Feb 13, 2010

The New Blanc. A Four Napkin Restaurant Reopens on the Plaza

(Before reading this post, for necessary background, please read my original post on Blanc.)

First, let me reiterate that while I enjoyed the decor and general atmosphere at the original Blanc in Westport, which recently closed in lieu of their reopening at the Plaza in the old Pizzeria Uno location, I never considered the space to be its strong point. Quite the opposite. The original blanc was too small. There were maybe one or two tables in the front and a couple in the back that were ideal, and the rest pretty much felt squeezed into places that weren't very accommodating. The bar, thus, was not set terribly high for the new Blanc location in and of itself.

So why was I so trepidacious of the switch? Because in my mind, the Plaza ain't so cool anymore. It's chain heaven and overrun with local tourists - those from a 4-hour radius of Kansas City who stand in line for .4 MPH carriage rides behind enslaved horses with creepily braded tails (I guess there IS a reason it's called a ponytail after all...). This crowd is hardly indicative of the crowd amongst which I enjoyed mingling at the previous Blanc and I feared the whole vibe would be thrown off.

Sparing one small complaint, what I found in the Plaza Blanc last night was a spot-on reincarnation of Blanc 1, with an abundance of comfortable seating, a fun, raucous mixed crowd of diners, a mostly unchanged menu and even edgier white (Blanc) themed setting. PHEW.

Having extolled Blanc's menu before, I'll only mention the food in so much as to let you know the burgers taste the same, and the menu has been augmented with just a few new selections. It's not online yet, but the newbies I can remember now are a "$100 burger" ($15) featuring a big dollop of foie gras butter and stuffed with braised short ribs. New appetizers included fried cheese curds and peppadew pepper poppers. Forgetting my journalistic responsibility to investigate these additional choices, I went right back to my old favorite - the Pale Ale battered onion rings. And I don't regret it, because last night's rings were off-the-charts good. The onions were very thick cut and the crisp fried batter clung to them impossibly well. Our inside-out burger delighted, as did our BLT salad, which gave us more than our money's worth in B(acon) but left out the promised avocado.

The... how shall I say... whiteness of the new Blanc is stunning. Walking in, you know you're in a place unlike any other in town. And I love that, amid all the chic white, vibrant orange accents, bright lights and general trendiness, the fare is down-to-earth. Burgers and good bottles of beer.

The bar is brilliantly illuminated and features all the different beers available. Clean-looking glass-front mini-fridges below it dazzle, as well (this is a great touch I've seen at other bar favorites like Harry's Country Club and R Bar).

Some tables are high tops, like the one we had. High tops can be painful... they're usually stools whose backless quality lends to slouching and deeper-seeded worry that because of my gangly nature, I'm trending toward unsightly scoliosis. Most tables, though, are regular height, and I was amazed at how cavernous the dining room was. One glass wall between the bar and big dining area, and another between the middle and back, separate most of the seats into three general areas, but upon entering, one can hook around to the right and enjoy a cluster of seats near the bar, or walk straight through, past the bar, and into a sectioned-off orange room for another angle. I question the move to this locale no more. They can seat probably four times as many people in the old Uno location as compared to the closet in Westport.

So, then... same great food, fun, appealing aesthetic and comfortable setting. What's the criticism? Something I'm sure others wouldn't mind nearly as much. The music.

Never mind that it was probably a little louder than it needed to be. It was a grand reopening kind of night. Party it up. I just didn't appreciate its overtly clubby feel. One could find Blanc to be less approachable than they'd like, because of its trendy feel. I think the friendly, casual staff and the relatively simple menu keep Blanc grounded, but the boom-boom-boom baseline of the techno beats that pulsated throughout the restaurant all night made me feel like we could have been in a dance club as easily as a restaurant. Thank goodness the cast of Jersey Shore weren't there, or some good-natured battling would have broken out for sure. (Then again, I wish that would have happened.)

In the end, my rating of Blanc remains unchanged with the new location. Take the music down a notch and throw in some indie rock and I'm back on the bandwagon for good. Can't wait to try the new menu selections. I'm almost glad we didn't have them last night, just so I have a reason to return soon. I suggest you do so, as well.

Rating - still - four napkins.

Blanc Burgers + Bottles (Westport) on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...