Chef Carlos Falcon walks us through Jarocho South, set to open in mid-December in south Kansas City; plus the week’s restaurant events
The second location of chef Carlos Falcon’s celebrated seafood restaurant, Jarocho Pescados y Mariscos — called simply Jarocho South — is set to open next month at 131st Street and State Line Road. That’s good news for those in the southern part of the metro, but the original’s regulars have reason to be curious, too. The newer restaurant features a chef’s table and outdoor dining. I talked with Falcon this week to preview the new venture.
The Pitch: What is your timeline for opening the new store?
Carlos Falcon: I just got the keys last week and finalized the lease. My deadline to open is the second week of December. It’s pretty quick. It’s supposed to be only 20 days of remodeling. We’re doing a chef’s table and building a small bar, and we’ll have big, nice wine racks that are about 14 feet high. The new thing is the chef’s table and the bar, and the patio is going to be amazing.
What’s the capacity?
Approximately 60 inside, with another 50 on the patio. I just want to make it a fun experience for the guests and want to make it interactive. So even when we’re cutting up a 50-pound fish, we want them to see that.
What will the chef’s table experience be like for your diners?
The biggest thing for me is expressing myself as a chef — so, pretty much doing whatever I want with the freshest product. I do omakase, to pay homage to my wife. I just love Asian cuisine in general. I always try to have a couple of Asian ingredients to my cooking, to give it some flair. It always changes things for the good.
Everybody has a good experience with omakase, which means “chef’s choice.” People get the chance to try six, seven, eight, nine courses of the rarest, freshest seafood. I bring it from all over the world. Sometimes people try stuff on vacation and get hooked, and here in the Midwest it is rare that this kind of product gets here. I bring that stuff and give them back that memory.
So now, with the chef’s table, people will sit there and that’s what they will experience. They’re going to put their trust in my hands, and I will feed them. We don’t have that interaction yet [in Kansas City, Kansas]. I come out once or twice to check on guests, but with the chef’s table now they will get to see me cooking and we will get to talk.
The booths in front of the kitchen [left over from the barbecue restaurant that preceded Jarocho] are going to come out, and the chef’s table will come there. There will be a case with an oyster bar and where we can display our seafood. Like, right now, we will be able to offer snow crab, which is in season.
I see that you are building a bar. Will you have a specialty drink menu?
We’re going to bring craft margaritas. You can get margaritas at basically any Mexican restaurant, but we’re going to bring margaritas up a notch. Squeezed limes and lemons on the spot, with fresh fruit. What has been going on with craft cocktails at other bars, with whiskey, we want to do with tequila and mescal.
Who will be developing the bar menu?
I have to leave that up to the experts. There is a lot of talent in this city. Tequila and mescal are different. I want to provide a good product so I am looking for the right person. I am looking for people with passion.
How do you plan to split your time between the two stores?
I think I have it figured out. I’ve tried to step back a little bit at the current location. I want to let my staff shine. Nobody works for me — they work with me. For the first seven months, I was cooking, talking, doing everything. I reduced my days from seven to three. Those three days, the people that want the omakase, that’s when they come. I plan to spend three days in KCK: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The other will be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Eventually, you know, I am surrounded by a lot of talented people. As soon as they get the concept of omakase, they will start doing it. They deserve a chance — they earn it, though.
Thursday, November 17
Restless Spirits Distillery (109 East 18th Avenue) is throwing a party from 5 to 9 p.m. tonight for its first anniversary. The Irish-inspired distillery plans to serve roasted pork, specialty cocktails and beer to mark the occasion, and has invited musician Molly McLaughlin to provide entertainment.
Ahead of the holiday, tonight’s cooking class at the Merc (900 Iowa Street, in Lawrence) focuses on healthy Thanksgiving options, all of which are dairy-, gluten- and sugar-free. Recipes include spicy cranberry-turkey meatballs, traditional green-bean casserole, hearty pumpkin soup with pecan-and-apple relish, and a creamy chocolate-peanut-butter pie for dessert. Attendees will be able to sample the seminar’s dishes. The class is $18, and sign-ups are available at themerc.coop.
Friday, November 18
Another booze-centered party: Lifted Spirits Distillery (1734 Cherry) holds its grand opening tonight with vodka and gin cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and giveaways from 5 p.m. to midnight. UPDATE: The grand opening is now set for Friday, December 2.
Just ahead of Thanksgiving, sample spice blends, specialty salts and infused sugars at Wood & Salt from 5 to 8 p.m. at HMK on the Plaza (4710 Broadway).
Sunday, November 20
Take the trip down south to the very good Manila Bay Ihaw Ihaw (4800 East Bannister Road, formerly Valley Broasters) for the restaurant’s monthly buffet. The offerings this time include broasted turkey (broasted = pressure fried), smoked and seasoned meats, and appetizers including lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) and lechon kawali (pork belly). The buffet takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but you’re advised not to dally on the way; it’s a popular event.