To survive in a town with a population of just less than 4,500, Chris Feaster needs to take the pretension out of the farm-to-table movement.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
Located about an hour southwest of downtown Kansas City, his funky Feaster’s Bistro at 519 Ames St. in Baldwin City, Kan., is about as affordable, down-home and delicious as it gets.
While Feaster is in the kitchen preparing one of his signature dishes — Rocky Hill elk meatloaf smothered in a tantalizingly fragrant blackberry-stout gravy (secret ingredient is smoked beef au jus) with a side of spinach from Avery’s Produce and sliced hothouse tomatoes from nearby Voigts Farms — his 18-month-old daughter, Nice (named for and pronounced like the Greek goddess Nike), is busy scooting around the dining room in her fuzzy sleeper pajamas.
In a few minutes her older sister calls from the stairs, wearing a skeleton Halloween costume but no shoes. That’s when mom Maggie VI Beedles calmly shoos the girls and older brother Amadeus away for a family time out in their upstairs living quarters.
“Sometimes it’s hard to live where you work,” Beedles says.
Family is a daily part of the ambiance at Feaster’s Bistro. The family eats its meals at the large oval oak table nearest the kitchen while diners choose one of the flea market tables set with mismatched cloth napkins. And it should come as no surprise that there is a playroom (with doors) just off the main dining room.
Before opening their restaurant on a shoestring budget in September, the couple lived in Lawrence, where they had become a fixture at the Lawrence Farmers Market, cooking up healthy breakfast options from a trailer. At one point they had a blender powered by a bicycle to make fresh fruit smoothies.
“It didn’t go over that well,” Beedles says, “but the kids loved it.”
A kids menu is available, and everything is made from scratch, including popcorn chicken made of thigh meat from Steve’s Meats in De Soto, and breaded with Acme Grains in Edgerton.
Feaster spends 10 to 20 hours a week sourcing his products. But here’s the kicker: No dinner entree on the menu as of this writing is more than $11.50.
“We want to be available to everyone,” Feaster says.
For a menu and directions, go to feastersbistro.com or the restaurant’s Facebook page.