Webster House

Webster House’s second floor restaurant is not new.  But its visibility has certainly increased since next-door neighbor, the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, opened in the fall of 2011.  Originally open only for lunch and Happy Hour, the restaurant now also serves dinner Wednesday-Saturday, brunch on Sunday, and the occasional late night for performance-goers.Red room--Webster House

Chef Matt Arnold has the kitchen humming at all hours, and I’ve recently enjoyed some great brunches and lunches there. It’s such a beautiful restaurant, and really an ideal place to take out-of-towners. Each dining room is different: the red room is the most formal, if you’re in the kitchen you can watch your meal being made and, if you sit in the library, you can belly up to the bar. Webster House does a brisk private event business as well.Kitchen--Webster HouseP1000804

The brunch menu ranges from fried chicken and waffles or biscuits and gravy to smoked salmon hash and a granola parfait. I ordered migas; a mountain of scrambled eggs and black bean puree, layered between crisp corn tortillas and topped with homemade salsa and cilantro crema.MIgas--Webster HouseSmoked Salmon Hash--Webster house

The roasted romaine poblano Caesar was inventive and lively. I always love grilled romaine, but this was elevated to another level by the kick from the poblano pepper.Roasted Romaine Poblano Caesar--Webster House

Chef Matt has spent time in the Southeast, so it’s not surprising to see some Southern specialities on the menu, including fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits. The latter is served with Burgers Attic country ham, red eye vinaigrette, sautéed mushrooms, roasted red peppers and scallions, and, though rich, was easy to finish because of its manageable size.Shrimp & Grits--Webster House

If you love French toast, you’re hungry and you have a sweet tooth, you may find the Creme brulee French toast with Brioche, pears and spiced syrup to be calling your name. It was too sweet for me, but if  that’s your thing you’ll be in heaven.Creme Brulee French Toast

At lunch, there’s a fabulous almost- classic Reuben on the menu–thick slices of corned beef with just the right amount of cheese, slaw (not sauerkraut) and thousand island dressing– grilled to perfection. And the original Herbed Garden sandwich from the Crestwood Galleries has made a comeback.Reuben--Webster HouseHerbed Garden sandwich--Webster House

If you’re lucky, Sarah will wait on you. Like all of the servers, she’s very capable and knowledgeable about the menu. But she’s also very cheerful and upbeat, and who wouldn’t want to be around someone like that?

A word to the wise–if you plan on dining at Webster House before or after a performance next door, reserve well in advance. On the nights the PAC is full, so is the restaurant.

Webster House on Urbanspoon

Succotash

I’ve always been a fan of Succotash, but more so since Beth Barden moved the operation to 26th and Holmes a couple of years ago. It still has the funkiness of the original River Market location, but service is better and it’s more spacious. With a larger kitchen, the offerings have expanded to include so many mouthwatering options that I always have trouble deciding what to order. I don’t get there as often as I would like, but I was there twice recently, once for brunch and the other time for lunch, both times trying new items on the menu.

Sunday brunch is always crowded, and since they don’t accept reservations we got there about 9:30 to beat the rush. We had our pick of tables at that hour, but the restaurant was full by the time we left.

My son had the Burrito of Love; a huge pancake masquerading as a tortilla, with eggs and pancake wrapped inside. The pancake was light and fluffy, though the meal was anything but light. My pork hash wasn’t for the faint of heart either. Beautiful pork carnitas were served with their house fries (which could have been more well-done), black beans and pico de gallo, all of which was topped with two fried eggs and salsa verde. It’s as close to Santa Fean food as we get in Kansas City, though in New Mexico, the dish would have been smothered with green chile. I asked for more of the salsa verde to try to achieve that effect and was charged an extra $.75. Not a big deal, I guess, but when I think of those cheap breakfasts in Santa Fe it did give me pause. The good news is that it probably meant that the salsa was homemade and therefore labor intensive. It was a great breakfast, and in my case, lunch and dinner….I had no appetite the rest of the day.

I went back for lunch the following week and, remembering the perfectly roasted pork in my breakfast hash, opted for the Cuban sandwich. It had been griddled inside of soft and chewy baguette, layered with ham, melted swiss, creamy mustard and chunks of pickle, enough for every bite. It had a bit of a kick to it, which I never quite figured out, and was accompanied by those same home fries…but this time I asked for and received them extra crispy.  It was as good a Cuban as I’ve had in Kansas City, and I hope it becomes a fixture on Succotash’s menu.  It’s hard for me not to get the Cobb salad with succotash and a fried egg on top and buttermilk basil dressing, but this is my go-to lunch for now.

Treat yourself soon.

Succotash on Urbanspoon

Genessee Royale Bistro

Todd Schulte has wasted little time making his newly opened Genessee Royale Bistro in the West Bottoms a destination spot. Schulte started as the Happy Soupeater, delivering hearty and tasty soups around the metro before opening Happy Gillis Cafe in Columbus Park. Like Happy Gillis, Genessee Royale Bistro is open for breakfast and lunch only, serving simple yet innovative fare.

Walking in the renovated gas station at 11:45 am on a Tuesday morning, we snagged the last table before a line started to form. The space is very appealing, with concrete floors, small tables scattered throughout, and a long counter the length of the room for eating or watching the servers do their thing. In warmer weather there are two garage doors which will open onto a patio for outdoor dining.

