Some of my better dining experiences in Kansas City have been at Bluestem restaurant on Westport road. After reviewing menus at Julian, Michael Smith and Bluestem, I decided I wanted my 30th birthday dinner to be at Bluestem.
The wonderful husband and I trekked off to Bluestem on Tuesday evening determined to do the 12 course tasting menu. We also did the wine pairing.
Some of the highlights from the meal were the poached pear salad, the off-menu beef tartare, the perfect crab pasta, the horseradish mashed potatoes that accompanied our beef. Dessert highlights included the blood orange sherbet and bourbon ice cream. Mrs. Garrelts has clearly been enjoying her ice cream machine lately - and I'm appreciative! They were fantastic. The beef tartare was likely one of the best dishes I've had.
Every dish was executed perfectly. The portions were appropriately small to allow us to savor each dish without getting overfull. The wine pairings were wonderful. Frankly, the value is really very good. You will certainly receive an excellent dinner.
However, a few things did bother me about the evening. First, the inspiration seemed lackluster. The menu had none of the sparkle and imagination that I remember from my previous dining experiences at the restaurant. The hints of Asian influences were interesting, but seemed incongruent with other menu choices such as the pasta and distinctly American beef course. Although it made for a very interesting meal, there weren't any flavors helping to tie the dishes together. And they weren't building off one another. So it really felt like I was starting a new meal with each plate, instead of working up to a spectacular conclusion.
I was also startled by the lack of interest by the wait staff. Although our primary waitress was exceptional, the sommolier seemed distracted and disinterested in helping us understand the pairings.
While the dinner was well executed, enjoyable, and ultimately a fine evening - I find myself wishing I had perhaps tried something new, as Bluestem didn't live up to the excellent standards they have achieved in the past.
I am certain I will be back. I can only hope that Chef Colby was having an off night. But for my next date with my perfect husband, I will probably try one of the other wonderful KC chef's restaurants.
I still give the restaurant 4 stars because I believe it is still one of the best in town. However, if I remember back to my previous experiences there - it would have been 5 stars. Perhaps the chef needs some new inspiration. In the few glimpses I saw of him, he seemed tired.
$330 plus tip for 12 courses, and the 12 course wine pairing for two