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Sep 7, 2011

There Is A Food God

Justus Drugstore has been on my restaurant radar for the past few years. Located in The Big Guy’s hometown of Smithville, MO makes it a real legit reason for me to go willingly to all those family reunions. Besides that it just may be one of thee best restaurants in the country and you know I know what I’m talking about because I am a card carrying food snob and wanna-be-restaurant critic. The place has been getting major write ups in all of the food and travel magazines, and their mushroom soup was voted one of the best restaurant dishes in the country in 2008!
     I LOVE the whole farm to table movement and Jonathan Justus practically invented it. Well maybe he didn’t invent it but he is for dang sure is at the top of the food chain in implementing it. Almost every single thing on his menu comes from about a two hundred mile radius of Smithville. The mushrooms in your risotto were likely picked that morning and the meats are so fresh you can practically still feel a heart beat.
The Amuse Bouche'
So let’s get to the food...I was giddy as all get out and like any foodie worth her sea salt I intended to sample as many items as possible. 
     The waitress umm, I stand corrected…I mean the “server”, who corrected me seemed to really know her stuff but her stuff, if I’m being honest here, was overshadowed by her impatience. When you put an uber cool menu under my nose I will twenty question you, I will torture you and I will tip you well, but do not, I repeat, do not sit me in Hog Heaven then expect me to randomly order like I'm a senior citizen at the Dead Lobster or somewhere equally as nasty.  I'm warning you, I have questions and I WILL need answers!
The Cerviche served with Gaufrette Potato Chips 
I really wanted to chat her up about the bar menu and all the choices of house infused liqueurs. Her annoyance with me caused me to make a hasty decision and order the Sangria, which by the way was the best Sangria I have ever had and which I then pawned off on The Big Guy because I wanted to try a cocktail. The waitress, oh I mean the server didn’t have time to answer our questions about the cocktail menu because she had to go pull the stick out of her ass, so I blindly ordered the Silverelder Fizz which was Tanquerey, vanilla vodka, lemon-lime, elderflower, egg white, seltzer and oh-so-divine!  My sister-in-law Diane, had a cocktail with berry vodka, rose petal liqueur, Ceyelon cinnamon tincture and a burnt orange twist. You smelled the roses and tasted the cinnamon and orange right before you fell into a delirium. The only bummer was that it took the waitress server twenty minutes or better to get the drinks to our table.
     Ok, so she was the only waitress, errr, server working so I will cut her some slack, but she immediately left a bad taste in my mouth and I hadn’t even been served my Amuse Bouche yet. I was able to forgive her because my tiny bite of crostini topped with pork and pecans, a smear of a raspberry jam and horseradish foam was to freakin die for!  
Squash blossoms with corn beef, poached egg
and brown butter emulsion
For starters we ordered the cerviche which was ahhh-mazing!  The hors d’ oeuvre special was fried squash blossoms stuffed with corn beef (nothing like the crap out of a can) and topped with a poached egg and served on a brown butter emulsion. Brown butter emulsion people! You know I done died and gone to heaven! If ever there were a perfectly poached egg, this was it! Kill me now!
Maytag Blue Cheese Salad
We moved on to salads.  Big and I had mixed greens with a maple-Port vinaigrette, pears and Maytag blue cheese-black pepper ice cream and topped with a black walnut tuile. FYI blue cheese-black pepper ice cream is really super cold creamy-peppery blue cheese and served like a little frozen scoop of ice cream. It was crazy cool and unbelievably good! Diane and (Big's little brother) Don had the goat cheese watermelon salad which had a mulberry-shallot, white wine vinaigrette and hemp seed. Hemp seed you say? I think it was a trick salad to make you hungry so you would then order the brownie dessert. We likey and we laughed a lot!
Goat Cheese Watermelon Salad
On to the entrées! Big and Don both had the 44 hour brisket. It was a generous serving of American Kobe beef plated atop caramelized parsnips. The meat was unbelievably tender and surprisingly smoky. Thankfully there was no sauce to mask the perfectly cooked beef, just a drizzle of juniper parsley tear drops. Huh?
44 Hour Brisket
Diane tucked her tail and ordered the sunchoked chicken when the waitress, oops, server told her that “yes” the chef would be offended if he were asked to hold the Berkshire bacon (she has a pork allergy) from the freshwater bass entrée. YIKES! You can offend the waitress, damn I did it again server, but don’t even think about offending the chef. Big NO-NO! Anyhow, her chicken was served with sage gravy and “corn scented mashed potatoes” which is where I shamelessly stole my “corn spiked mashed potatoes” idea from. I honestly don’t know what a sunchoked chicken is but the dish was super yummy, so I say all chefs should think about choking their chickens in the sun.
Sunchoked Chicken
Fish lover that I am I went with the bass. It was served with roasted carrot gnocchi and a ginger-citrus-saffron sauce and perched on top of the most wonderful smoky tomato sauce that has ever crossed my lips. And yes, some of that just killed Berkshire hog bacon. I can’t even begin to describe my euphoria! I really think this may just be the best meal that I have ever, EV-VER eaten in my entire life.  When, I mean if I am ever on death row I want this dinner to be my last meal and I may just kill to get it.
Freshwater Bass
(Note: bad wasn't really that toxic looking color) 
     Of course there was a dessert menu and even after two and half hours of dining we were in no hurry to get to it because we didn’t want the night to end. Personally I just wanted to keep being poked full of Jonathan Justus’ just dead-foraged-smoked-infused-pig-shrooms-tomatoes and chicken-choked food, PMS-ing waitress server or not.
    Big and I shared the Pecan Wobble, which was milk chocolate caramel pecans, orange tuile, butterscotch custard, apple bourbon sauce, and rum and coke ice cream. Don and Diane had some strawberry masterpiece that I forgot to write down because I was in a food stooper. 
     We finally concluded the evening with coffee which was served in little individual French Presses. Nice touch! I can honestly say that I can’t wait for the next family reunion! 

Here it is in a nut shell…allow 3 hours for the meal...the food from start to finish was stellar and inovative...the drinks were cutting edge and cool...all menu items have a suggested wine paring, which you should follow...if fine dining at great restaurants are your bag you HAVE to go to Justus Drugstore...and they really should do something about that cranky waitress, umm I mean server.
Grilled Eggplant RisottoThis recipe for Grilled Eggplant Risotto was the only recipe of Jonathan Justus' that I could find. It wasn't on the menu at the time, but I think this guy could put his spin on a piece of shoe leather and make it palatable.  Click on the link to view it.

(With the exception of the photo directly above, all of the crappy pictures were taken by me with my cell phone)

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