March 25, 2005
bubble of contentment
When my husband, Mark, and I
dined at Jaspers 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, Jaspers 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 Jaspers didnt 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 couldnt seat us before 8 p.m. Yes, this
was Valentines 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.
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 Marks Caesar ($3.95
extra) arrived soon afterwards. Proclaiming the Caesar wasnt
much of an upgrade, Mark requested a house salad
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 Jaspers 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
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. Jaspers 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,
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). Ricks enormous
slab of lasagna somehow managed to have lightness to it despite
the generous amounts of cheese and meat coddled between the
Two-inch-diameter meatballs were juicy and meaty without seeming
overly hefty. Both of us appreciated Jaspers red sauce,
featured in both entrees. It had just the right amount of sweetness.
I hadnt 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
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