Tried Le Fou Frog
last night and enjoyed it rather well, even as it seemed like the sum added up to perhaps more than it’s parts.
Hadn’t read too much about the place, though it seems to have a pretty good rep. We both laughed when pulling up to the outside. The River Market area proper is pretty cute, but this location a couple blocks west looked dismal, and the windowless building looked like a strip club, surrounded by construction, chain link fences, and parking lots. Such is the life of a developing downtown, I guess.
The inside was very cute, consciously French-kitzsch decoration. Not at all bothersome though, and rather enjoyable, all told. It was a lovely night, and we might have sat on the patio out back, but the chairs looked incredibly uncomfortable, especially for a woman with child, a mere couple months from delivery.
Our meal began with an amuse
that I don’t quite recall, a very small sort of crescent-shaped pastry, some honey butter, a smidge of prosciutto. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an amuse
at all, though I can’t say this really startled my palate, and the butter was too cold. Still, a nice touch.
The food was enjoyable, good even, but only one dish approached exceptional. For starters, my wife had a salad with fresh chevre and a fig honey compote. Quite nice, with generously portioned condiments.
I had the soup du jour, which was some frog leg/morel soup. The broth was really terrific (approaching exceptional). The frog legs were in the form of a puck in the middle of the bowl. I’m not sure if I’ve had frog legs before or not, and I was beyond surprised to note that, whaddya know, it did kind of taste like chicken. The morels were good enough, though they seemed to me reconstituted from dried. It strikes me as a bit too late for fresh, but I’m no expert. I really enjoyed this soup, but was slightly disappointed that the solid accompaniments added relatively little to the experience.
For mains, my wife had three very large prosciutto-wrapped prawns. I should know more than that, but I don’t. Served with fried polenta, a bit of some brown sauce, and some token veggies…a baby carrot (!?), a cherry tomato, something else perhaps. A poor description, I know. She seemed to like it just fine, and I enjoyed my taste well enough.
For me, it was a luxurious-sounding monkfish preparation…wrapping asparagus, rilettes of pheasant, and “truffle foie gras.” I suspect this latter was the D’Artagnan product mousse truffe, which is a truffle-flecked or flavored pate, good in its own right, but not quite as luxurious as it sounds. Unadvertised was an excellent and creamy risotto upon which the meal was served.
While I again enjoyed the dish and happily cleared my plate, the monkfish was a little overdone and didn’t have the delicate butteriness that it can. And the accents to the dish ended up a bit muddled. Had I not read the chalkboard, I doubt I would have picked truffle or foie gras flavors out of the dish.
was the dessert du jour
and again, while good enough, noticeably inferior to what I can produce at home when I’ve got good cherries in the freezer.
Now these may seem (and I feel) like I’m picking nits with bistro food. Sure, it can be great, but I can be quite happy with a bistro experience where the food is just “good enough.” Our service was charming, I enjoyed the space, and I didn’t feel like I was someplace (see MelBee’s) that just couldn’t hang in a better food city.
But Le Fou Frog is not quite bistro prices. At $26 per, our entrees were among the cheapest on offer. They offer some pretty tony stuff (a wagyu and ahi surf & turf for $50), which is fine. But more typical bistro fare, like veal sweetbreads or braised lamb shank, is pushing $30. The entrée prices are more typical of a Chicago 3 star, which would be one thing if you could get commensurate quality. I’d love to see a menu like Le Bouchon
This is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say the cost of living for a food geek is higher in KC than in Chicago.
The price is mitigated somewhat by a reasonable value wine list and pretty easily available (modest) discounts through the KC Originals, PowerCard, those coupons you can buy every quarter, etc., saving you $15-20 for a meal. Still…
Ultimately, would I go back? Probably. There are enough places in that price range (and that’s a rare enough occasion) that it won’t be soon. But it’s pleasant enough and good enough that I wouldn’t rule out a return.
Le Fou Frog
400 E 5th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106