North KC gets the bar and bistro its been missing
If you’re looking for a craft cocktail north of the river, the pickings, just a few short months ago, were slim. Now though, the North Kansas City Armour Boulevard corridor is exploding with nightlife options. Repeal 18th is the newest and arguably, one of the most delicious.
The space, which used to house firefighter hangout Johnny’s Back Yard, has been completely transformed into a sleek dining room. The bar now stocks a library of whiskeys and other spirits, most of which are put to use in their extensive craft cocktail list, envisioned by bar manager Darrell Loo. Loo has a long history in the mixology world and has brought back some old favorites, like the Geisha, a mix of Oolong Tea infused Ford’s Gin, lemon, grapes, and Peychaud’s Bitters with a chrysanthemum blossom floating in the top. The drink beautifully blends the floral notes of the tea and gin with the bright acidity from the grapes and lemon. It’s a genteel cocktail but one that can hold its weight against more robust drinks.
They also feature a full menu of classic cocktails. A whiskey sour is worth a go at Repeal 18th, as they ditch the sweet and sour mix that pollutes most well whiskey sours and instead incorporates fresh lemon juice and an egg white so that its frothy top can be dotted by Angostura bitters. Or try a daiquiri, like the kind Hemingway used to drink. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t come out of a blender.
But if you go to Repeal 18th and only drink, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Executive Chef Bryan Sparks has introduced a menu that is perfect for a quick lunch when you’re out and about or need something to nosh on as you listen to live jazz in the open air courtyard out back. Four fire pits make a great date spot on a chilly but dry November evening.
The menu is prime for sharing, featuring a large selection of small plates. Some of the standouts are the veal sweetbreads with brown butter sauce and lemon creme fraiche or the steakburger sliders with bacon jam and shallot marmalade. Monkfish corndogs offer a little whimsy as the lower priced fish subs in nicely for lobster. Or get healthy with the roasted Brussels sprouts in a bacon mustard vinaigrette.
For a heartier appetite, there are entrees, sandwiches, and flatbreads. One of the things that Repeal 18th does best is pork belly. While many put pork belly on a menu, few can make it quite a tender as they do. The pork belly BELT is piled high with thick slabs of pork belly and topped with a fried egg. Add a pile of hand cut fries, and you’re in for a very happy lunch.
This being Kansas City, of course, there are some BBQ-inspired dishes as well. The best of the lot is the NKC BBQ flatbread. The chewy but thin crust is topped with a generous helping of that same pork belly along with bacon jam, caramelized onions, onion straws and drizzled with creme fraiche. Kept to oneself, it’s a hearty meal. Shared, it’s a great appetizer. If you added a plate of their parmesan truffle fries with roasted garlic aioli and fresh herbs, you’d be set.
The thing that NKC, and the Northland for that matter, has been missing, is a cocktail bar and small plates concept to rival those in the Crossroads. Not anymore, Northland. There’s a shaker waiting to be filled for you at Repeal 18th.