KC: A City with True Grits
Photo Credit: Chris Mullins
By Pete Dulin
Grits have popped up on menus throughout Kansas City as a main or side dish for breakfast, brunch and dinner. Whether elevated in preparation and presentation by a trained chef or whipped up by a diner cook, grits are a comfort food that reaches across geography and class as a culinary staple that can be featured in a wide variety of dishes, each as flavorful as the last.
Here are some of the Kansas City restaurants offering grits in an intriguing number of dishes:
Created as a Southern smokehouse-styled barbecue joint, Char Bar makes full use of grits in several ways. The cheesy hushpuppies are a Southern twist on trendy arancini, or fried risotto balls. Instead of arborio rice, the kitchen uses Anson Mills organic grits to make fritters or hushpuppies. The dish is served with a “beer blanc” sauce made with cream and beer (instead of white wine) and topped with jalapeño jam. The Charred Bits and Grits dish combines cheddar cheese grits with burnt ends, sausage, bourbon-candied bacon, pickled jalapeños, and barbecue butter for a full meal.
As the name suggests, Beignet specializes in the cuisine of New Orleans and the Low Country. Their grits are prepared with roasted garlic, heavy cream, butter and six types of cheese. The result is a soul-satisfying, gooey dish. Even better, the grits may be topped with andouille sausage, pork or chicken boudin balls, hickory smoked bacon, shrimp or other ingredients. Finish off the goodness with a sweet beignet.
The Corner Restaurant
Image via Facebook.com/TheCornerKC
Under the helm of Chef Benjamin Wood, The Corner’s breakfast, lunch and brunch menu has been refined and refreshed. Brunch (available seven days a week) offers two options for grits. The Shrimp, Gravy, and Grits Bowl unites Old Bay-marinated shrimp and white hominy grits with house-made sage red eye gravy and micro scallions. The words to this Low Country song go, “Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.” Another other option, the Chorizo Grit Bowl, brings together spicy chorizo, roasted peppers, tomatillo salsa and cilantro into a delicious, hearty entrée.
Known for its exceptional whiskey culture, Julep’s dining menu features an array of snackable bites and Southern-influenced delights. Chef Charles Barr’s pimento cheese grits feature white grits with housemade pimento cheese, house barbecue sauce and aioli. These are not your mama’s grits. Savor with a julep, Old Fashioned or drink of choice at this refined cocktail club located in the heart of Westport, less than 10 minutes south of Downtown KC.
Available for dinner and brunch at this gastropub located in the Crossroads Arts District, the Shrimp and Grits begins with Anson Mills grits infused with cheddar and topped with gulf shrimp, tomato and country-cured bacon. Pair it with one of Blvd Tavern’s signature craft cocktails or a mimosa to complete the meal.
Bluestem & Rye
These sister restaurants, owned and operated by Colby and Megan Garrelts, offer similar versions of shrimp and grits. At Bluestem, the dish includes Anson Mills grits, shrimp, andouille sausage, scallions and lemon. The spicy bite of sausage and red sauce counterbalance rich, creamy grits. Over at Rye in Leawood (with a Country Club Plaza location to open in fall 2017), the grits include the same ingredients, plus smoked pork—which only enhances the appeal.