There are many reasons to visit Webster House, as more and
more Kansas Citians are discovering.
There’s its historical background as a grade school, impeccably restored
and improved. There’s its fabulous bar
and happy hour. There are its too
inviting internal “shops” where I can always find something I “need.” There’s its great proximity to the Kauffman
Center (no accident, that) and the fact you can eat there, park there (free)
and walk a few steps to a performance.
There’s its lovely patio and Sunday brunch menu.
And then there’s Chef Matthew Arnold. And, he would very quickly add, his talented
and loyal staff. This executive chef,
“discovered” after a nationwide search, turned out to be a Lee’s Summit native
– as these things go, he didn’t even know he was being interviewed for a job in
Kansas City. So by mid-2011, he packed
his bags in North Carolina (The Dunes Restaurant) and took on the position. Challenges included a soon to be skyrocketing
volume (serve 200+ people the regular menu in the same 1.5 hours before a
performance? A burgeoning outside
catering capability,(500 people, your place)?
Immediate and increasing demand, which he helped create of course, for
on-premises dining and groups (party on-premises for 350?) Nothing is a problem to this guy. Challenge, maybe. Fun, definitely.
Probably all chefs love food, but Matt’s enthusiasm is truly
contagious. Unlike some, he cooks at
home, when he’s home, all the time, often spending his time perfecting or
tweaking a dish he loves. Pancakes, for
instance, were a recent in-depth Sundays study. His favorite and continuous
reading addiction is, you guessed it, cookbooks. He loves to try all kinds of cuisine and
still likes the food he grew up on – his granma’s fried green tomatoes, shrimp
and grits, and the meat and potatoes of the Midwest – all of which he now does,
with a twist.
Matt’s favorite thing about cheffing? Well, there’s food of course. But he also says it’s the people he’s come in
contact with over his nearly 30 years in the business (yes, he started very
young), friends and memories from all over the country. He also mentions how hard working and
persistent everyone he works with is and the passion for food and service they
Matt wanted to be sure I remembered Webster House is not
JUST a before-the-theatre event and it’s definitely not a “ladies who lunch”
only place. “Please don’t pigeonhole us,” he reminded.
As our conversation continued so easily, at one point we talked about
the celebrity chef stuff where the persona sometimes seems stronger than the
food. Matt’s philosophy is one that many could, should replicate: “Stay myself, be simple, come on strong,
focus on food.”
Kansas City, MO 64108
I just returned from a delightful lunch at Pig & Finch. I was greeted at the door by a friendly young woman and taken to my table. Russ (the wait staff person who comes highly recommended) took time to tell us about the menu options that were "in season" I chose the fish taco's that were delicious and will be off the menu at the end of the week plus the butternut squash and kale salad. The service was excellent, the atmosphere was wonderful and the patio is open for enjoying the weather.
Make this your next destination for an unforgettable experience. Pig & Finch
11570 Ash Street
Leawood, KS 66211 Ph. (913) 322-7444
The Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Leawood offers transport to another time and place, where cares are swept away and secrets are both shared and made. Located across the street from the Town Center Plaza on the southeast corner of 119th and Roe, youll be able to unwind after a long day of shopping with delectable food, first-class cocktails and swinging live music in a truly unique Leawood steakhouse atmosphere.
New dishes now include items such as:
Steak Flatbread with blue cheese, cherry peppers, mozzarella and balsamic glazed onions
Loaded Potato Tots with bacon, chives, cheddar cheese & truffle aioli
Sesame Chive Salmon with steamed spinach and sherry-soy glaze
4501 119th Street
Leawood, KS 66209 (913) 345-0800
Hopefully you’ve read my most recent spread in The Guide about desserts (if not, click here). I do so like
talking about spreads and not be referring to my irreparable waistline.
Anyway, one of the pastry chefs I talked about was Joseph
Jackson at Affäre, a downtown establishment whose reputation for fine cuisine
continues to escalate. You can finish
off your dinner with a blaze – literally.
Chef Jackson has created a fiery way for you to enjoy a sweet
concoction, but also ask questions as you learn a little bit about the science
supporting interesting effects and tastes.
Jackson, who worked at with American Restaurant’s Nick Wesemann (James
Beard nominee for best pastry chef), says his interest in molecular gastronomy
increased there – and his presentation really reflects this. So ask for the
painted dessert and prepare to interact with artwork.
Here’s how it works:
you choose which desserts you and your companion(s) want. Think apple
strudel, a deconstructed German chocolate cake, a mousse , for instance. BTW, you need at least two people for this but
they’ve served many more. A metal cart
is wheeled out with all kinds of bowls, bottles, spoons, and various
ingredients, and a flat glass plate is set before you. Your chosen desserts are
placed appropriately. Then the fun
begins as the plate is “garnished ” with all kinds of different and beautiful
ingredients – from gelées to icings to fruit and ice cream. And then, voila! final secret ingredients are
added, and the entire thing is set ablaze, sparks flying upward for an ending
flourish. It is gorgeous! And totally delicious. An experience for sure.
