Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just Can't Find A Good Cheesesteak In A Convent

We joined some Posse Gals at the Music Hall to catch the latest show and that was Sister Act, the hit musical based on the Whoopi flick about a nightclub singer named Dolores being hid by the police in a convent. The musical was a kick with ample humor and lively music.  Admittedly, K and I were a little droopy-eyed through the second act as this show followed our 5k that morning.  We perked up a bit when we headed out for the post-show grub...and even that had a Sisterly connection.

We headed to Grinders in the Crossroads Art District for eats and this is a joint I'd been itching to visit for some time.  The original Grinders and its next-door neighbor Grinders West was founded by artist Jeff "Stretch" Rumaner and is one eclectic vision of cool on the inside.  We ate at Grinders West and we found ourselves wandering all about the eatery, taking in all of the creatively eccentric flourishes. Stretch himself is known for his amazing sculpture and art and some of it exists on the walls and around the restaurant.  Much of his artwork abounds throughout the city and his designs have also been seen on episodes of Extreme Makeover; Home Edition.  He even designed these way-cool rotating wine shelves.

 Actually, Stretch has a crazy-cool bio that you should read here.

In that bio, you read that Stretch envisioned Grinders as a food-art-music fusion house in the vein of classic dive bars with great food like CBGB.  Well that famous NYC punk club makes for quite the inspiration and thankfully Grinders doesn't also try to mimic CBGB's infamously wretched bathroom but the "fusion-house" goal has certainly been attained.

The art is outright fascinating: lighted plastic protrusions stand out from the wall, metalwork hangs from the walls and the glass-topped tables each feature a different artwork; each achieving varying levels of surrealism....soft dolls of ears of corn with creepy baby faces, spiraling metal pigtails and an entire artscape consisting of artificial sugar packets.

Yes, even the bathroom is bizarrely awesome.  The music enters in not only as the terrific mix that plays overhead but the sizable back lot behind the patio known as Crossroads KC at Grinders which is one of the best-known local outdoor music venues featuring acts such as David Byrne, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, MGMT and Matisyahu.

All of this would be great fun enough, but damn, it would suck if the food didn't jive with the rest of the great groove that Grinders provides.  Happily, that is so not the case.  Grinders has a well-deserved reputation for stellar pizza and shades of Sister Act, its most popular item is its cheesesteak. In today's musical, Dolores is craving cheesesteak when at the convent, all you can get is a boundless supply of mutton. Dolores would've killed for this version.  Stretch apparently missed some of the food of his East Coast roots and imported brilliant versions of both cheesesteak and pizza on the menu.  We got to sample the Fun Gi (Fun Guy) pie with white sauce and shittake and button mushrooms and some killer "molten"wings.

 The pie was great and the wings have a terrific blend of spice and slightly sweet.  I was too chicken to try the chicken wings in "death sauce" but whatever your preference, they also sell their bottled sauces which have been scooping up some awards of late.

 Finally, I got to dive into that cheesesteak and it was heavenly: thinly sliced flavorful steak with mushrooms, green peppers, banana peppers, grilled onions smothered in cheese on a fresh-baked amoroso roll straight from Philly.  I've had the real McCoy myself in Philly and this one ranks right up there.  Kiko had the veggie version and it won equal raves.  Next time, I want to come back when we're up for some imbibing; the beer list looks very inviting!

Sister Act was fun but the star of this experience for me was Grinders.  That place could become a regular hang!


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