It’s no secret that I love American food. I genuinely believe that American food, while not exactly fine dining, is one of the best cuisines in the world. From their burgers to their smoky meats, American food is a carnivore’s best friend.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that a new American place had opened near my work place! And it just so happened that my foodie/instagrammer coworker (who frustratingly took much better photos than I did despite it taking me three times longer) also wanted to try the place out as well.

So off we went to Kansas City Shuffle (KCS), an American cafe and bar located in the Rocks and co-owned by Proud Mary’s Kayne Mordini​. If you’re wondering what the name of the cafe refers to, Wikipedia tells me that it’s a confidence game where a conman let’s his mark believe they have figured out their con only to end up playing right into the conman’s hands.

While not exactly living up to this complicated name, there were some pleasant twists with the three items I ordered…

Food

If Instagram posts are anything to go by, the most popular dish on KCS’s menu was their KCS style beef brisket and waffles:

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KCS-style Beef Brisket and Waffles, with Smoked Chilli Butter and topped with a Poached Egg

I’ve had many a bad waffle in Sydney, but these waffles were surprisingly good. And by that, I mean that they were good and surprising!

They were good in that, unlike many waffles here, the exterior was nice and crispy while the interior was nice and fluffy – just like a good waffle should be.

And they were surprising in that when I think combination of American, meat and waffles, the first thing that comes to mind are Chicken Waffles. These waffles mix the sweetness of the waffles and maple syrup with the savouriness of the chicken, so here I was expecting a similar mix of sweet and savoury, except with the superiority of beef!

So I was quite surprised that there wasn’t really any sweetness here – the waffle itself was fairly savoury (at least I couldn’t taste any sweetness!), and this savouriness was combined with the smokiness of the beef brisket and smoked chilli butter. The beef brisket was nice and soft and juicy – not quite melt in your mouth soft, but nonetheless awesome, especially as it was complimented by the (subdued) spiciness of the chilli butter.

In terms of its presentation – it was an undeniably beautiful dish. The components were carefully layered from the biggest component on the bottom to the smallest component on the top, which created this nice layered look that was beautiful from both the top and the side.

It was also great that the waffle itself was split into quarters, which not only added to the visual appeal, but also made this dish easily shareable.

Finally the poached egg on top allowed for some yolk porn (which I unfortunately decided to take a half-hearted shot of in order to brisket up the pace of my photo-taking ):

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That Egg Yolk Porn

The next item I had was the fried chicken sandwich:

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Fried Chicken Sandwich with Donut Bun, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, ‘Slaw and Jalapeno Aioli

Honestly the main reason I ordered this was the fact that the buns were described as “donut buns”. Donuts? As a burger bun? Sold!

Unfortunately these were severely lacking in donut-ness. That is not to say that the buns were bad, rather it was quite the opposite: the buns resembled a nice crispy brioche, which has fallen out of favour in Sydney with the rise of the soft milk bun. This has helped define the burger/sandwich as one with texture – from the crispy bun, to the deep fried chicken to the coleslaw.

With the disappointing donot-ness of the bun though, the stand-out ingredient was definitely the buttermilk deep fried chicken. Biting into the chicken, I felt a flavour explosion in my mouth. Admittedly I couldn’t really describe what those flavours were (was it the buttermilk?), but suffice to say, the chicken was flavourful and juicy – to the point that I was genuinely taken aback.

The chicken was also complimented well by the contrast between the sourness of the coleslaw and pickles, and the spiciness of the jalapeño aioli, the spiciness being one of my Great Tenets of a Good Burger (the others being Sweetness, Texture, and Juicy/Fatty Meat).

Presentation-wise, the burger was decent. It was carefully layered, with the coleslaw providing some contrast to the brownness of the rest of the burger. I also liked the nice golden skewer that went through the centre.

Unfortunately, though, I felt the burger lacked visual presence – this was a cute burger, not a dirty, greasy, epic-looking one (ie. it does not induce heart attacks just by looking at it). To be fair, I did have Dee Why Hotel’s Zeus Burger the week before, and I work close to Bar Luca who usually has some very sexy burgers.

