I shouldn’t be writing this. In fact, I’ve put off posting a story about the Bluestem lounge over the years because I didn’t want it to get so crowded that we could never again get in the door. But based on my last couple of visits, the cat is clearly out of the bag, so there’s no reason for me to keep quiet anymore.
Bluestem lounge represents one of the best deals in town, especially during Happy Hour. From 5-7 pm, Tuesday through Thursday, and 5-6:30 on Fridays, the lounge menu is significantly discounted. Until recently, dishes were 50% off, but now it’s closer to 40%, which still makes my husband a happy man. The menu features comfort food type dishes as opposed to the upscale cuisine in the dining room. But no frills doesn’t mean lower quality. Fabulous burgers, hangar steak with chimichurri sauce and French fries, Mac & Cheese, grilled pork chops….and amazing Shrimp & Grits. When I wrote the story in the Kansas City Star about the resurgence of grits, I interviewed Colby Garrelts, chef/owner of Bluestem about this dish, and a spectacular photo of it graced the front page of the Food Section. Colby gets his corn for the grits from Mark Meinke of Bonner Springs, who provided a local angle to a story about an ingredient typically found in the South. Between the quality of the corn Mark produces and the skill and creativity of Colby, this is one awesome dish–every bit as fabulous to the palate as it is on the plate.
Drinks and bottles of wine are cheaper during Happy Hour, too, and Jeremy Lamb’s expert wine list is available. Though Bloody Marys are never among the drink specials, my husband always splurges on one anyway; he thinks it’s one of the best in town. Wherever he imbibes, he always asks for his go-to cocktail to be extra spicy, but Bluestem’s server told him that it always is. Skeptically he took a sip and was wowed not only by the explosion of flavors but the level of heat. There’s no such thing as a drink that’s too spicy for him, but be forewarned that it may be too much for the average drinker to handle. The vodka is infused with peppers and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Bluestem was recently recognized by Open Table as being in the Top 100 restaurants in the country for Best Service. You don’t have to order a pricey prix fixe meal to rate fabulous service; you’ll find it in the lounge as well. Colby and Megan (the pastry chef) are extremely talented, passionate and dedicated restaurateurs, and they succeed in making the lounge as memorable an experience as in their wonderful, artful dining room.