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Central Standard

Food Critics: The Best Corny Dishes In Kansas City

Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR

Sweet tomatoes served with soft mozzarella cheese, an arugula salad with a watermelon vinaigrette, even an ice cream made with sweet corn ... the best of summer's bounty is ripe for harvesting.

On this week's Central Standard, we learned how to make a corn sponge cake in the microwave at Affäre (recipe here). We also talked to a plant sciences professor about the agricultural side of corn. Then our Food Critics searched out the best corn (and other seasonal vegetable) dishes in Kansas City.

Charles Ferruzza, The Pitch:

  • The made-at-the table fresh mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes at Jasper's. It’s the “theater dish" — the mozzarella is made at the table and served with very, very fresh heirloom tomatoes. It’s a beautiful salad.
  • I do love the cheesy corn bake at Jack Stack Barbecue. I really consider it to be a fall dish. It’s cheese, cream and corn, I think. Corn is a good side for barbecue; the sweetness and blandness of corn are a good balance for the spiciness of the barbecue.
  • At the63rd Street Flea Market, there are quite a few food vendors and the food there is actually delicious. They serve grilled corn on the cob with a sprinkle of spicy mixture on it. At first, I didn’t think I would like it, but that little bit of fire brings out the sweetness of the corn.
  • The best tomato dish I’ve had is the BLT at Cleaver & Cork. It’s made with a fried green tomato instead of the traditional red cold one. The fried green tomato adds a nice bit of crunch, and the bacon, I swear, is almost an inch thick. It’s a great BLT.
  • The heirloom tomato salad at Cleaver & Cork.
  • Ixtapaserves an ice cream made from corn milk (instead of dairy milk). I had a chocolate ice cream and it was wonderful. It’s really, really good — very creamy.

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

  • Cleaver & Cork has an heirloom tomato salad with sweet corn, feta and caramelized lemon. That might be the salad of the summer for me. It’s a summer dish only. There’s corn at the base, cherry heirloom tomatoes (yellow, orange, purple and red), fresh feta and a caramelized lemon crisp on top (basically a thinly-sliced lemon that’s either dehydrated or caramelized, with a bit of char to it). The lemon adds just that right bit of citrus.
  • Cleaver & Cork also makes pickled fried green beans. I am just a fan of dill, and the dill in the pickling process really comes through. The pickling (before frying) adds a lovely, tangy, fresh bright green taste. I just absolutely loved it.
  • La Bodega on the Boulevard has a new menu item: A cold tapas called judías verdes haricots verts. It’s green beans, feta, red onion, peppadew peppers, tomato, basil and a chunky green olive vinaigrette that is light and refreshing. If you’re getting some fried or heavier items, this is the perfect thing to cut through that.
  • Gazpacho at Republica. Yellow, red and green gazpacho are served in three different cups. The red one has tomatoes, red peppers and onions. The green one has green peppers, green chile and green tomatoes. They use herbs in a very smart way to make each one taste unique and different.
  • The melon gazpacho with chili powder at Room 39. It’s a blend of melons, and it’s very smooth and creamy with a little kick of chili pepper.
  • Chilled sweet corn soup with lump crab meat at Novel. This, to me, feels like the perfect summer starter. It’s pureed and very creamy, and it’s got just a little bit of lump crab meat decorating the top. The crab meat is kind of just a footnote to this really sweet, really fresh dish.
  • The Westside Local serves an arugula salad with watermelon vinaigrette, grilled and chilled asparagus, feta cheese and candied pecans.
  • The basil ice cream at Blvd Tavern. Owner/Chef Derek Nacey used to make it for a strawberry shortcake dessert when he was at Zin. It’s just a phenomenal ice cream — it’s creamy and bright green.
  • Cheese slippers at Fevere. On Saturdays during the summer (basically between Memorial Day and Labor Day), Fevere has Cheese Slipper Saturdays. A slipper is really soft, doughy and almost like a ciabatta bread, topped with seasonal things from the farmer’s market. They serve different ones every Saturday and they bring in different local chefs to make them. Get there early; doors open at 6 p.m. My favorites: Heirloom tomato with basil. Also, peach with sweet corn anglaise, ricotta and Thai basil.