Restaurant in Briarcliff is unique in many ways including the one-of-kind art
work that creates a dining environment that’s relaxed, friendly and fun. Just
about all of the artwork placed in the bar & dining areas are from the
streets, antique shops and galleries of Buenos Aires.
For example, the pictured small three-dimensional “Newsstand” located next to
the reception desk is from the weekly Sunday art fair in the San Telmo area
(often considered the original home of the Tango). This handmade and detailed
art represents the thousands of street corner kiosks where Argentines stop to
shop for their news, magazines and candy bars. These kiosks are only
outnumbered by the flower stands that also dot BA’s boulevards.
Of course, in addition to enjoying the art work our Argentine style food and
service are enhanced by the one-of-a kind views overlooking downtown Kansas
During the end of March 2015 and the month of April 2015, mention this blog and receive 20% discount of your favorite Argentinian wine.
March is oyster month at JaxFish House & Oyster Bar. Oysters are delicious, AND one of the most
nutritionally well-balanced foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and
During Jax KC's first ever
oyster month, we celebrate this amazing mollusk by partnering with the Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society of Greater Kansas City to raise funds and awareness for
this valuable charitable organization.
Our most exciting event occurs
at the end of the month when, on Sunday March 29 at 2:00pm we stage an oyster
eating competition. Teams of four will square off against each other- and the
clock- to determine the most proficient oyster eaters in KC.Entry fee for the
competition is $400/team. The winning team receives a $1,000 cash
During the entire month, we
also feature the "Dozen Dozens" promotion. Every time a Jax guest
orders a dozen oysters, they will receive a raffle ticket. At month's end, the
winner is drawn and will receive a punch card for 12 free dozen oysters to be
enjoyed throughout the year.
The Let It Slide promotion is
another fun opportunity for oyster fans to celebrate. Snap a pic of your best
oyster-slurping shot and post to instagram. Use #jaxoystermonth and geo-tag
your Jax location. Win a $100 gift card if your photo is the best.
The BigRedF Restaurant Group (their spelling) headquartered
in Boulder recently has provided me two great happy hours. We started at 4 p.m. when they opened . . .
and just kept eating. I think this is
more than worth going to the Plaza for – and the fact there is plentiful
parking through the Hotel Sorella entrance or off Belleview just makes it even
Now, I don’t eat raw oysters any time of day, happy hour or
not. Companions have told me they’re excellent.
At Happy Hour, there are 11 other items, ranging from $5 to $7 plus some
oysters at $1.25 each. The steamed
mussels come in two versions and I loved the coconut milk with panang curry
version, somewhat to my surprise. The
fried calamari with a lime aioli and even the tuna melt are delish as well –
but every single thing we tried there, including the lump blue crab cake on the
regular menu, spoke beautifully to us.
As befitting an excellent Happy Hour, there are five cheaper
drinks, not all vodka, and their martinis are $7, well cocktails are $5, drafts
are a dollar off and there’s a white and a red wine for $6. Great bar atmosphere and friendly (and talented)
bartenders should you want something more creative.
I was really happy at Jax.
I think you will be, too – if good food and drink do it for you from 4-6
p.m. They do for me.
4814 Roanoke Pkwy Kansas City, MO 64112 Ph. (816) 437-7940
For those of us who consider pie (and ice cream) the perfect
breakfast, dessert is more than just the end of the meal. It is celebration, it is the best reason to
linger, it is the ultimate fireworks to the sit-down portion of the evening.
It is compulsory.
Thankfully, many Kansas City restaurants agree. They make the grand effort to satisfy the
sweet desires of their patrons, whether they outsource, leave it to the chef
and kitchen to create, or have a professional pastry chef at the helm.
Some restaurants recognize the time and creativity involved
in presenting a great dessert and decide to simply leave the work to someone
else. Sometimes they tell you this;
sometimes not. But what most do is to
find the very best dessert that reflects who they are and what their customers
want. And if, apparently, it’s the
Costco double chocolate cake that people want, I’m not telling you where that
Waldo Pizza, a place you might not think about for desserts,
has many, there because of owner Phil Bourne’s love of them. Their menu proudly proclaims they serve Ted
Drewe’s custard (in keeping with his St. Louis roots) and notes their tiramisu
is imported from Italy, their cupcakes are from Babycakes, and their white
chocolate cheesecake is made locally by Phil’s Italian barber’s wife. They also make their own.
Some people have created such a special dessert that
restaurants are eager to serve it and thus contract specifically for that one item. Such is Jude’s rum cake, known for its
consistent high quality and local ingredients.
The business is owned by catering entrepreneur (Belly Up BBQ) Craig
Adcock who came up with the cake because his clients wanted a dessert. It is served at restaurants such as JJ’s,
Tannin, West Side Local, the Farmhouse, and others in and out of town as well –
some 35 and counting. His mother-in-law,
whose recipe serves as the base, would be proud.
The second way restaurants do desserts is that someone in house,
often the chef, creates them and then they are made either by the chef or by
one or two individuals on the staff.
This is probably the most common.
Ophelia’s in Independence, Café Provence in Prairie Village, Room 39, Hollywood
Casino and many others rely on their chefs’ mastery of dessert art. Joseph Jackson at Affäre does both
traditional and seasonal desserts and his painted desserts at your table are
well worth foregoing your diet.
