It’s been a big year for new restaurants in Kansas City. Jakob Polaco tried three of the most notable. For a list of even more new restaurant openings in 2017, scroll down.
Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room
Since Corvino’s opening back in March, culinary power couple Michael and Christina Corvino have been turning heads with their perspective on New American cuisine. Their late night menu has developed an especially notable cult following, with their diner style burger being on the forefront. It is the real deal, down to the bun—which is made in-house.
I poked my head in with the intention of trying the earlier happy hour specials. Two dollar oysters with dashi mignonette? I’ll take five! Also, the rock shrimp tostada with flying fish roe was on the lineup. I especially enjoyed their $8 bar combinations, mine being the Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Gose with a double shot of Tapatio Blanco tequila.
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As much fun as I had, I was in and out before the cellist had finished setting up. The bill was also disproportionately cheap, considering my experience. Corvino is a perfect fit for the Crossroads neighborhood it calls home, as well as Kansas City at-large. It’s one of those places I feel has something to offer everyone who cares about food. The approach is elegant without being fussy. Sneak in solo for a snack and an after-work cocktail, or come in later for an unforgettable upscale meal with live music. The Corvinos have found the pulse of Kansas City —somewhere in the taste bud region!
EJ’s Urban Eatery
John Cedric and Erik Gaucher opened their West Bottoms restaurant in August, showcasing their Southern style “meat and three” concept. Stick-to-your-ribs potluck classics have been elevated ever since. With unique recipes rooted in history, like the squash casserole or the polarizing white barbecue sauce, they keep an ever-changing menu that varies from day to day based on what’s fresh.
For my visit, inspiration had struck in the way of espresso-rubbed brisket. It was moist and decadent, but the sides ultimately upstaged the entree. Mac ‘n’ cheese and fried green tomatoes stole my heart (and maybe clogged it). I felt like sweet tea was the only option Grandma would’ve offered, although EJ’s boasts a formidable bar list as well.
I spoke with Chef John during my meal and he told me brunch service starts in December. Dinners are monthly and I hear talk of a hush-hush special event coming in January. With happy hour on Thursday and Friday until 6 p.m., it’s no wonder people are taking the trip to the Bottoms for this large portion paradise.
Rye at the Plaza
Try to miss the opening of the new Rye location this winter. I dare you! This much loved concept from chefs Colby and Megan Garrelts has been highly anticipated, and, at my visit on their fourth day after opening, the verdict is in: they have delivered.
The space is warm and welcoming yet refined and contemporary. I started the meal with crab hushpuppies paired with Crane Brewery’s Tea Weiss. The hushpuppies were packed with crab and had a wonderful bouncy texture that left me guessing. I’ll have to ask the Garreltses for the secret to their amazing texture. The Berliner Weissbier was more sour than expected, almost like a kombucha, but paired very well with the spicy aioli that accompanied the crab.
Next was the burger. Always a hit and ground in house, the quality of the beef speaks for itself. I really enjoyed the jar of cucumber and onion that came with the entree. It was a nice, subtle palate cleanser when it was time to pull myself away from the burger.
I have to say, it’s nice to have plain grocery store ketchup with a burger and fries. I really don’t go for the “craft ketchup” thing. No one’s grandma has a great ketchup recipe! It’s an industrial feat in engineering and should be left to the professionals. Kudos to Rye for not trying to reinvent a wheel that ain’t broke.
I visited on Thursday, and the restaurant was packed for the entire duration of my meal. The service was wonderful and the staff cheery. At this point we have said as a city, “Rye, we welcome you with open arms... and more hushpuppies, please!”
Jakob Polaco is a food writer and chef. Follow him online at spicevagrant.com.
New in 2017
Here’s some more notable new restaurants in Kansas City. Don’t see your favorite? Complain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cafe Europa, 2976 Gillham Road in Union Hill
Chewology, 8750 Penrose Lane in Lenexa
Elly’s Brunch & Cafe, 4800 Main building, Suite 101
Freezing Moo Rolling Ice Cream, 4535 W. 119th St., Leawood, and 11885 W. 95th St, Overland Park
HopCat Kansas City, at 401 Westport Road
Jarocho South, 13145 State Line Road
Kansas City Taco Co., 520 Walnut St. in the City Market
Lenexa Public Market, 8750 Penrose Lane
Meshuggah Bagels, Liberty Commons, at Missouri 152 and Interstate 35 in Liberty
Messenger Coffee Co. and Ibis Bakery, 1624 Grand Blvd.
Mission Taco Joint, 409 E. 18th St.
The Mockingbird Lounge, 204 Orchard St., Kansas City, Kan.
The Monarch Bar, 4808 Roanoke Parkway
Monarch Coffee, 3550 Broadway
Parkway: Social Kitchen, 616 Ward Parkway
Q39, 11051 Antioch Road, Overland Park
Repeal 18th Bar & Bistro, 1825 Burlington St., North Kansas City
Ruby Jean’s Juicery, Town Pavilion, 1111 Main St., Suite 165
Scott’s Kitchen and Catering at Hangar 29, 11920 Ambassador Drive
Snow & Co., 421 Westport Road
Stock Hill, 4800 Main Street
Swordfish Tom’s, 210 W. 19th Terrace
Tavernonna, 106 W 12th St.
TikiCat, in the basement of HopCat, 401 Westport Road.
Urban Cafe, 4101 Troost Ave.
Wake the Dead Breakfast Bar, 7 E. Seventh St., Lawrence
Westport Ice Cream Bakery, 4120 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 14