Jill Silva, Kansas City Star:

  • Limestone Pizza's incredible harvest pizza with creamed sweet corn, sweet corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, cheddar and parsley was one of the most indelible tastes of my Summer 2015. (seasonal dish; it's no longer on the menu).
  • The Mexican street corn at Sheridan's Unforked is a tasty ear of grilled sweet corn with butter and seasonings on a stick. Surprisingly, the cob can even be wrapped to-go: I picked mine up at the drive-through window. Unforked also offers a long list of seasonal fare, including the Crunchy Q Salad (lettuce, bell pepper, corn kernels, corn chips, Catalina-style dressing) and a tasty Gazpacho-Oh with avocado and corn, plus extra for plump, juicy shrimp.
  • Beauty of the Bistro's blue moon burger with sweet corn relish: The half-pound burger comes with Blue Marble Jack, sun-dried tomato, avocado and a fresh corn relish. The corn gives this one a summery spin. Beauty of the Bistro does fantastic burgers; what a natural, clever way to incorporate corn into a really unexpected summer food.
  • The heirloom tomato and corn salad at Cleaver & Cork is a hearty salad. The fresh, seasonal flavors are married with hunks of salty feta and the acidic tang of wafer-thin preserved lemons. This is a perfect salad for sharing. What surprised me most: It’s billed as an heirloom tomato salad, but the corn isn’t an afterthought; they’re very equal. The tang of the lemon combines that saltiness of the feta, that freshness — it’s just a really nice salad.
  • Glacé Artisan Ice Cream makes an outstanding sweet corn ice cream, with corn from Farmer Bob of Bonner Springs. This sweetness of the corn milk creates a softly sweet ice cream that is a perfect match for the watermelon and cucumber lime sorbets.
  • Char Bar's succotash — a Southern classic with edamame (instead of lima beans), corn, tomato and beans -- has a nice smoky by-the-grill flavor even when it remains on the menu year-round. I think this one is very well done. It makes you feel like you’re having your veggies if you’re eating a big hunks of meat.
  • Pickled green beans in a tempura batter served over nduja (spicy, spreadable pork sausage) as an appetizer at Cleaver & Cork.
  • Kurlbaum's Heirloom Tomatoes are everywhere, from Jasper's Mozzarella Theater to the trio of heirloom gazpacho served at Republica.
  • The BLT at The Sundry, made with some beautiful burger bacon, which is nicely spiced. It’s also served with a beautiful piece of lettuce and a nice wedge of tomato on a fluffy ciabatta-like bun. It’s simple but really well executed. Cleaver & Corkalso makes a BLT that is a little more elaborate, a little more fancy. Very gourmet.

Listener Recommendations:

  • Elote (Mexican grilled corn) is on menu at Tacqueria Dos De Oros.
  • The Overland Park Farmer’s Market has a vendor that roasts corn and puts different toppings on it. Another vendor, the Wiener Wagon, serves corn chutney.
  • Pizzeria Locale has an excellent corn and ham pizza.
  • Vivilore serves an amazing BLT. It’s on wheat toast, with avocado and a spicy chipotle aioli.
  • Last year, the Old Settler’s Fair in Olathe had a Mexican street corn booth. The corn was slathered in mayo and covered with Mexican cheese and chili powder. It was so good — a fun alternative to fair food. The fair is the weekend after Labor Day.
  • Local Pig – watermelon, corn, kale and feta salad!
  • Taco Republic has delicious elotes.
  • You can find elote in a cup at Tropicana Paleterias.
  • The esquite asado at Port Fonda — it’s grilled sweet corn, epazote, poblano rajas, cojita cheese, habanero, mayo, chile, cilantro and lime.
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