Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Otto’s Original Burger & Malt at Czar Bar

Domo arigato, Mr. Malt-Otto.

Going on nigh over a week, the take-out menu for Otto’s Original Burger & Malt at Czar Bar had been staring me down at my office’s lunch table. As I sat there munching on my salad and reading about all that goodness, I felt like an 1840s prospector being teased with visions of California and gold in every riverbed. By the time Friday arrived, I’d had enough -- my wagon was packed and ready to roll out to tastier, maltier pastures.

Forging the trail with coworkers Justin, Nick and Nathan, we got to Otto’s and discovered an excellent lunch special -- a Royale Burger plus fries and a malt for $8, available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The malt of the day was banana espresso, and that’s what I got. While I’d never thought of combining banana and espresso, it was fantastic.

The lunch special gives you the option of upgrading your Royale to any of Otto’s specialty burgers for $1.50 or $2 extra, depending on the complexity of the adjustment. I upgraded mine to the Astro, which comes topped with spicy mix, sweet chili sauce, jack cheese and sautéed onions.

The Astro was solid, but I’ve got to question myself on why I continue to experiment with sautéed onions. They’re not a team player in burger ensembles. As jarring as if Jim Carrey got a role on "The Wire" and couldn’t resist mugging it up. Just do your job, onions. You’ve got the potential to do some good work if you’d just reel it back and resist the urge to overtake the rest of the cast.

Other leading burger contenders for me included:

  • The Ottobahn -- spicy mix, cheddar, jack, cream cheese, bacon and a scrambled egg
  • The Lou Diamond -- barbecue sauce, cheddar, bacon and an onion ring
Otto’s also serves four varieties of stuffed burgers that sound pretty awesome, available for $6 ala carte or a $2 upcharge with the lunch special. I especially like the sound of the Chris Walkin -- it’s stuffed with provolone, green onion and roasted red peppers, and topped with Italian sausage, provolone, marinara and spinach.

As we savored the last of our malts, co-owner Ruth Cosgrove Miller stopped by the table to ask how we were enjoying our meal. She’s Otto’s wife, too, and told us a little bit about Otto’s history.

Otto Miller started out making malts here in Kansas City and developed a strong following before being drawn to Los Angeles, where he met Ruthie. Later, they brought their magic to Las Vegas.

It seems in every place he settled, Otto’s malts drew a devoted fan base. During his time in Vegas, Otto’s Malt Shop was given the honor of “Best Place to Take a Date When You Really Want to Get Laid” by Las Vegas CityLife in 2006.

Eventually, Otto and Ruth decided to return to KC. The two of them were responsible for launching Hamburger Mary’s, and just last month opened up Otto’s Original Burger & Malt at Czar Bar.

After having a malt here, I’m extremely glad Otto struck gold out west, and brought his riches back to KC.
1531 Grand | Kansas City, MO 64108Otto's Burger and Malt in Czar Bar on Urbanspoon

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