Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Winstrosity at Winstead's

In which we go Frankenstein on the Winstead’s menu.

The Winstrosity is a sandwich consisting of a Winstead’s burger, fried chicken breast, fried egg, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onion rings, pickles, mustard and ketchup. It’s the Kansas City version of a Whatafarm, which I started craving big time during the NCAA tournament thanks to the relentless airing of Whataburger spots. Such a tease since the closest Whataburger is hours away.

Our server at Winstead’s was surprisingly receptive when Shaw, Dorsett and I showed her the schematic detailing what we wanted. She took it with her, and returned a couple of minutes later with an update -- the cooks were all over the Winstrosity, although they were going to have to vary the precise order of toppings from our diagram to make the sandwich architecturally sound.

I like to think they were back there in the kitchen with protractors and a chalkboard figuring out the ideal sandwich construction strategy. Good thing we nixed the idea of a chili dog layer which we’d given brief consideration to during the Winstrosity planning stages. Can’t imagine that would’ve been beneficial to the sandwich’s structural integrity.

A key difference between the Whatafarm and the Winstrosity lies in the onions. As side orders are key to the Winstead’s experience, we concluded it was necessary to incorporate them into the sandwich. Thinking fries would’ve been a bit too starchy, we went with onion rings on the Winstrosity instead of raw onions like on the Whatafarm.

Our sandwiches arrived and we dug in. The Winstrosity was scary delicious -- way more than the sum of its many, many parts. The burger patty and bacon set a carnivorous stage for the juicy chicken, crispy onion rings and an excellent fried egg. No single flavor overwhelmed any of the others. Total menu harmony on a bun. My Winstrosity plus a large soda ran me $12.20.

There’s one more big difference between the Whatafarm and the Winstrosity that we didn’t anticipate. Due to a Whataburger’s circumference and general increased heftiness, the Winstrosity isn’t quite the chunk that a Whatafarm is. This is not a bad thing -- with the Winstrosity you get all the tasty, none of the regret. Maybe a little regret. Not much. A trace amount.

Don’t get me wrong, though -- we’re still talking about a monster sandwich. Yet perhaps it is callous and unfeeling to call it the Winstrosity, for it is not the sandwich’s fault that it is such a beast. It was our creation. Perhaps the real monster…is us.

(Dramatic pause for reflection.)

Anyway, while we were at Winstead’s, we totally had a vision for a new breakfast sandwich -- The Swinestead A.M. It’ll be sausage, ham, bacon, a fried egg, hash browns and gravy on an English muffin. Who’s in?
Winstead's on the Plaza
101 Brush Creek Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64112Winstead's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hickok's Bar & Grill

I don’t recall the part in the legend of Wild Bill Hickok where he ordered a Flirtini.

Because any place with a happy hour featuring specials on both wings and Manhattans is a place I need to check out, Shaw, Dorsett and I went to Hickok’s Bar & Grill for Guys’ Night this month. The lure of the Monster Burger played a part as well, but we’ll get to that later.

Happy hour specials are available from 3-7 p.m. in the bar area only, so lucky for us there was one table left when we arrived. Our server brought us chips and charred tomato salsa, and we each ordered a Classic Manhattan, made here with Jim Beam ($3.90 during happy hour; $5.90 otherwise). The salsa was nice and smoky.

We also got an order of Wild Bill’s wings split half-and-half between Hickok’s two sauces -- classic buffalo and roasted garlic agave (6 for $2.90 during happy hour). Hickok’s serves the wings whole, and while the buffalo sauce wasn’t big on heat, both sauces were very flavorful and the wings were good and crispy.

Other eats on the happy hour menu include Hickok’s classic burger and Boulevard beer-battered chicken tenders. There’s queso espinaca, too, but spin dip is girl food.

Right under the wire before happy hour ended, Dorsett ordered a Classic Martini ($3.90 during happy hour; $5.90 otherwise). Later I learned the happy hour drink specials come back on at 9 p.m.

In addition to the aforementioned Flirtini, the Hickoks’s martini list has a Pomtini on it and something called a 360 Apple Tree Hugger. Neither of these are what comes to mind when I think of the wild wild west -- but truth be known, when I think of the wild wild west, what I think of is Kool Moe Dee.

With happy hour over, we switched to cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($2.50). Now it was time to face down the Monster Burger -- two 8 oz. patties, smoked bacon, chorizo, caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, jalapenos, a fried egg, four cheeses, lettuce, tomato, guacamole and onion straws ($14.90).

Finish that behemoth plus a side of fries in 30 minutes or less, and you get your name on the Hickok’s Monster Burger Wall of Fame. Please note, however, that you still have to pay for your burger. Seems like you should at least get a t-shirt, especially if you manage to beat the standing record of six stomach-churning minutes. Although tonight we weren’t going for the record -- we were just curious to see how it tasted.

When the Monster Burger arrived, we each sank a knife into it and cut it down into thirds. Once you pick this thing up, it’s best to power through it -- with all those toppings of various creamy, squishy and melty consistencies, our Monster Burger quickly devolved into a soggy pile. In retrospect, this is clearly a novelty menu item, and we probably should’ve suspected as much going in. Also, it smells of socks.

We ordered Wild Bill’s Fried Burger, too. It’s a Boulevard beer-battered patty with jalapeno cheese sauce, chorizo, guacamole and onion straws ($9.40). Like the Monster Burger, it was a bit heavy on the creamy toppings, and the cheese geyser and guacamole canceled each other out. Really none of the flavors came through all that distinctly except for fried and chorizo.

Having now had Wild Bill’s Fried Burger and the Suribachi Burger at Swagger, I think I may not be a fan of fried burger patties -- which is crazy because that seems like something I’d be all over. If I could get the whole sandwich battered and fried like a Monte Cristo, that might be another story.

Considering the wings and salsa were pretty tasty, it may be unfair to judge Hickok’s based on our choice of burgers. On a different visit I tried the carnitas tacos ($9.30) and they were fine, while a couple of nights later Shaw had the Plain Ole Chicken tacos ($2.90 during happy hour) and liked them.

That said, we can’t shake the feeling that by putting the Monster Burger out there as bait, Hickok’s Bar & Grill is in fact just an elaborate scheme to trap Guy Fieri.
528 Walnut | Kansas City, MO 64105Hickok's Southwest Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon