After a day of pruning, weeding and mowing the rain forest that once was my yard, I was too tired to cook. I was looking for something substantial to eat. But where? Then I remembered that the Infuxn Vodka Bar, 530 S. Main St., had become Infuxn Kitchen and Cocktails.
So I wondered what might be cooking in the kitchen of Coleen Wilson, who heads the culinary team at Infuxn. I first met Wilson a couple of years ago over a bowl of borscht when she was doing small plates for the vodka bar. Anybody can make borscht, but not just anybody can make it right. It was excellent and still is.
Infuxn was a comfortable, if not classy, place to have a drink. It's now a comfortable place to eat and have a drink. The casual lounge chairs and tables have been replaced with more conventional restaurant furniture.
Happy hour is from 4 to 8 p.m. You can get a cocktail for $4. After ordering a bourbon-based drink called the "Eightball," I caught up with Wilson to get the latest news about the restaurant and her new career as a full-time chef. In about two weeks, Infuxn will unveil a new menu. The popular items on the existing menu will remain. New concepts, including more desserts, will be added.
"Right now, the Waygu burger and the home-style beef stroganoff are two of our most popular items," she said. "We will keep those. We are adding a vegan burger because people are requesting it."
The Waygu burger, sourced from Australian Wagyu herds, is topped with smoked gouda cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, lettuce and tomato. It comes with a side for $13. The creamy stroganoff is made with three cuts of beef, mushrooms and diced carrots. It is served over a bed of bowtie pasta. It comes with a slice of French bread, and a soup or salad, for $14.
The plan is to cut the vegetable provenca, the sriracha-infused egg salad sandwich and the Cobb salad from the menu. If you want to try one of those, you had better do so soon.
"It never fails that when you decide to cut something, people start ordering it. That is what has happened with the Cobb salad in the last couple of weeks or so," she said. "But we're still cutting it."
Another change will be the antipasto salad. It will be served on a flatbread. The popular crab cakes and crab dip will remain. She's looking at the possibility of bringing in fresh seafood and offering a weekly feature.
The transformation from a small-plates venue that served food from 5 to 10 p.m. to a full-blown restaurant has been huge for Wilson. Prep work begins at 8 a.m. for lunch. The self-taught chef now has five people working with her. Each is bringing something special to the table. Before that, "It was just me and the bartenders," she said.
Before she decided to change careers, Wilson was the office manager for nearly 40 years for Dr. Raymond Grote, a local pediatrician. Making the move into the unknown was a giant leap of faith for her.
"You can say that again. There have been some sleepless nights thinking about the menu. But it is so much fun looking at different recipes and trying different things, and I so enjoy the people I work with," she said.
I chose the stroganoff for dinner,0 and I'm glad I did. It was like no other stroganoff I have ever had. That apparently is a common reaction to this entree. One thing is certain: Wilson has clearly graduated from small plates to massive plates. There was enough food on my plate to feed two, maybe three, people. The beautiful thing about stroganoff is that it warms well.
To top it off, Wilson brought out a dessert for me to try that might be on the new menu. It was a blueberry sorbet. Enough said.
Infuxn hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
$30 or less
A new gift shop, June Bugz, has opened in the small shopping center in front of the Walmart at 1202 S. Madison St., in Webb City. It's next door to Little Caesar's Pizza.
Bonnie June Powers and her daughter, Rachelle Russell, have teamed up to open this gift shop where everything is $30 or less. This shop has new, vintage and craft gift items, home decor, Melissa and Doug interactive toys for children, soaps and lotions by Windwood Farms, cuddly toys by Bunnies By The Bay, and jewelry. There also are food products, including noodles by Austin Gourmet Foods, and cheese balls, dips and soups by Wind & Willow.
The shop, which opened earlier this year, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and during the summer, from 10 to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Celebrating our hometown is the theme of this week's Third Thursday street fair from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in downtown Joplin.
This Third Thursday is being sponsored by the Ozark Gateway Association of Realtors, which will conduct a raffle for a playhouse in the 200 block of Main Street. There also will be a beer garden, a photo booth, live music and food by The Phipps Brothers.
Food trucks will be featured along with a vintage car show.