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Nica’s 320: Restaurant Review


What kind of food should I have expected when I went to Nica’s 320? The name is the owner’s wife’s stage name and the address of the restaurant. Already I was a bit confused, but was excited for the venture of giving this recently opened restaurant a try.

I walked in to find a back-lit bar and on the opposing side a long booth in the narrow room. There were tables and modern chairs with a booth wall. Ornamental trinkets lined the walls, accompanied by assorted works of art. Over head lamps hovered above the tables. The lighting was dim with some light from the windows at the front. People were walking out as I came inside. It seemed busy enough, but I was going to discover why.

I got my menu and started perusing the options. It was almost required to read the title of the dish and then the description, because it’s hard to know how to interpret what The Uptown Benny means on a menu. Or the Zulu. I looked at the descriptions before the exotic names to determine what I wanted.

I finally decided upon The Mad Hatter – a sandwich of strawberry balsamic-drizzled portabella mushrooms, caramelized onions, figs, spinach and dill-havarti. A side dish of macaroni and cheese was included, and it sounded almost juvenile that they served the traditionally simple noodle dish, but I waited to judge it. To top off the meal, I requested an order of beignets – french donuts that are tossed in powdered sugar. My friend got Margarita’s Nica Noodles.

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The wait time was small. I received my open-faced sandwich and began the eating. I decided there would be no way I could eat it like most sandwiches because of its dish-like properties, so I began cutting with my knife and fork.

It took me a while to actually figure out what I was eating. Even after studying the menu, it was hard to anatomize the different ingredients in the sandwich. The portabello mushrooms looked surprisingly un-mushroom-like. And they tasted great! They were chewy in a satisfying way. The strawberry balsamic drizzle was an oddly compatible taste. The spinach did not harass, but softened the tastes.

The supple topping and oil of the ingredients of the sandwich worked well with the bread, making it easy to cut apart. It felt more like eating a dish than a lunch sandwich.

I then moved onto the macaroni and cheese, a supposedly signature dish of Nica’s. I was surprised to find the noodles were notably adult. Thick and flavorful, it was made clear to me why the mac and cheese was made a staple in most meals on the menu. A rich cheese sauce covered the noodles, and even more shredded cheese sprinkled the top. Even when I was full, I asked for the small portion to be taken home with me.

My friend described to me her Margarita’s Nica Noodles. As she put it, it was like “deconstructed lasagna.” Saucy and warm, she was delighted.

Tempting, the beignets sat in the middle of the table, waiting to be eaten for dessert. I got the smallest order, three beignets; I later found this was the right decision after experiencing their filling effects – and that was even after I shared them.

The beignets were cake-y and sugary, but not to an extreme. They were less light than I expected, so I had to cut them. Other than that, they were appropriately dessert-like without offending. It was a nice finish to my meal.

Nica’s 320 is a distinct restaurant that adds to Kansas City’s diverse tastes. Located in the Crossroads district, it is a nice surprise to the typical meal of other restaurants.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


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Nica’s 320: Restaurant Review