Saturday, December 15, 2012

Go West, Part III: Les Miz and Westport Café

On Sunday, we embarked on the final leg of the Kiko Birthday Tour: a matinee of the national touring production of Les Miserables at the venerable Music Hall and an early dinner at Westport Café.    The combination of the two made for a French tickler of an afternoon.

At the risk of having my gay membership card revoked, I will first offer full disclosure…I had never seen Les Miz before this.  Often touted as the greatest musical of all time, it has somehow managed to elude me all of these years.  Apropos that I would finally make a show just as the film version was about to descend.  Kiko, on the other hand, had seen the production some 17 times and her brother, twice that.  Kiko and Deb were so excited to see it again; it was a struggle for them to keep from loudly singing along.  The production took place at the Music Hall, a still-stunning Art Deco theater built in 1936 in the Municipal Auditorium.  While we’ve been enjoying the new state-of-the-art luxury of the Kauffman Center, it was good to get back to this historic jewel and once again take in that amazing Grand Staircase and those way-cool lighting fixtures that inspired the Sky Stations atop Bartle Hall’s giant pylons.   As for the production itself, I was moved and mesmerized and made a new fan by this breathtaking show that more than made up for the hype.   I’m now anticipating the flick even more!

What better way to follow up this little slice of theatrical magic than with a little Parisian-style café that weaves a certain spell itself?  Westport Café and Bar is a cozy little bistro in the former Blanc Burgers spot on Westport Road.  I was told prior to our visit to hit up the cocktail list, and after one sip of my Winter Smash (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, peach, lemon juice and spiced honey syrup), I was so pleased that I did.  Kiko sipped on a steaming mug of hot buttered rum and I will admit that I was relatively dubious about this drink before and after one sip of this one, quickly realized I hadn’t tasted one made correctly before.  This one had just the right touch of buttery richness and was very satisfying.  Andrea’s cocktail was also quite nice…the Yellow House consisted of Maison Rouge VSOP cognac, honey, lemon, baked apple bitters...How does one get those?....and egg white.  A lovely sip.

The French- influenced American grub was most assuredly the highlight, though.   Many of the entrees eaten were simple sandwiches and salads, prepared with delicious elegance.  Keith and Deb enjoyed their tasty chicken sandwiches (Chicken Paillard –paillard meaning pounded thin and grilled) with arugula, spinach and tomato dressing).  I was positively romanced by the mussels with bacon and bleu cheese hors d’ouerve and my sumptuous Croque Monsieur with arugula and parmesan salad with fresh lemon on the side.  The light and airy salad was the perfect pairing with that filling and fabulous inside-out grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  Made with thick slices of ham, melted gruyere, delectable béchamel sauce and hearty, flavorful bread, it’s one of the most deeply satisfying sandwiches I’ve had in an age.  And those mussels were not only perfectly delicious, we lapped up the remaining sauce with our crusty bread afterward.  As the day faded to dark outside, the WCB was lovingly lit with twinkle lights and I felt utterly enchanted by Westport Cafe.  I could’ve leaned back, ordered another cocktail and hung out for the duration, but alas, Monday still marches in.  Still, what a charmer of a day.

Kiko’s birthday was celebrated in grand style this year.  I’m about to start looking as forward to her birthday as I do my own.


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