I’ve found a convivial new bistro in Waldo. It’s one of those lovely neighborhood places where you can go when you want some really tasty home-cooked food that has a little more invested in it than you’re willing to devote at home with your own hands and time. The food is made with real ingredients, the portions are more than generous, and the value is excellent. My new spot— Summit Grill and Bar.
Located on 75th Street in the space formerly occupied by Kennedy’s and the short-lived Remedy, Summit Grill & Bar may be a perfect fit for the Waldo neighborhood. The concept originated in Lee’s Summit by restaurateurs and owners Andy Lock and Domhnall Molloy, both formerly of McCormick and Schmick. The menu is contemporary-popular-melting-pot-American-casual. From buffalo wings to burgers, tacos to pot roast, fish and chips to steaks, salads to pasta—unless you’re a vegetarian, you should be able to find something on the menu that will satisfy your cravings. And even then, vegetarians won’t starve. Foodie sophistication isn’t the goal here. Lock and Molloy simply want to share some good, solid food and drink and give people a reason to come back.
And go back I did—more so than required by my editor. There is a charming simplicity to Summit Grill and Bar that makes you want to revisit. The clean, modern interior has been slightly altered since its days as Remedy. Booths have been removed and high-top tables have been added to create a lounge area. With two walls of retractable windows, this place is sure to be a hit in pleasant weather. It’s easy, tasty, and the prices are right. It may be a little noisy at times, but so is life.
We sampled almost every item on the appetizer section of the menu. The fried calamari with jalapeno peppers, Parmesan, and roasted tomato sauce was a good start. Fried calamari featuring crisp tentacles and rings is a dish that one finds on many a menu, but the difference here at Summit is the size and cut of the calamari used. Instead of the more common tiny rings, they offer strips of calamari “steak.” These are reminiscent of a crunchy, curly, floppy, calamari-flavored french fry. When properly cooked—and these were—they are meltingly tender, while still pleasantly resilient, and perfect for dipping. I guarantee the plate will end up empty.
Many of the starter selections are classic bar food, such as spinach and baby artichoke dip and spicy buffalo wings, but with their own special twist. The Togarashi Fried Shrimp, for example, is a plate of lightly battered fried shrimp, but Summit puts their stamp on it with the addition of piquant togarashi (a Japanese seven spice blend), Sriracha lime aioli and a sweet Thai chili sauce for dipping.
Despite the season, the Fall Salad was undeniably tasty. Simply changing the name to “Winter Salad” wouldn’t have made any difference in the flavors, but it would have me feel more seasonally appropriate. The combination of colorful baby kale varieties, roasted cubes of tender butternut squash, savory-sweet roasted beets, tangy goat cheese, crunchy pumpkin seeds and an unobtrusive poppy seed dressing made this a valid option for vegetarians, dieters, or those who just like things that taste good. Thumbs up all around the table.
Beef plays a major role here and makes its first appearance on the menu in the poutine. Poutine is like the Canadian version of the Town Topic Truckstop Omelet (a Kansas City conglomeration of four eggs, six cheeses, meat, onion and hash browns). Originating in Quebec, poutine is an assemblage of fried potatoes topped with melting cheese curds, all lightly bound with meat gravy. The Summit poutine is built upon a foundation of crispy but absorbent shoestring potatoes, shreds of pepper-jack cheese and a swaddling of beef gravy. The whole thing is topped with a perfectly fried egg, scallions and sadly, a tad too much truffle oil. I had my first experience with poutine in Montreal at a restaurant recommended by a hotel concierge. It turned out to be the restaurant of an Iron Chef winner, and the poutine I sampled was the dish he won the competition with. It was a slightly more exotic version involving lobster, but the primary qualities were still the same. Both were comforting, filling, and probably not the best idea for an appetizer unless you are sharing with a few people.
The love of beef continues in a prime rib dip sandwich, a Reuben, steak “street” tacos, a center-cut Angus filet, a few burgers, and a well-priced and flavorful Black Angus rib-eye accompanied by crispy-cream potato croquettes, broccolini, and the house steak butter. But Summit shines with their pot roast.
