The Party Never Ends

The year of eating dangerously: New Year’s Eve, one of the busiest nights in the restaurant industry (right up there with Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day), gets a double workout in the next few weeks.

Most restaurants will celebrate with traditional New Year’s Eve dinners on December 31. And many area Chinese restaurants will observe the Chinese New Year, which falls on January 24 and kicks off the Year of the Snake.

Bo Ling’s kicks off its annual Chinese New Year festivities a bit early — on Thursday, January 11. Several Chinese good-luck dishes (such as pudding for a finale) come with a United Nations selection of wines, including vintages from Germany, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and Washington state from the good ol’ U.S. of A. The dinner, only at the Plaza Bo Ling’s in the Board of Trade Building at 4800 Main Street, is $55 per person. Call 816-753-1718.

But please don’t confuse the Chinese New Year with the Thai New Year, coming up on April 13. That’s the night Thai Place (9359 W. 87th Street in Overland Park) owner Ann Liberda turns her restaurant into “a giant party.”

“We serve lots of good food, and we follow the Thai tradition of throwing water on our customers,” Liberda says. “Water symbolizes happiness in Thailand.”

No water is thrown on the New Year’s Eve that falls on December 31, but Liberda plans to be open for business as usual. Though, she notes, things don’t really get wild until April. Call 913-649-5420 to reserve a table.

And while December 31 is typically a lucrative night for most restaurants, at least one popular eatery won’t even be open. Hannah Bistro Cafe (3895 State Line) is always closed on Sundays, and its owners have decided to stay closed on New Year’s Eve as well. However, says manager Toni Bertucci, “we’ve had to turn so many customers away, I’m sure we’ll be open next year, no matter what.”

New Year’s Eve gets an Italian spin at Lidia’s Kansas City (22nd and Baltimore), where Italian-born restaurateur Lidia Matticcio Bastianich offers recipes from her childhood — such as osso bucco, grilled marinated quail, and a hearty seafood stew — in a dinner priced at $85 per person. The five-course meal begins with breads, spreads, and aged Parmigiano-Reggiano with 25-year-old balsamic vinegar and ends with desserts. Seating is from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and reservations are required; call 816-221-3722.

Equally snazzy is the eclectic European-influenced menu designed by Michael Peterson for the New Year’s Eve hoopla at Grand Street Cafe (4740 Grand Street). The $75-per-person feast opens with brandy-cured foie gras on apple brioche with mango floral emulsion; crab bisque with crispy artichokes and pancetta; a butter lettuce salad with a caramelized shallot and fig vinaigrette, and a choice of a whole lobster or pheasant on tomato risotto. There’s mocha marscapone cappuccino for dessert. Call 816-561-8000.

And for something a little less complicated, there’s always a late-night supper to be found at the venerable Nichols Lunch (3906 Waddell Avenue). There won’t be a prefixe meal or champagne, but the coffee will be hot, the service snappy, and breakfast available all day and night, right up to the minute 2001 officially clocks in.

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