Now a food review is not complete with some dessert, so I went with the other popular dish at KCS – the Pancakes:

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Pancakes with Lemon Curd, Blueberries, Cream Cheese Parfait and Smoked Almonds

These were seriously some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had! …which is easy to say as I usually don’t get pancakes when I eat out (I’m never up early enough to get to the breakfast menu!). In recent memory, I’ve only had pancakes from three places: Local Mbassy (the Red Velvet Pancakes), Buttermelt Cafe (Blueberry Pancake Stack), and Pancakes on the Rocks (Grand Marnier Pancake). Of those three, only Buttermelt Cafe’s pancakes came close to matching KCS’s one in terms of taste.

On the outside, these pancakes had a nice subtle crispiness to them; and on the inside, there was a nice denseness that was also fluffy at the same time. These pancakes were in no way light – they were surprisingly heavy and I loved them for that. These pancakes were, in fact, less a dessert, and more a main!

This heaviness was balanced by the fact that, much like KCS’s waffles, there wasn’t much sweetness in the pancake itself. Instead, much of the flavour came from the cream cheese, lemon curd and berries, which I enjoyed. Of special note were also the smoky almonds that gave the pancakes a nice nutty flavour as well as adding some extra texture. The varied flavours of the cream cheese (creamy), lemon curd (sour/sweet), berries (sweet), and almonds (nutty) also prevented the pancakes from being overly sweet.

The pancakes were also berry beautifully presented, from the controlled chaos of the scattered berries, to the contrast between the cream cheese and the smoked almonds, to the small green garnishes.

Overall, I found the KCS well presented and flavourful. This was definitely a good place to both eat and take photos!

Venue

Kansas City Shuffle can be a little easy to miss due to its lack of obvious signage. In fact, I may have missed it had I not known to look out for this little hole in the wall:

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The Takeaway Hole in the Wall

I found this hole-in-the-wall kind of cute and well thought out. Instead of having takeaway customers clutter the interior of the cafe, they can instead just order from the window outside. Perfect for when you’re on the go, though perhaps not great when the weather is bad…

Walking into the KCS, I found that the cafe was essentially split into two. To the left was the more designer-y/fancy side with the kitchen and counter:

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The Fancy Left

To the right was the more open, warehouse-style space:

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The Open Right

This side had more natural light, with two seating options: either the open tables or the booths with sun roofs.

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Sun Roof for that natural overhead lighting

I preferred the more open feeling of this right side (crowded spaces gives the food photographer in me less flexibility), though the space felt a little incomplete as further to the right was a large area that didn’t particularly seem set up (not pictured).

I would’ve liked the tables to be a bit more hipster in this more open side of the cafe though. I felt that the composition on this side of the cafe (except for the sun roof booths) was more plain/boring compared to the left, which was a waste of the exposed brick walls.

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The tables on the right side of KCS are a little plain…

I felt the staff were friendly, with the co-owner (I think?) briefly chatting to us (we were obviously food bloggers/instagrammers with our cameras all out and everything) and even encouraging us to come talk to another instagrammer who was in the cafe on the other side (though I was way too shy to do so!).

The waitress also didn’t mind us moving when after we sat on one of the free tables, we immediately realised that we preferred the booths instead and so moved there (the cafe was fairly quiet on this side at 11.30 which meant it wasn’t a problem to do so).

Conclusion

The good:

  • Well presented food (waffles & pancakes) with the taste to match (waffles, pancakes, burger)
  • Friendly service
  • Open warehouse area that allowed more movement for food photos

The bad:

  • Donut bun for the Fried Chicken Burger was not very donut-y!
  • Tables were a little plain (only a minus if you want to take photos!)
  • The right side of the cafe was a little disorganised visually

Verdict:

  • 4 / 5 (SHOULD TRY for the well presented, flavourful food and friendly service)

Kansas City Shuffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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