If you love a tender homey beef pot roast, this may be your new favorite destination. The kitchen here has it down, at least in my own Southern Sunday pot-roast experience. In addition to the missionary-style pot roast with mashed potatoes, fried onions and gravy, you have several other options to satisfy your meaty needs. As an appetizer you can experience this succulent braised beef shoulder shredded atop gigantic crispy tortillas, drizzled with subtly spicy chipotle cream and melted pepper-jack cheese, brightened with the freshness of scallions and peppers. They call it Pot Roast Nachos. I think you could call it lunch if you had a small side salad. The pot roast also makes an appearance stuffed inside little happy-hour sliders, and in “The Ultimate” (their words) Grilled Cheese with five cheeses and horseradish cream.
One of our favorite entrées was the Farmhouse Burger. They start with a good bun and great beef, then top it with a sunny side up egg and a few husky slices of thick-cut bacon, oozing sharp cheddar, and LTO—that’s lettuce, tomato, onion for the slow ones like me. The addition of truffle aioli seemed unnecessary, but thankfully it was used with a light hand and wasn’t really noticeable. Which brings me to truffles. I know black and white truffles, truffle butter, truffle salt, and I know truffle oil. I think they are different things, each serving a purpose in its own right. The white truffle is something truly elegant, a subtle fragrance hard to explain on its own: savory with hints of garlic, woodsy, earthen, sexy-dirty funky, nostril-filling. And it has a quality I can only call “expansive.” But don’t forget the “subtle” aspect. Truffle salts, pastes and butters come in varying amounts of real truffle, black or white, with or without a little help from perfume makers. Truffle oil is intense. A few drops can take over a dish, but a sensitive hand can lend a sensual quality to foods. A heavy hand keeps you thinking about truffle impersonators for the rest of the day with each truffle-laden belch.
The chicken fried chicken was well executed—if you want to keep your hands clean and be able to eat your fried chicken with just a fork. Crispy breading, not at all greasy, a swaddling of gravy, not too thick, resting atop mashed potatoes and green beans, make this a tasty dish. But true devotees of fried chicken know that the best-tasting fried chicken comes on the bone.
There are slight variations in the menu from lunch to dinner. Crispy avocado tacos are only available at lunch. If you’ve never had a deep-fried avocado, you have to give Summit’s a try. I had my first and only other fried avocado (tempura actually) in San Antonio, Texas, at a sushi restaurant. It somehow seemed completely natural at the time. What I love is how the texture of the avocado becomes almost like custard: silky, creamy and luxurious. At Summit, the richness is balanced by a fresh and crunchy vegetable slaw. The black beans and rice that accompany the tacos become an afterthought. Another great thing about this dish is that it’s part of the 10 under $10 menu, a category that makes Summit an especially great value for lunch.
Happy hour is an even more amazing value. Available in the bar or at the high-top tables, Summit features a number of items from the regular menus, such as the steak “street” tacos, wings, sliders and calamari, as well as a few available only during that favorite time of day. One dish requiring a little research on my part was the Tuna Poke. Pronounced pokay, a poke is a Hawaiian raw, sliced salad, similar to carpaccio, or tartare, dressed with varied condiments, most of which came from Asia. Summit’s features fresh diced raw tuna, chopped wasabi peas lending their crunch and heat, and the nuttiness of black sesame, served with lettuce leaves as a light vehicle to get the poke to your mouth. Happy-hour drink specials allow you to wash any of these items down with $2 domestic and $3 select import beers, $4 house wines and a selection of $5 cocktails.
As for dessert, I sampled both the crème brulee and the gooey chocolate cake. The crème brulee with fresh berry garnish was a textbook example. The chocolate cake with ice cream served its purpose. It was chocolate, it was gooey, it had that great juxtaposition of hot and cold, and was easily large enough to share.
With its enthusiastic and friendly service and the comfort level of its uncomplicated food, Summit Grill and Bar is sure to find a good home in Waldo. If service and comfort food aren’t enough, the prices and value are sure to make this a regular hangout for the locals and a destination for those seeking the same.
For more information or reservations, visit summitwaldo.com or call 816-361-9788
Photos by Aaron Leimkuehler