No, my spell-check isn't on a smoke break; I'm referring, of course, to one of my favorite KC-area food havens: Justus Drugstore and Restaurant. I've written adoringly about Chef Jonathan Justus' restaurant before and this time we were able to experience it in a new way....with some Posse members and on the patio.
First, K and I met up with Kiko and Charlotte at ES Hospital for a visit with our girl Carolyn. Carolyn appears to improve with every visit. She wasn't storming as much, although Jim says there has been plenty of that lately as she seems to entering a new phase in her recovery. With us in that particular moment, she was calm and in fact sleepy. Kiko brought her some shiny bling from Florida to sport on her finger. On the wall hung a small painting that Kathleen worked on using Carolyn's hands as a form of art therapy. Charlotte was channeling some good energy toward Carolyn and shared some "energy exercises" we could use with Carolyn. Charlotte and I, admittedly looked a tad ridiculous during some of these exercises, and its a wonder Carolyn didn't sit up and tell us so. Well, whatever works.
We were invited by Kiko and Charlotte to join they and Jim at the Justus Drugstore patio. On our previous visits, K and I experienced the dining room and had indeed been itching to spend some time at their charming outside patio area. The patio has separate, casual but still divine menu options. On this night, it was still warm but dark clouds hung threateningly over Smithville. We joined up on the patio and perused the menu while waiting for a table. A steady, cooling rain fell while we were served some of those appealingly creative cocktails that Chris and Co. craft at the Justus bar. This is the first time I didn't kick off with the Elixir of The Day as I'm always intrigued by what concoction these mixologists put together but Charlotte is a Justus regular and a big fan of their Mojitos, so I went for one of those. Unsurprisingly, the drink was wonderfully refreshing and one of the best Mojitos I've had. Kiko had a rich, adult Chocolate Malt that had admirers around the patio. After weathering a few drips that slid through the patio roof, we made our way to our seats. Drips be damned...I'd sit in a downpour to experience this food.
Settled in and grateful to have Jim out for a night, we dug into our appetizers. Deep-fried zucchini and green beans and the Justus version of creamy, spicy jalapeno poppers were all delish. I will apologize at this point for my less-than-comprehensive list of components in the dishes as I tend to rely on online menus too much and Justus refreshingly changes up his menus like the wind. Dinner for all of us was essentially fast food with real, local ingredients and were all amazing. Charlotte dug the BLT special, Jim and Keith had the spicy chicken tenders and Kiko and I had the veggie burgers. Let me say this about my dinner...I have had both delightful and wretched veggie burgers but I am far from a connoisseur as I don't order them that much. The most memorable veggie burger I've had was at the Vortex in Atlanta....until now. This succulent veggie patty was topped with locally made Shatto cheese and a spicy aioli sauce and I relished every bite. The burger came with a tangy cole slaw while everyone else dug the homestyle fries. If every veggie burger tasted like this one, I could actually consider switching from beef. We cannot fathom leaving the Land of Justus without at least sampling a sumptuous dessert and so we all split two choices among us. The devilish Chocolate Mint Decadence with chocolate ganache, Champagne mousse, chocolate-rose hip ice cream, malted Chantilly cream and a glass of mint milk was a dizzying delight of a dessert. Our other indulgence were the amazing Carrot Cake Beignets. Dessert, like dinner, is a delicious adventure at Justus Drugstore.
One more cool reason to be part of the Posse: that Charlotte and Carl are buds with Jonathan Justus, who brought over plans he has to improve the patio. Granted, Chef Justus is endearingly pleasant with all of his guests but its still cool to have him come hang by our table for a few minutes. As per usual, I can't wait to go back.