Blanc Burgers and Bottles
It’s hard to sum up Blanc Burgers and Bottles in a few words. Successful, perhaps. Delicious, certainly. Focused, definitely. Local, there’s that, too. Or we can consider the words of Ernesto Peralta, Co-Owner of Blanc, who says his Blanc Burgers and Bottles are “fun, upscale, casual, local, hot, sexy, accessible, approachable” and “family friendly.” There’s a quite a lot going on with Blanc, but there’s no arguing with success.
How Blanc Came to Be: “Everything Happens For a Reason”
The story of Blanc started many years ago when Ernesto moved to Kansas City from Tucson, AZ to be with his young family. In Tucson, he had been working as a bartender in a high end resort. From one high end bar to another, when got to Kansas City, he started working at the Capital Grille.
This lead to a frenetic work schedule where he became a bar trainer and opening several Capital Grilles, including working for six months as a bar trainer in Scottsdale, AZ, but ultimately he wanted to open his own place. He had an idea for a bruschetta menu tastefully paired with a wine/martini bar, which eventually ended up as what Kansas Citians now know as the Drop.
There was only one problem. Ernesto knew cocktails, wines, and beers, but he needed someone who knew food. A family friend recommended this talented chef who had graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale and was at 40 Sardines named Chef Josh Eans. It didn’t take Ernesto long to hire Josh and it didn’t take long before the media took notice of Josh’s food.
Blanc the Early Years
The Drop was good, but Ernesto felt like he couldn’t do what he wanted in the space. All the while, Ernesto and Josh had been talking about the gourmet burger bars they had dined at when they had separately been in Scottsdale. To the idea of gourmet burgers, Ernesto wanted to add half bottles of wine and premium beer. It was not too long before Blanc Burgers and Bottles was born in Westport with Ernesto, Josh, Ernesto’s wife Jenifer Price, and David McMullin all partners.
Their intent from the beginning was to stand out from other Westport bars and eateries. That’s why when Ernesto’s wife designed the restaurant, she went with wide open spaces, bright white colors, and a modern aesthetic. The food, with their homemade ingredients, special meat blends, and attention to quality ingredients was part of it, too.
The design (and the burgers) worked and people started pouring into Blanc. Very shortly, people were being turned away because they couldn’t get a table, which was a shame since many of them were driving all the way from Johnson County to eat there.
This lead to Ernesto and Josh opening the Johnson County Blanc in Mission Farms and later relocating the Westport restaurant to its Plaza location (which was only a short drive away from Westport). To further meet demand, they also launched a new concept, B2, in Lee’s Summit.
Blanc Today and Tomorrow
Today, Blanc stands as a valued member of the community and a good place to get a meal. In house, they use brioche buns on their burgers at Blanc and high quality breads like potato buns at B2, make their own pickles and ketchup in-house from scratch (you can really tell the difference) as well as their chipotle aioli and their other sauces/dressings. Even more impressively, they have their own proprietary meat blend that is made from naturally raised cattle.
That last part is especially interesting. I had the chance to talk to Chef Josh about different types of meat and I was very impressed by his palate and his knowledge of various types of meat and meat production practices. From the way he talked about grassfed vs. non-grassfed, natural vs. traditional, it was quite obvious both that he had a great palate and that he sampled a lot of meat before settling on his restaurant’s mixture.
It’s even more obvious when you taste the burger.
Not only is it a place to get a gourmet burger (and some of the best fries in the city. Seriously, their fries are coated in truffle butter. Can you say awesome?), but they are also huge supporters of local food producers. On the back of their menu, they list all of the companies they support: Farm to Market bread, Shatto milk, Foo’s Custard, Roasterie Coffee, Boulevard Beer, and SodaVie handcrafted sodas.
They also support local charities and events like Forks N’ Corks, Jazzoo, and are working on more events in the future. They even feed the Royals. (I will make no comments here about the players’ conditioning and truffle fries, I promise.) Even their architect and printing company is local. Blanc is KC.
What does the future hold? Blanc is in the middle of growth spurt. For starters, they are looking to expand into Omaha and Little Rock. This is a labor of love for them for a number of reasons, but most importantly, they want Blanc to be Little Rock and Omaha, too. That means they have to find the right supplier of brioche buns, a good source of ingredients for their pickles and ketchup, and a meat supplier who can produce their special meat blend. Finding the right suppliers who do things the right way has been their challenge and their passion.
Here in Kansas City things are growing, too. They have recently changed their menu (which caused me no end of heartache since I thought they got rid of the Pig and Bull. Then I found out it was turned into Barnyard and got a fried egg. Mmmm… fried egg.)
They are also starting to sell burgers at this small venue called Arrowhead stadium. You might have heard of it.
Growth has been contagious for their suppliers, too. Their meat delivery company has had to hire a fulltime driver just to keep up with demand. They also added fried Shatto cheese curds to their menu, which have been so popular Shatto has had to buy more head of cattle.
(By the way, have you tried the curds? Seriously, stop reading this now and go try them. You can read this article on your smartphone at the restaurant while you are eating. Oh, and order the fries. They’re really good.)
Like I said before, it’s hard to describe Blanc Burgers and Bottles in a few words, but it’s even harder to argue with success.
Chef Josh Talks Perfect Burgers
So, BlogWellDone is a cooking blog before anything else, so when you have a master burger chef sitting across the table from you, you have to pick his brain about his craft. By his own admission, Chef Josh is driven to achieve perfection and from these tips, you can see he’s doing a pretty good job.
On the subject of hamburgers, Josh has two pieces of advice. The first is not to buy preground beef, but rather to ask the butcher to grind it at the store (or do it yourself if you are so equipped.) The second is not to use chuck, but rather use brisket that is ground with steak trimmings. Josh feels brisket delivers more flavor and is, after all, more Kansas City.
Josh then makes his burgers into 8 ounce patties, seasons them with salt and pepper, and recommends cooking them at home in cast iron (smart, smart man.)
Then the conversation turned to the subject of fries. You may have heard me mention the fries. They’re good.
Blanc fries are cut fairly thin (about 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch) and about 2-3 inches long. He fries them at 325 degrees for 4 minutes and then at 375 for an additional minute, which is why they are crispy and delicious. Oh, yeah, then they’re tossed in truffle butter (which you can make yourself or buy from Dean and Deluca.)
Thanks for the advice Chef.
The SodaVie Sidebar
Okay, it may sound a little crass to feature another company’s products in an article about Blanc, but I don’t think Ernesto and Josh will mind too much since they were the company’s first customer. Also, they let me sample a bottle of SodaVie’s Cucumber soda, and it was amazing. SodaVie is another Kansas City company that makes small batches of naturally carbonated, handcrafted soda.
The Cucumber soda we had was crisp and refreshing. I think I ended up drinking most of the bottle (sorry for not sharing.) SodaVie also makes Thai Basil and Citrus Kicker (the kicker is a spicy pepper, by the way.) Check them out at GetRealFoodCompany.com.