging to the cheese sauce family. Either way, a tasty abomination.

Shaw: This marked three straight weeks of trying pork tenderloins, following Kitty’s Cafe and Fred P. Otts. And after three straight weeks of disappointment, I'm now convinced that if the Peanut can't do it, nobody can. What is so hard about this? The placement of the word "tender" in there is, at best, misleading. Every one I’ve had was like dry, flat, bread-coated shoe leather. Sure, the Peanut’s was the best of the three, but still way below the level of delicious I’ve come to expect.

Robert: You know, you might just not care for pork tenderloins.

Shaw: As always, the wings were A+. The service? Not so much.

Robert: And I’m used to mediocrity in that area, as that’s just a given at the most of places I dig. We expect a minimum 20-minute cooking time for the wings -- it says so on the menu. But this was way way way beyond that. There were six of us at the table. Kelly and Casey got their nachos and fries first. Which was good because even though as a Catholic on Friday during Lent you probably know what you're getting into at a place renowned for chicken wings and bacon-dominated sandwiches, it’d still be a bummer to have to wait an eternity with all that mouth-watering goodness in front of you only to confirm that, no, meatless is not the Peanut’s forte. It was probably thirty minutes between getting those initial dishes and when Tracey got her burger. I’m still trying to figure out why one of the last items delivered was Amy’s salad. Seriously, no cooking required.

Shaw: Friday lunch is no time for a kitchen breakdown. At least they knocked our table’s bill down to $25. I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts on what we should have demanded. Half off? Everything free? All the wings we can eat for a year?

Robert: Yet as bad as today’s service today was, it wasn’t even remotely close to being so bad that I’d swear off the Peanut. That’s how good the wings are. And may we never find out how bad that service would have to be.

Shaw: Yes, sir. Not only Kansas City’s best wings, but also the best -- and I’m fairly certain only -- Cheuben.
__________________________Peanut on Urbanspoon
418 West 9th Street | KC, MO 64105

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fat Frank's

"The Wurst Place in Bellows Falls."

If mustard ever replaces money after the apocalypse, then Fat Frank’s will be Fort Knox. While I was home this past week, I finally got to try this incredible Vermont staple with my family in tow. We tried to come here around Christmas, but it was sadly closed and I returned home thwarted. Not this time. And man, was it worth it.

Fat Frank’s is a small two-story establishment on the main drag of Bellows Falls, Vt., a town just across the river from Walpole, N.H., home to Ken Burns, L.A. Burdick Chocolatiers, and Charles P. Shaw, DVM -- my father and subject of the #1,492,134 bestselling book "A Country Practice." I spent many a Saturday buying candy, toys and baseball cards at Fletcher’s and other stores down the street growing up. Located on the site of the former Real Scoop ice cream parlor, Fat Frank's is across from Nick’s Bar and Grill, which has the most welcoming/threatening logo I’ve ever seen -- a meaty arm raising a mug of beer that says either “Cheers,” or “I’m about to punch you in the face with a frosty mug of brew.” But enough background.

Walking in, you’re immediately overwhelmed by the array of options in front of you. In addition to the order counter, this place has a fantastic display case where you can buy hot dogs and brats by the pound, as well as a self-service steamer station with standard hot dogs. I had decided beforehand to try one of the signature Fat Franks, but was also compelled to try a standard dog for comparison. I should add that the sign outside boasted “The Best French Fries Ever,” so per Lunch Blog rules, I was eager to see if they held up to such a lofty claim. While waiting for everything to arrive, we looked at the extensive mustard selection available from an outfit named Raye’s.

When the food came, it lived up to its name. I had The Rockingham Dog and it was gigantic, piled high with sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, onions and a strip of bacon all on a homemade bun. Both hot dogs I had were delicious, so would the fries be the best ever? Sorry to say, I’ve had ones I like better even just the week before at recordBar, although these were darn good regardless. Homemade and hand cut, cooked to just the right amount of crispness with a true potato flavor. This was the first time I've ate fries not with ketchup, but exclusively with mustard. I tried all five flavors of Raye's, and found each to be excellent.

I'll be back, Fat Frank's. Next time I'm home.
________________________________Fat Franks on Urbanspoon
92 Rockingham Street | Bellows Falls, VT 05101