Canyon Coffee & Café
1791 S. Eighth St., 633-7400, canyon-coffee.com
As described in our Side Dish column last month, incoming chef Jake Ainsworth has indeed elevated the level of cuisine at Canyon, making it much more than just a coffee stop — though the Washington-based Dillanos Coffee Roasters java, as evidenced by my decaf Americano ($1.75), is excellent.
A cup of pumpkin bisque ($3) is potent with curry spice and creamed by coconut milk, not bearing any seafood stock (as is classically correct in a true bisque) but utilizing some chicken base for depth. The spinach and salmon salad ($10) most notably sports a warm bacon vinaigrette made with bacon grease and served with ample ham hunks. The pan-seared salmon's brain-pleasingly fatty oil blends with the bacon's to coat the sweet strawberries and wilt the underlying greens. Even two house-baked ciabatta toast points stand out with a sourdough-esque yeastiness amplified by kosher salt. — Matthew Schniper
I Love Pho
1817 S. Nevada Ave., 328-1000
Meet I Love Pho, formerly Gloni Italian Street Food, formerly TK's Mongolian Grill, soon to be a self-serve frozen yogurt shop (not really) if the owner continues his trend of overhauling cuisines every handful of months. Point being: Get it while you can, because it may be something else next week.
And the getting is actually good now, as exemplified by a large bowl of rare-steak pho ($7.75) that I grab to-go. Back at the office, a slice through the plastic wrap lets loose a tantalizing aromatic cloud laced with anise; my dining mate channels mulled cider notes. We both sip and slurp with contentment — green onions, basil and cilantro leaves, bean sprouts, and rice noodles intermixed with slivers of the chewy beef. We crave jalapeño and more lime, plus additional hot sauce, a shortcoming of take-out. And as always, I could do without the MSG, but it is surprisingly fulfilling pho overall. — Matthew Schniper
Boulevard Brewing Company
2501 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., boulevard.com
Boulevard beers seem to be earning more and more shelf space in area liquor stores, and after trying my first sips of Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (around $12/four 12-ounce bottles) I understand why. This one's a juggernaut of goodness, easily accessible with a light body, mid-level hops and all the best aspects of a yeasty Belgian saison. As quaint as the image of a farmhouse is, so too is the pleasing nature of this beer.
It's polling with a 91 on BeerAdvocate and 99 on RateBeer, with an 8.5 ABV kick. Descriptions of a fruity nose and grapefruit up-front ring true, as does a fairly dry finish that had a fellow drinker likening it to white wine, but I don't pick up any of the described pepper or spice. No matter, because I love it anyway, kind of like the brewhouse's living roof and zero-landfill practices. Go for the four-pack over the 750-ml bombers, which run around $9, meaning more price per ounce. — Matthew Schniper