The menu is compact, but I wanted one of almost everything (ham salad is not going to pass these lips). We saw a cup of French onion soup go by,  and a good-looking hamburger on a Wolferman’s English muffin. But the sandwiches sounded too good to pass up. The day’s special was a BLT with roasted tomatoes, garlic mayo on toasted bread, which was absolutely phenomenal. It debunked the myth that BLT’s should only be served in the summer when the tomatoes are straight from the garden. Up until I sank my teeth into Todd’s version, I believed it, but the roasted tomatoes were a sweet as candy and bursting with flavor. Genessee Royale’s corned beef sandwich is a fun and delicious riff on a Reuben. The sandwich is served warm on toasted bread, and layered with  Gruyère, Brussel sprouts and grainy mustard.  What a clever idea to replace the typical sauerkraut or cabbage with Brussel sprouts. And I’m not a huge fan of corned beef, preferring to eat it only as part of a hash dish or in a Reuben, but this corned beef wasn’t too salty or fatty, my usual complaints as far as that particular meat is concerned.

Splitting both sandwiches, I kept alternating, and never did decide which I preferred. Each mouthful was an explosion of complementary flavors and tastes, and I could easily order the same thing again tomorrow…and the next day.

GRB is also open for breakfast. The menu features several egg dishes, including corned beef hash and an egg and cheese sandwich, as well as coffee cake and fried chicken and biscuits. I’ve been told that I need to sample the breakfast potatoes, and I also want to try the bacon marmalade since that’s a new concept to me. Maybe the restaurant ought to try serving it with lettuce and those roasted tomatoes for another twist on the basic BLT.

In the summer when the sun shines on that outdoor patio, I suspect this may be one of the most popular lunch spots in town. Judging from the crowd on a winter day, perhaps it already is.

Genessee Royale Bistro on Urbanspoon

Cafe Tempo at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

Webster House’s loss is Cafe Tempo‘s gain. Tim Johnson, former chef of Sebree and Crestwood Galleries and Webster House, is now running the kitchen in the Nerman cafe, which sits on the Johnson County Community College campus. Though not the menu is not as high brow or upscale, Johnson continues to emphasize quality and freshness (but he can’t fully utilize his talents in this setting).

The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch. After standing in line to place an order, you wait for your number to be called. There are salads and sandwiches, including panini, most of which can be mixed and matched. We had a very pretty but typical cobb salad (with canned olives, which always ruins a salad in my book), and a tasty mango chicken salad.

The description, which indicated grilled chicken on greens with fruits and a mango curry vinaigrette, was in fact a chopped chicken salad with those fruits tossed in with the chicken. Though not what I thought I ordered, it was a successful dish and I enjoyed it. Light and flavorful, leaving just enough room for dessert. Which we didn’t order, but should have–the carrot cake looked fabulous.

But we did have a plate of homemade potato chips. Though the portion was not what I would call generous, every chip was perfect. Thick, crisp and not too oily.

If you’re in western Johnson County, Cafe Tempo is a pleasant place to enjoy a bite. But parking is not easy–the JCCC campus is packed, so allow extra time if you’re meeting someone for lunch, you’ll need it.

Succotash is Moving

You never want to go to a restaurant four days before it closes. But that was the situation I found myself in several days ago, when I suggested to a friend that we go to Succotash in River Market.  As we walked in, there were boxes everywhere and the casualness that usually reigns here seemed downright sketchy.  We could have walked out, but since I’ve never had a bad meal at Succotash, we persevered and weaved our way through the mismatched chairs and wobbly tables. When we sat down, there was a tent card on the table indicating that the restaurant is moving to 2601 Holmes on November 1. That explained the piles of food and supplies that laid about; clearly moving day was approaching.

Fortunately, the kitchen was operating just fine and lunch was delicious. I had the cobb salad– theirs is an unusual variation with succotash, a fried egg on top, and buttermilk pesto dressing. The menu has other interesting salads as well as a long list of sandwiches. Or, if you’re in the mood for breakfast, it’s served all day. The “Burrito of Love” is a humongous pancake wrapped around eggs, bacon and cheese.

Succotash is going to leave a big void when it vacates its current location. Summer weekends will not be the same without a trip to the City Market and brunch on Succotash’s patio, sipping coffee and people-watching. I’m anxious to check out their new digs, though. I hope the new space retains the funkiness of the original, albeit without all the boxes.

Succotash on Urbanspoon

1924 Main

IMG_0348IMG_0349Hooray! 1924 Main has started serving lunch again. I used to tout it as having one of the best noontime deals in town, and I am happy that it is once more an ideal place for a quality meal at an extremely reasonable price. Specifically, two dishes for $10–you just can’t beat that. And we’re not talking two dainty portions–the sandwiches are quite substantial, so big eaters need not worry that they won’t get enough to eat.

We were treated to those delicious fried green beans with aioli and toasted garlic. I  then enjoyed a tomato watermelon salad with feta and mint, and a pulled pork sandwich with a crisp fried green tomato and slaw on a hearty pumpernickel bun. The fish tacos are another winner. The fish had a blackened seasoning and was served with tomato salsa and a chipotle crema. The pork belly BLT was very tempting–I look forward to trying that sandwich next visit along with a grilled calamari and barley salad.

Those looking for a quick lunch will find it here. If you order two dishes they are served together, in separate bowls or plates sitting on one long platter. Very attractively presented and also smart, so people can eat and get back to work.

Recognizing the strain our economy has put on diners’ wallets, owner Rob Dalzell has revamped 1924 Main’s dinner menu as well, so that it is also very affordable. Dinner is now 2 for $20 or 3 for $25. The menu features about seven entrees, including a pimento cheese burger, short ribs and a pork shank, as well as 10 starters. You may remember my rant in an earlier post about the outrageous prices at Houston’s–here you’ll get a satisfying three course dinner for less than those ribs! IMG_0350

Rob also owns Chef Burger and Pizza Bella. The pricing here is now on a par with his other venues.

1924Main.com

1924 Main on Urbanspoon