As mom and I were on our shoe finding adventure we took time out for a food adventure. I had heard of a restaurant, Bourbon and Baker, in Manhattan, Kansas. Not only is this a restaurant and a bar, but there is also a bakery. Of course I needed to try it.
The food adventure was wonderful. We pulled up right outside of Bourbon and Baker. The parking was great, at least on this day.
Upon entering we were offered seats at high top tables or the bar. The booths were all full. We chose the bar.
There is some interesting and fun lighting in the restaurant, which added to the overall ambience for me. The décor is not too down-home or too upscale so anyone should be comfortable. Also, the bar has one of the most important things for women: purse hooks.
We ordered some drinks to celebrate the shoe success. Because the name flaunts the abundance of bourbons I did have a whisky drink, Redundant Redhead. My mother had a Kansas Territory brewery beer. We both enjoy craft beer and local is always a good choice.
The menu is small, but offers a good variety of foods. We shared some small plates, which were all excellent. The flavor profiles in each thing we tried was well thought out and well executed. We had asparagus fries, truffle popcorn, shrimp and grits, and grilled cheese with tomato soup.
Not that I can do justice, but let me try to break it down a bit more.
The asparagus fries are lightly battered in a Pale Ale batter, fried, and served warm. It is laid on an unobtrusive poblano tartar sauce and topped with a cool shitake relish. The brightness of the relish, with celery seed to add an earthy taste, is excellent. There is no oiliness or sogginess to the asparagus. It is delightful.
With the truffle popcorn I was expecting much more powerful truffle flavor. The olive oil and foie gras butter added more dimension than I was expecting. It was buttery, like good popcorn should be, but did not leave me feeling greasy. The truffle salt gave a hint of truffle without overpowering the other flavors. Also, the Manchego shredded on top added a nice bit of creaminess.
As a huge fan of shrimp and grits that was a must try. The flavors in the grits were spot on. I was disheartened to find only three shrimp. Honestly, I would have not thought much about it if there was even one more. The shrimp was cooked well, though.
Another food favorite of mine is tomato soup and grilled cheese. Again, the flavors in the tomato soup were outstanding. This is not a bisque, so expect some texture. The Gruyere and Red Rock cheddar paired nicely with the soup, although the sliver sandwich could have been doubled. Between the size of the grilled cheese and the excessive oiliness this was my least favorite part of the meal.
For dessert we split a cinnamon roll. Actually we attempted to split a cinnamon roll. The Bourbon frosted skillet cinnamon roll, baked in an individual cast iron skillet, was enormous. It sits in a wonderful caramel sauce and is slathered with a Bourbon frosting. The flavors are all very complimentary and the presentation is great. I personally prefer a softer, lighter cinnamon roll, but wouldn’t turn one of these down for sure.
The service was also magnificent. As it was our first time at the restaurant our server / bartender explained a bit about the menu and offered suggestions. There was no rush to order and we did not feel pushed into any certain food. Also, he provided answers to our questions and was never overbearing. A good blend of helpful without being too present.
In all this was excellent food at reasonable prices.
The Baker part of Bourbon and Baker comes from the back of the house. Yes, there is a bakery onsite that makes specialty cakes, brownies, cookies, and cast iron skillet-baked bourbon glazed cinnamon rolls.
While I did not go crazy with the baked goods I did buy a few to share with my family later. I got a Snickerdoodle, Molasses Cookie, and a Snack Attack Cookie as well as a brownie. The Hubs and I both liked the Molasses Cookie the best. A close second was the Snack Attack. I believe the girls liked that one the best. Huge, moist, and delicious cookies that really are reminiscent of childhood.
If you are in the area I highly recommend stopping in to Bourbon and Baker for a treat or a meal. It is a wonderful local addition to Northeast Kansas and made for a great food adventure!