In addition to a cornucopia of menu options, restaurants serve a feast for the eyes with their tabletop touches. We harvested a bounty of ideas from the local dining scene. Some are just plain practical, while others inspire conversation.
By STACY DOWNS
The Kansas City Star
The idea: Restaurants often employ water carafes so that neither servers nor diners are inconvenienced. This tactic works for hosts and guests at Thanksgiving, too.
The source: Cafe Gratitude in the Crossroads Arts District actually sells its carafes ($24 each), etched with words of gratitude.
A tip: Don’t have a carafe? Wash an empty, de-labeled wine bottle — et voila!
The idea: Bread often gets short shrift, even though it may be handcrafted and delicious. But an attractive basket makes you remember the goodness of grains.
The source: Story, a restaurant in Prairie Village, uses attractive metal baskets. We found one with a similar look at Halls Plaza (Alessi Nuvem, $72).
A tip: If you don’t have a bread baker as host or guest at Thanksgiving, try a local bakery that supplies bread to restaurants. Fervere (1702 Summit St., 816-842-7272, fervere.com) is usually closed Wednesdays but is open the day before Thanksgiving. Its holiday bread with cranberries, almonds and orange zest is a best-seller. Bloom Baking Co. (15 E. Third St., 816-283-8437) specializes in rolls. A variety of rustic loaves from Farm to Market ( farmtomarketbread.com) are available in most area grocery stores.
Bread care: According to Farm to Market, if you are not going to eat the loaf right away, double bag it in an airtight plastic bag and freeze. Thaw at room temperature for about four hours or overnight. Then place it in a 400-degree oven for five minutes.
The idea: You never see tall vases or behemoth centerpieces at restaurants. They would get in the way of food and block diners from one another, preventing any fun table talk.
The source: Story in Prairie Village uses a single stem in low, clear glass vases. (This one is the Lilas Bud Vase, $12.95, Crate & Barrel, 4601 W. 119th St., Leawood).
A tip: Story uses spider mums for a punch of fresh green color. They’re available in many grocery stores’ floral cases.
The idea: At some restaurants, the bill comes in a vintage book instead of a vinyl binder. It lightens the mood — especially when you read what previous diners have written on the pages.
The source: Gram & Dun at the Country Club Plaza and Urban Table in Prairie Village, both by Bread & Butter Concepts restaurant group, use this bookish practice.
A tip: Start a new Thanksgiving tradition. After the meal and few glasses of cheer, pass around a book you already own and have guests sign it. Maybe it’s a well-worn random tome you picked up at an estate sale. You’ll enjoy reading it year after year.