If you told me that my last dinner in Kansas City before starting the long drive back to Texas would be at the “train station,” I’d have told you you might be nuts. But that would have been slighting the rebirth of the city’s mammoth and marble Union Station, once a major railway connection between the civilized East and the rowdy Far West.
The station is now a soaring palace of retail and office space (yes, there’s an Amtrak passing through two or three times a week), plus one exemplary steak and seafood house named Pierpont’s – after the middle name of J.P. Morgan, who knew that the best things in life weren’t necessary free. Executive chef Patrick Williams cured me of several days eating steak and KC’s wonderful barbecue with this seared ahi tuna dish, complete with a wasabi cream and soy-citrus ponzu. It was light, it was delicious, and it wasn’t pork or beef!
Despite Chef Patrick’s lighter touches – learned cooking many places, including the city’s legendary-for-decades American Restaurant at the middle of the Hallmark-crazed Crown Center – Pierpont’s showed a perfect mastery of Old School classics like this Oscar. Underneath it all, it’s a steak, but that doesn’t shortchange you on hollandaise (obviously) or “Oscar at the Waldorf’s” traditional side of asparagus.
For dessert, we tried one thing that caught fire and one thing that didn’t. The dessert that didn’t was a dense and intense chocolate brownie served warm, gone all “sundae” on us with the addition of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.
The dessert that did catch fire was a bread pudding, expertly flambeed tableside by our charming, well-spoken server named Courtney. She didn’t lose her concentration when Chef Patrick made a joke about not lighting her hair “this time.” And she even taught me a new trick for flambeeing, carefully twirling the flaming plate around to spread out the burning alcohol and evenly caramelize the sugars. Yes kids, I shall try this at home.