I’ve been driving past Pangea for several weeks now, wondering what kind of a “cafe and market” would be popping up on this out-of-the-way little strip mall on 39th Street (quite a ways from the Restaurant Row near State Line, closer to Southwest Trafficway).
Thursday, I stuck my head in… not much market, mostly cafe. I was warmly greeted by Martin Rudderforth, who tells me he first came to KC five years ago to work at Piropos, where he met the woman who became his wife, Wendy. They decided to open their own place, and this is it.
The cafe itself is bright, sunny, welcoming, and comfortable. Most of the food seems to be prepared ahead of time, and you order at the counter (which has a display case full of the goodies available). Along one wall, you see a few shelves of crackers, chocolates, beers and wines, and there’s a cooler with some cheeses.
After ordering, you take your oddly out-of-place plastic Pepsi cup to the drink dispensers, fill up and go sit down to wait for your food (marked by your little international flag sign). Upon conversation with the server, we found he was a brother of one of the owners… and the young woman who took our order was Wendy’s sister. So this is a family venture…
My husband and I went there tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit… enough that we decided to sign up for their prix fixe international dinner next month (featuring food and beers from four countries: Canada, Greece, Scotland and (drat, can’t remember the fourth, and the website doesn’t list it, either… sorry!)), $30 per person.
The counterwoman and the server both were friendly and knowledgable about the beverages and food. While the server doesn’t take your order, he will help out in any other way during the meal. Everything came out quickly, hot and fresh and beautifully plated.
The menu featured items from all over the world: a Jamaican Jerk Pork Skewer ($7, spicy jerk-marinated pork skewer, with sweet potato puree and guava jelly), a Beef & Guinness Pie ($10, beef tenderloin simmered in Guinness, baked in a pastry shell, set on colcannon), Pad Thai Noodles ($10, rice noodles cooked with chicken, lap chong sausage and egg, topped with cilantro and peanuts), and Chicken Tandoori ($8, chicken thighs stuffed with Basmati rice served with garbanzos and spiced yogurt sauce), plus an array of paninis, soups, and salads.
Tonight we had the lentil soup (a new addition to the menu, I was told), which was full of tiny French green lentils, teeny cubed carrots, and several choice bits of pork. It was gently spiced, hot and filling, perfect for a chilly fall evening.
The empanadas were too tempting to pass up, so we shared a Creamy Humita ($2.50, filled with corn, broccoli, potato, and garlic). The shell was crisp and browned and perfect… somebody in that kitchen clearly knows their pastry. The filling was also good, earthy and flavorful, and made me want to try the other two soon (ham and cheese; ground beef and green olive).
We also tried the pumpkin ravioli ($7, with ricotta and topped with pinenut sage butter). Large and round, the three homemade filled pastas were delicate and satisfying.
My husband, who is something of an amateur pastry chef himself, tried the Dulce de Leche Mil Hojas ($5, layers of phyllo dough and dulce de leche topped with toasted meringue). He raved about the crisp layers sandwiching the not-too-sweet caramelly filling that featured a hint of cinnamon.
I decided on the flourless chocolate torte ($4), and it almost finished me off, it was so rich and dense. This dish had the only misstep that I saw all evening, and that was a supremed piece of grapefruit alongside the slices of strawberry, leaves of mint and whipped cream that garnished the torte (along with a few drops of raspberry and caramel sauces). It looked glorious, but the grapefruit flavor just did not belong with that chocolate. It was jarring, and while I could have just left it there, I subscribe to the notion that the garnish is there to provide an accent not only visually but via taste as well.
That’s a pretty minor quibble. We’re looking forward to going back for the dinner (November 6, IIRC). I’d love to hear what kind of experiences other folks are having at Pangea…