le fou frog by Anna Petrow

I would call Le Fou Frog Kansas City's best kept secret, if it weren't for the hundreds of awards and accolades they've received. Well known throughout the country, if it weren't for the constant praise you would never guess that 5-star fare awaits you inside this tiny pink brick stand-alone in KC's River Market. 

But upon stepping inside, it's clear you're in the most authentic French restaurant in the Midwest. The staff is entirely French, and will great you accordingly. And treat you accordingly, too– just try order the Moulard Duck with raspberry au jus medium instead of Jean-Pierre's recommendation of medium rare. See what happens. And although the atmosphere of candlelight, roses and, of course, frogs, certainly sets the French mood, it is clear they only care about one thing here: the food. However, their culinary photography was not nearly up to par with the quality of dishes they serve here. I was so pleased to be able to come in and photograph their food so that their website content could be reflective of their highly regarded offerings. 

French staples such as the Steak au Poivre are executed perfectly. Mussels, escargot, sole limned– all the classics are present. However, if the plentiful permanent menu isn't enough for you, you're in luck. Each night, Le Fou Frog offers up a gigantic array of specials, writing all fifteen of them out by hand on a chalkboard set at each table. Take a look at some of their mouthwatering offerings: 

hotel normandie by Anna Petrow

It would not be unfair to categorize LA’s Hotel Normandie as a hotel. The nearly century old building evades the modern trend of plush interiors and luxury amenities from which to draw its customers. Rather than offering a closet, each room is equipped with shelf and a couple hangers. The bathroom lacks nearly any practical counter space. The hotel has neither a bar nor a restaurant. It is missing the spacious workout facility, the posh rooftop pool or the complimentary continental breakfast. 

Hotel Normandie's lobby

Hotel Normandie's lobby

Really, rather than a hotel, it's much more like a boarding house.  To call Hotel Normandie quaint would be a gross understatement. The lobby transports you back to the early 20th Century. The halls are filled with wonderfully charming works of art. Meticulously sanded hardwood floors make it difficult not to think about the hotel in its earliest beginnings. The lobby even has an old Underwood typewriter, where guests can leave musings that will later be posted on a twitter account in the typewriter's honor. Normally, hotel photography in a smaller-scale locale such as Hotel Normandie is a challenge– you have to search for unique details, find ways to make it seem larger. But the charm of this place made it a breeze, and these are truly some of the best content I've produced for a hospitality client. 

The charming rooms feature hardwood flooring, minimalistic style and the comfiest bed you could ask for

The charming rooms feature hardwood flooring, minimalistic style and the comfiest bed you could ask for

Hotel Normandie’s recent restoration offers a unique time-portal. In a city that is always moving, its history and distinctiveness are certainly welcome changes: and it's this authentic experience that far outweighs any amenity a regular hotel could provide.  

extra virgin by Anna Petrow

If you're looking for a colorful experience, Extra Virgin is it. The tapas restaurant situated right in the heart of downtown Kansas City has a menu boasting dishes you'd never dream of finding in the Midwest: crispy pig ear salad, beef heart tartare and duck tongue tacos are just a few of the wild choices if you're feeling adventurous. But Extra Virgin makes Spanish cuisine approachable for anyone– who can say no to poblano mac & cheese in an iron skillet?

The bar at Extra Virgin

The bar at Extra Virgin

This is definitely a place to go with a crowd, and stay for awhile. The wine menu is extensive, and the tapas are arranged so that you can start with a lighter dish like their grilled bread and warm ricotta spread before you move on to heavier fare like the popular Spanish meatballs (served toasty-hot out of wood-burning fire) and the wood fired hangar steak glazed with bacon relish and sprinkled with jicama and grilled cherries. All of these delicious options are balanced out by fresh small plates including the grilled Mexican corn in a poblano-lime butter and the crisp summer melon salad.  

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No matter what you order, this is a place to stay the entire evening. A restaurant taking such care in the authenticity and originality of each dish, no matter how small, is one that truly cares about sharing the art of food with its patrons. This is evidenced by the frequent appearance of the chef, who will happily sit down and tell you that the thinly sliced Serrano ham on your plate was the result of a 40-pound souvenir from a tasting tour in Madrid.  

It's a place to stay and share and practice an art all to often lost on Westerners– the endless dinner filled with conversation floating above the Spanish guitar in the background, lulling in between bottles of vino Rioja, and ending, of course, in churros & chocolate. 

michael smith by Anna Petrow

Right on Main St in downtown KC you'll find Michael Smith, the namesake of the James Beard award winning chef. I had the special treat of being invited behind the scenes into the kitchen for my most recent shoot there– the crazy hot, fast-paced, expletive filled kitchen felt just like shooting sports again. And in a way, that's what it is. In the race to plate delicacies like WHAT and WHAT, you see the same delicately trained movements, precision and skill that you would at an sporting event. Except it's completely delicious, and you can be sure you'll be nowhere near cheesy nachos or hot dogs. 

Chef Michael Smith plating the signature lobster anniversary dish. Check out his inspiration wall in the background! 

CAMPO LINDO FARMS CHICKEN CACCIATORE TALLEGIO CHEESE, SPECK, POTATO PURÉE

CAMPO LINDO FARMS CHICKEN CACCIATORE
TALLEGIO CHEESE, SPECK, POTATO PURÉE

GRILLED MISSOURI PEACHES ON A HOMEMADE WALNUT BROWNIE WARM BERRY COMPOTE

GRILLED MISSOURI PEACHES ON A HOMEMADE WALNUT BROWNIE
WARM BERRY COMPOTE

Hungry yet? Go check out their menu at http://www.michaelsmithkc.com 

petit ermitage by Anna Petrow

Tucked away on a side street just off of Sunset, you'll find Petit Ermitage, a boutique hotel that feels much more like a home. Filled with bohemian touches like Moroccan lanterns, hand painted furniture, and a seemingly endless collection of odd art, this hotel is an oasis for those looking for a more low-key LA experience. 

The rooftop pool has excellent lounge seating and a delicious Moroccan-inspired poolside menu. Not to mention that view! 

The rooftop pool has excellent lounge seating and a delicious Moroccan-inspired poolside menu. Not to mention that view! 

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This is one of the few places I've stayed in LA where you are actually able to walk to nearby bars, restaurants and shops, so location is a huge plus here. But to be honest, Petit Ermitage makes it hard to find a reason to leave. From the breakfast spread in the "butterfly room" to the outdoor rooftop garden dining and an after-dinner drinks menu by the fire (complete with fur blankets, kid you not) there is more than enough to keep you entertained. This place was a dream to photograph! Hope you enjoy.


life is better spent in new places by Anna Petrow

Thanks for coming to my blog! This is a new project for me, and one that I'm really excited to get started on. I'm fortunate to have traveled to some pretty incredible places all over the world at such a young age in life, and I wanted to start sharing my experiences with more than just photos. I'll be sharing some of my past trips here, but also keeping you posted on new places I visit. 

This blog won't just be about travel though– I think there's always something new to find close to home.  A huge part of that for me is food, and you'll be seeing plenty here about that. It's all about being curious, and looking for new things no matter where you are. Life is better spent in new places, and I'm looking forward to sharing something that might be new to you.