city fare
March 25, 2005

A bubble of contentment
by Lisa Waterman Gray

When my husband, Mark, and I dined at Jasper’s Restaurant at 75th and Wornall Road more than a decade ago, we found the food exquisite but the atmosphere was a bit stuffy for our tastes. Not anymore.

Located in southwest Kansas City at 1201 W. 103rd St. since 1998, Jasper’s now has a cozy, intimate environment full of painted stucco, rustic murals, stone-faced fireplaces and hand-blown glass light fixtures.

I called on Thursday about Saturday night reservations and learned Jasper’s didn’t take weekend dinner reservations after 6 p.m. I was told to call back Saturday about an hour before we planned to arrive. When I called at 5:30 on Saturday, they said they couldn’t seat us before 8 p.m. Yes, this was Valentine’s Day weekend but their seating policy could use some tweaking.

The rest of our service was great. On two occasions, our wait staff catered to our every need without excessive hovering.

Linguini Vatican with lobster bits and peas, in a rich cream sauce accented by Parmigiano Reggiano.
(photo by Sam Garcia)

Warm, fresh bread and ice-cold butter arrived at our table shortly after we sat down. My house salad, with a generous handful of Gorgonzola chunks ($1.50 extra), and Mark’s Caesar ($3.95 extra) arrived soon afterwards. Proclaiming the Caesar wasn’t much of an “upgrade,” Mark requested a house salad instead.

We ordered two appetizers, Polenta Con Tres Ragu with Fontina ($7.95) and Foccacia Crabcakes ($10.95). Three medallions of breaded, crunchy-soft polenta paired with thin layers of Prosciutto and Fontina cheese. They were alternately topped with a hearty marinara, herbed olive oil and a mellow sauce Livornese. Three moist crab cakes with a crunchy finish, bathed in a delicious pale sauce, took their mild bite from barely visible red peppers.

The Jasper’s menu includes entrees for every taste, from generous samplings of chicken, beef, veal, fish and vegetarian dishes to more than a dozen pasta offerings. I ordered Linguini Vatican ($16.95), with lobster bits and peas, in a rich cream sauce accented by Parmigiano Reggiano. A delicious upscale “comfort food” on a rainy winter night, but a bit pricey for the amount of lobster and peas presented.

Mark ordered Costata di Manzo Palermitano ($24.95), a lightly breaded KC Strip steak, medium rare. The accompanying Sicilian potatoes were actually two potato fritters with just the right amount of crunchy breading that surrounded moist, flavorful mashed potatoes.

The meat was cooked well, but the cut had a fair amount of unmarbled fat and some gristle around the edges, and the breadcrumbs seemed burnt. Both our waitress and a manager offered a substitution but Mark declined rather than wait for another meal.

We took sizeable portions of our entrees home and savored several desserts. Jasper’s Tiramisu ($5.95) paired espresso-drenched cake layers with layers of creamy mascarpone cheese, atop decorative drizzles of chocolate sauce. Cocoa powder dusted this light and airy version of the classic Italian dessert. Crepes with Chantilly cream ($7.95) was a special that featured two thin crepes accompanied by large, plump strawberries and a seductive, rich sauce.

Rick and I split an order of cannoli ($5.95) as our finish to a late and leisurely Friday lunch. Mini chocolate chips and bits of candied fruit dotted a creamy, lightly sweetened whipped Ricotta that overflowed from two cracker-crisp cannoli shells. Caramel syrup designs snaked across the plate while powdered sugar and a sprig of mint completed the presentation. I thought I had died and gone to food heaven.

The pleasure began with one of four cold and half a dozen hot antipasti platters — Pepperoni Arrostiti Con Mozzarella Fresca ($7.95). Ultra-crunchy mini bruschetta slices with wafer-thin and mild salami slices, a round of creamy, dense mozzarella, several slices of grilled zucchini, and marinated red peppers, artichoke hearts and olives provided a great start.

Next, we received wonderful renditions of two classic entrees — Lasagne Al Forno ($10.95) with a side of two meatballs ($2.95) and Vitello Alla Parmigiana ($12.95). Rick’s enormous slab of lasagna somehow managed to have lightness to it despite the generous amounts of cheese and meat coddled between the noodles.

Two-inch-diameter meatballs were juicy and meaty without seeming overly hefty. Both of us appreciated Jasper’s red sauce, featured in both entrees. It had just the right amount of sweetness.

I hadn’t eaten veal Parmigiana in a very long time. Once again, my tongue swooned. The eight-inch strip of veal was moist and soft, and wrapped in a flawless crisp breading. Two round slices of mozzarella topped the enormous piece of meat.

By the time we finished our meal and toured the lovely porch that overlooked a rushing Indian Creek, the kitchen had closed. Rick and I grabbed our to-go boxes and returned to the outer world in a bubble of contentment. What a great way to end a workweek!

Jasper’s

1201 W. 103rd St.

KCMO.

816-941-6600

HOURS LUNCH: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

DINNER: Mon.-Sat., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

(photo by Sam Garcia)

Ratings: (out of four stars)

FOOD ***
SERVICE ***1/2
ATMOSPHERE ***1/2
PRICE $$

Key: $-under $10 • $$-$10 to $20 • $$$-over $20

fork, knife, spoon


              
              
                 

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