Burgers and beer are a classic pairing. That's an idea driven home at Brewer’s Kitchen, where owner Chris Riggins is infusing local beer into his burgers, making them juicier and more flavorful than most.
Riggins opened Brewer’s Kitchen a few months ago in the former home of KimChee, next door to Urban Mining at 31st and Gillham. Word has spread fast about his tight menu, which includes eight signature burgers, in addition to a build-your-own burger option that comes cooked to order with your choice of side for around $12 to $15.
Using the hashtag #cookedinbeer, Brewer’s Kitchen delivers by marinating the beef for its burgers in beer for 24 hours. The meat is then ground by hand into thick patties each day. This process gives the beefy burgers a subtle beer flavor and keeps them moist and juicy once they hit the grill. But burgers aren't the only menu item that get a flavor boost from beer.
“We make all of our condiments in house using beer to give them additional flavor,” says Riggins. “There is a blueberry-stout jam, raspberry-beer jam, chipotle-beer-barbecue sauce, drunken ketchup and drunken mustard, along with a Monk & Honey mustard [made with Torn Label Brewing Co.'s Monkey & Honey beer].”
It should be noted that most of these housemade condiments tend to fall on the sweeter side, which can add tons of unexpected flavor to the burgers. For ketchup and mustard purists, squeeze bottles of both are available on request.
“My goal was to take something well-understood and comforting like a burger and dial it up in terms of unexpected flavors and toppings,” Riggins says. “One or two ingredients can really make the difference between a good burger and a great one.”
Riggins worked with local breadmakers Bagel Works to create the exact right Kaiser bun for his burgers. He wanted a bun that was soft, but with a crust that would stand up to the burger and toppings. “It took some time to get it right where I wanted it, but they were great to work with, and we just kept at it until I got it exactly right,” he says.
The menu also features a bison burger, grilled chicken and portobello mushroom burger. All sandwiches come with one side, and the crispy hand-cut french fries should not be missed. Fried Brussels sprouts and a side salad are also side options, and Gouda mac 'n' cheese is available for an extra $2.50. The sizable sides would easily be enough to make a meal for any child at the table.
Although Brewer’s Kitchen offers table service, guests use order forms on the table to place their orders, which are given to the server along with drink orders. The restaurant offers a full bar with local beer, spirits and wine selections. The bar boasts 16 rotating beers on tap and in cans and bottles, including offerings from local breweries like Cinder Block, Torn Label, Double Shift, Boulevard, Stockyards Brewing, Free State, Crane, Brewery Emperial, Martin City and many more. Spirits from local distilleries like Tom’s Town, Union Horse, J. Rieger & Co., Mean Mule and Lifted Spirits are also available, as well as local wine from Somerset Ridge Winery.
Brewer’s Kitchen also got a significant décor boost from Riggins, who added rugged reclaimed barn wood to the walls and stylish steampunk light fixtures he fashioned himself. He has updated the space in a way that makes it feel finished, comfortable and welcoming. The two garage doors that came with the space are always open on pretty days, with noise from the full bar and dining room and the smell of burgers instantly pulling passersby into the space.
Working for corporate chains like Outback Steakhouse for over 13 years, Riggins most recently served as a regional training manager for over 100 locations, giving him all of the practical restaurant experience he needed to run his own place. He chose to relocate his family from Iowa City to Kansas City specifically to open Brewer’s Kitchen here, as he had always enjoyed the growing local food scene.
When he started doing research on the type of restaurant he wanted to open in Kansas City, Riggins knew he wanted it to celebrate other local food entrepreneurs, and the sheer number of craft breweries that have opened in Kansas City over the past few years was all the inspiration he needed.
“Kansas City has an amazing craft beer scene, with so many new breweries making their own unique style of beer with quality ingredients,” says Riggins. “Brewer’s Kitchen was created to honor the passion that local brewmasters have for their own beer, and put that same passion into the food that comes out of our kitchen.”
Brewer’s Kitchen is open Wednesday through Monday from 11am to 10pm daily. The restaurant is closed on Tuesday.
Brewer’s Kitchen, 3107 Gillham Road, Midtown, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.775.1274, brewers-kitchen.com