Affäre (Kansas City, MO)

Our last day in Kansas City was a bit of a random meander checking out some of the different sites in the city, like the excellent Jazz Museum and Negro League Baseball Museum, playing some pinball and drinking some brews at Up-Down, and getting some cocktails at TikiCat, a Tiki-themed speakeasy that’s so awesome that I’m considering writing it up despite not having had food there… But after all that, we found ourselves again looking for dinner in the midtown part of Kansas City, and when we saw that one of the options was “German food”, we decided we just had to try out Affäre.

Walking into Affäre, if your initial thought upon hearing “German cuisine” was “beer hall”, you’re in for a shock as you walk in the door. It’s got a very different urban chic vibe going on; slightly dim lighting, a large cocktail bar, big plush booths, and, at least on the night of our visit, a well-restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis playing on the TVs.

The menu at Affäre is basically German, but there are a few interesting twists to it. First of all, they do their own in-house charcuterie, everything from house-cured hams, German-style deli meats, and their own sausages ranging from classic bratwuirst, to smoke Thuringer, Cabanossi (basically like a variation on a currywurst), and weisswurst. Second, they do make a few nods to American-style dining, with specials like a KC striploin, or a classic bone-in ribeye tomahawk. Otherwise, it’s mostly divided into sections called Affäre in the Garden (appetizers and salads), Affäre under Water (seafood), and Affäre in the Barn (meat).

We ended up starting with the Affäre to Share, which even as a half-size portion was a substantial charcuterie plate, loaded up with three types of German cold cuts, four different hams, bresaola, pate, four different cheeses, three types of bread, and two types of mustard. Seriously, this was a charcuterie plate for the ages, all of it very nicely prepared, and most of it done in-house. The bresaola and the ham were particular standouts. Between here and Tavernonna, it’s clear that KC takes their charcuterie plates very seriously.

Next up was a wild mushroom soup, which I rather enjoyed: a rich, flavorful, woody, but silky smooth mushroom soup that was, basically, everything I expect from a top-notch mushroom cream soup, although it was served up with a slightly odd foam (I usually don’t care for the trend of putting “foam” on things, it seldom seems to add much).

Moving on, Carol opted for one of the Affäre under Water options with an almond-crusted trout served over a bed of seasonal vegetables. Conceptually, this was a pretty good dish with a nice pairing of flavors, but Carol and I bought thought the execution was a bit weak; I usually like a nice and flaky-light fish, and this was a bit overcooked and dry. Hopefully this was the exception, since otherwise our meal was quite well executed.

Which brings us to the final course, my entree. I decided after the charcuterie plate to go all in and get the Brat Trio: three different sausages (I chose weisswurst, currywurst, and smoked Thuringer), served up with sauerkraut, red cabbage and bratkartoffeln (basically, German home fries), along with a selection of both curry sauces and mustards dolloped around the plate. Not fancy food, but particularly well executed. Particularly well done were the weisswurst; while being a bit coarser and drier than some of my favorites in Munich, distinctly flavorful and, paired with a sweet mustard, brought back pleasant memories of former Bavarian trips. The currywurst was also excellent: a nice fine veal-rich grind that paired quite well with the provided spicy curry ketchup. If there was a fault in this meal, it was in the excess; between just the $12 charcuterie plate and the $18 brat trio, that would have easily been enough food for both of us for the entire meal (and we had trout, pretzels, and soup on top of all that).

Overall, I really enjoyed Affäre, and between the perfectly done charcuterie plate and sausages, I’m more than happy to overlook the disappointing fish; if I come back I’d definitely both focus on the sausages and meats, and make sure to order less food.

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