A slightly different approach is personified by Liz Miller
at Pierpont’s who has been “extremely lucky” as she puts it. She started out as
a server and bartender, helped prep and liked it (and did) so well that she
started working on desserts. Now she’s
in charge of them under the guidance of the executive chef, Matt Barnes. Her goal is simple – the complete and total
expertise as demanded of a premier dessert chef.
That is the culminating step: the pastry chef. That designation can be achieved through both
schooling and practice. Chef Patrick Parmentier, program director at L’École
Culinaire, points out that programs like his, Johnson County Community College,
and the Art Institutes offer a specialty and various degrees in pastry (and
desserts). Every dessert chef, he says,
must know the basics of the kitchen and management of a restaurant if s/he is
to be successful. And more women than men are pastry chefs, he adds – the
reverse, still, of head chefs.
The pastry chefs in town all exemplify a true breadth of
expertise. Adding a pastry chef to one’s
retail kitchen is a substantial commitment of space, expense, and devotion to
the philosophical concept of the importance of dessert. The 801 Restaurants exemplify that commitment
– all their restaurants have its own pastry chef and each member of the 801
Group (Chophouses, Fish, and Pig and
Finch) serves different desserts. At Bluestem and now Rye, Megan Garrelts has
vastly affected the local as well as the national dessert scene with her and
husband Colby’s cookbook, eponymously named bluestem,
The American Restaurant’s famed pastry chef and now James
Beard nominee, Nick Wesemann, mentions that what is best about being a pastry
chef is the creativity involved – taking raw ingredients like sugar, flour,
butter and devising something that is special. He also touts the independence, pace, and
setting one’s own standards and then meeting them in a fine restaurant. He likens the job, somewhat, to a scientist’s
– one must know ingredients, chemical reactions, formulas – but he is able to
tinker until it is simply perfect. Pastry chef Joseph Jackson at Affäre agrees with Nick, whom
he credits with a great part of his educational training. It was there, too, he became more familiar
with molecular gastronomy, a style of cooking which relies on scientific
principles for its innovation. He and
colleague Clinton Smith were watching “A Matter of Taste,” a documentary about Paul
Liebrandt and something they saw fired (literally) them up – and thus, the
famous painted dessert you can order for two to forty at the downtown Affäre.
Several chefs mentioned that (too) many people skip desserts,
due to calories, expense, being full, or a misbegotten sense of
superiority. (Well, they didn’t say that
last part, I did.) Perhaps one should forego that last couple bites of the beef
bourguignon or the extra slice of bread and instead, truly satisfy the palate,
sparkling the end of the evening with a fabulous dessert.
A Few Signature - Don’t Miss These Desserts
Gaslight Grill – Any seasonal cobbler
McCormicks and Schmick's – Chocolate Bag
Melting Pot – Chocolate fondue Jack Stack - Carrot Cake
I’m going to be doing several more blogs about the sweeter
side of life – it’s just so cheerful to think about desserts! A wonderful dessert is a really great way to
extend an evening, even if you have to have it with decaf. Or more wine.
Ra Sushi - Sweet Mochi Trio
My last blog here was about the new monthly desserts now
occurring at Harvey’s in Union Station (see below). It’s nice to know you can count on something
different each month and what a fabulous excuse to hang out a while in
wonderful Union Station.
And in our spring issue of The Restaurant Guide, I talk about pastry and all things dessert. One thing I learned is how few true pastry chefs
there are out there (and why) and that many “regular” chefs fulfill that
function, too, extremely well in their busy kitchens. I also get to talk to talented pastry chefs
like Nick Wesemann at the American and Joseph Jackson at Affäre – look for more
on them later.
Think about going to the Hilton hotel, where I've never been until recently. It's only been there for oh, 16 or 17 years. It's been redone.
Importantly, from my standpoint as I'm probably not going to stay there: try their newly re-imagined restaurant.
It's quite, quite good. NOT hotel food, whatever that used to mean. It doesn't look so much like a hotel, either. Not the bar, the restaurant. It is, in fact, a place you could hang out. They have a nice happy hour from 4 - 7 pm. $3 draft beers, $5 house wines, a $7 specialty cocktail, and small plates, very cheap, ranging from home made chips at $3 to crab cakes at $7. Not a huge selection, but plenty enough. Their lunch and dinner selections are reasonably priced as well and the menu is pretty extensive. The hamburger that walked by us (not on its own) looked just great.
Since I don't live close, I'm definitely putting this on my list for where to go when coming home from the airport. Pleasegod, sooner than later.
Asado Urban Grill
801 NW 112th St
Kansas City, MO 64153
Ph. (816) 801-4006
Hopefully you’ve read my most recent spread in The Guide about desserts (if not, click here ). I do so like talking about spreads and no...
The Restaurant Guide of Kansas City was first published in the spring of 1997. Magazines are distributed free of charge to the general public throughout the Greater Kansas City area at hundreds of locations. Books can be picked up at each participating restaurant, hotels/motels, concierge desks, tourist information bureaus, banks, major employers, and numerous outside display locations.